FROM PLACES TO SPACES

Spaces aren’t bound by proximity.

The advantage of spaces is rooted less in their nongeographical virtuality and more in their unlimited ability to absorb connections and relationships. By means of communications, network spaces can connect all kinds of nodes, dimensions, relationships, and interactions–not just those physically close to one another.

The popular suffix of “space” is a truncated version of cyberspace, a science fiction term for an immersive electronic space. But the roots of the term are deeper. The technical concept of “space” came out of mathematics and computer science. Space is one way scientists describe complex systems; very complex spaces have their own unique dynamics. The notation of space is particularly handy when describing the ordinarily vague and indefinite form of networks. The net, as it encompasses billions of objects and agents (there are already more than 100,000 cameras on the net), operates in what mathematicians call “very high dimensions,” and has correspondingly novel dynamics. As electronic mediated environments expand, place has less influence and complex space more. As the economy infiltrates each network medium, it trades a physical marketplace for a conceptual marketspace.

 

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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK