Bit City

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

"Bit city...This will be a city unrooted to any definite spot on the surface of the earth, shaped by connectivity and bandwidth constraints rather than by accessibility and land values, largely asynchronous in its operation,and inhabited by disembodied and fragmented subjects who exist as collections of aliases and agents. Its places will be constructed virtually by software instead of physically from stones and timbers, and they will be connected by logical linkages rather than by doors, passageways, and streets." (Mitchell1995: 24)

Spatial configurations function as structural models -- or interfaces-- which allow a networked representation of different media: maps, the imagined plan of a city or a house are classical places of  information storage.The classical Greek mnemonics used a house with several rooms to represent a subject of a prepared discourse or the encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert projects knowledge on a map to demonstrate the connections between the different sciences. The new digital environments use and develop these concepts further. Their encyclopedic character and their spatial embedding is comparable to their classical precursors. The metaphorical schemata construct the digital city in analogy to a traditional city. This reflects the categorizing of our perceptions, the way we find access to the world we live in. Imagination and the organization of our memory defines the concepts we choose and how we compose possible worlds. Metaphors, which are derived from cultural artifacts such as buildings or maps, show that culture provides spatial models for metaphoric schemata.