Terrorism and urban planning

From the novel I am currently reading: Back in his hotel room he remembered that Mohammed Atta , the famous World Trade Center hijacker, had been a student of urban planning in hamburg in Germany. Was there a connection between the two things – terror and planning? It was possible. Atta in his religious way, had wanted the perfect religious city &emdash; his thesis was on Aleppo in Syria. In the end though his urge to design took a different form &emdash; het took down the twin monstrosi…

Capital or the erosion of the social farbric of the city

This is the second book i have read this year that has the words ‘capital’ and ’21st century’ in its title. While this smells a lot like free-riding on the popularity of the other book, it is not [1]. Capital by Rana Dasgupta chronicles the last one-and-a-half decades of the Indian capital Delhi. It is a mix between encounters (not in the indian sense of the word) with (moneyed) inhabitants of Delhi, snippets of history and more abstract reflections on the city in an globalized world. It is a f…

Imaginary suburban futures

Friday morning when we left the cab that had brought us and our newborn from the hospital the mail carriers on their bicycles where swarming out around us (we live 3 houses down from a postnl distribution location where the mail for the neighborhood is transferred from delivery vans to bikes). Having spend some of the waiting time in hospital reading Alex Madrigal’s Atlantic feature on Google’s delivery drone programme this made me briefly contemplate if our daughter would grow up to see a world…

On organisations stunning ability to absorb nonsensical claims about technology

So i have finally managed to finish Adam Greenfield’s Against the smart city (i had lapsed soon after this picture was taken). The book is well worth reading and contains a number valuable insights but there is one passage that stands out for me. Towards the end of the book (or pamphlet as Adam refers to it) he explains why his method of examining the language of marketing and promotional copy of IT vendors is important even though the same vendors, when challenged on the claims contained in it…

On self driving cars

In his most recent deezen column Dan Hill provides some much needed perspective on the self driving cars hype. I completely agree with him, that while endlessly fascinating, self driving cars are rather problematic idea. Instead of improving the way personal mobility is organised they primarily attempt to improve a deeply flawed system: Here we see such companies are not actually interested in genuine change, for all their bluster about “radical disruption”. Self-driving cars are a sticking plas…

Rio de Janeiro as a smart city

The New York Times has a longish article portraying the Operations Center of the City of Rio that has been build by IBM’s smarter cities unit. In the article both the city of Rio de Janeiro and IBM portray the operations center as some kind of magic wand that enables the benevolent city government to steer the daily life of the city’s population using video feeds and text messages: City employees in white jumpsuits work quietly in front of a giant wall of screens — a sort of virtual Rio, rendere…

Beyond City Limits

Kimon pointed me to this impressive article by Parag Khanna in which he argues that (mega)cities are slowly emerging as the dominant international actors replacing nation states along the way. His article titled ‘Beyond City Limits’ is well worth a read and a refreshing take on the subject of urban growth. Ever since the publication of Mike Davis’ ‘Planet of Slums‘ in 2006 contributions to the discussion about this subject seem to have deteriorated to become a constant stream of repetitions of t…

Kabul tourist guide

The city of Kabul (and Afghanistan in general) is still pretty high on my list of places i want to visit. Unfortunately, the closest place to Kabul that i got to so far is Delhi. Fortunately, however, there is the fabulous internet where Safi Airways ‘the international airline of Afghanistan’ is publishing PDF versions of it’s fabulous in-flight magazine. Browsing through the three available issues only reinforces my desire to go and visit the place. As far as the standards of such publications…

What is a bike messenger?

Couple of days ago boingboing ran a post about a SF bike messenger who claims to work while tripping on LSD. Today i finally read the whole text (as opposed to just the short quote on boingboing which focusses on his cycling while tripping experience). Turns out that the his entire rant is rather amusing and that it contains one of the best descriptions of how the bike messenger business works i have ever come across: In big cities, cars are fucking everywhere. It’s a wonder people still buy the…

Best cycling jacket ever

Usually i do not promote products on this page, but i am so happy with my (relatively) new cycling jacket that i make an exception here. My new kättermusen einride jacket is more or less perfect for a cycling jacket: The einride jacket (which is for some strange reason marketing as a mountaineering/trekking garment) has the perfect cut for cycling including a hood that that protects your head against the rain without impairing your field of vision or your ability to move around your head. but th…