Technology has found its way not only to our personal lives, but as well as to our communities. While most of our gadgets occupy a space in our homes or rooms, cities have been affected as well by the many advancements in technology. The City itself becomes a limitless canvas of collaboration, resulting in a constant feeding of human input (Nabian, 396)
While mankind has found a way to invent a vacuum machine that does all the work by itself, i think it’s important to ask ourselves why cities haven´t been completely touched by technology. After all, Cities and the constructed spaces that they contain have been multiplying at an unprecedented rate, and the spatial production and consumption of mankind still far very much within the physical realm. (Nabian, 383)
Surely, we don’t analyze how cities are designed or constructed, a lot of thought and analysis goes into building blocks and signals that help people navigate across city blocks whether they are traveling on foot, by bus or even in car. Have we ever consider this? Have we ever given any thought to the image of the city?. “The Image of the City” is based on the hypothesis that the perceived quality of an urban environment is related to the degree to which its inhabitants are able to read its structure and to navigate and make sense of the environment. (Offenhuber, 217)
We are not far from the world portrayed in the film “Minority Report” where the city is a constant flash of information and images that adapted to each of it’s users. Tom Cruise’s character got personalized images and messages through retina scans. And while governments may not register all our retinas right now, there is a more powerful tool they can use in their advantage: our mobile phones.
It is important to mention that this isn’t only a one-way process. People can also contribute to improve the way we perceive the city. Imagine the possibilities, you could be informed of traffic, public transport or public events through your phone’s wireless connection. Understanding this, we believe, will eventually enable us to also begin to understand why it is interesting for local residents of a city to explore it through a digital mobile system, not just tourists. (Kjeldskov, 738)
And while some apps like Waze now give us a live-feed of traffic conditions, technology in the cities could be so much more. For my field trip, i went to 7th Street on Chinatown. Even when you are just getting out of the Metro Station, the user is bombarded by color flashes and signals.
It seemed that if your were getting close to Verizon Center or the Chinatown the use of electronic screens and colorful road signals proliferated. If you walked just a few blocks away, you could see the typical D.C. architecture and design. Nevertheless, information is everywhere in both languages here. you can easily see that all retail shops and restaurants have signs for both languages.
This really make us wonder, how technology (present and future) is making traveling through a city a customized experience. What used to be somewhat standard is turning to be a journey where different messages and options appear for each of the users walking the streets of any city in the world. We are not only pedestrians of inhabitants, we are becoming something else. A user-subject is a hyper-individualized inhabitant, and an interactive space respects the specificities of, and offers a customized experience for each one. (Nabian, 393)
A new city is being constructed right now with the use of software or apps such as Yelp!, Foursquare or Waze. With the introduction of devices like Google Glass we might be able to accomplish even more with constant information and real time access to it. Offering a real-time view of how the disposed items travel through the landscape of their daily lives will expand each citizen’s perceived sphere of responsibility from the domestic space, to the space of the city. (Nabian, 390)
The city of the future is just beginning…
Jesper Kjeldskov et al., “Digital Urban Ambience: Mediating Context on Mobile Devices in a City,” Pervasive and Mobile Computing 9, no. 5 (October 2013): 738-749.
Nashid Nabian and Carlo Ratti, “The City to Come,” in Innovation: Perspectives for the 21st Century(OpenMind), https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/article/the-city-to-come/.
Dietmar Offenhuber and Carlo Ratti, “Reading the City: Reconsidering Kevin Lynch’s Notion of Legibility in the Digital Age,” in The Digital Turn: Design in the Era of Interactive Technologies, ed. Zane Berzina, Barbara Junge, and Walter Scheiffele (Zurich: Weissensee Academy of Art, Park Books, 2012), 216-224.