If you read my last post (immediately below this one), you'll recall that this was coming. It is my most recent* column for D magazine. I am quite proud of it, as in my estimation it is by leaps and bounds the best one I have written (and at least to yr. correspondent, the most fascinating subject material).
*I say most recent, because I have since submitted another and am working on the next two already (at least in a mental outline sort of way). Furthermore, as I noted in the previous blog posting, I report with both frustration and sense of accomplishment that Jonah Lehrer of the New York Times magazine wrote on the very same subject. Frustration because, GAH! that's what I just wrote and submitted my draft exactly seven days before the NYT published his article. Accomplishment in that we covered the same material and Lehrer is far more accomplished than I to date. Fitting perhaps that his publication would beat me to the punch. Jerk**.
**I mean that facetiously.
Without further ado, please click this link to read the full text of the article over at D's spatious online residences:
Ten years later, along came a theoretical physicist named Geoffrey West who’d taken to studying cities after he’d grown bored with things like quarks, dark matter, and string theory. Cities, having defied meaningful mathematical study, were a perfect subject for a left-brained, mathy guy like West. From previous work in biology, studying the size and metabolism of various creatures, he knew there is an economy of scale applied to organisms. Large animals use less energy per body mass than small ones. In his new field of study, he found that cities work on a similar economy of scale. Big cities use less resources and infrastructure—aka input—per capita than small ones. However, he also found that the larger cities get, the more wealth and opportunity—output—they produce per capita.
These natural advantages are why cities have endured for so long. But there is a flip side to the equation. The process of converting that input into output can be thought of as the metabolism of cities. Along with the inherent competitive advantages of cities, increased metabolism also produces more bad things such as pollution, crime, and disease. That’s why innovation is so critical. As West says, the larger a city grows, the faster it must innovate so that it can stave off the negative effects of growth.
Also, it should be noted that this is pretty weighty stuff and could really use more space than the 800-words that I'm allotted each month. So to flesh out the...rest of the story...as it were...140-chrctr TWITTER BLAST!!!!! (to be read from bottom to top)