Java – two cars, two smartphones and no reservations

by mr


22.02.2013. – 26.02.2013. Java, Indonesia
Jakarta/Bogor/Gunung Salak/Pelabuhan Ratu/Bayah/Serang

Java, a continuous agglomeration (a city?), a ”habitat” of different landscapes, an island with more than 130 million people, area of 1/3 of the size of Japan. Java is one of the most densely populated parts of the world.

At the beginning of the 19th century a Dutch man started to build a road from one part of the island to the other (1808–1811, The Great Post Road). This fictitious road, which had no other purpose than to give the potential to the things which were not there, increased the population of Java by five times in hundred years. At the beginning of the 20th century the population was 28 million. Today, in 2013, Java has 130 million people – again, factor five. This second boost shows the power of infrastructures which are not there. IT, mobile networks and the new virtual connectivity, coupled with the road system, somehow transformed Java into the biggest “city” in the world.


A “city”, in which urbanity is out of discussion. Terms such as urban, rural, global or local are missing the whole game by trying to classify it. The discussion is happening on another level. It is a city of scooters and mobile phones. There is one mobile phone per person on Java, which means 130 million mobile phones, 24 million Facebook accounts. All provided by digital IT infrastructures mediated through mobile technologies. It takes time to build physical networks; however, Java doesn’t have time, so it is just gro(o)ving on digital infrastructures… It seems like Java (Indonesia) is showing us the true potential of IT.


There’s no distinction between Streets and roads on Java; having no beginning or end, they accumulate all there is: extending private houses, functioning as bargaining spaces, trading and communication spots, and traffic lanes. Only the density of people is pulsating as one moves through the island. Traffic has no rules – it is based on respect; primacy of the biggest, but participation and care of all. There’s no tension, everything just flows… You are moving in the movement of the others.


We had two cars, two smartphones, and no reservations. This is the toolkit for Java. Amazing things happened.




foto: miro roman / smartphone