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William J. Mitchell

William J. Mitchell was the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences and directed the Smart Cities research group at MIT's Media Lab. He authored many books, including The World's Greatest Architect (2008) and Placing Words: Symbols, Space, and the City (2005), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century

This book provides a long-overdue vision for a new automobile era. The cars we drive today follow the same underlying design principles as the Model Ts of a hundred years ago and the tail-finned sedans of fifty years ago. In the twenty-first century, cars are still made for twentieth-century purposes. They’re well suited for conveying multiple passengers over long distances at high speeds, but inefficient for providing personal mobility within cities--where most of the world’s people now live.

Making, Meaning, and Network Culture

Artifacts (including works of architecture) play dual roles; they simultaneously perform functions and carry meaning. Columns support roofs, but while the sturdy Tuscan and Doric types traditionally signify masculinity, the slim and elegant Ionic and Corinthian kinds read as feminine. Words are often inscribed on objects. (On a door: “push” or “pull.”) Today, information is digitally encoded (dematerialized) and displayed (rematerialized) to become part of many different objects, at one moment appearing on a laptop screen and at another, perhaps, on a building facade (as in Times Square).

Designing a Campus for the Twenty-First Century

In the 1990s, MIT began a billion-dollar building program that transformed its outdated, run-down campus into an architectural showplace. Funded by the high-tech boom of the 1990s and and driven by a pent-up demand for new space, MIT’s ambitious rebuilding produced five major works of architecture: Kevin Roche’s Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, Steven Holl’s Simmons Hall, Frank Gehry’s Stata Center, Charles Correa’s Brain and Cognitive Science Complex, and Fumihiko Maki’s still-unrealized project for the Media Laboratory.

Symbols, Space, and the City

The meaning of a message, says William Mitchell, depends on the context of its reception. "Shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater produces a dramatically different effect from barking the same word to a squad of soldiers with guns," he observes. In Placing Words, Mitchell looks at the ways in which urban spaces and places provide settings for communication and at how they conduct complex flows of information through the twenty-first century city.

The Cyborg Self and the Networked City

With Me++ the author of City of Bits and e-topia completes an informal trilogy examining the ramifications of information technology in everyday life. William Mitchell describes the transformation of wireless technology in the hundred years since Marconi--the scaling up of networks and the scaling down of the apparatus for transmission and reception. It is, he says, as if "Brobdingnag had been rebooted as Lilliput"; Marconi's massive mechanism of tower and kerosene engine has been replaced by a palm-size cellphone.

"Urban Life, Jim--But Not As We Know It"

The global digital network is not just a delivery system for email, Web pages, and digital television. It is a whole new urban infrastructure--one that will change the forms of our cities as dramatically as railroads, highways, electric power supply, and telephone networks did in the past. In this lucid, invigorating book, William J.

Space, Place, and the Infobahn

Entertaining, concise, and relentlessly probing, City of Bits is a comprehensive introduction to a new type of city, an increasingly important system of virtual spaces interconnected by the information superhighway. William Mitchell makes extensive use of practical examples and illustrations in a technically well-grounded yet accessible examination of architecture and urbanism in the context of the digital telecommunications revolution, the ongoing miniaturization of electronics, the commodification of bits, and the growing domination of software over materialized form.

Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era

"An intelligent and readable approach to the digitization of images.... A useful overview of a critical subject."
New York Times Book Review

Enhanced? Or faked? Today the very idea of photographic veracity is being radically challenged by the emerging technology of digital image manipulation and synthesis: photographs can now be altered at will in ways that are virtually undetectable, and photorealistic synthesized images are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual photographs.

This is an entirely different garden book: a pattern book in which a score of landscapes and gardens are drawn, described, and analyzed not just as a bouquet of pleasures but as sources, lodes to be mined for materials, shapes and relationships, and ideas for transforming our own backyards.

Design, Computation, and Cognition

The Logic of Architecture is the first comprehensive, systematic, and modern treatment of the logical foundations of design thinking. It provides a detailed discussion of languages of architectural form, their specification by means of formal grammars, their interpretation, and their role in structuring design thinking.

Titles by This Editor

Prospects for the Positive Use of Advanced Information Technology

How will low-income communities be affected by the waves of social, economic, political, and cultural change that surround the new information technologies? How can we influence the outcome? This action-oriented book identifies the key issues, explores the evidence, and suggests some answers. Avoiding both utopianism and despair, the book presents the voices of technology enthusiasts and skeptics, as well as social activists.