The first time that David Bohnett heard about the internet, he knew that this was going to be a technology that was about to change the world. Today, David is a philanthropist and tech entrepreneur, but back in the early 1990s he really wanted to get on the ground floor of this brand new medium.
Tagged with “cities” (24)
“Cities were the first Internet,” says archaeologist Monica Smith, because they were the first permanent places where strangers met in large numbers for entertainment, commerce, and romance. And the function and form of cities, she notes, have remained remarkably constant over their 6,000 years of history so far. Modern city dwellers would quickly find their way around any city in the past, given our shared architecture of broad avenues, monumental structures, and densely crowded residences.
What we learn from examining the long history of cities is what makes them so freeing and empowering for humans and humanity. Density has always been crucial. So has infrastructure, skill specialization, cultural diversity, intense trade with other cities, an economy of acquiring and discarding objects, the delights of fashion and art, religious focus and political focus, intellectual ferment, and technological innovation.
The digital internet has not replaced cities, nor is it likely that anything else will, Smith proposes, for the next 6,000 years.
Monica L. Smith is an anthropology professor and also a professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainabilityat UCLA. She has done archeological fieldwork in India, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, and England. Her new book is Cities: The First 6,000 Years.
Richard Sennett, one of the world’s leading thinkers on the urban environment, traces the relationship between how cities are built and how people live in them.
In describing how cities such as Paris, Barcelona and New York assumed their modern forms, Sennett explores the intimate relationship between the good built environment and the good life.
This event was recorded live at The RSA on Thursday 15th March 2018. Discover more about this event here: https://www.thersa.org/events/2018/03/building-and-dwelling
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/the_rsa/building-and-dwelling
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:12:12 GMT Available for 30 days after download
Why cities live forever
West focussed on cities in his discussion of the newly discovered exponential scaling laws that govern everything alive.
“We live,” he said, “in an exponentially expanding socio-economic universe.”
Global urbanization has reached the point that there are a million new people arriving in cities every week, and that rate is expected to continue to midcentury.
What is the attraction?
One reason for constant urban growth is that the bigger the city, the more efficient it is, because of economies of scale.
With each doubling of a city’s size, the numbers of gas stations and power lines and water lines, etc. increase at a rate a little less than double.
In other words, with every size increase there is a 15% improvement in energy efficiency.
“That‘s why New York is the greenest city in America,” West said.
The same dynamics of networks explain how what is called “power-law scaling“ works in biology.
The bigger the animal, the slower and more efficient its metabolism is, at a rate lower than 1-to-1 (“sublinear” in West’s terminology).
This leads to some remarkable constants.
Shrews weigh 2 grams, and in their 14-month life their heart beats a billion times.
Blue whales weigh 200 million grams, and in their 100-year life, their heart beats the same billion times.
Ditto for all mammals (except humans, who have achieved a lifetime average of 2 billion heartbeats, presumably for cultural reasons.)
In physical terms, cities are like organisms, enjoying sublinear economies of scale with each increase in size.
But when you look at cities in terms of their social-economic networks, an astonishing finding emerges. Once again there is power-law scaling if you count patents, wages, tax receipts, crimes, restaurants, even the pace of walking, but instead of slowing down with increasing size, cities speed up with increasing size.
Their increase is greater that 1:1.
It is superlinear.
“Bigger cities are better,” said West.
Each time they increase in size, they are 15% more innovative socio-economically at the same time they are 15% more efficient in terms of energy and materials.
Furthermore, they apparently live forever.
They create most of civilization’s problems, but they are capable of solving problems even faster than they create them.
However, when you compare companies with cities, companies have similar metabolic efficiencies of scale as they grow, but their innovation rate, instead of increasing with size,
slows down as they get ever bigger. And they are mortal.
The average lifespan of a publicly traded companies is 10 years.
They can grow prodigiously, but their net income, sales, profits, and assets can’t quite keep up—they are sublinear.
Successful new companies start off like cities, full of innovation, but over time the nature of corporate growth leads them to focus ever more solely on exploiting their success, and eventually they taper off and die like animals.
The city feeds on their corpses and creates new companies.
Rise of the machines: who is the ‘internet of things’ good for? – podcast | Technology | The Guardian
Interconnected technology is now an inescapable reality – ordering our groceries, monitoring our cities and sucking up vast amounts of data along the way. The promise is that it will benefit us all – but how can it?
Cities and urban regions can make coherent sense, can metabolize efficiently, can use their very complexity to solve problems, and can become so resilient they “bounce forward” when stressed.
In this urbanizing century ever more of us live in cities (a majority now; 80% expected by 2100), and cities all over the world are learning from each other how pragmatic governance can work best.
Jonathan Rose argues that the emerging best methods focus on deftly managing “cognition, cooperation, culture, calories, connectivity, commerce, control, complexity, and concentration.”
Unlike most urban theorists and scholars, Rose is a player.
A third-generation Manhattan real estate developer, in 1989 he founded and heads the Jonathan Rose Company, which does world-wide city planning and investment along with its real estate projects—half of the work for nonprofit clients.
He is the author of the new book, THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life.
The Jonathan F.P. Rose book tour is being sponsored by Citi who is happy to provide a copy of his new book, The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations and Human Behavior Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life, to everyone in attendance. Citi supports the efforts of individuals like Jonathan Rose whose work aligns with their mission to enable progress in communities across the globe.
We continue our survey of the pioneering social/community sites by sitting down with David Bohnett, who, along with John Rezner, founded Geocities. David recounts how a lifelong passion for communications tech inspired the idea of Geocities, how and why the site grew to become one of the 5 most popular web destinations in the world by the late 90s, as well as the company’s blockbuster sale to Yahoo. We also marvel at how Geocities lives on, thanks to the passion and affection of the Geocities community.
An exploration of the imaginative possibilities held within a city’s secret folds.
Invisible Cities takes its inspiration from Italo Calvino’s novel of the same name. Originally produced by Eleanor McDowall for BBC Radio 3’s Between the Ears, this documentary features contributions from writers, urban explorers and mapmakers, and invites us to eavesdrop on the hidden, fantastical and surreal stories caught between the cracks of the modern city.
Cities, like living things, evolve slowly over time. Buildings and structures get added and renovated and removed, and in this process, bits and pieces that get left behind. Vestiges. Just as humans have tailbones and whales have pelvic bones, cities have doors that open into a limb-breaking drop, segments of fences that anyone can walk around, and pipes that carry nothing at all.
Most of the time, these architectural leftovers rust or crumble or get taken down. But other times, these vestiges aren’t removed. They remain in the urban organism. And sometimes—even though they no longer serve any discernible purpose—they’re actually maintained. They get cleaned and polished and re-painted just because they’re there.
Chicago’s biggest design achievement probably isn’t one of its amazing skyscrapers, but the Chicago River, a waterway disguised as a remnant of the natural landscape. But it isn’t natural, not really. It’s hard to tell when you see the river, but it’s going the wrong way. It should flow into Lake Michigan, but instead fresh water from Lake Michigan flows backwards, into the city. The Chicago River is, in large part, a carefully-designed extension of the city’s sewer system.
Reporter Dan Weissmann talked with Richard Cahan (author of “The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond”) about the amazing lengths the city went to, over the course of several decades, to carry away the sewage that threatened to drown Chicago.
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