Amazon and similar multinational companies have grown to become an essential part of world trade. Instead of going to the store, the store now comes to you. Well, this is convenient for the consumer, but what does it do to our cities? In the long run, the short-term profit of the private firm comes at what expense to the entire community?
If everything is so great, how come we have so much to complain about?
There are many articles discussing globalization but in my opinion the theory behind the phenomenon is lacking. I think that many people present globalization as if it is a clear-cut, good or bad issue. Doing so derails our ability to understand it. Globalization is good for some people and bad for others. To support one side of the debate and dismiss another is to turn your ears from the genuine distress of those beside you.
Why would people in one city prefer to ride bicycles more than their neighbors in the town over? Why is it that Uber is viable in some cities but not others? Can we explain the choices we make when preferring one means of transportation over another in one unified theory? Well, it turns out we can. This article starts with a simple request for the TV remote and ends with an analysis of the MAAS’s chances of replacing private ownership of cars.
Have you ever read the book “Scale” by Geoffrey West? An excellent read, and I completely disagree with most of what it has to say. I think that if you’re engaged in urban planning you owe it to yourself to read it. That book was actually one of the first sparks that ignited this very blog.
Let’s put my reservations in perspective – the urban environment; the book describes it very well but I think it completely misses the mechanism and model behind it. It is quite easy to disprove the model presented in the book and I have a feeling that the author knew it. Most of the book does not deal with cities but rather explains the mathematical thinking behind “Scaling” lows. The way organisms and organizations vary depending on their size. In the section that relates to cities the book begins with a great momentum while describing urban behavior but stumbles when it comes to the big question – Why the hell is it happening?
“Where there’s a will there’s a way.” she text me. But even when it comes to sex, as an urban economist I don’t respond well to binary options. “The longer the way, the lesser the will” I replied. Yes, I am that kind of geek.
I would like to talk about some market behaviors in the city that we usually disregard – sex and love. On these “markets” we are simultaneously both the service providers and the customers, no money is involved (yes… by all means, feel free to make your jokes here) and yet Supply and Demand of those are playing a role in the way our cities function.