Here and there


Dean William J. Mitchell of the School of Architecture and Planning is the author of a newly published book that takes a generally positive view of the electronic future.

Reviewer Mark Harris in the Vancouver Sun said that Dean Mitchell, although a working academic, has a prose style which inclines "toward elegance rather than obscurity," and that reading his book, City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn (MIT Press) was "a pleasure, not a chore."

The reviewer continued: "Unsurprisingly for a dean or architecture and planning. Mitchell's book lays out its arguments with the linear logic of one of Le Corbusier's early city grids. `The keyboard is my cafe,' he writes, celebrating the Infonet and the new spatial freedom that it brings. `Without leaving my office at MIT.' Mitchell marvels, `I can teach a class in Singapore.'

Harris found Dean Mitchell "bullish on everything from virtual museums, which can obviously be more complete than anything found in the limited realm of the three-dimensional, to the coming marriage between persons and machines. Even better, freedom must flourish, because on the Net thought has become harder than ever to censor. `Fahrenheit 451 is becoming irrelevant,' Mitchell assures us. `You can burn books, but not bits.'"
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A new book of 49 poems, Without Warning, has been published by Elizabeth Goldring, a research fellow and exhibits and projects director at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies. She has also held an appointment in the Department of Architecture, where she has taught seminars in art and environmental poetry.

The publisher, BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kansas City & Helicon Nine Editions, notes that for the past 10 years Goldring has been devoted to visualizing vision loss and creating the poetics of a visual language for people with low vision. Her "eye journals" documenting her own vision loss and periods of blindness form an important basis for her poetry.

A reviewer, Paula Dawson, writes: "Read Without Warning by Elizabeth Goldring and you will taste her world. Elizabeth's vision illuminates intimate moments. She draws the reader from her partner's socks to the sporadic darkness of her damaged retinas. She enables the reader to share her unique reality."

Her first book of poems was Laser Treatment (Blue Giant Press, Boston, 1983) She has presented her poetry and multi-media performances at exhibitions, events and festivals in Europe and the United States.

She is married to Otto Piene, senior lecturer and professor of visual design emeritus in the Department of Architecture. Together with Professor Piene she co-directed the International Sky Art Conferences from 1981 to 1986.

QUOTES

"It makes you think about everything in a different way, and that's certainly one of the signs of a revolution. It helps organize what we're discovering every day in human genetics and brain science."-Dr. Steven Pinker, professor of psychology, on the emerging field of evolutionary psychology, which believes that human behavior has evolved in much the same manner as physical attributes, in The Boston Globe.

"The media always gets overexcited about this stuff."-Dr. Randall Davis, professor of computer science and engineering and associate director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, on how newspapers and magazines often do more harm than good in wrapping stories on the rapidly changing information age in such buzzwords as "cyber-porn, cyberspace and info-wars," in the Montreal Gazette.

"There has just been a lot of restructuring in industries that had been the crown jewels of the union movement-autos and steel and so on. As you have more workers chasing fewer jobs, it is harder to organize because people feel they have no bargaining power. This is a time when management has labor on the run."-Frank Levy, Daniel Rose Professor of Urban Economics, on the decline of the labor movement, in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"We are seeing the beginning of a new era where the debate is no longer whether change is needed, but how to achieve significant change. We will see a rekindling of spirit in the labor movement."-Dr. Thomas A. Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, also on the topic of the labor movement, in The Christian Science Monitor.

"The issue is whether these weapons are particularly vicious and inhumane. I don't think they are. All weapons kill and maim. Let's not panic about lasers. I suspect they're not going to be as effective as the Red Cross fears or the military hopes."-Dr. Kosta Tsipis, director of the Program in Science and Technology for International Security, on concerns that laser-weapons systems under development could cause blindness, in the Montreal Gazette.

"If you believe the evidence and, of course, the defense says you should not because it has been tainted or planted and manipulated, but if you do accept some of these numbers. their combination leads overwhelmingly to one conclusion."-Arnold I. Barnett, professor of operations research and management, on the statistical evidence compiled by the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, in The Boston Globe.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 1995.


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