online: 6 june 2002

27 may 2002 a city of nomads

10:15 Schiphol airport, Amsterdam. I sit in the same seat where I sat on the same journey (from London to Bremen) a month ago. Outside I again see men and earth-moving machines digging and levelling the soft grey Netherlands undersoil - but now there are other men with wire manipulators and ladders erecting a security fence round whatever it is that they are all making - some kind of extension to this vast airport, or mini-city of nomads.

Yes we are all nomads now (now and again) when we join in the compulsive systemics of air travel, of supermarket shopping, of campus living and learning, of being hospitalised, or of being educated by 'distance learning' in cyberspace - or whatever it is that takes us into these artificial places of industrial time... This is it, afternature as it is, a no man's land of scheduled times and temporary places built and continuously modified to make possible the global nomadic way that we fear and doubt as much as we enjoy - or conform to... but who makes it?

Time to check in.

I go to the toilet and am surprised to see a notice to say that it flushes automatically. Does it have detectors to tell it when someone is sitting on the toilet seat? I think so (but whether it does or not this is the time when intelligent environments begin...

...and with that awareness the water closet adds to its existing 'internal' cybernetic (of the self-regulating machine or the constant level cistern) the 'external' cybernetic (of what is now called 'intelligent architecture' - or 'the interactive environment')... this is the advent of a profound change in 'the human condition' or 'the nature of nature' - a truly new world of extended intelligence and connected living.

'Extended intelligence' - a phrase joining together thought and matter which in modernism, in the dualistic meta-thought of materialist philosophy, or Cartesianism, were up to this kept separated. A profound change indeed.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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