Triumph of the City

The ultimate cause of Athenian success may seem mysterious, but the process is clear.

I’m reading TRIUMPH OF THE CITY by Edward Glaeser.  The aforementioned quote comes from this book. Friends are reading it, and recommending the book. The book is super-stimulating and is a truly great read. One of things that is hitting me about this book is the virtualization of city life. I’m plugged into some amazing FaceBook groups now. The people I am meeting and interacting with are all in the same ‘city’ so to speak. The experience is insanely stimulating. It’s like moving to and living in a very large city, and having a core group of stimulating friends who make the place friendly and fun.

It all starts with one connection. Let me explain.

I have a friend who uses to do travel. He goes to Madrid that way, 2 years ago, for 10 days. Or so he thinks. He loves it so much he stays for 6 months teaching English. You might wonder how he pulls this off. It is all based on that one personal connection he makes via CouchSurfer. His CouchSurfer host got him connected socially right away, and off he went. Six months in Madrid, and he barely knows Spanish going in. From there he gets an apartment, develops his wider network of friends in Madrid, and ends up having a completely awesome time.

Same thing here with the online city-space. The new cosmopolitan city is the online space: groups of people with aligned interests. When we get truly intimate online, we move beyond interests to a more general alignment based on experience, beliefs, values, behavior, and results. We get serious stuff done together after disclosing information and getting more and more genuine alignment.

We are rapidly coming to a time where people of like mind can rapidly produce amazing results. It is all based on social introductions, dialogue and blending at EPIC SCALE. For that to happen, you must have an entry point. That entry point is the introduction, or invitation from one person to another. From there, you have proximity… and the fun begins. Once you enter the online city-space via a group of people aligned on interests, you have access to most of the social benefits of living in a large city. You have a network of support, many introductions are made, you also make introductions, and the mixing of ideas begins. You also end up attending live events when people converge in a certain place for dinner or some kind of larger context like a conference or symposium.

I am willing to argue that the largest city on the face of the earth is FaceBook. All the basic social elements are there. Yes, the form is crude. The content is not. As socio-technical systems get better, the velocity of change and creativity can only increase.

I say:

We may be entering a Golden Age of creativity, especially in the way we implement what is called society, or civilization.

As I read Ed Glaeser’s book, I am mapping what he is saying about brick-and-mortar cities to the online city-space.

This is a rich and yeasty time to be alive. We are living in a time that is exuberantly creative.

Ideas move from person to person within dense urban spaces, and this exchange occasionally creates miracles of human creativity. – Edward Glaeser, TRIUMPH OF THE CITY