I think it is generally bad form to review a book before one has finished reading it but as I browsed some of these essays I felt compelled to pick up my phone and tap out a short response. In fact, that I am writing this from a smart phone is perhaps relevant. It is emblematic of why World’s Greatest Architect has, up to this point, been completely irrelevant to me.
I am relatively young, a student and nearly an Internet native. I understand intimately and intuitively most of what Dr. Mitchell writes about in this book. He notes that camera-phones are ubiquitous for instance and that opportunities for clandestine surveillance lie everywhere. He even goes so far as to pull out the tired comparison to Bentham and Foucault’s panopticon. What he doesn’t do is provide any worthy analysis or posit any, even nebulous, idea about what this means for the future or for architecture. He simply notes that things are.
These essays may be useful to older and/or technophobic folk out there as an illumination of the world around them, the world anyone under 30 (or I dare say even 40) tacitly understands.
Mitchell goes on to discuss the environment, communication, the web and globalization all with the breathless wonder of Thomas Friedman but without any of Mr. Friedman’s (admittedly half-assed) points.
If you’re thinking of checking this book out I might suggest Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky or simply googling Kevin Kelly. These men understand the world information technology has wrought deeply enough to consider its future and anticipate our reactions to it. Mitchell seems only to understand as much as is apparent to anyone techno-capable enough to tap out a book review on an iPhone.