Wednesday, May 06, 2009


This is about a week late, but here's an artist's representation of a pandemic:

From here.

Trying to See Post-Fordism

Note how some cities move beyond the extent of the original instantiation. This is a result of cities holding inertia as they travel towards their destinations. Cities are not aware of their arrival time, so when they reach their destinations, they are traveling too fast to stop, and shoot beyond it. Slowly the cities oscillate and stop precisely at their destinations.

(Click on picture for a minute or so of intriguing confusion. Via.)

Two interesting pieces on what a post-Fordist economy will look like. The shorter one (from Richard Florida at the Atlantic) is a breakdown of some very-hard-to-interpret poll numbers about what appliances and objects Americans think of as necessities. Basically, it seems like a shift away from the "auto-housing industrial complex," but perhaps not moving towards "tech-driven consumption" as quickly as one might expect. The point is that even if we're right that the post-recession economy will have to be more green and more information-centered, it will take a while to get there, and we don't know exactly what it will look like.

The longer article (by new urbanist Ben Adler in the American Prospect) is a contrast between two Washington, DC suburbs, one walkable and one not. Shocking differences, as one would expect. Two ideas were new to me. First, that "traffic is good." Congested roads encourage people to take subways. I'm not sure this is the best way of thinking, and I'm positive that it's not the best way to win over skeptics. Second, that Kentlands, the walkable suburb, was constructed before the public transportation that now serves it--bus lines were added thanks to public demand. It required a leap of faith. As with the "necessary" appliances, trying to forecast a less auto-centric future is difficult.

There is something to be said here about the role of utopian imagery in providing the initial blueprint for a hazy future. I just wish the imagery for new urbanism didn't try to look so traditional.