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Reclaiming The Cyber(netic) City

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Amputated from the term cybernetics, the prefix cyber- vaguely indicates that a thing is in some way digital or computer-mediated. The term cybercities is used broadly to indicate that cities have become a different order of thing by virtue of the insertion of digital communications networks and other computer technology into the urban fabric. In this paper I endeavor to contribute to a reclaiming of the cyber- prefix to propose a more appropriate and useful interpretation of the mediated city more akin to the ethos of cybernetic theory. I put forward a model of an urban cycle by which a city is instantiated and sustained. This cycle is divided into four phases--design, build, inhabit, and reflect--which also correspond to the purviews of different groups of professional or grassroots urban actors in conventional urban contexts. Using the above-mentioned urban cycle as a mapping convention, I visualize the ways in which these ideas work on and in the urban cycle and identify a subset that represent a transgression of ingrained divisions and blockages in the urban cycle, hinting at potential future developments of the mediated city.
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Keywords: Cybercities; mediated urbanism; urban processes

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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