Mitchell's City of Bits: Commentary and Discussion

Digital Exclusions and Inclusions

Dan Parke

The first thing that occured to me when Mitchell reintroduced the idea of a virtual Agora was this: What prevents deliberate segregation, elitism, avoidance, descrimination, exclusion, etc... on a absolute, digital scale? When anyone or any group can have their own city, what forces dialogue, communication, confrontation? Should people be forced to deal with opposing views? Can they be forced?

I thought about what made people deal with others unlike themselves and it seems to be shared required resources. That forces interaction. Are there any such required resources, though? The effort to make another chat room is minimal, to make the channel invite only is only a few key strokes. When the physical location of a server is unknown (where the hell IS geocities?) and largely unimportant, what forces people together into the same Agora? They don't need to farm nearby crops, or be close to the city's blacksmith...

If we are freed in some way from the physical constraints of time and space (while at the same time limited by lowered breadth and ability of communication) why can't that simplification make perfection a little closer to our grasp?

It suppose that makes the converse true: exclusionary societies can be made more easily. But is that the converse or just another interpretation of utopia? One woman's idea of perfection is still perfection to her...

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