Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will the People Leave?

I recently added Clay Shirky's blog to my blogroll (for his essays, go here). I've always found his writing thought provoking. His recent post left me with a couple of questions, so here's what I just emailed him (with a few edits):
I love your work, just love it. About your newspaper blog post… here are some follow-on questions to think about:
  1. When will the problems with newspapers trickle-up to broadcasting? (Broadcast doesn’t have the craigslist problem, but I still think they’re vulnerable.)
  2. Why do we still have libraries? When will they mostly disappear? When will they be replaced with a server hosting a copy of the Gutenberg project and/or Wikipedia?
  3. If small classes sizes are so great, why not require homeschooling?
  4. When will it be possible to get a masters degree by attending iTunes University? A PhD? Why pay for the sheepskin?
Here’s a much deeper question… In “Ontology is Overrated” you said: “…East Germany actually turned out to be an unstable category. Cities are real. They are real, physical facts. Countries are social fictions.” It’s been years since I read that article—I still recommend it to friends, though. Anyway, I’ve been wondering if cities might become “less real” during/after the tumult you discussed in your newspaper blog post. 5. What is the value proposition of "the city"? I live in St Louis, MO. I get to pay 1% annual income tax to the city. The schools are unaccredited. Crime is high.

To be a little dark… What happens if a city somewhere in the world is nuked? City property values the world over will go down while non-city property values will go up. What about a second nuke and so on? I certainly hope none of that happens. Nonetheless, I think humanity’s future will more closely resemble peer-to-peer networks than the current client-server architecture sustaining our cities.
Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Update: Will more cities look like Detroit?

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