Information and communication technologies are said to be transforming urban life dramatically and bringing about rapid economic and cultural globalization. This book explores the many fascinating and urgent issues involved by relating advanced theoretical debates to practical matters of communication with cultural policy. It maps out a range of ‘optimistic’ and ‘pessimistic’ scenarios with special regard to various forms of inequality, particularly class, gender and geo-political inequalities. The sheer pace of change is difficult to track yet the expert contributors to this volume all offer insights and essential guidance to what is going on. There are chapters on urban planning, virtual cities and actual cities, economic and political policy, and critical social analysis of current trends that are of momentous consequence.
The book concludes that neither technological determinism nor economic determinism satisfactorily account for information and communication technologies and urban development. Instead, it is necessary to bring together a number of differently informing approaches, cultural, economic, political and technological, to make sense of a field of dynamic and contradictory forces.
In the opening chapter to this book Stephen Graham provides a wide-ranging discussion of urban planning issues in relation to computer-mediated communications and cyberspace which usefully frames the general theme of the book as a whole. He takes issue with technological determinist perspectives whether of a utopian or dystopian kind and seeks, instead, ‘to insert the idea of local agency into debates about new technologies and the future of cities’ (p. 10). Like Raymond Williams (1974), Graham sees technological innovation and implementation as resulting from a multiplicity of factors that combine to produce specific effects in a variety of circumstances. There is no inevitability in the making and deployment of technologies and there is no place quite like any other place (see Lee, 1997). ...