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

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Fri Mar 4 18:29:24 UTC 2011

On Fri, Mar 04, 2011 at 08:22:39AM -0700, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 8:25 PM, Damien Sullivan
> <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> > On Tue, Mar 01, 2011 at 11:18:07AM -0700, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> > 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.
> This is a fact that I am very grateful for. I just don't entirely get
> why people want to do so.

Well, quite obviously, telepresence today is NOT a substitute for real
interaction.  Anyone who wants to taste different foods they haven't
cooked, and hear live music, and touch other people, needs to be other
people.  Ditto for getting most jobs being hear health care, having
efficient services, and all sorts of other things.

> This is interesting. I have a general theory that the more people get
> involved in an activity as a group, the less efficient they are.

"efficient" gets thrown around pretty casually, I think.  Efficient in
what sense, maxmizing what variable and minimizing use of what resource?
For lots of tasks, people are more effective in groups or large groups,
because individuals cannot do the task by themselves.  

> Perhaps cities buck this general trend because they aren't as cohesive
> as a corporation or government agency.

analogy: city markets and ecosystems, where more size means more
diversity and niches.
analogy: bureaucracies (public or privae) and brains, vs. masses of
individuals or amoebas, where some people or cells seem to provide less
effort yet provide coordination that enables the other units to be
productive at all.

And yes, I'm undermining the glib implied moral of my own links, but
it's worth doing: comparing a city-at-large with a corporation may not be
a fair comparison, they're not doing the same sorts of things.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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