I have been considering how to map the city today.

Nolli’s map of Rome showed accessible public space. While it is quite possible to draw plans of cities this way today, given the differing context of life today it does raise a number of questions as to the value of a ‘modern day’ Nolli drawing. What is public space today both internally and externally – should shopping centres, an example of a modern commercial building typology, be shown as their ground floor plan or as poche? Are churches, shut behind closed doors for most of the year, still public buildings? I’m referring to the nature of churches in the UK here, not in Rome where they are very much public spaces. How could shared public-private space be shown on the drawing?

It is not just the nature of cities that have changed since Nolli drew his map of Rome, but also the way that we use them. Interactions are increasingly taking place online (more about this in Neilson’s Social Media Report 2012) and habits for shopping and accessing information have changed. Drawn today, the hubs of public life that were so prominent in the drawing of Rome would be missing a key aspect of city life – that which takes place through digital, not physical, interaction. The maps below show current and planned future communications infrastructure. The higher clusters of cables shown in the maps reveal where the hubs of digital interaction are taking place, much in the same way as Nolli’s drawing of Rome revealed the hubs of public physical interaction.

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For more about the current (and future proposed) communications infrastructure have a look at: http://www.cablemap.info/.