Diigo Bookmarks 05/14/2008 (a.m.)

by Yule Heibel on May 13, 2008

  • While some people say that “gritty” = “edgy” (and therefore “cool”), there’s an undeniable line that gets crossed at some point, and then gritty isn’t edgy anymore, it’s just shabby & run-down & dirty. It seems that too many North American cities are on their way to that, primarily because of problems brought on by aging infrastructure as well as social infrastructural neglect. I’m reminded of my oldest sister’s visit to Victoria a couple of years ago. She lives in the heart of Tokyo, and her observations of Victoria were that it’s dirty — which would no doubt come as a shock to Victorians, because we think our little city is so …well, green and tidy. But then she didn’t mean its air (compared to Tokyo), which is clean to breathe.  She meant the litter on its streets, and obvious signs of infrastructural decay (roads in disrepair, for example), and other obvious signs of social decay (panhandlers, open drug use), which suggest a neglected social infrastructure. Maybe things have gone downhill in Tokyo since her remarks, but they have also gone further downhill here.

    This article in the National Post (by Barry Hertz) should be read in conjunction with some of the other commentaries appearing on infrastructure, whether on Richard Florida’s blog, or on the CEOs for Cities blog, or even on Doc Searls’s blog (see his recent piece, Handbasket weaving on the Berkman blog, or his infrastructure-related pieces in Linux Journal).

    I think the basic message is that this is not a question of “style” or edginess or cool or whatever, and it’s not even a question of tourists.  It’s instead a question of underfunded infrastructure, which is crumbling around our ears, and the resulting shabbiness is a symptom of that bigger problem. Underfunded cities and underfunded infrastructure has long term deleterious economic impacts.  The tourists staying away (or not staying as long) is just the tip of an economic iceberg.

  • tags: toronto, infrastructure, infrastructure_funding, economy, competitiveness

  • “The main principle of MapTube is that shared maps can be overlayed to compare data visually. For example, to see a map of the London Underground overlayed on top of a map of population you simply go to the search page and enter the keywords “tube” and “population”. Then click on the two relevant maps to add them.”

    This has potential for some really fine-grained mapping, specific to local place.

    tags: maptube, mapping_apps, maps, mash_ups, reference

{ 1 comment }

Robert Randall May 15, 2008 at 12:14 am

Yes, there is a fine line between grit and run-down. Certain materials like stone accept abuse better than others but it’s not so common. Sometimes I look at a stucco building and think it would look nicer if it was roughed up a bit. Give it a coat of paint, knock a hole in it, patch it, paint it again and repeat six or seven times. Now it’s developed a patina, a history.

It is nice to watch the DVBA’s Clean Team roaming Downtown, painting out graffiti and scrubbing facades with soapy water.

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