Who pays the damages?


Karl Marx thought that the evils of the industrial age could be cured by changing the ownership of the “means of production.”  John Ruskin thought it best to eliminate all mechanical technologies, starting with print.  Lewis Mumford thought that the sins of mechanization would be redeemed by electricity, and Marshall McLuhan that (analog) electronic communications would finally heal the rift (in Marx’s term, “alienation”) that had been opened by the mechanical revolution.  But, in hindsight, it appears that none of them may have been entirely right, and no one can prove that today’s digital turn is going to be friendlier to humankind than electricity and electronics were over the course of the twentieth century.  Designers cannot duck the digital turn; but neither can they keep basking in the juvenile optimism that accompanied the first age of digitality in architecture.  That optimism was perfectly warranted around 1999.  In 2011, the digital is not necessarily our friend.  In fact, it may turn out to be the most formidable foe the architectural profession has met since its early modern, Florentine beginnings.

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