[iDC] Architecture and Situated Technologies

Matthew Waxman mwax at ucsc.edu
Fri Jul 28 13:27:36 EDT 2006

Trebor and the IDC,

An IDC meetup at ISEA2006... great idea!

I will be volunteering at ISEA 2006 but I don't know what
my hours will be yet.

How about we meetup 8/10 or 8/11 after the symposium, so a
meeting time of around 6 to 6:30? The group could meet
and converse over food and drink, too.

What do folks think of that idea?

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you.

On Fri, 28 Jul 2006 02:21:21 +0800
  trebor at thing.net wrote:
> Yesterday in Manhattan I passed by a dynamic looking 
>woman with intense, curious
> eyes and it turned out to be Shu Lea Cheang, -- the -- 
>Shu Lea Cheang.
> Today, over a hot cup of coffee and the background noise 
>of slash hammers we had
> a conversation about the iDC list.
> We agreed that it must be the baking hot summer that 
>makes teen repellents more
> attractive than longish texts. (I find it hard to debate 
>any of these issues
> without at least mentioning that while we speak Israel 
>started a war against
> Lebanon.)
> Shu Lea and I considered what the July discussion 
>achieved and where it fell
> short. There were some real gems (welcome to the many 
>first-time posters!) and
> at the same time it was hard for us to stick to a few 
>threads (without changing
> the subject heading when posting about the same topic).
> Shu Lea voiced her desire for iDC subscribers to follow 
>up on the raised points
> instead of turning the list into a social space (a 
>problem that she is all too
> familiar with, also from lists that are moderated by 
>women or are
> “women-only”). It’d be an amazing experiment to actually 
>follow through on one
> thread for months.
> However, we agreed that genuine discussions can only be 
>inspired, not forced and
> that the discussion of a focused selection of media art 
>projects is paramount
> for this exchange leading up to the October symposium. 
>The theory and practice
> link is really a tough nut to crack.
> I rarely saw threads lasting for several weeks or even 
>months (on any mailing
> list really) going deep, deep, and deeper into topics, 
>reflecting on what
> previous contributors wrote and actually responding to 
>it, thinking it through,
> not immediately using it as jumping off board for other 
> To really get into a focused discussion of two or three 
>projects would be good.
> This needs to go beyond my own joy of referencing 
>relevant links because
> websites are often documentation that cannot replace 
>reports from eyewitnesses.
> Shu Lea and I discussed the visibility of art using 
>mobile technology. Much of
> the work formerly known as locative media was hardly 
>noticeable in the urban
> scenario: an artists sitting in a park with a laptop or 
>standing on a street
> corner with a mobile phone does not exactly attract many 
> There are, of course, more sensational approaches but 
>much of media artwork in
> public places has a real hard time engaging an audience, 
>turning "lurkers" into
> participants despite the explicit intention to do so. 
>Artists armed with
> miniaturized (concealed) mobile art projects walking the 
>streets will be also
> be a challenge for the upcoming ISEA Festival.
> The call for audience engagement reminds me of Miwon 
>Kwon's comments on
> site-specificity in the context of institutional 
>critique projects of the
> 1990s. The site-specific spectacle of the critical art 
>project was occasionally
> turned into an institutionally cathartic, tourist 
> Shu Lea and I also thought that it'd be great to meet 
>those of you who will be
> at ISEA in August. I'll be there to present on the 10th.
>>What do you think of a meeting of iDC readers and 
>>contributors in San Jose? We
> could arrange this off-list and post a meeting 
>point/time on 08/10 or 08/11.
> Perhaps another interesting departure point for this 
>discussion is Rheingold's
> Smart Mobs blog post that quoted a BBC article about the 
>waning divide between
> people's lives online and in the city.
> "This BBC article quotes Dr Jo Twist,a senior research 
>fellow at the Institute
> for Public Policy Research in the UK, as saying "once 
>the net was ubiquitous
> like power and water, it had the potential to be 
>"transformative." The divide
> that separates people from their online lives will 
>utterly disappear. Instead
> of leaving behind all those net-based friends and 
>activities when you walk out
> of your front door, you will be able to take them with 
>you. The buddies you
> have on instant message networks, friends and family on 
>e-mail, your eBay
> auctions, your avatars in online games, the TV shows you 
>have stored on disk,
> your digital pictures, your blog - everything will be 
>just a click away."
> <http://www.smartmobs.com/archive/2006/03/08/the_divide_that.html>
>Finally, I'm adding Mitchell Moss' and Anthony Townsend's 
> "How telecommunication systems are transforming urban 
> Anthony consented to me posting this text (Anth.: "that 
>old thing!") originally
> published in:
> Wheeler, J., Aoyama, Y., Warf, B. eds. (2000) Cities in 
>the Telecommunications
> Age: The Fracturing of Geographies. London: Routledge.
> Best,
> Trebor
> Introduction
> All too often, telecommunications systems are treated as 
>an alternative
> to transportation systems, as a substitute for the 
>physical movement of
> people and services. The growing use of 
> systems is doing far more than influence where people 
>work and live, but
> is actually changing the character of activities that 
>occur in the home,
> workplace, and automobile. This chapter examines the way 
>in which
> information and telecommunications are transforming 
>everyday urban life;
> making the home into an extension of the office, 
>shopping mall, and
> classroom; allowing the automobile and airplane to 
>become workplaces;
> and converting the office building into a hub for social 
>interaction and
> interpersonal contact. The diffusion of information 
> drastically increases the complexity of cities by 
>increasing the number
> and type of interactions among individuals, firms, 
>technical systems,
> and the external environment. Information systems are 
>permitting new
> combinations of people. equipment, and places; as a 
>result, there is a
> dramatic change in the spatial organization of 
>activities within cities
> and large metropolitan regions.
> Telecommunications has made the fundamental elements of 
>urban life –
> housing, transportation, work, and leisure – far more 
> logistically, spatially, and temporally. Despite the 
>rapid integration
> of information and telecommunications into everyday 
>life, our theories
> and policies rarely consider the role of information 
>technology in urban
> growth and development. In this chapter, we explore the 
>way in which
> new information and telecommunications systems are 
>altering the
> structure of urban development in the United States.
>For the past century, cities have sought to control land 
>use and guide
> economic development by designating areas for distinctly 
>different types
> of activities. The zoning regulations that govern most 
>cities and
> suburbs reflect the industrial-era value placed on the 
>separation of
> activities into distinct zones for residential, 
>commercial, and
> industrial uses. Tire dirt, dust, and fumes from 
>factories led to
> concern for public health that imposed restrictions on 
> manufacturing activities could occur. With the advent of
> the electric streetcar, commuter railroad, and the 
>automobile, it
> becarmr possible to develop residential comunities far 
>from the
> industrial portions of cities.
> As we enter the twenty-first century, telecommunications 
> are transforming the mix of activities within the home, 
>office and
> automobile in ways that are only beginning to be 
>recognized and
> understood. We have invested far more resources to study 
>the influence
> of transportation systems on urban development than to 
>understand the
> relationship of telecommunications technologies to urban 
> regional growth. The popular and academic literature on 
>new information
> technologies reflects a long-standing belief that 
> communications will lead to the economic decline of 
>cities as they make
> it possible to replace the face-to-face activities that 
>occur in central
> locations. More than a quarter century ago, Ronald Abler 
>(1970), a
> pioneer in the study of communications and urban space 
>suggested that:
> Advances in information transmission may soon permit us 
>to disperse
> information- gathering and decision-making activities 
>away from
> metropolitan center, and electronic communications media 
>will make all
> kinds of information equally abundant everywhere
> in the nation, if not everywhere in the world.
> George Gilder (1995) extended this argument when he 
>wrote that: "we are
> headed for the death of cities" due to the continued 
>growth of personal
> computing and distributed organizations advances. Gilder 
> claimed that: "cities are leftover baggage from the 
>industrial era."
> By this reasoning, cities are no longer needed to access 
>a wide range of
> cultural activities and information sources, because 
> can bring the library, concert hall, or business meeting 
>into any home
> or office.
> Peter Gordon and Harry W. Richardson ( 1997), of the 
>University of
> Southern California, have argued that communications 
>technologies are
> reinforcing the movement out of cities that the 
>automobile had
> initiated: "Rapid advances in telecommunications are now 
> the decentralization trends set in motion by the advent 
>of the
> automobile." They contend that: "Proximity is becoming 
> Entertainment already is, and instruction is more likely 
>to be,
> transmitted over broad-band radio frequencies rather 
>than seen in
> traditional theaters or lecture halls, today's cities 
>continue to become
> less compact; the city of the future will be anything 
>but compact." Most
> observers believe that technology will eliminate the 
>need for cities as
> centers of interaction. The leading media guru, Nicholas 
> (1995), has stated that "The post-information age will 
>remove the
> limitations of geography. Digital living will include 
>less and less
> dependence upon being in a specific place at a specific 
>time, and the
> transmission of place itself will start to become 
>possible." Even the
> concept of the "edge city," a label that Joel Garreau 
>(1991) applied to
> clusters of suburban office parks linked bevy freeways, 
>is a reflection
> of how both transportation and communication 
>technologies are treated as
> forces that have fostered the outmigration of work and 
>housing from the
> central city.
> Admittedly, geographers such as John Goddard, Jean 
>Gottman, Allen Scott,
> and James Wheeler have carefully analyzed the way in 
> telecommunications can both centralize and decentralize 
> reflecting geography's concern for understanding 
> technology and the location of human activities. 
>Gottmann (1983)
> proposed that communications technologies work in two 
>directions by
> making it possible both to concentrate and to disperse 
> activities, and had a "dual impact" on office location: 
>"First, it has
> freed the office from the previous necessity of locating 
>next to the
> operations it directed; second, it has helped to gather 
>offices in large
> concentrations in special areas." The authors of this 
>paper have also,
> succumbed to this spatial imperative and emphasized the 
>role of
> technology in reinforcing the position of major cities 
>in the United
> States. (Moss and Townsend, 1996, 1997, 1998)
> Nigel Thrift (1996) provided a new rationale for 
>face-to-face contact in
> an era of high-speed communications by claiming that 
> networks were generating a demand for instant 
>information in the
> financial services sector that was best done in a 
>face-to-face context.
> Thrift argued that the principal function of major 
>financial centers is
> interpreting in real time the massive amounts of 
>information that are
> generated each day: "Since the international financial 
>system generates
> such a massive load of information, power goes to those 
>who are able to
> offer the most convincing interpretations of the 
>moment." Interpreting
> information depends as much on face-to-face interaction 
>as on advanced
> technologies, an activity that is necessarily and 
> centralized in the leading world financial centers.
> While telecommunications technologies are certainly a 
> phenomena, the emergence of the Internet, the growth of 
> telephony, and the diffusion of new information 
>technologies are doing
> far more than merely rearrange the spatial pattern of 
>activities in
> cities and metropolitan regions. New telecommunications 
>systems are
> redefining the fundamental elements of modern urban 
>society – the
> office, the automobile, the home, and the street – and 
>generating a need
> for a new conceptual framework to understand the way in 
> telecommunications systems are influencing the character 
>of activities
> in cities and metropolitan regions.
> Simply put, telecommunications systems have progressed 
>faster and deeper
> into our society than the theories we use to guide 
>research on such
> technologies. Michael Batty (1997) states: "the city 
>itself is turning
> into a constellation of computers." Batty highlights the 
>way in which
> new information systems are "generating new 
>opportunities for
> understanding and planning cities," and makes a powerful 
>case for a
> new approach to the study of cities that builds upon the 
>"synthesis of
> computers and telecommunications." As he states:
> Computers which were once thought of as solely being 
>instruments for a
> better understanding, for science, are rapidly becoming 
>part of that
> infrastructure, and thus affecting space and location. 
>In one view, the
> line between computers being used to aid our 
>understanding of cities and
> their being used to operate and control cites has not 
>only become
> blurred but has virtually dissolved. In another sense, 
>computers are
> becoming increasingly important everywhere and the 
>asymmetry posed by
> their exclusive use for analysis and design in the past 
>and their all
> pervasive influence in the city is now disappearing. In 
>both cases, the
> implication is that computers will have to be used to 
>understand cities
> which are built of computers.
> In recent years, new theoretical empirical studies have 
>offered insights
> into the way in which information systems are 
>influencing urban activity
> patterns. Jed Kolko has suggested that 
>telecommunications has led
> to the "death of distance" but not the "death of 
>cities." He also found
> that "city size is positively related to domain density, 
> significantly so" (Kolko, 1998). Daniel Sui has proposed 
>the need for
> new urban models that reflect an "organic view of cities 
>based upon
> analogies in biology" and that emphasize that "cities 
>are formed more
> from local actions without centralized planning or macro 
>control " (Sui,
> 1998).
> The growth of electronic communications is also forcing 
>changes in how
> we think about regions, according to Harvey and Macnab. 
>They assert that
> "the fundamental geographical notion of the region" is 
>in need of a
> temporal overhaul and ask "to what degree will 
>traditional east-west
> channels...give way to north-south alignments more in 
>keeping with the
> time of day?" (Harvey and Macnab, 1998).
> This chapter makes a simple argument: the deployment of 
> telecommunications systems is altering the activities 
>that occur in the
> key elements of urban society – the home, the office, 
>the automobile,
> and even the hotel room and public parks and streets. 
> systems are blurring the separation between the home and 
>the workplace,
> radically changing office design and function, 
>transforming the
> automobile into an extension of the workplace, and 
>moving street crime
> into the shadows of cyberspace.
> The modern office building is the single greatest human 
> explicitly designed to generate, process, and manage 
>information. The
> merger of computers and telecommunications systems has 
> altered the physical design of office buildings and the 
>type of
> activities that occur within them. At the macroscopic 
>level, new office
> buildings increasingly feature advanced 
> infrastructure built into their walls and floors to 
>accommodate the
> growing use of data and video transmission equipment. 
>For large
> financial institutions, the floorplate of a building has 
>become the
> critical factor, as large floor areas are required for 
>modern trading
> rooms where hundreds of traders are situated in close 
>proximity to each
> other. In cities such as New York and London, many older 
> buildings arc unable to meet today's technological 
> generating a demand for new buildings that can meet 
>today's spatial and
> technological requirements. As a result, Canary Wharf in 
>the London
> Dockyards and the World Financial Center in New York 
>City's Battery Park
> City have attracted leading financial institutions to 
>areas that are not
> contiguous to the city's traditions financial district.
> At the same time, there is also a new emphasis on 
>interior office design
> that eliminates the physical boundaries within offices 
>in order to
> promote human interaction. Francis Duffy (1969) was the 
>first to
> observe that  modern office buildings are increasingly 
>designed to
> accommodate the face-to-face exchange of information 
>through meetings,
> conferences, and informal conversations at the water 
> As Duffy states, "Office work is generally becoming more 
>mobile, more
> complex, and more plural. And yet there is often the 
>need for some
> concentrated, individual work in the same place. This 
>has led to one
> of the eternal conflicts in office design: the need to 
> communication and interaction as well as individual 
>work" (Duffy, 1998).
>Firms such as IBM  (Young, 1993) have reduced the size of 
> office and rely on flexible office assignments such as 
> but there is simultaneous a greater emphasis on the use 
>of conference
> rooms and centers for mobilizing workers, encouraging 
> and bringing experts together to work in team efforts.
> Telecommunications technologies have also influenced the 
>scale and mix
> of activities that occur within office buildings. The 
>modern office
> building has remained the epicenter of electronic and 
> communication by adapting to new technological 
>requirements and
> organizational priorities only through investments in 
>new equipment,
> which have dramatically expanded the buildings' 
> capabilities. An example of such modernization is the 
>New York
> Information Technology Center, a 400,000-square-foot 
>building in
> Manhattan's financial district that was previously the 
>headquarters of
> an investment bank. Although the building stood empty 
>for years, in 1995
> it was totally renovated with new telecommunications 
>systems and has
> become a center for New York's multimedia industry 
> 1997).
> While technological innovation has strengthened the role 
>of the office
> building in certain areas of the financial sector, it 
>has also led to
> the dispersion of routine and retail financial services. 
>Nowhere is this
> more apparent than in the consolidation of local banks 
>into interstate
> banking companies and the replacement of the local 
>branch offices with
> automated teller machines (ATMs). Retail banks, once 
>built to resemble
> elaborate temples in order to reassure depositors that 
>their savings
> were safe and secure, are no longer defined by real 
>estate but by
> electronic networks. This has led many communities to 
>protest the
> loss of the locally owned and managed bank, while also 
>hastening the
> spread of24-liour banking into local communities through 
> supermarket, drugstore, and gas station.
> Of even more significance, banks now operate solely in 
>electronic space
> rather than physical space. Three Internet banks, 
>Security First Network
> Bank and Atlanta Internet Bank offer 24-hour service at 
>their Websites,
> and a third, CompuBank, opened in mid-1998. These banks 
>may be the
> harbinger of banking in the future; an activity once 
>confined to a
> distant physical building in the geographic center of a 
>community that
> can now be conducted from a terminal anywhere in the 
>world. However,
> these new ways of banking presuppose access to and 
>literacy in
> information technology and telecommunications, which are 
>lacking in many
> poor inner-city and rural communities.
> Another place-based activity, the auction market – 
>whether in rare art,
> commodities, or financial instruments – has 
>traditionally relied on
> face-to-face contact that took place in specific cities 
>and at specific
> times. Telecommunications has totally disrupted the 
>traditional physical
> marketplace in which goods are bought and sold. For 
>example, the auction
> of tea leaves, an activity based in London for more than 
>three hundred
> years, can now be conducted wherever tea is grown – in 
>Sri Lanka, India,
> China and Africa – as a result of advanced 
>telecommunications systems.
> Electronic trading in futures and options is being done 
>through a global
> network that links the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the 
>Paris Bourse,
> and the Singapore International Monetary Exchange and 
>will eventually
> replace the traditional "open outcry" system, in which 
>buyers and
> sellers shout out bids on the crowded floor of an 
> Even the secretive world of buying and selling art has 
>adapted to
> telecommunications. More than seven hundred art dealers 
>are linked to
> ArtNet, an online service that allows potential buyers 
>to see
> collections online and to compare prices, a previously 
>impossible task.
> Jacob Weisberg notes that "the Web will expand the art 
>market not only
> by spreading information but also by making art info a 
>more liquid
> asset" (Weisberg, 1999). The potential growth of the art 
>market through
> electronic auctions does not mean that cities will 
>decline as centers
> for culture, but that the world of art, like the world 
>of finance, will
> soon be driven by information, and that those people and 
>places with the
> skill and capacity to participate in the electronic flow 
>of art will
> benefit greatly. If history is any guide, explaining, 
>interpreting, and
> conveying information about the art market will soon be 
>as valued as the
> production of art itself.
> Just as the office environment has been influenced by 
> technology, the home is undergoing a fundamental change 
>in its function
> and design as a result of new telecommunications 
> Information has traditionally been delivered to the home 
>through a
> single telephone line, broadcast radio and television, 
>and by hand
> (whether delivered by mail carriers or newspaper 
>delivery personnel, or
> carried in by the residents). For much of the last one 
>hundred years,
> the home has functioned primarily as a site for 
> functions of the family, explicitly designed as a refuge 
>from the
> workplace. A relic of Victorian-era philosophers, this 
>separation of
> home and work appears to be disappearing as new 
>information technologies
> are becoming widely available.
> Information brought into the home through satellite 
>dishes, coaxial
> cable, and high-speed phone lines dramatically expands 
>the number and
> type of activities that can occur within the confines of 
>a residence.
> According to a recent study by the US Department of 
>Labor (1998), more
> than 21 million Americans did some part of their primary 
>job at home in
> 1997, and more than half of those used a computer for 
>their home-based
> work. For many small businesses and self-employed 
>individuals, personal
> computers equipped with modems, reliable overnight 
>deliver services,
> sophisticated voice mail systems, and the proliferation 
>of neighborhood
> office centers such as Kinko's have allowed the home to 
>become the
> firm's headquarters, workplace, and distribution center. 
>In Manhattan,
> San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston, underutilized 
>industrial structures
> have been converted into combined "work-and-live space" 
>with advanced
> telecommunications systems to serve home-based workers.
> The capacity to extend the workplace into the home has 
>generated new
> demands for high-speed telephone lines in the home. Home 
>contractors now
> treat telecommunications infrastructure as  the 
> equivalent of
> "electronic plumbing," and new homes are being equipped 
>with high
> capacity phone conduits to accommodate information 
>services. Electrolux
> has even developed an Internet-connected refrigerator 
>with an LCD touch
> screen and bar-code scanner that could be used to order 
>groceries over
> the Web. New housing developments across the United 
>States are being
> marketed to sophisticated buyers, based on the speed of 
>their Internet
> access and services available through their own 
>intranet. A developer of
> townhouse and single-family housing in the Washington, 
> metropolitan area offers Local Area Network (LAN) wiring 
>as an option in
> all new homes it constructs, at a price of $1,500 to 
>$2,000 (Tueting,
> 1997).
> The diffusion of new information-based services in the 
>home – for
> security, climate control, and entertainment – has led a 
>consortium of
> semiconductor, computer, and telecommunications 
>companies to develop a
> "Shared Wireless Access Protocol" that would 
>interconnect electronic
> devices within the home using the same technology 
>employed by cordless
> telephones. Even low-income communities are 
>participating in the
> information explosion in the house. In Oakland, 
>California, the Acord
> complex, a 206- unit housing project, is equipped with 
> cables, computers in each home, and a learning center 
>for job training.
> Public services, once provided solely within designated 
>public buildings
> such as schools, libraries, or prisons are now also 
>being provided in
> the home, albeit for different reasons. For example, 
>tire growth of
> "home-schooling" has been facilitated by the Internet; 
>an estimated 1.2
> million children now learn at home, and in California 
>there is a
> California Homeschool Network that links home-schooling 
> Amazon.com even has a link for home-schoolers on its Web 
>site. At the
> same time, many government agencies have adopted 
>advanced technologies
> remotely to monitor parolees as a way to control costs. 
>The home has evolved
> into a site for the incarceration for nonviolent
> offenders. Electronic bracelets simply activate a modem 
>to contact
> corrections officers when a convict attempts to leave 
>his or her home.
> In the twenty-first century, a home's attractiveness 
>will be judged by
> the speed of its dial-up connections and extent of its 
> infrastructure, rather than conventional measures such 
>as the number of
> bedrooms or bathrooms. John Chambers, President of Cisco 
> believes that "everything" in the home will be connected 
>to the Internet
> – not just electronic devices, but the  piano, the 
>fireplace, the window
> blinds (Beiser, 1999). According to some experts, it 
>will even be
> possible to create "rooms or environments where humans 
>can interact with
> otherwise inanimate objects and machines;...consumers 
>will be able to
> turn their homes into full-fledged intelligent 
>environments" (Patch and
> Smalley, 1998).
> Clearly, the movement of information into the home will 
>expand its role
> in the economy, allowing all members of a household to 
>participate in a
> wide array of different economic and social functions 
>and making the
> home far more than a site for housing family members.
> Wireless telephony has transformed transportation and 
>travel across the
> world, converting the automobile, the hotel room, and 
>even the airport
> into an information-intensive infrastructure. It is 
>conceivable that
> telecommunications will eventually make the automobile 
>commute into a
> productive part of the workday, once it is possible to 
>send and receive
> e-mails, faxes, and telephone calls from any street or 
> "Hands-free" voice recognition technology should 
>overcome many of the
> safety concerns about mobile phones. Traffic jams and 
>congestion may
> even be tolerated as a chance to catch up with telephone 
>messages and
> e-mail. Traffic congestion may even intensify in cities 
>and suburbs, as
> the automobile evolves into a communications as well as 
> device.
> There are a variety of new technological innovations 
>that have been
> designed to take advantage of the automobile's new role. 
> information, once delivered by radio stations, is now a 
> available service provided by mobile phone in many 
>metropolitan areas.
> Subscribers can even purchase customized traffic reports 
>on their routes
> in Southern California. And in the State of Washington, 
>a demonstration
> project is testing a voice-activated computer, the 
>AutoPC, that provides
> instant traffic information to cars equipped with this 
>technology (A.
> Reid, 1998 and Whitely, 1999).
> However, information technology is also being deployed 
>to assist
> motorists eager to make face-to-face contact with 
>drivers they identify
> on the freeway. Traffic Gems, a company in Long Island, 
>New York,
> provides subscribers with a bumper sticker that contains 
>an e-mail alias
> so that motorists who want to meet a fellow driver can 
>visit the Traffic
> Gems Web site, find out more about other subscribers, 
>and e-mail a
> message (Slayton, 1998). When the automobile was first 
>invented, it was
> commonly called a "horseless carriage," but with 
>information technology,
> it has become possible to do far more in a car than one 
>could do in a
> horse-drawn carriage.
> Cities have often been defined by their great public 
>spaces, where
> people meet and share common experiences, whether in a 
>stadium, a
> cathedral, or even a music club. Telecommunications 
>systems are
> gradually affecting even the activities and events that 
>occur in those
> distinctly urban settings. For example, the capacity to 
>download music
> from Internet sites may soon diminish the recorded music 
>industry but
> could invigorate nightclubs and concert halls, where 
>live music is
> produced.
> Telecommunications technology makes is possible for 
>every club and
> concert hall to be a site for transmitting music over 
>the Internet to
> audiences around the world.
> Airports and hotels are also being transformed into 
>centers for
> information-based activities so that travelers can 
>conduct business
> while waiting for flights or during layovers. A company 
>called Laptop
> Lane rents offices, phone lines, and equipment to air 
>travelers in
> several major airports across the United States. 
>Similarly, hotels now
> recognize the need to provide their guests with access 
>to sophisticated
> information infrastructure. At the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 
>Kuala Lumpur,
> there is an on-call "technology butler" to provide 
>high-tech support to
> business travelers. Hotel chains are increasingly 
>providing a variety of
> telecommunications services, ranging from "virtual 
>offices" in each
> hotel room to computing kiosks in public areas/  The 
>hotel room, once a
> place to rest, has also become a place to do business.
> The character of urban street life is also changing due 
>to the
> deployment of communications technologies by law 
>enforcement agencies
> and criminal organizations.  Telecommunications has 
>always been an
> important tool in law enforcement but a broad array of 
>new technologies
> is increasing the effectiveness of crime prevention and 
>prosecution. New
> geographic information systems being used to map and 
> crime-prone locations, and remote surveillance cameras 
>being deployed to
> monitor drug dealing in many cities are widely used in 
>many urban
> precincts. In Redwood City, California, the police are 
>able precisely to
> identify the location of gunshots with a new system of 
> microphones connected by phone lines to a central 
>computer. In St.
> Louis, police cars are equipped with laptop computers so 
>that police can
> rapidly obtain information about suspects and perform 
>live scanning of
> fingerprints without using a radio dispatcher as 
> Perhaps the most innovative use of new 
>telecommunications has been by
> drug dealers and prostitutes who increasingly use 
>beepers, Web sites,
> and mobile phones lo conduct their lousiness 
>transactions. In big
> cities, drug dealers rely on beepers to receive requests 
>from purchasers
> and can avoid selling drugs in public places by using 
>mobile phones to
> arrange deliveries.
> Telecommunications is also converting the 
>"streetwalker," the oldest
> urban profession into an online industry. Web sites such 
> www.redlightnet.com allow prostitutes to advertise their 
>services and to
> reach customers without leaving their home. While the 
>actual service may
> entail interpersonal contact, the negotiation over price 
>and schedule
> can be done electronically, off the streets. In New York 
>City, street
> level prostitution is reserved for the low-cost provider 
>and customer.
> Surely, prostitutes will never be eliminated from city 
>streets, but the
> emergence of erotic Web sites and online sex is 
>diverting some of tire
> traffic that might once have frequented adult 
>entertainment districts in
> large cities. While this may be an improvement in the 
>"quality of life,"
> it is not clear how tourists will respond to such 
>changes in urban
> street activity.
> This chapter has sought to provide an alternative 
>perspective on how
> scholars can study the effects of telecommunications in 
>cities and
> metropolitan regions. The information-based city is 
> differentiated from previous urban forms by its 
>extensive and
> interconnected networks for moving information. Unlike 
> upheavals that followed the advent of large-scale 
> innovations such as factory-based mass production or the 
> highway system, the transformation of the metropolis is 
>being driven by
> the diffusion of intelligence and awareness (via 
>technology) across many
> components of urban life. Telecommunications 
>technologies are changing
> the character of activities in the office, home, 
>automobile, and even
> the street. This essay has identified – at a very 
>preliminary level –
> the need to expand our research on telecommunication so 
>that we can
> understand how commuting, the home, work, and even 
>public spaces are
> being affected by new telecommunications systems.
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