The elements of networked urbanism

A summary of what those of us who are thinking, writing and speaking about networked urbanism seem to be seeing: fourteen essential transformations that, between them, constitute a rough map of the terrain to be discovered.

Not sure, in every case, I’ve got the phrasing just right, and will in any event expand on this shortly. Nevertheless:

1. From latent to explicit;
2. From browse to search;
3. From held to shared;
4. From expiring to persistent;
5. From deferred to real-time;
6. From passive to interactive;
7. From component to resource;
8. From constant to variable;
9. From wayfinding to wayshowing;
10. From object to service;
11. From vehicle to mobility;
12. From community to social network;
13. From ownership to use;
14. From consumer to constituent.

41 responses to “The elements of networked urbanism”

  1. Fred Scharmen says :

    Nice. I would add one more: From space to place. It’s implied in ‘From held to shared’, but may be worth stating outright, especially inre: Deleuze’s ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’

  2. Tols says :

    I’m not sure if I agree with “2. From browse to search”, imho ‘filter’ instead of ‘search’ seems to be more appropriate. I think it is also contradicting with “9. From wayfinding to wayshowing” , which I think is correct.

    The cloud with data streams, originating from both people and objects, will be available anytime, anywhere. The challenge for us wil be to filter or extract relevant info out of it for personal use. What do you think?

  3. Anthony Townsend says :

    ditto on #2. i think a huge part of urban form/good classic design is around reducing search costs in a more practical way than flaneur-stlye browsing

  4. AG says :

    It’s really all about reducing information costs (and therefore opportunity costs), isn’t it?

  5. AG says :

    It may be my fault for having so encapsulated these notions, but no, I do mean “search.” Think of querying the space of the city for a given event, object, or configuration of objects.

  6. AG says :

    Duly noted. : . )

  7. annegalloway says :

    Looks interesting! When you “expand on this” can you also please expand on who “those of us” are so that we can learn more from them too? Cheers.

  8. AG says :

    The usual suspects, but yes, absolutely.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about attribution lately, actually, as a moral and practical practice both. I don’t happen to believe that anybody “owns” an idea, and I do believe that almost all knowledge production happens in the spaces in between people, but I’m also aware that there are those for whom citation is more or less directly correlated with their ability to put food on the table.

    Some of us are better’n others, but in general I don’t think that we’re doing a good enough job of tracing the etiology of expression. I’m contemplating writing this all up soon in a form that should make that “us” and “we” more explicit.

  9. Rez says :

    In line with #2, I propose #9 should be “From wayfinding to thingfinding”. See my rational at

  10. AG says :

    What you mean by “thingfinding” is almost precisely what I mean by the “search” in #2. : . )

  11. Rez says :

    Perhaps we’re talking about a different thing. In the context of “from wayfinding to thingfinding” I’m referring to a shift in what’s being searched for. And concurrently wayshowing will shift to an emphasis on thingshowing.

    My perspective takes into account current limitations of wayshowing systems, such as street signs with limited capacity to provide directional information to satisfy the needs of many users.

    What were you referring to in #9?

  12. AG says :

    Nope, I got you. As I see it, the shift from browse urbanism to search urbanism is precisely the ability to search urban space for desired events, objects, etc. (See my response to Tols, above.)

    By contrast, we’re moving away from conceiving of locational information as a series of cues intended to help the pedestrian orient him- or herself as they proceed incrementally to a destination, and more toward the sort of presentation we see in GPS systems: Turn left here. Take this subway car. Use Exit 3A. Walk 100 meters.

    I think some form of dynamic directional street signage is not far off, but even before that happens (and partially obviating the necessity for any such thing) we’ll see locational services on the personal device become dominant. I already find my way around strange cities using my iPhone and Google Maps, though the mode the combination works in is still much closer to traditional wayfinding.

  13. Rez says :

    Yes, you did. We are talking about the same thing and you’ve basically summed up my talk next week.

  14. Sam Cohen says :

    right on!

    for #11, perhaps “from Vehicle to Vector?” still not quite right…

  15. Ms. Jen says :

    Bravo: “From consumer to constituent.”

    To this I will give my favorite Madeleine L’Engle quote,
    “Fire consumes, Cancer consumes.
    I am not a consumer, I am a human being.”

  16. Kio says :

    Speaking of attribution my dear friend, I believe you got ‘constituents’ from yours truly. I said it, sevensixfive twittered it.

  17. AG says :

    You are correct! (I number you and he among the “those of us.” Will make this more explicit in the iterated version.)

  18. K says :

    Is there a resistance movement!? This has the same terrifying beauty as an essay in The Economist!

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