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The end of geographical location

How does cyberspace relate with planning?
It could be advanced that digital technologies contribute to a sort of attempt to change the nature of geographical space by mining its own physical distance-based
properties. Deterritorialization might cause a transition from a cities-based to cyber cities-based world and society. Again, the absence of the sense of belonging to a specific location might imply also that cultural identity, based on geographical location, may be in danger of extinction. Thus, the focus of planning has changed; planners are now confronted with the task of managing cyberspaces. On the other side of the coin, planning itself has deeply changed: traditional blueprint professionals, used to drawing by means of pencils and afterwards to discussing their master plans with citizens and stakeholders, are currently engaged in a transition to soon become cyber planners, always connected to their digital draft plans, which most of the time will be considered in progress and will be distributed and accessible by 24- hour-living communities.
The disciplinary paradigms of urban and regional planning do not seem to be adequate to provide correct analysis and to deal with complex changes affected cyberspace, in its wider sense. Graham and Marvin confirm this crisis in the interpretative framework [30-31]. They complain that urban planning researchers and scholars are not very interested in the relationship between the digital field of telecommunications and the stony hardware of the city: “Urban analysts and policy makers still see cities through analytical lenses which actually have less and less to do with the real dynamics of telecommunication-based urban development” [30, p. 48].
Batty agrees with them: “Understanding of the impacts of information technology on cities is still woefully inadequate” [32, p. 250]. The specialist literature itself shows the signs of a sort of scientific inertia, since the attempts to classify do not go beyond the metaphorical transposition between the dual virtual/actual fields and avoid describing the real changes induced by digital telecommunication into the city. Graham and Marvin [30] and Couclelis [33] after them quote more than twenty different terms coined ad hoc for illustrating the revolutionary nature of cyber cities.
However, the dichotomy of urban places/electronic spaces seems to leave the directions of future research open. The key to the problem is the correct interpretation of the related material and immaterial flows between city and hyper city. These are characterized by synergy and not only by simple duplication of social fields of study.
The unspoken background of the above problem is the need to establish new paradigms for urban and regional planning. In this transition process, planners have to adapt to the demands of new spatial settlements and infrastructure, listening to both the displaced and the digital communities. Digitalization encourages changes in the types of planning tools through the introduction of digital formats and the need to negotiate digital draft procedures. The imperative seems really to be to discover the new sense of location displayed by the “collective intelligence.”
Nevertheless, planning still seems to be connected with geographic systems of real displacements, even if telecommunications allows people to work without moving, to vote without going to the ballot box, or to watch movies without entering a cinema. This global interconnection, through virtual presence, means an expansion of opportunities and also of the need to move, act, travel and picture.



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