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Mitchell to speak on urban 'e-topia'

Friday night may have been all right once, but today it's a triage among communications options, according to Professor William J. Mitchell in his new book on life in the urban digital era, e-topia: 'Urban life, Jim, but not as we know it' (MIT Press).

In fact, the options are so many and the moments so few, a new economy of presence has sprung up, asserted Professor Mitchell who is dean of the School of Architecture and architectural advisor to President Vest. His previous book, City of Bits, skirted the problem by being released simultaneously in print and electronic form, a pioneering moment in publishing.

"Before telecommunication technology began to change things, being 'present' always meant having your body right there, in some specific location to establish the possibility of direct, face-to-face interaction.

"In the electronically restructured cities of the twenty-first century, we will, I believe, plot our actions and allocate our resources within the framework of a new economy of presence. In conducting our daily transactions, we will find ourselves constantly considering the benefits of different grades of presence that are now available to us...

"But the power of place will prevail. As traditional locational imperatives weaken, we will gravitate to settings that offer particular cultural, scenic, and climatic attractions together with those face-to-face interactions we care most about," he writes in e-topia.

Professor Mitchell will speak on e-topia on Friday, Nov. 12 at 5:30pm in Rm 1-190, with a reception to follow. His talk is part of the authors@mit series, sponsored by MIT Libraries and the MIT Press Bookstore. All authors@mit events are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. Books are sold at a discount the week of the event.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 10, 1999.

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