Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Urban Paradox

With all the benefits cities bring to their inhabitants there are also numerous drawbacks; drawbacks that could, if not accounted for and studied, spell the end of cities as we currently know them. That’s the view of Geoffrey West—president of the Santa Fe Institute—as he discusses what needs to be done to safeguard the future of our cities as sustainable, innovative centres of population .

Cities have traditionally been — and continue to be — crucibles for creativity, innovation, and wealth; as such, their extraordinary growth is often associated with a rapid rise in living standards, prosperity, and quality of life. […]

However, the dark side of urban life manifests an analogous “superlinear” behavior. Doubling the size of a city increases wealth and innovation by about 15 percent, but it also increases the amount of crime, pollution, and disease by roughly the same amount. Apparently, the good and the ugly come hand in glove, an integrated, almost predictable, package.

The Places We Live

The Places We Live exhibits awe-inspiring photos of slums in combination with stories from the people who inhabit them. Well worth enduring the Flashtastic interface for.

In 2008, for the first time in history, more people will live in cities than in rural areas.

One-third of these urban dwellers—more than 1 billion people–live in slums.

The United Nations forecasts that the number of slum dwellers will double within the next 25 years. Urban slums are the world’s fastest-growing human habitat.

Thanks, Carl

The Trough of No Value

The trough of no value is the concept that most objects go through fluctuations in their real-world worth: the trough is that seemingly never-ending time between used/junk and antique/collectible.

The Trough of No Value

Unfortunately the majority of my possessions fall into this category, including, it appears, those vintage Wharfedale speakers that I was looking for this past weekend (apparently I gave them away about 10 years ago—damn!).

via Link Banana

Two Reasons to Travel (Rational and Emotional)

These two stories have had a powerful effect on me:

Why economist Alex Tabarrok (of Marginal Revolution) decided to travel to Machu Picchu spontaneously:

At lunch with Bryan and Tyler last week the question arose as to what we would do differently if we were immortal.  […]  I answered that I would travel more.

Later the question was asked, what would you do differently if you found out you had only a short time to live.  I answered again that I would travel more.  […] I realized there was a problem.  Given that I would travel more if I was to live either less or more the probability that I was at just that level of mortality that I should not be traveling now must be vanishingly small.

I leave for a solo trek to Machu Picchu July 25.

Why Ben Corman (of Rudius Media) is staying in Panama longer than initially anticipated:

I don’t know why I’m doing this. Certainly not because it’s easy. We run out of everything here. […] And now it’s rained for five days straight. […] Paradise is starting to feel like a prison cell.

But given the chance to spend three months living in Panama, how could I say no? I’d spend the rest of my life wondering what I’d missed.

[…] If you’re the kind of person who feels uncomfortable in business casual and spends every second of sitting behind a desk wishing, desperately for something, anything else, then there really isn’t a choice. Some people make it work. Some people can find the happy medium between who they are during their work week and who they are outside of it. I’d probably be a happier person if I’d found that balance but in 31 years, it’s eluded me every step of the way. Instead of buckling down and doing whatever I’m supposed to be, I’m always running off to do whatever I want.

And so I guess that’s why I’m here. In the end I didn’t really have a choice.

Portfolios Instead of Diplomas

Jeff Jarvis agrees with teacher Mark Pullen’s opinion that the education system should be modified to produce portfolios instead of, or in addition to, qualifications.

Perhaps we need to separate youth from education. Education lasts forever. […] What if we told students that, like Google engineers, they should take one day a week or one course a term or one year in college to create something: a company, a book, a song, a sculpture, an invention? School could act as an incubator, advising, pushing, and nurturing their ideas and effort. What would come of it? Great things and mediocre things. But it would force students to take greater responsibility for what they do and to break out of the straitjacket of uniformity. It would make them ask questions before they are told answers. It could reveal to them their own talents and needs. The skeptic will say that not every student is responsible enough or a self-starter. Perhaps. But how will we know students’ capabilities unless we put them in the position to try? And why structure education for everyone around the lowest denominator of the few?