With the network effects of the digital age, combined with the principles of non-exclusive, ‘copyleft’ licensing, the world is starting to see the beginnings of a more decentralized method of production—a method producing a surge in innovation and creativity not seen since the advent of the industrial revolution. Projects such as Wikipedia and open-source software are examples of how a loose and decentralized group of individuals can come together in a more bottom-up fashion and create something greater than the sum of its parts. Recently, it has been demonstrated through companies such as Crowdspirit (http://www.crowdspirit.com) that this more ‘open source’ method of production is not just limited to information goods, but can be applied to physical products as well.

How can these more decentralized approaches be harnessed to improve the quality of architecture and urban planning throughout the world?

Last month, Jon Brouchoud and myself (Ryan Schultz) gave a presentation at the annual convention of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), which tried in part, to shed some light on how virtual worlds might provide the platfrom for a more decentralized approach to architecture in the future.

The presentation was broken down into two sections. The first Slideshare gives a quick overview of some of the more significant architectural projects currently going on in the Second Life.

The second Slideshare outlines a broader perspective—trying to answer ‘why’ these virtual worlds will become more important for architects in the future.

As is always the case when trying to paint a picture of the future, there’s some level of speculation here, but as Jamais Cascio says “with enough minds, all tomorrows are visible.” So please, if you see another storyline emerging, let us know what you think.

Part One:

Part Two: