Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Calvert, P. (2004), "Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 453-453.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In this book Mitchell often refers to “boundaries”. He is interested in how the limits of our bodies have been extended by the use of network technologies, not necessarily of the electronic kind. Our cities, for example, have been designed and built to extend our boundaries beyond our limited physical reach. One example might show the point. “Water supply and sewer networks have become geographic extensions of my alimentary canal, my respiratory system, and associated organic plumbing” (p. 22). You get the picture.

This is the concluding volume of the “Mitchell trilogy” that deal with the ways in which the emerging digital network culture is changing our social, political, and economic lives, as well as changing city architecture and the people that live in them. At times Mitchell sounds almost spiritual in his vision of a future in which humans communicate effortlessly through interconnecting networks that have apparently no corporeal existence. It contrasts rather sharply with the mundane descriptions of existing technologies such as Bluetooth, which can connect a variety of consumer devices very well up to ten metres apart but no more than that. This is hardly the stuff of worldwide interconnectivity, though it is extremely useful at a local level. Some readers will enjoy the “vision” element of Mitchell's writing, while others will find more value in his knowledge of the detail ‐ he does both aspects well.

Though we have built satisfactory local networks, the problems arise once we get up and move around. This problem is solved by wireless protocols, Mitchell claims, and we can now become “electronic nomads” (p. 57). One aspect that Mitchell adds to the debate on our networked future is his detailed knowledge of urban architecture, and his main thesis here is the challenge laid down to “re‐magine” our environment, especially design, engineering and planning practice.

Overall I enjoyed this book, though for a view of the importance of networked society I still prefer the Castells’ trilogy The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture (published by Blackwell, 1996‐1998). This book by Mitchell has a place in all university libraries.

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