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How Cities Learn
Jamais Cascio, 4 Apr 05

Stewart Brand, whose credits are too numerous to mention, will be speaking this Friday night in San Francisco on our relationship with cities.

Cities are the human organizations with the greatest longevity but also the fastest rate of change. Just now the world is going massively and unstoppably urban (governments everywhere are trying to stop it, with zero success).   In a globalized world, city states are re-emerging as a dominant economic player.  Environmental consequences and opportunities abound. [...]

As the author of HOW BUILDINGS LEARN I kept getting asked to give talks on "How Cities Learn."  With a little research I found that cities do indeed "learn" (adapt) impressively, but what cities mainly do is teach.  They teach civilization.

Stewart's talk is a last-minute addition to the Long Now seminars (a replacement for the planned speaker). While live streaming is unlikely, Long Now has been great about making certain to put up audio recordings of their speakers (in a variety of formats) soon afterwards. "City Planet," Stewart Brand, 7pm (doors open), Friday, April 8, Fort Mason Conference Center, San Francisco.

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There is a great little book "Human Ecology: A Theoretical Essay" by Amos Hawley. One of its main concepts is: It is social systems that adapt to the environment not people. The Human Ecology perspective in Sociology was developed by studying how cities use space and time. That little book lays out a holistic theory of social organization. You may find some of its concepts to be quite useful in your world changing efforts.

Posted by: jim moore on 4 Apr 05

I attended this talk when he gave it in Portland. It rocks.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 4 Apr 05

howard bloom has written some nice essays on "How Cities Learn" :D - "From Mammoth-Bone Huts to Stone Age Cities" - "Instant Evolution: the influence of the city on human genes" - "Superorganism" - "Beyond the Supercomputer: Social Groups As Learning Machines"


Posted by: glory on 5 Apr 05



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