Monday, June 21, 2010

On cities and urban living

Came across this interview of Bruce Sterling, "science fiction author, cultural observer, and futures provocateur", where he shared his thoughts about cities.

When asked about what thought were the dangerous aspects of urbanisation, he had this to say:
But I'd also like to point out that large financial centers in certain cities around the planet are certainly going to kill millions of us by destroying our social safety networks in the name of their imaginary financial efficiency. You're a thousand times more likely to die because of what some urban banker did in 2008 than from what some Afghan-based terrorist did in 2001.

Do read his interview in full, at boingboing.net.

Incidentally, I came across a 2007 work, by Zygmunt Bauman (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds and the University of Warsaw), titled "Liquid times: Living in an age of uncertainty":
Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty
RoughNotes | NLBsearchplus
ISBN: 0745639879

It's a relatively short book (115 pages, including references). For a work by an academic, it's quite readable (yes, I realise there are several biased views in the remark I just made... heh).

The book is a collection of five essays, containing intellectual views and ideas about society and modern living.

I can't say this book compelled me to read it cover to cover (I lack that sort of academic inclination). But it contains several intellectually provocative statements, perspectives and interesting framing of issues.

Like page 71 to 72, that "Cities have become places with more danger than safety".

The original intent of cities (walled towns and the like) was for people to band together for safety. But now, individual homes have become places to protect and hide inhabitants away from the community, rather than integration. Or so that particular essay suggests.

And on page 92: "Cities as dumping grounds for globally produced troubles, but can also be seen as laboratories to invent ways and means to live on an overcrowded planet."

There's no question that urbanisation will continue.

But what isn't inevitable is that urbanisation will be at the expense of community integration, as well as co-existance with nature.

At least I hope it isn't inevitable.

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