Friday, 17 May 2013

Is the city the future?


The typically positive message about new technology and cities from IBM and the City of London, but is it just hype?  

Humanity is now living in cities, half of us now live in cities and this is likely only to increase. But is this a sustainable future model for humanity?

 

Steward Brand, the eternal west coast optimist with the Long Now Foundation and founder of Whole Earth Catalogue typically sees this as a technical problem to be solved and full of opportunity. We just need, argues Stewart, more long term thing.

But is this too Utopian?  Derrick Jensen in the documentary END:CIV.



Jensen is not buying any of the Long Now Kevin Kelly hype: cities are not, according to his view a solution but by their nature a problem.  All the technology in the world, according to this view, will not resolve the problem that cities are.

Another view is the Venus Project, which sits somewhere between Brand, who believes are society will likely move towards sustainability via science and free markets, and Jensen who believes it is impossible.  Jacques Fresco of the Venus Project has called for a model of more planning, post capitalism that will use technology to build sustainable long term cities.



So here are our options on cities:

  • The Long Now idea: Cities are a natural solution that is emerging to our problems, they will become more green and use energy and resources better than other models.
  • Jensen: Cities are doomed to fail.
  • Venus Project: Cities can be sustainable only after a central revolution in culture. 
So in studying cities we are looking at the most significant single event of our history.

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