Cities can be seen as a construct of various systems or as an organism with various inputs, outputs that adapts to the environmental conditions. Cities have never-ending ‘growing pains’ (or shrinking pains) with a recent pieces of writing showing that no matter whether your in a developed or developing nation, cities continue to change due to the influence of people. “In the battle between tech and the city, should designers choose a side?” by Mimi Zeiger, “What Tech Hasn’t Learned From Urban Planning” by Allison Arieff.
With both these interesting pieces I found myself thinking about cities and how they change over time. What I kept coming back to is that tech companies change at phenomenal rate of speed, think about how you life has changed due to tech in the last five years – the smart phone, social networks, retail purchases and delivery, photography, and the list goes on. Now, think about how your city has changed in the last five years and you may have noticed small changes with urban renewal (or decay), but what is soon apparent is that cities change over decades and not years.
Tech companies thrive on change, the unknown and the pace of change; whereas cities and residents fear change and often why projects take years to come to fruition. The other reason is that budgets and investment at a private level (tech companies) is often easy to obtain and you only explain the problems and failures to a small group of investors with a large amount invested, whereas a city is large group of people with a small amount invested but demanding large amount from their city government in terms of information, services. Therefore, tech companies often struggle to understand why San Francisco residents aren’t happy with change especially rapid change that has occurred over the last 5-15 years.