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The Ubiquitous Monitor

Published onApr 23, 2021
The Ubiquitous Monitor

Within URBAN5 resides a monitor—a general eavesdropping mechanism that observes the designer’s actions. The monitor records the rate of interrupts, the sequence of contexts, the time spent per mode, and the relevance of sequential acts. This barrage of statistics not only supplies the designer with a history of his own actions but affords the machine some material from which to gather personal manifestations and innuendos to be applied later in an attempt at congenial conversation with the designer.

The monitor endeavors to transform a conversation into a dialogue, two monologues into one dialogue. The monitor controls both the temporal zone and the interrupting mechanism; both are functions of what and how the designer is doing. For example, if the designer is interrupting the machine only one or two times per minute, the monitor, knowing the designer’s familiarity with the system, assumes that the designer is either (1) deliberating (in which case the monitor might notify the criteria mechanisms to relax and not to interrupt the architect’s thought); (2) floundering (in which case the monitor attempts to clarify the system’s protocol); or (3) diverting his attention elsewhere (in which case the monitor accepts the distraction and continues with its own work). At the other extreme, if the designer is interrupting URBAN5 forty times per minute, the monitor accelerates its own speed and accelerates the conflict mechanisms and may barrage the designer with statements of inconsistency and incompatibility.

URBAN5’s monitor is concerned with context. A designer working in a circulation mode does not want to be confused with petty structural problems. A structural consideration must be extremely critical for the monitor to allow its intervention in, for example, the context of circulation. URBAN5’s monitor is primarily a timer for the purpose of making the machine’s interruptions opportune and in rhythm with the architect’s particular design temperament. “For instance, the length of delay in a person’s response tells his interlocutor (man or machine) information he might otherwise miss. It is information that can be sensed on a non-verbal and non-visual level” (Brodey and Lindgren, 1967). In URBAN5, the monitor is such a nonverbal and nonvisual mechanism. Its implementation is crude. However, its relevance cannot be overstated and must not be understated if evolution is to ensue.

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