The digital transformation workshop is successfully completed. The participants were enthused and stimulated. The keynotes were excellent and inspiring. The small group presentations were equally inspiring and forward-looking. They identified a set of quite exciting ideas for the city of Philadelphia. The question is where do we go from here.

The idea of digital city as computing platform that induces civil engagement in the form of open source is an exciting one. The coalescence of the material world, the represented world, and virtual world to create a digital world is an exciting technological possibility. The resultant radically convergent digital urban environments can become a new form of social transformation just as steam engine transformed medieval cities into industrial ones. So, the digital technology enmeshed with material world and imagined virtual world is posed to transform the industrial city into something that we haven’t seen before.

This technological possibility invites us into a design problem. It is a design problem because we can actively choose what to do, instead of doing what we are able to do. We have already seen possibilities of such new active world in the form of user-created contents, open source community and self-organizing teams on the web. The challenge is to bring the revolution in the realm of the representational world into the realm of material world. After all, we live with blood and flesh, and atoms and molecules, not just bits and bytes. But, experience of atoms and molecules can be transformed when they are added with bits and bytes.

Professor | Writer | Teacher Digital Innovation, Design, Organizational Genetics Case Western Reserve University

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