Is Archinect a Place?

Heather Ring

I found this discussion fascinating: Is MySpace Media or is MySpace Space?

"But myspace and the new sites of network culture are different from the media of old. If they are””in general””not places of rational discourse, they are venues in which publics gather. Is myspace media? Yes. Is it a place, maybe? In my book, MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft definitely are. So do we exclude myspace just because it is not rendered in three dimensions? Are spaces media themselves? Are media spaces? Could be (think of the Seattle Public Library)."

Seems relevant to a networked community with a particular focus on physical space and the built environment ...

Jun 24, 06 10:10 am
Heather Ring

AKA: anyone want to get all meta and collectively self-reflective?

Jun 24, 06 11:06 am  · 
miss chief

Sure, I'll bite. Yes -- Archinect is a place, just as online communities and game spaces are places.

I'm glad to see this posted here ... this is the type of things my masters thesis is focusing on. And good that Kazys Varnelis posted it ... not sure if people around here are familiar with him, but he's a professor of architectural history and theory who's moved into digital culture. (He also spoke at Yale in the Philip Johnson sympoisum, for what it's worth). He's also known to frequent Archinect, no?

danah boyd, whose ph.d. research is on MySpace, says that MySpace is teen public space today, because teens have been denied physical public space. In studying space, it's interesting to look at the resistances and tensions that form it, and MySpace has many ... consider the fact that local police troll MySpace to bust drug and grafitti offenders, or that the NSA harvests the information people post on MySpace to better profile individuals. MySpace is such a space that it is feared, used by authorities to bust its users (think of skateboarder parallels), or subverted by the state (not even sure what to say of that one...)

Now, I don't think that vigiilante organs of the state are combing Archinect for badass architectural intel. But it is a place nonetheless.

Howard Rheingold is one of the key people who's defined this dialogue over the last 15 years. In 1993, before the Web as we know it even existed, Rheingold wrote The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. In it, he uses his own quote from a 1987 article by Stewart Brand, in which Rheingold says, "There's always another mind there. It's like having the corner bar, complete with old buddies and delightful newcomers and new tools waiting to take home and fresh graffiti and letters, except instead of putting on my coat, shutting down the computer, and walking down to the corner, I just invoke my telecom program and there they are. It's a place."

There are so many definitions of the difference between space and place. Henri Lefebvre writes "social space is a social product." Ray Oldenburg writes that our lives are shaped by three essential places: where we live, where we work, and where we gather to be convivial. These convivial places are what hold communities together, the places where we have casual conversation. In the early 90s, there was a lot of buzz about how online community and the networked world would create a "death of distance" (to quote France Caimcross) where we get our goods via home delivery and our interaction via telepresence. That proved to be absolutely not the case: Anthony Townsend, in his thesis, writes "Advances intelecommunications and information technology actually increased the need for institutions, people, and districts that can extract meaningfulknowledge from the rapidly increasing glut of undifferentiated information."

I find myself looking at behavior to define place. Like other online communities, Archinect has hosts, repeat users, discussions, arguments, trolls. There's a group idea of how to have a good online conversation. Different than other communities is how people here use images to have discussions as a point of reference in and of itself.

Back to Heather's question then, let's be specific. With Archinect, what is the nature of this place? What differentiates this place from a more general idea of space? And to Heather's questions, how do a group of architects, architecture students, and urbanists form a different kind of space?

Jun 24, 06 12:04 pm  · 

Yeah, let's be specific and tell each other who we really are.

Jun 24, 06 12:22 pm  · 

archinect is a state of mind!

Jun 24, 06 12:27 pm  · 
vado retro

spaces i visited today...
full service carwash
barnes and nobles

Jun 24, 06 1:00 pm  · 

Oh, that's right, your glory days are over.

Jun 24, 06 1:05 pm  · 
vado retro

actually a very cute girl smiled at me in the car next to me while on my way to the carwash. thats about as glorious as it gets!!!

Jun 24, 06 1:19 pm  · 

looking out the window at a dreary manhattan makes me think of those other 'temporal' spaces which come in to being under specific circumstances.
communities which gater under an awning when it is pouring rain
waiting in line to cash a check
wittnessing an event in real time.
these situations seem to create a short lived community between random people with its own rules and heirarchy

Jun 24, 06 3:34 pm  · 
vado retro

more places.

the interim library where i picked up some dvds
grocery store for a twelve pack of pacifico!

Jun 24, 06 5:03 pm  · 
vado retro

i cannot read a word of rem without thinking of lemmy caution. rem are you lemmy caution???

Jun 24, 06 5:09 pm  · 
Heather Ring

I know this place well enough to have expected this thread to get heckled ...

Thanks, mc -- ! So much to pour over. More later --

Jun 24, 06 5:11 pm  · 

I've always been really tempted to buy nice copies of a few of those mid-90s writings on the coming death of the physical place.

would be nice to have for posterity and silliness.

Jun 24, 06 5:22 pm  · 
vado retro

many years ago i did a competition on the possiblity of non-movement. surprisingly, i did not win. my entry was called "the tragic episode of cj and the sunshine motel" the premise was that cj aka cyber junkie has taken refuge in "the sunshine motel" a reconfigured motel on route 66. the motel is in its _th iteration. beginning a motel for those travelling the "highway that is best, gradually losing prominence as the interstates began bypassing the motels, transitioning into housing for migratory workers and then devolving into flophouses for drugs and prostitution. eventually, the sunshine motel becomes a new kind of flophouse. a place for the cyber junkie who is hooked up to his/her "temporal manipulator" any "reality "the cyber junkie wants is available through this medium. the possiblity of non movement is almost complete, except that for an occasional meal which is provided by the taquira next door. oh and of course, the means to pay for the motel. which is also provided by an occasional robbery of the same taquira.

Jun 24, 06 5:25 pm  · 
miss chief

...and I figured as much as well... though it didn't deter me from posting. Click link the link to "troll" in my post above for a definition of it ...

Manamana, to laugh at the urban dissolutionists (as they're called), check out
Frances Cairncross, The Death of Distance : How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives. It was written in 1997. I'm surprised it was written so late.

Jun 24, 06 5:26 pm  · 
Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

Well, hecking aside, the fact that people are posting means that this is a topic worth discussing. I don't think that the previous posters were asserting that the recognition of a non-space as space is in order. Rather, these "non-spaces" reinforce the need for tangible, physical space. If you look at past writers about architecture and urbanism who investigate the devaluation of space as a possibility (think SI, Yona Friedman, and perhaps even Archigram), their derives, networks, etc were always undergirded by some type of physicality. In fact Melvin Webber's seminal 1963 essay, Cities Without Propinquity, lauded the lack of propinquity in large metropolises precisely because it could be supported by infrastructures.

I've been in too many seminars and classes where the likes of Michel de Certau, Henri Lefebvre, and Gaston Bachelard are name-dropped -- some people out there are eager to consider spatial analysis as part of their theory toolkits, no?

Jun 24, 06 5:43 pm  · 
liberty bell

I think this is a fascinating topic but I'm too tired to go into it much right now. These students are challenging my stamina.

(That last statement about my students means something to regulars here who know what it means, people who "hang out at" or "visit" Archinect.)

An important aspect of this is time, of course. Conversations in real time/space (does anyone still refer to it as meatspace?) can't really happen like this. I can make a statement here and it can be read and responded to days later. Or I can stay up late here and "see" sporadic when he comes to work in the morning. I don't have simultaneous physical access to most of the architects I know.

When our students ask how Steven and I met, I say we met on Archinect. I don't say we met at Archinect. But I'm not sure that's a distinction worth noting.

Also, I have to bring this up: every other chat/forum site I have been to has been graphically annoying and ugly as hell - aesthetically displeasing. Archinect looks good, it is a visually pleasant place to be. So existing as a three dimensional rendered space, along the lines of Warcraft, seems unecessary. My avatar is my words, I don't need a visual 3-D presence to be here.

Jun 24, 06 11:06 pm  · 

i'm still waiting for things to get all johnny mnemonic.

i don't think of this place as a place, except in the metaphorical sense. there are lots of things that can be seen and done here but they don' compare to walking down the street and seeing a family huddling round the yacki-tori sidewalk vendor, having a beer and having fun; nor is it like walking through the kids on their mopeds that sit in front of the sev across the way from my flat....those kind of in-your-face experiences that make routine places really 3-d don't happen here...least it don feel that way to me.

still, there is a definite community going on. well maybe more like a costume ball really...

Jun 25, 06 7:06 am  · 

This is virtual place. It doesn't replace or emulate real place, it offers something other than real place.

Personally, I like that there are now two kinds of places, real and virtual, that I can and do interact in seperately.

What is still not generally acknowledged (although it is undeniably self evident) is that involvement in virtual places like archinect and myspace basically manifests itself via self-publishing, thanks largely to hypertext markup language.

There are other virtual places too, of course. What the limits of virtual place are is an unknown.

Jun 25, 06 7:29 am  · 
brian buchalski

i'm lost

Jun 25, 06 1:06 pm  · 

"Please stop blurring the real and virtual. I can't take it anymore."

I think that's Rita Novel in the background!

Jun 25, 06 2:13 pm  · 

Jun 25, 06 5:19 pm  · 



this virtual place is sense-less.
I don't know what Rita smells like.
I couldn't identify liberty bell by her voice.

just an obvious observation, and a basic distinction (a la jump's comments above)...

Jun 25, 06 5:26 pm  · 

I smell of otherness, I sound of otherness, and I give a whole other feeling.

Jun 25, 06 5:38 pm  · 
vado retro

if you didnt exist, there would be no reason to invent you.

Jun 25, 06 7:00 pm  · 

That's right, I was invented because I do exist.

Jun 25, 06 7:12 pm  · 

sure myspace exists on some servers. so it's a place.
i don't think myspace is structured to give good impressions.

but, this is one of the only possibly more interesting persons I've come across on myspace

Jul 4, 06 12:16 am  · 

and the walmart where i picked up a couple hundred condoms is real :-)

Jul 4, 06 12:18 am  · 

"i don't think of this place as a place, except in the metaphorical sense" What other sense does there need to be? I'm not always convinced that there really is a physical world. Sometimes I think the space inside my head is all that's really required for existance.

Of course, that might be the drugs talking.

Jul 4, 06 12:20 am  · 
teens have been denied physical public space

huh? what happened to the back of the handmedown minivan, parked at the far corner of the mall parking lot?

Jul 4, 06 12:20 am  · 

haha, sounding very rational mr rationalist

Jul 4, 06 3:40 am  · 

this is "no place"

where am i??? who are you???

has anybody seen this old scifi tv show called "nowhere man"?

Jul 4, 06 5:19 am  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?


This is your first comment on Archinect. Your comment will be visible once approved.

  • ×Search in: