Cybrids:Digital Design Studio, Winter 2001

It's 2001. Stanley Kubrik's year of "HAL 9000" and the "information economy". We hear speculation about the demise of the city as telecommuting replaces bodily presence and digital information replaces physical goods. We know that "knowledge workers" are often contract workers without a corporate cubicle. Instead they work from their homes or, using the tools of the wireless communications age, from wherever they find themselves--their cars, the library, or a local coffee shop. But where do you meet with clients? with friends? What does your workspace "look" like? What will the commercialization of e-paper, cheap flat-panel displays, and effective voice-recognition do to that?

Mobile workers may be able to "drop in" on the office using their laptop, but it's not the same experience as a physical visit. The interface and interaction are different. The opportunities for interaction with colleagues are different. There's no water-cooler. The laptop screen has become a barrier as well as a connection.

At the same time, practically every business has sprouted an "e-commerce" branch, offering products and services via the web. When you visit a busy shop on the local high-street you know it's busy. When you walk through a manufacturing plant you can tell whether it's generating product or not. How do you know your e-commerce site is busy? How do the business owners know? If you visit the physical shop, can you tell that there are 1000 shoppers an hour visiting the e-commerce site? How well can you see through the screen from the realm of cyberspace to the physical? or from the physical to the cyber?

What does the e-commerce site for a coffee-shop look like? Can you buy a latte on-line so it'll be ready when you get there at 8:05? or view the pastry display to see if they've got currant-rasin scones this morning? or the table area to see of Jan is there waiting for you already? Heck, can you even find your particular _local_ coffee shop among the many in the Seattle area?

When you meet someone for coffee at your local Starbucks, you know how you will interact, if not exactly what you'll say. What if one of you is in Houston and the other in Seattle? Can you still meet? Would you select your cafe(s) for the specific reason that they facilitate video-conferencing? Are there other amenities that would appeal to "freelance" workers on the go? Rentable conference rooms for the inevitable face-to-face? Immersive VR environments for data visualization, architecture, or games? Would (will) the furnishings in such a cafe differ from those in a traditional cafe? What does the cafe's web site tell us about the interaction between Seattle and Houston? Can someone physically or virtually "drop in" on the discussion and join it? These questions involve human use of space, both physical and cyber. They are relevant to architecture.

This studio will be exploring the ways in which physical spaces (P-spaces) can be reflected in cyberspace (C-space), the ways cyberspace can be reflected in physical space, and the ways they can interpenetrate. The duality is sometimes referred to as a hybrid of physical and cyberspace, a Cybrid. These constructions live on the boundary between the two, in neither completely, incapable of existing without the other. This duality is reminescent of the duality of yin and yang.

Student work will be presented live, but will also be posted online. We invite individual reviews, or other participation from our friends in c-space as well as p-space.

You are invited to look through the sites, and to post comments to the authors if you so wish. When you click on one of the student names along the left side of the screen their presentation window should open up, and a feed-back page should appear in this window. Browse around, flip back and forth between the feedback window and the site window making comments. Whatever.

Thanks for the visit. Thanks for the feedback. We hope you'll stop in again.

    Brian Johnson