"People know what they do; they frequently know why they do "what they do"; but what they don't know is what "what they do" does" (Foucault)

Joanna Bach,

Development Agency Gdańsk,



"World has not shrunk at all when you walk (an activity still carried out by most humans), but at the same time it as shrank to a point if you move on internet!" (Schneider), ... as the world shrank when you think (an activity still carried out by most humans, I hope)? And more serious: what effects ever - growing, ever-faster mobility and flexibility have on our perception?

The fact of ever-growing and ever-faster mobility and flexibility as been realised since the invention of a train. As far as the effect on our perception is concerned, let us first analyse the definition of perception.

1. Perception

Perception, as we know means ability to become aware of (to have knowledge of), to see or notice. We have been perceiving because of the fact that we are humans - thinking creatures. The words emerge as a result of thinking (perceiving).

The time needed to express the thoughts seems to be the longest in our shrank world, what appeared to be the most unbelievable to me.

We have to realise, that "the connection between thoughts and word... is neither performed nor constant. It emerges in the course of development, and itself evolves. To the biblical "in the beginning was the Word", Goth makes Faust reply, "in the beginning was the deed". Vygotsky says, that the intent here is not to detract from the value of the word... (but) the word was not the beginning - action was there first, it is the end of development, crowing the deed".

How long does it take the word/deed to emerge in the process of thinking? I used the information pyramid, which represents a proper management of information steps (collecting, organising and summarising, and then analysing and synthesising and last taking decision).

The result in this diagram is value. Let us consider this value as the deed in the thinking process.

Hari Srinivas notices, that "value of knowledge can be realised only when it is disseminated and shared - and used". We need to talk, to communicate with one another!

The diagram starts with data - as a base of pyramid. Therefore I propose to analyse the collection of data.

"The collection is therefore a continuum, where a position of an information format changes as defining scales of the continuum itself change. Selecting an appropriate information packaging format depends on (among the others):

·         the medium through which the information is delivered - our language: "Not: Without language we could not communicate with one another - but for sure: without language we cannot influence other people in such-and-such ways; cannot build roads and machines, etc. And also: without the use of speech and writing people could not communicate"(Wittgenstein). Internet: Today, anything human being wants to say could be heard anywhere he wants. Facing the unique challenge in the age of information we have to consider information forms as the intellectual capital. Richard O. Mason pointed privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility as the four major issues of information ethics for the information age.

·         the information user/stakeholder - type and a number of users - we are determined of what we are in the process of becoming. To the extent that people come to embody different ways of relating themselves to their surroundings, in different ways, in different forms of life people can be seen as having, not just different ideas in different circumstances, but as being different kinds of subjectively self-conscious persons, inhabiting different kinds of social worlds (Shotter)- that is, we do not posses the different knowledge involved within ourselves, for such knowledge is not detached from our being, but is "determinative of what we are in the process of becoming" (Bernstein).

2. The relativity of knowledge

As Bernstein remarks, our knowledge is determined of what we are in the process of becoming. Reflect for the moment on the relativity of knowledge. We are mentally seeing everything in our world through a certain kind of image:

·         that of Arche-typical world,

·         that of the unitary, socially inert, Cartesian-Newtonian,

·         that of the theory of relativity, Einstein - Bohr world

·         that of the theory of Wittgenstein world.

These different kinds of images have been reflected in life. Human being created his reality in the way he understood infinity. As far as the city and the town-planner is considered, we can discuss the following:

·         that of Arche-typical world, the world of specific places and long historical time.

Arche – citta as the city of that time

Town - planner as the Man of Renaissance. The powerful sponsor is all he needs to realise his own vision of the city. My home city Gdańsk used to be a classical Arche-citta.

Gdańsk in XV-XVIII century.

·         that of the unitary, socially inert, Cartesian-Newtonian world of elements of matters in motion, in which, among other things, we see our knowledge as being representational in nature and foundational in structure.

Cine – citta as the city of that time

Town - planner was the director of the play/film "Living in a city". The scenario had to be interesting for his audience - citizens of that city. Unpredictable Life was playing the main role, special effects - "virtual reality", it had to go on theatre/cinema for some years. Investors locating money in real city were like getting Academy Award. My home city Gdańsk used to be a classical Cine-citta.

Gdańsk in XX century

·         that of the theory of relativity, Einstein - Bohr world, where "you can define correctly either place or speed of an object", and respectively "energy, mass and speed are dependent on each other".

Tele – citta as the city of our time

Town - planner is the director of the game "Living in a city". The scenario has to be interesting for his players - citizens of that city. Every citizen has to feel like playing the main role, special effects - "virtual reality", it must be available on internet for some years. Investors locating money in real city are like winning the game. Nowadays, my home city Gdańsk is a classical Tele – citta.

Gdańsk today, 2D city model

What is the future? Today we build the image of city in cyber space to get the best real city, but in predictable future we will create a new value of city in cyberspace. We may guess, that humans will duplicate existing reality (mirror - effect) in cyberspace first. But sooner or later, we mentally are going to see everything in our world through a new kind of image:

E - citta as the city of future time

Town - planner is the creator and ruler of the new universe. He creates something that has some relation to value finalised in his world view.

The diagrams beneath represent two different understandings of virtual reality. Flusser states, that information technology rather creates a shift in our view of the world and we are discovering new potentials of a widened perception. Virillo supposes, that the virtuality is something completely new that devaluates and finally replaces reality. Both regard this as the phenomenon connected with our reality. Let us consider the consequences of that.

Both diagrams by A. Schneider


The important question is what reality do we "copy and paste" to virtual world?

3. "Jihad versus Mcworld"

drew by Michal Kostrun

Benjamin R. Barber clear lens to the dangerous chaos of post cold-war world in "Jihad versus Mcworld". Consumer capitalism on the global level is rapidly dissolving the social and economic barriers between nations, integrating and uniforming them with global network of fast music, fast computers and fast food - that is what he called McWorld. Four imperatives make up the dynamic of McWorld:

·         a market imperative

The quest for ever-expanding markets compel nation-based capitalist economies to push against national boundaries in search of an international economic imperial, to reinforce the quest for international peace and stability, requisites of an efficient international economy. Common markets demand a common language, as well as a common currency, and they produce common behaviours of the kind bred by cosmopolitan city life everywhere. It is important to have direct access to the customers. "The new economy is an economy like a pressure cooker pan. The Don Jones is the political thermometer" states Daniel Yergin

·         a resource imperative

Democrats once dreamed of societies whose political autonomy rested firmly on economic independence. Human nature, as it turns out, is dependency. Every nation, needs something another nation has.

·         an information-technology imperative

The electronic telecommunication and information systems make for a very small planet in a very big hurry. Individual cultures speak particular languages; commerce and science increasingly speak English; the whole world speaks logarithms and binary mathematics. The efficient free market after all requires that consumers be free to vote their dollars on competing goods, not that citizens be free to vote their values and beliefs on competing political candidates and programs. What is the power of the Pentagon compared with Disneyland?

The impact of globalisation on ecology is obvious. Yet this ecological consciousness has meant not only greater awareness but also greater inequality, as modernised nations try to slam the door behind them, saying to developing nations, "The world cannot afford your modernisation; ours has wrung it dry!"

"Jihad" is a rich word whose generic meaning is "struggle" - usually the struggle of the soul to avert evil.

The atmospherics of Jihad have resulted in a breakdown of civility in the name of identity, of comity in the name of community. The primary political values required by the global market are order and tranquillity, and freedom - as in the phrases "free trade," "free press," and "free love." Jihad delivers a different set of virtues: a vibrant local identity, a sense of community, solidarity among kinsmen, neighbours.

"The dream of a universal rational society has to a remarkable degree been realised, but in a form that is commercialised, homogenised, depoliticised, bureaucratised, and, of course, radically incomplete, for the movement toward McWorld is in competition with forces of global breakdown, national dissolution, and centrifugal corruption". We still are seeking the balance between contradictory interests of Jihad and McWorld "At the same time... global networking versus...regional identity, a speeding up (socio-economic mobility and a need of change) versus a scaling down (ecological interests) of human developments...". Today's cities and town planning are determined by chaosmology, that is contamination of chaos (meaning a fragmented, anarchistic environment of accident) +cosmos (standing for the rule, order and long time of this world)

Noticed by S.Friedrich paradox: Very high innovative virtual development cause also very conservative and adaptive development. We will become very conservative by being innovative.

The Green movement says "Think globally, act locally"

The Polish interpretation of "Think globally, act locally"

As it was written in "IsoCarp Millenium Report" tendencies in town and city planning had been changed over the last 25 years. As we are witnessing next changes in tendencies in town and city planning, I tried to fulfil the next column in tablet from “IsoCarp Millennium Report”.




Garden city

Inner city

Flow city

Expansion of new development

Conservation and renewal


Population and employment increase

Stability, changes in social structure and our understanding of the future work


Simplistic notion of planning as enlarged architecture

The understanding of the city as a social and economic system


Creating and controlling whole environment

Accepting diversity and "the happy accident"

Creating places of superimposition, as creating densities of potential relations

The "end state" master plan

Flexible policy plan


Top-down planning

Encouraging self - help initiatives


Planning product according to design rules

Planning process as a result of participation

" we have to think in relations..."

Control by "plot ratio"

Urban impact analyses


Separation of land uses for health reasons

A mixture of uses for social diversity


Confidence in the computer and quantitative methods

Mistrust of model - based planning


quantitative methods

qualitative methods


The planner as the only discipline involved in planning

Corporate view and product from a wide range of disciplines


The pursuit of exciting but simplistic new images

The discovery of order in existing diversity


Industrial technology

Electronic technology


Cheap energy

Expensive energy


Central system

Quest to decentralise


Consensus and agreed definition

Roles of experts questioned


Municipality provides services

Municipality acts as civic entrepreneur


Urban governance: worst first

Municipal marketing: invest in success


4. Internet.

As far as the internet is concerned, we may consider it as our first step to a virtual city – space as network. Sabine Friedrich states that "the construction of space as a network presents evolving relations between subject (user) and object (data): non- hierarchical, multi-centered, open ended forming"

Let us take for example the typology in internet, which is precisely like in a real city: agora, meeting streets...

Castells notices, that we are witnessing the birth of the new hierarchy of society: off-line, on-line and few earning on-line. Furthermore, the internet citizens have their own hierarchy, not only these on-line and earning on-line.

These are examples of elements copied from existing reality and pasted in cyberspace (mirror - effect).

Today the internet is a platform, where none is anonymous. The only way not to be unrecognised is to hide changing cyber-personality perpetually. This problem with person, who can not be anonymous is reflected back in the reality shows like “Big Brother”.

There is Rem Koolhaas' idea of Kinetic Elite, people in a constant state of transit. This phenomenon is reflected back in our reality by evolving the meaning of nodes in transportation system (airports, train stations) on the one hand, and the travel-time changing to work-time (laptop, cell phone, etc) on the other.

These are examples of elements copied from cyberspace and pasted in existing reality (mirror - effect).

The digitalisation of our perception is the obvious consequence of the mirror- effect mentioned above.

The diagram of the on-line and off-line society. Researched by TNS OBOP, Poland.


Polish evidence: The Eastern European revolutions that came out of concern for global democratic values quickly changed into quest for freedom - as in the phrases "free market", "free press" and "free love". The primary political values required by the global market had been order and tranquillity, but the Poles have a strong sense of community and solidarity, so as a result we got chaosmology at each level of life. Things such as spatial aspects of social segregation, heterotopias in place of privatopia have been emerging since 1989.

5. Conclusions:

What effects ever-growing, ever-faster mobility and flexibility have on our perception?

The answer is the digitalisation of our perception among the others, as the obvious consequence of the mirror- effect of virtual reality in real life. Over viewing the different aspects I come to conclusions, in which I get back to Foucault opinion. "People know what they do; they frequently know why they do "what they do"; but what they don't know is what "what they do" does".

Today we can create anything a man had ever dreamt of. We must realise that something created is always created out of something given. Although Flusser states, that information technology rather creates a shift in our view of the world and we are discovering new potentials of a widened perception, this widened perception is absolutely new and unexplored land for us. We must agree that there is a possibility that the virtualtity will devaluate and finally replace reality, as Virillo supposes.

6. Bibliography:

1.       Cedric Price: city development with a different culinary possibilities of an egg: boiled, fried, or scrambled

2.       Luuk Boelens or Bernard Tschumi: Chaosmology

3.       Hari Srinvas: Packaging Knowledge: An information Continuum

4.       Derek Lyddon in Cities, Nov 1989

5.       Andreas Schneider, Time-speed debate,

6.       John Shotter "Vico, Wittgenstein, and Bakhtin: "Practical Trust" in dialogical communities

7.       Richard O. Mason "Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age"

8.       Andreas Schneider "Planning and the Change"

9.       Sabine Friedrich and Monika Klingele "Place Aspects of the Network Society"

10.   Luuk Boelens "the Cyberman"

11.   Sabine Friedrich, Mauritius Schaafsma "Consequences of cyberspace in real space"