09.00, Thursday 20 Nov 2003 Link to this post
William Mitchell talked last night at Tate Modern. I've put online my notes on Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City. It's always good to hear someone with such a coherent worldview -- you get the impression that you could say anything to him and he'd have a good opinion about it. On the subject of those structuring principles, they reminded me a lot of cybernetics (there was a lot of talk of 'control systems'), but specifically the 1970s cybernetics: biological systems, dynamic processes. It was the vocabulary I think.
Mitchell's basic argument was that there's a constant process of fragmentation (a village watering hole is fragmented by waterpipes and bottles) and recombination (bathing, fragmented, recombines in the domestic space into bathrooms) (very D&G) -- this process is happening again with wireless technology: as technology gets smaller it'll stop influencing architecture and become invisible. At that point cities, buildings, can stop being built around machines and instead be built for basic human needs.
A couple of things that really got me: Cyberspace bleeding into the physical world (complementing the physical world bleeding into cyberspace), the undermining of physical distance (which is why distance has been redefined), and the new ethics that come out of this. The new ethics fascinates me, and I'm disappointed Mitchell didn't talk more about this.
(Coherent worldviews: I got a similar feeling listening to Charles Jencks talk on The Garden of Cosmic Speculation. What most struck me about Jencks was that although he'd spent 15 years creating a garden and encoding all kinds of messages into it, he didn't do it ironically, nor was he really defensive about it: he'd done it, and if you liked it, good, but if not that's fine too. Self confident without being imposing; admirable.)
Anyway, I've got a question.
I'm really interested in the sort of stuff Mitchell was talking about. The architecture and urban design isn't something I have a personal handle on/ ability to do, but: the ethics, the cybernetics, the philosophy, dynamic processes; also [and from elsewhere] anthropology, sociology, group dynamics (small group processes), systems theory, ludology, metaphors, semiotics and linguistics, virtual worlds, cyberculture, cognitive psychology (okay, that's because a friend keeps showing me cool things), and therefore all the rest: ubicomp, transhuman stuff. 1950s to right now. The literary theory, cyborg theory and so on is at the periphery of my understanding but I want to know more. I tend to be interested in underlying principles, I'm a synthesist by nature - physical human/cognitive/social reasons for design - I want to know more about people in cyberspace, how people are influenced by operating online, all of Anne Galloway's course on Social Studies of Information & Technology is right there.
My question: Where can I do a year's masters in this, in London? Research and writing. All hints and pointers welcome. Thanks.