The spatial organizations that cities have presented are influenced by the forces of globalization and vice versa. They are co-dependent forces within this world that act to arrange new social order in a very physical way. The reason to study this is to better understand how we can live in this world that has a new physical manifestation and city organization, due to the effects of the globalized world we live in. To better explain these global forces, I need to break it down into individual aspects that further react to globalization as a whole.
Globalization has persisted in 3 phases. Phase 1.0 lied in the agency of governments and political powers, phase 2.0 lied in the agency of corporations, and phase 3.0 lies currently in the power of the people and the individual. Globalization in simple terms, is almost opposite from the name itself. While we are achieving a global world, the smallness and inter-connectivity that is being created achieves a narrowing of the world’s greater communication system, yet a greater cultural diversity in single places. Globalization isn’t the settling of a diverse group of people in one region. It is the exposure of events happening from across the world, in a direct and physically tangible way—an earthquake that occurred in the United States causing a tsunami in Japan; a storm beginning in South America ending as a hurricane on the East Coast of North America. There is a palpability that must exist to constitute an inter-connectivity within this Earth. One could comfortably believe that the internet has catalyzed the inter-connectivity that is required to globalize the world, however without tangibility, a full awareness of the person on the other side of the computer cannot exist.
To further bring the world together, this infrastructure would change to apply itself to the event that it responds to. Connectivity that stimulates emergence is more important than mere connectivity. Likewise, bringing the world together is not as simple as connection in forms of circulation, rather the connection must encourage something more than just a surface level catalyst. Although infrastructure is organized and constructed to imply something deeper than its facade, there is an accidental language that eludes its true purpose within a city. Benjamin Bratton examines the idea of the accident by expressing its place in this “massive file-sharing network” of a city, including Shanghai. The city of Shanghai acts as a foundation for a potentially extensive accidental infrastructure, seeing as it has been built so organized in order to provide a stable human environment. Bratton supplements this concept by referring to the “world itself as information” rather than the virtual space that enlightens the people living on this planet. The accidental infrastructure that results from the catalyst of human life within a city provides grounds for a new layer of understanding how humans can live in a network simultaneously. This could work in the sense that within a city, the machine can act as an organized and programmed moment for life to continue. Infrastructure has an extreme prevalence within a city structure. It implies how life would flow and exist in a human’s everyday. It marks the foundation of everyday life and defines how humans could exist within a city. It also provides the basis for humans in the city to formalize new interactions in urban society. Furthermore, the independent city is no longer adequate to be a framework for understanding human existence, rather it is simply one layer in a multi-layered structure and is affected by all other layers within society.
A straightforward infrastructure of a city is not enough to support society and its current complexity which includes virtuality, machine mechanisms, heavy human flow, and even more modern-day circumstances. As Manfredo Tafuri explores how an infrastructure can spark accidental interactions and scenarios within its formal qualities, it results in a conclusion that “the entire modern city becomes an enormous ‘social machine’”. The city then becomes a “human-machine-infrastructure interaction” where humans and the city become co-authors in a society catalyst rather than a simple infrastructure that sits as a basis to human life. As both Tafuri and Bratton argue, infrastructure within a city informs sociability and becomes a crucial role into the perpetuation of human society. Therefore, within the mega-city of Shanghai, this infrastructure can act not only to humanize the city itself, but generate the capacity necessary for an interconnected system. However, Shanghai would not be a typical place we associate as a city, rather it would be envisioned not as something physically evident. It should then not be understood as something physical or visible-- it should be understood as a place with metaphysical layers that inform its mechanisms and happenings. The city of Shanghai would not be evident in its interior extents, it would exist offshore, across the globe, in digital space, or all in-sync. For example, the physical spaces that humans might interact with have further extent than its interaction like freeways that carry goods to and from global locations, free trade zones, or tax-exempt art storage warehouses. All of these provide physical examples to an infrastructure that has a metaphysical and globalized purpose, instead of its simple tangible effects.
A virtual infrastructure has been developed to accommodate a growing society through the internet and its intangible connection that it affords. This innate want to belong as a piece of a whole stems from the idea that without the piece, the whole could not exist. In many ways, virtual spaces (i.e. any form of social media) acts as this whole, but a new form of individuality emerges from this network. In The Space of Flows, Timeless Time, and Mobile Networks, Manuel Castells restates Fortunati’s understanding of social connection as “being increasingly perceived as an instrument of global communication, although most of its uses are local, even sedentary, and related to close personal interaction” and within this, there is still an underlying understanding that the local is considered individual and the global is considered a distant, even intangible concept.
Mobile communication is, as a non-physical mechanism, is a simulation of inter-connectivity within our increasingly global society. This simulation can only be substantiated for so long until humanity receives it as unreal and a rejection of this intangibility begins. Mediated forms of communication have many advantages over face-to-face communication. Not only do they enable connection across geographic distances, they also enable connection across time. Distinct mediums exist because they afford certain advantages that distinguish them from other media and forms. In the The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin, a German philosopher, explores the idea that the mechanical reproduction of art undervalues the artifacts uniqueness. In application, the value of the original is tinted through its digital, virtual, or mechanical reproduction, therefore communicating something lesser than it really is. He writes, “the presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity”, exploring the dichotomy between the archetype and its mass imitation. An infrastructure, therefore, cannot simply be imitated through a virtual network. Even more so, globalization can not be simulated through this virtual network. In order for it to truly work, it must exist as a physical system for human access and exploitation. Not to say that this virtual inter-connectivity is not effective, rather it is a way for all humans to access the same information as one another. However, it is not enough to convince a human of its realness because of its virtual intangibility.
In asynchronous communication (the concept of telecommunication that explores the transmission of data that can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream) participants do not communicate concurrently, which is synonymous with the absence of face-to-face communications. Therefore, this allows for humans to correspond to each other when convenient to them. In application, an infrastructure or program organization could potentially represent an analogous asynchronous communication, responding not in a constant flow. This type of data progression has changed our perception on various objects within our universe. Asynchronous communication can apply itself to an infrastructure by allowing humans to tap into it when necessary. Rather than existing perpetually, a success within virtual networks is their ability to allow for humans to access information mostly when necessary. Therefore, a strength within infrastructure could be this same pattern of human access.
An invisible, yet abidable, layer of infrastructure includes the common law and its scope of reach. When applying this intangible infrastructure, the actions of humans become exceptionally informed and uniform due to its common ground. Where interest comes into play is through the murky mutuality of an airport or international waters that allow for a larger purview of actions and opportunity for a commonplace. These then support a wider range of populations to due its openness of culture and humanities.
The lawless versus the lawful creates a fascinating distinction between human kind producing a right and a wrong. Buckminster Fuller explores humanity’s actions within architecture in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. He states, “they are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodating laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe”, referring to the laws that produce the natural operative actions of humans within this modern world. Therefore, the intentionally lawless from governmental guidelines are not necessarily lawless in humankind, due to the innate human nature within. While cities construct themselves individually to impose agents to follow the common law, they don’t necessarily need to. If an infrastructure can present itself to any human just by following the law of human nature, then it wouldn’t discriminate against aliens that hope to adjust to the unfamiliar place.
However, while trying to accommodate for every human in a single place, globalization is hindered by the mere fact of over-scaled layers of infrastructure. Just considering the complex short story On Exactitude in Science, Jorge Luis Borges examines the idea that where a science of cartography must become so exact that only a map of the same scale would suffice to truly understand how to exist within a place. This concept is not only extremely intensive, but also absurd. This essential division between representation and reality of map is just an example of the impossible accommodation that a single city must provide to every human possible. Globalization within an infrastructure could administer intermittent familiar experiences to reach a larger audience of humans within a specified city, such as Shanghai, so that any human the resides or visits could feel a part of the existence outside of its physical extents.
A mega-city is classified by the United Nations as a very large city, specifically with more then 10 million people living in it. It is comprised of an urban area made so large it may have a municipality equivalent to a small state government. There are currently 37 mega-cities in the world. The UN has expected that to rise to 43 by the year 2030.
One in five people around the work currently live in an urban area. The reasoning behind this is due to the accessibility of resources that a city provides, rather than a rural area. Mega-cities are growing due to their government influence, in addition to the attraction of every need possible to be found there. Now, rural areas exist simply because of their resource production necessary for urban areas.
Governance and Control
Parties and Elections
Forces and Capabilities (Police, Military, etc.)
Economy (Licit, Black Market)
Businesses (Services, Manufacturing)
Facilities (Offices, Factories, Shops, Banks)
Groups and Demographics
Beliefs and Alliances
Internet and Social Media
Broadcast and Print