[ExI] Are Cities Dead? (was Re: moving bits, not butts)

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Wed Mar 2 03:25:58 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 01, 2011 at 11:18:07AM -0700, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> I don't even like small towns myself anymore. I live in the boonies
> with the nearest neighbor over a mile away... so I know I'm on the
> weird end of this spectrum. But I am curious. What are cities good for
> in the future?

Cities are also good for enabling you to live a mile away from your
neighbor.  If the population was evenly spread over the Earth's land
surface in a square grid, there'd be a person every 140 meters.  If
you allow for families and specify clumps of 4, you'd have a family
every 280 meters.  A 3 minute walk to other people, no matter where on
Earth you were, save the oceans.  You get space because the rest of us
clump up.

There's evidence that a lot of creative economic activity scales up
super-linearly in cities, e.g. 2x the people will generate more than 2x
the productivity, 15% more economic activity per capita, while using
less than 2x the energy (only 85% more).  By contrast corporations are
sublinear (profit per employees shrinks with size)

Arguably a safer place to raise children than outer suburbs

-xx- Damien X-) 

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