I’ fascinated with cities, Cities as a construct, Cities planning, Cities composition, Cities history, Cities inner and hidden flows and patterns, but I’m also concern about their future and their sustainability. So today when I saw the video above – Thinking Cities – by Ericsson as part of their Networked Society Series, I’m puzzled and surprised at the same time, it’s a short, simple movie but it summarizes much of the questions that flow into my mind when we discuss about cities.
Cities are a fabric of the industrial revolution they are the pinacle of urbanization. We, humans seem to be called upon cities as bees to the hive, we love their “energy”, the feeling of belonging (although sometimes it’s also the opposite – the feeling of anonymity they provide), but somehow cities ever beating, non-stop rhythm seems to as close to our heart as our own heartbeat. This is so true that 52% of world population is now living in cities for the first time in history.
On one end cities, consuming 70% of our global energy production, seem to one if not the, root cause all our “recent” societies problems, think about trash, pollution, food scarceness, energy production, crime, diseases, you name it. The other end is a much brighter one, Cities are the HUBs where all the creative energy seems to flow, taking an unprecedented levels of engagement and ideas generation, which as Geoffrey West, a scientist who studies cities, states in the movie is why it will also be the cities who will ultimately will drive the solutions for these same problems that seem to affect them today.
Technology is helping is see beyond the obvious, to understand cities as a distributed, alive, sentient systems. Technology allows us to better understand Cities. Technology allow us today in realtime to see the hidden patterns, the hidden layers of activities and flow as they happen. It’s as if technology is enabling cities to talk back to us for the first time. Question is are we ready to or even listening?
Social media tools seem to be forcing cities politics to be entirely reshaped as they empower individuals and groups, previously ignored to have a voice and reach to their ideas and movements like never before. These days to belong to a city means to be connected, to be part of the system. To live in a city is to be part of the collective, to loose part of our identity to become part of the the whole. To be assimilated. My actions affects those around while at the same our collective behavior dictates our quality of living, what we can and can’t do, what we will be able to do in the future.
So it keeps me puzzled if we’re so connected to each other, with so much technology already next to us, how come people seem to be more distant than ever from the structures that govern them?
How will we, as individuals or as a collective become more aware, more participative in the makings of the city around us?
How do we become better informed, more participative?
What tools will we need?
How will we act upon our findings?
Are cities the future or are they (and us) doomed?
So many questions popping up on my mind..
any ideas you may want to share?