Urban planning as consensual illusion.

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William Gibson's Neuromancer defines cyberspace as a "consensual illusion" obtained when a user "jacks into" the network. Plans for cities are also consensual illusions, a community agreed upon vision of how the city will look at some future date. Planners are but illusionists, creating and shaping a fantasy for a how city imagines itself, and through this consensus, harnessing the positive feedback processes of public and private investments aiming to achieve self-fulfilling prophesies. By promising networks, development will come; by promising demand, infrastructure will come.

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I think that "urban planning" is much more commonly reactive, rather than something based on "positive feedback processes". Planners respond to estimated future scenarios, based either on recent development patterns or mandated population forecasts, and present future scenarios based on a "least harm" philosophy. Scenarios are much more commonly developed through negative feedback processes than positive ones.

While these plans are often self-fulfilling, I don't know that they promise demand, but rather shakily anticipate it.

David Levinson

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Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on July 1, 2009 12:02 PM.

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