Some good stuff here on how cities come into being. They are not invented perfect. They stumble and stagger into existence and then gentrify later.

P 81 – Cities are technological artifacts, the largest technology we make.

P 82 – Well, Every beautiful city begins as a slum. First its a seasonal camp, with the usual freewheeling makeshift expediency. Creature comforts are scarce, squalor is the norm.

P 83 – That’s how it works. That is how all technology works. A gadget begins as a junky prototype and then progresses to something that barely works. The ad hoc shelters in slums are upgraded over time, infrastructure is extended, and eventually makeshift services become official. What was once the home of poor hustlers becomes, over the span of generations, the home of rich hustlers. Propogating slums is what cities do and living in slums is how cities grow. The majority of neighbourhoods in almost every modern city are merely successful former slums. The squatter cities of today will become the blue blood neighbourhoods of tomorrow. This is already happening in Rio and Mumbai today.

In a ghetto a thousand years ago and in slum today shelters are haphazard and dilapidated. The smells are overwhelming. But there is vibrant economic activity. Every slum boasts eateries and bars and most have rooming houses or places you can rent a bed. They have animals, fresh milk, grocery stores, barbers shops, healers, herb stores, repair stands, and strong armed men offering ‘protection’. A squatter city is, and always has been, a shadow city, a parallel world without official permission, but a city nonetheless.

What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly

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