It’s Alive?

A Radiolab episode on “Cities” uncovers what gives a city its walking speed:

On the high end you’ve got the Dubliners who take on average (10.76 steps to cover 60 feet). Compare that with to Buchanan, Liberia whose walkers covered the same distance in about 21 seconds. In football terms, by the time the Dubliner has scored a touchdown, the guy from Buchanan is somewhere around midfield. (~9:00)

That’s Bob Levine’s research, where he explains how he measures time as it relates to the feel or rhythm of a city. To figure this out, he measures the percentage of people wearing watches, bank tellers’ speed at making change, the speed of people talking (numbers of syllables per second). Does the city do this rhythm to its people or do people do it to a city, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich ask. They go on to talk to two physicists from the Santa Fe Institute who reveal that every city has an underlying “beat” and knowing that they can predict — accurately — a whole range of statistics.

Possibly related…

  1. To the Best of Our Knowledge: City Living

    Oh, city living. The crush of people, the crowd of buildings, the empty lots, the garbage-strewn slums. More than half of us will be living urban by 2050. How will we manage? An Urban Future; City as Organism?; Sustainable Urbanism?; City Rules; The State of Cities; Innovative Urbanites; Guide to the Urban Age; Seeing Cities.


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    —Huffduffed by rubergly 8 months ago

  2. Cities - Radiolab

    In this hour of Radiolab, we take to the street to ask what makes cities tick.

    There’s no scientific metric for measuring a city’s personality. But step out on the sidewalk, and you can see and feel it. Two physicists explain one tidy mathematical formula that they believe holds the key to what drives a city. Yet math can’t explain most of the human-scale details that make urban life unique. So we head out in search of what the numbers miss, and meet a reluctant city dweller, a man who’s walked 700 feet below Manhattan, and a once-thriving community that’s slipping away.

    —Huffduffed by millerdl 3 years ago

  3. The City Is A Platform

    Cities abound in data generated by their inhabitants (virtual worlds, city websites) and created automatically by systems or monitoring. How does this online manifestation of the city interact in tangible ways with urban design and informal urban constructs? Is there such a thing as "the street as platform"?

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 4 years ago