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Civic Labs: Bangalore

Bangalore, Karnataka, India

On June 16th


Civic Labs: Bangalore

From “Civics As Applied Sociology” (1904) to “Toward A Public Social Science” (2011)

“The social sciences deal with humanity’s most pressing problems, but there are barriers between practitioners and the public. We must restructure these disciplines from the ground up. In times of economic and political distress, the social sciences must become more relevant and useful by devoting their attention to society’s major problems.” Thus opens a fascinating essay penned early in 2011 by Herbert Gans, one of America’s most renewed sociologists. (And author of The Urban Villagers, perhaps the best book ever written on the social impacts of slum clearance)

Looking to the Past to Find the Future

A core principle of good forecasting: look back twice as far as you look forward.  In considering the future of spatial change, cities, and the built environment, this principle naturally brings me to consider the role of cultural heritage and cultural memory in informing futures thinking.  The recent Urban India 2030: History, Technology, and Community for Sustainable Urban Futures symposium in Mumbai did this very well in two ways.  


Intelligent Bike Design in Copenhagen

The city as a persuasive technology is a theme I plan to return to throughout the Future of Persuasion's research process. By raising or lowering the threshold for certain activities, our surroundings can substantially influence our behaviors, and in turn can shape the way that we use our cities.

Municipal Vaporware: Why NYC's Data Mine is A Data Dump

This morning, Mayor Mike Bloomberg unveiled New York City's long-awaited Big Apps contest. Big Apps seeks to promote the Internet industry in the Big Apple (it's sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation) and make local government more transparent.

The Future of Infrastructure

A couple weeks ago I mentioned my long standing fascination with the history of architecture, and in particular my interest in how spatial design affects behavior. Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine on 'Infrastructure' was therefore an unexpected delight.

Why Place Matters: The Connection Between Cities and Innovation

Ed Glaeser of Harvard University, who has written much over the last decade on the economics of cities and knowledge industries, has a good op-ed on the New York Times website today explaining why the city is likely to weather the recession well:

Those people who are continuing to pay high prices for Manhattan real estate are implicitly betting that New York’s human capital will continue to come up with new ways of reinventing the city.

I could hardly say it more succinctly.

McKinsey's Pitch for a More Compact Urban China

The McKinsey Global Institute has just published a major report outlining four potential scenarios for urbanization in China.

Green Acres, Now Including Penthouse View

Vertical farms finally make the move from cybergreen fantasy to the pages of the New York Times. The logic is seductive: urban towers, filled not with more offices and apartments, but with food crops.

New Program Announcement: Science in Place

The global map of science and technology innovation is changing quickly. But it’s not just macroeconomics and demographics that is driving this tectonic shift in how scientific collaboration is organized globally, regionally, in cities and within buildings. Everywhere we turn, new structures are challenging the way research organizations create and apply new knowledge, and where they do it.

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