Shannon Mattern. A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2021. 200p. Paperback, $19.95 (ISBN: 9780691208053).

Scarlet Galvan


When Grand Valley State University completed their Allendale, Michigan campus library’s remodel in 2013, it reflected a specific vision for a transportation hub, which is probably why it feels like an airport when I go to work. What does it mean to embrace that intense liminality? People, ideas, objects, community, as always transitioning from one space to another, until they’re required to hold still, lockdown, and quarantine. This metaphor is expansive and full of the possible, though I occasionally wonder about its limits. Hubs, nodes, and clusters in networks (and their associated movements) expose the limits of developmental metaphors, and so I’ve read Shannon Mattern’s A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences with this in mind.

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