Blogs and Cities

An interesting discussion by Steven Johnson at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies conference, according to Rael:

What are cities good for? Clusters. Public Spaces/Diversity: you need to plan that these spaces will remain public; you need those unexpected, entertaining things to happen; top-down planning and bottom-up participation. Optimal Density: short blocks (related to the small pieces, loosely joined idea); not have areas be too hot or too cold; Chelsea, NY’s long blocks funnels the vast majority of the foot traffic to large avenues and limits this ways you have of getting from one place to another.

So how do cities do it? Bottom-up interactions. Strollers create as much as shopkeepers: analagous to blogging. Passive organization. The swerve.

The Blog Predicament. Problems forming higher-level groups: if you follow links, you can just start to see how they’re related to one-another, but it’s not obvious. Managing overpopulation: pretty soon I’ll have 500 blogs I follow and have trouble managing that.

This is a follow-on from Johnson’s article in Salon, which I discussed earlier.

These are very interesting ideas. If you, like me, believe that blogs are the start of something new and big on the Internet, then it will need a different set of tools, search engines and navigators. For the first time, we have tens of thousands of people talking about what they like and dislike, acting as filters on the web, putting forth their interests, and making connections — just like our brain does.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.