Templexity is Out

Thank you Amazon. Despite some frustrations with the Kindle Direct Publishing interface — which isn’t designed for editorial convenience — the excitement of disintermediation-in-action more than makes up for it. If the self-publishing system reached the stage where writers spent their time on the platform, as a work-space, in the same way they can on a blog today, the horizon of possibility would be pushed out to yet inconceivable distances.

Templexity aims to catalyze a theoretical coagulation where the philosophy of time, contemporary (complex) urbanism, and pulp entertainment media are complicit in an approach to singularity (as a topic, a thing, and a nonlinear knotting of the two (at least)). It proposes that the urban process and the techno-science of time machines is undergoing rapid convergence. (This seems to be a suggestion whose time has come.) Grasp the opportunity offered by computers to visualize what cities really are, and the dynamics of retro-temporalization are graphically displayed.

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That being for which the being of time is opened as an exploratory path is the advanced global metropolis. This is a contention already tacked to a cinematic, mass-media revelation, although one formatted by deeply-traditional dramatic criteria, thus systematically, and automatically, encrypted.

Far more on all this later. (If I say too much now, I’m worried I might save you $4.00.)

Quotable (#20)

A quote, and a reference, that requires no explanation:

If you wish to understand the future you need to understand the city, for the human future is an overwhelmingly urban future. The city may have always been synonymous with civilization, but the rise of urban humanity has been something that has almost all occurred after the onset of the industrial revolution. In 1800 a mere 3 percent of humanity lived in cities of over one million people. By 2050, 75 percent of humanity will be urbanized. India alone might have 6 cities with a population of over 10 million.

The trend towards megacities is one into which humanity as we speak is accelerating in a process we do not fully understand let alone control.

Arts of Re-Animation

There’s always something huge happening in Shanghai — and usually several things. Out at the leading edge over the last two years has been the tsunami of urban development along the Huangpu waterfront to the south of the Puxi metropolitan core, in an area that has been named ‘Xuhui Riverside’ or ‘West Bund’. The scale of what is underway there is (of course) utterly stunning.

A mixture of new residential complexes and prestige towers is under construction, and the immediate waterfront has already been redeveloped into a strip of interconnected parks and boardwalks (constituting the 8.4km ‘Shanghai Corniche‘). Along the river, a neo-modern aesthetic prevails, characterized by elegantly re-purposed heavy industrial structures: slabs of concrete, disused rail tracks, and massive cargo cranes. As elsewhere in the city, the heavy-duty Shanghai 1.0 has been playfully folded over itself, in a stylish celebration of modernist heritage. The future is presented as a re-launch of the past. For anybody mesmerized by time-spirals, it’s irresistible.

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City Limits

There’s undoubtedly a Quixotic character to the ‘China should do X’ mode of outside commentary, but Yukon Huang’s short Bloomberg article advising revision of the country’s urbanization policies represents the genre at its best. Noting the agglomeration effects that yield disproportionate returns to urban scale, Huang recommends a turn away from the proliferation of new minor cities, and towards megacity growth.

China is already in a class by itself in accounting for 30 of the 50 largest cities in east Asia. It boasts half a dozen megacities with populations of more than 10 million and 25 “large” cities exceeding 4 million. In fact, though, the only way China will achieve its desired productivity gains is if its leaders allow cities to evolve more organically in response to market forces. They need to let cities like Beijing get bigger.

Urban concentration creates real problems, but these are indistinguishable from the challenges any genuine process of socio-economic advance has to confront. The solutions to these problems will be the same steps that carry the country forward into unexplored territory — beyond ‘catch up’ and into the open horizons of the future. Everything learned from concrete economic history suggests that technological and business opportunity will be ratcheted upwards by exactly those forces which promote megacity agglomeration — and better still urban concentration or intensity — to historically unprecedented levels. That is how — and where — deep social innovation takes place.

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