Stewart Brand on Cities and Time

April 18 2008 / by cyrusbryan / In association with Future
Category: Environment   Year: Beyond   Rating: 9 Hot

As a response to Accel Rose’s post on the future of cities by Stewart Brand, I thought I would pass this along as a supplement. It’s a one-hour presentation on the “City-Planet”, a long-term trend barely noticed by anyone.

According to Brand, “The massive urbanization of the world now going on is changing everything, affecting economics, the environment, and global population—- most of it, in surprising ways, for the better. The more I delve into the subject, the more I find it packed with news which is not being widely reported or thought about.”

This is one of a monthly series of Seminars About Long-term Thinking, given every second Friday in San Francisco, CA, organized by The Long Now Foundation .

Here’s the google video of the Long Now talk:

Michael E. Arth on the Future of Sustainable Cities

March 17 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 7

As the human population grows, people are either forced to live further and further from the workplace, or to pay a handsome price for the luxury of location. The resulting sprawl has had a devastating effect on the landscape and eco-systems. Pollution associated with requisite transportation is destroying the environment. Rising energy costs are driving up the cost of living. Longer commutes lessen the hours in a day we can allocate to productivity or leisure.

How can we create cities and towns that can accommodate a community’s economic needs, while improving the general quality of life? This is a question that urban planners, like Michael E. Arth, must ask and answer to the best of their abilities when designing or retrofitting cities to best suit our changing lifestyles.

We spoke with Arth, founder of the urban planning theory of New Pedestrianism, about what the city of the future might look like. His theory, a spinoff of New Urbanism, addresses the social and environmental problems associated with suburban sprawl by creating an urban design plan that places sustainability, beauty, and functionality at its forefront.

“New Pedestrianism is an urban design movement that is a more ecological and pedestrian-oriented branch of New Urbanism. New Urbanism revives and expands upon the old urbanism that was common before WWII, while New Pedestrianism is a reiteration of experiments with more pedestrian-oriented towns and neighborhoods that have been tried over the years,” explained Arth, “In new and old urbanism you have streets in front and an alley in the rear. With New Pedestrianism the alley is replaced with an attractive tree lined street and the street in front is replaced with a car free pedestrian/bike lane. A mixed-use village or neighborhood center is within walking distance with higher density toward the center. Aesthetics and quality of life are very important.”

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Stewart Brand: Why squatter cities are a good thing

April 17 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

Futurist Stewart Brand explains that the global rise of squatter cities is a good thing because it enables people to connect with others and gain access to education. He points out that unemployment in squatter cities is generally near zero.

Check out his short and sweet presentation at TED:

Brand projects that the number of people living in squatter cities will grow three-fold to $3 billion over the coming decades. Makes me wonder if these regions will become the new hot-beds of innovation as technology rapidly lifts their inhabitants up the hierarchy of needs, provides cheaper connectivity and better education.

Doomsday Scenario: The EMP

August 21 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 4

The US Navy recently spent 7.5 million dollars on developing an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) generator. The by-product of a nuclear blast, an EMP fries anything electronic within its reach. In a worse-case scenario, a massive nuclear bomb could be detonated over the Atlantic seaboard, knocking out electricity in cities like New York, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia. This could be used as a pre-emptive strike for an invasion, to blind radar to incoming missiles or for some other nefarious purpose. Knocking out electronics for a few weeks might just be enough to send our culture into complete chaos. In effect, we’re hard at work building such a weapon to test its effects on potential military and civilian targets so as to better prepare in case of attack.

Our culture has become incredibly dependent on electronic gadgets and information networks. Land-lines have been replaced by cellphones, the postal system by email and social network websites. Is there any doubt that even just ten years down the line our dependence will grow even more? Our reliance on electronics certainly isn’t going to diminish, it’s going to increase exponentially. With that in mind, how much damage could an EMP do in the near future?

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The Growing Impact of Towns and Cities in Google Earth

July 28 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 3

In its effort to catalog and effectively share the world’s information, Google continues to improve its dynamic representation of earth and has now extended its reach to cities and towns.

The first time I experienced Google Earth, I was pretty impressed. Accessing satellite information, I was able to navigate most any location on the planet that I was interested in, from a bird’s eye view. Of course the first thing I did was check out my street, the homes of my past, and landmarks around my town.

Next I was introduced to Street View, a visualization composed of photos taken from automobiles that allows full 3D street navigation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when Street View was at last integrated with Google Maps, that I could travel down my street take a glance at my house and my car parked neatly on the curb. That was really cool to me. I found myself wondering where I was the time the photos was taken, and being thankful they hadn’t caught me outside my house in an early morning stupor.

After some light research I found that Google isn’t just concerned with satisfying my curiosity. It has found ways to make money with this technology while expanding its functionality for important, decision-making parties.

Google introducing advanced versions of the platform with Google Earth Pro ($400/year), a collaborative tool for commercial and professional use and Google Earth Plus ($20/year) for everyday map enthusiasts. It also provides non-profit organizations with Earth Outreach, a program that allows organizations to map their projects to help engage users.

In March 2008, Google Earth introduced Cities in 3D which is unsurprisingly a complete 3D visualization of numerous cities. To contribute to this effort, users can submit and share renditions of structures and buildings using Google’s SketchUp. The program primarily relies on city governments to submit their 3D information electronically (for free) and invites them to review the benefits.

The benefits for local governments seem rather extensive. They include: engaging the public in planning, fostering economic development, boosting tourism, simplifying navigation analysis, enhancing facilities management, supporting security and crime prevention, and facilitating emergency management.

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[Video] Visions of Future Urban Landscapes

January 13 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2


[Via Fast Company]