From The City Of Bits to E-Topia: Space, Citizenship and Community as Global Strategy

From The City Of Bits to E-Topia: Space, Citizenship and Community as Global Strategy

Mark Deakin
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/ijea.2014010102
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Mitchell's book on the City of Bits, sets out a vision of urban life literally done to bits. His next book e-topia, provides the counter-point to this vision of urban life and scenario where the city is no longer left in bits and pieces, but a place where it ‘all comes together'. As Mitchell states in Me++: the Cyborg Self and the Networked City, all this ‘coming together' becomes possible because the trial separation of bits and atoms is over and the dissolution of the boundaries between virtual and physical space now makes citizenship worth playing for. The landscape which this paper uncovers is different. For it reveals the middle ground between the ‘high-level' issues surrounding e-topia and those lying at the ‘grass roots' level of me ++ and the cyborg-self. This is because it is here and with the likes of Laclau and Mouffe and Zizek, that matters which concern the ‘city of bits' and notion of ‘e-topia' as the ‘me++ of the cyborg self', get ‘bottomed out' as the space, citizenship and community of global strategy.
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Given the growing significance of Mitchell’s (1995, 1999, 2001, 2003) work on the transformative capacities of information technology (IT), this paper shall reflect on the transition from the City of Bits to e-topia and concerns Graham and Marvin’s (2001)Splintering Urbanism reveals about the status of this thesis. Reflecting on these concerns, the paper uncovers what the emerging critique reveals about e-topia and goes on to expose what this paper’s critical reworking of the thesis tells us about the citizenship, community and governance of digitally-inclusive regeneration platforms.

The critical nature of these insights shall then be used to take this investigation into the space, citizenship, community and governance of digitally-inclusive regeneration platforms full circle. This shall be done by offering an outline of urban life as the place citizens shall come to know it! That is as the embedded intelligence: semantics, syntax and vocabulary, which unlike the discourse offered by the likes of Laclau and Mouffe (2001) and Zizek (1997, 2006a, 2006b), has the space for citizens to seek out a sense of community.

The focus of the paper is theoretical and offers an extended critique of the thesis e-topia is based on and whose limitations other leading academics in the field have sought to expose as part of a constructive realignment. In taking this form, it draws attention to the dis-content with the thesis and transformation of its environmental determinism, social hegemony and political subjectivity. As such the literature made use of is confined to the authors advocating the thesis and its critical reconstruction. In that sense the paper does not set out to review all the literature currently available on the subject, but be more selective, by restricting the literature review to those texts which demonstrate a strong insight into the transformative nature of the developments in question.

This is not to suggest the thesis has no practical relevance. This would not be true. For major software developers like Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett Packard and Siemens, each have digital-inclusion programmes, all of them currently in the process of being embedded as the intelligence of networked cities.1 2 3 4 However, the object of this paper is to put the theory before practice and take the opportunity such an examination of e-topia offers to expose the criticality of space, citizenship, community and governance as key components of the global strategy all of these developments are wrapped up in (Deakin, 2007).

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