Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research & Ideas

Search this site

​Byron Reeves: The digital city is a media experience

At a Stanford Engineering conference on digital cities, a communications professor discusses what happens when “everything from birth to death is on a screen.”



As our analog environment gets increasingly translated into ones and zeros, Stanford professor of communications Byron Reeves says individuals will process it and attend to it in precisely the same way as they do all other media. That means that all the potentially transformative information and experiences generated from digitized cities will, in effect, “compete with cat videos.”

“Social relationships, health, financial management, the experience of the city. Everything from birth to death is on a screen,” Reeves says in his keynote presentation at the Digital Cities Summit 2016. And on a screen, everything becomes more similar than different. “It maybe used to be the case that money, relationships, health, transportation, all these things were separate domains. Now, because they’re on the screen, they share an equivalency,” Reeves says.

And this is especially relevant as the Internet of Things grows. “All the IP addresses that are assigned to shoes and refrigerators and the plants outside my garden all get on the screen and all become content for media,” he says. “Psychologically, we need to think about the combination of all that and what that might mean.”

Get Updates from Stanford Engineering