Monday, January 20, 2014


The Economist (Jan. 18) has another piece on accelerating technological change ("Coming to an office near you ... The effect of today's technology on tomorrow's jobs will be immense -- and no country is ready for it").

Music, news, publishing, education, medicine, transportation and many more are changing as never before. We see it every day. But what about our cities?  What is the impact?  None?

Put "death of distance" into Ngram Viewer; use of that phrase peaked in 2003 (Ngram only goes to 2008).

The latest U.S. urbanized area population data show no change in established trends. For 2000-2010, the fastest growing areas are in the Sunbelt.  The largest areas continue to suburbanize; for the 50 largest areas, the average decline in population density was -5.1%; only 13 gained density; only 8 showed a density increase greater than 1%; the outlier gainer was the San Diego area (up 18%) but Wendell Cox explains that this was due to re-drawing of boundaries by census.

Yesterday's NY Times Magazine included "The Not-So-Lonely City ... Is technology really driving us apart? It turns out we may be more social than we were 30 years ago -- at least in public spaces."  The research cited compared photos of people, taken now and thirty years ago, in spots in selected public spaces in NY, Boston and Philadelphia. We do know that crime is down and public spaces are more attractive.

Are electronic links complements or substitutes for the old fashioned ones?  Who knows?

It used to be that "We see the computer age everywhere except in the productivity statistics." (R. Solow, 1987). We now see it [tech, especially communications] everywhere except in the urban statistics.


But here are some data that may be relevant.