New Places Column on Dashboards + Urban Command Centers

mattern-1-dashboard-1020x703My latest column for Places was published yesterday. Rob Kitchin — who had nice things to say about my earlier column, “Interfacing Urban Intelligence” — kindly invited me to write about “urban dashboards” for Understanding Spatial Media, a forthcoming collection he’s editing with Tracey P. Lauriault and Matthew W. Wilson. I was grateful that Rob and his colleagues allowed me to publish a longer version of that piece in Places — before it appears in the book. “Mission Control: A History of the Urban Dashboards” traces the history of the data dashboard back through the Bloomberg terminal, the control room, the airplane cockpit, the car dashboard, and other optical mechanisms that afford a macro-scale view of urban operations. My amazing research assistant Steve Taylor dug up a lot of tremendously useful historical texts on car design, cockpit design, and the evolution of related fields of engineering — so I owe him a great debt of gratitude.

2 replies on “New Places Column on Dashboards + Urban Command Centers”

Just popping in here for a correction to your fascinating piece, which I am finding very interesting. You write:

“On yet another wall, Cybersyn architect Stafford Beers installed a display for his Variable System Model…”

There are a couple of typos in the above sentence; the man was Stafford Beer, not Beers, the model was the Viable System Model, not “Variable”. Maybe it is another, inadvertant, comment on the state of things today that one word can be substituted for the other so readily without being caught before publication. I hope this will allow you to usefully edit your article before it is published in book form.

I remember reading Beer’s “Platform for Change” at an impressionable age , over 30 years ago, and Project Cybersyn has stayed with me ever since. Best of luck with your publication.


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