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Nerdy Cities Want to Sit at the Cool Cities' Lunchtable

I don't really have anything to say about this story except damn! It's gotta hurt to look out at all the bigger, more popular cities, having all the fun and getting all the hottest sister cities, hosting all the coolest awards shows.

Now officials in some cities and states are looking to reverse the trend -- by marketing themselves as hip places to live and giving college graduates a reason to stay.

In Michigan, [Governor Jennifer] Granholm has launched the "Cool Cities" initiative, a grants program that she insists is more about economic development than just bringing "lattes and bookstores and nightclubs" to her state.

Saugatuck, where residents are renovating an old pie factory into a center for the arts, was among the first to receive one of the state's $100,000 grants.

3D modeling made easy

I recently downloaded and played around with a neat 3D modeling tool called Sketchup. @Last Software's SketchUp is a 3D modeling package intended to be used by architects and designers who need to quickly outline 3D ideas, but don't care for the difficulty of a CAD program, or the advanced features of a high-end 3D modeler.

SketchUp's toolset is fairly simple, offering a Photoshop-like, two-column tool palette. SketchUp has also a very helpful grid guidance system, with multiple colors to guide you through the 3D orientation plans.

Territory Maps of Gangs in Los Angeles

On the subject of interesting uses for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), I ran across this fascinating site, Maps and Territories of Gangs in Los Angeles County, while doing some background reading for a new course I'll be teaching at USC on technology and planning.

Territory MapThe author, Alex Alonso, who is himself apparently a PhD candidate in USC's Geography department

Urban Nature

Good story today in the New York Times on parks, new and old, in Manhattan (here's the link, reg. req'd).

City parks -- urban ecology -- is problematic for me. I'm not totally convinced that cities should have parks (yes, yes, you're yelling at me now: Central Park! Olmstead and Vaux! The Emerald Necklace! Golden Gate Park! Griffith Park! Just relax for a minute, cowboy).

Among many smart people, Anne Whiston Spirn


Via SmartMobs, an interesting piece of forthcoming software called CivicSpace. According to the site, it's based on DeanSpace, one of the pieces of social networking software that the Dean for President campaign used as an organizing tool. Salient bits from the description:

CivicSpace is being built with the needs of distributed organizations in mind. It will give you and the supporters within your community a solid framework for organizing and engaging those around you in action. But it also will allow you to plug your community into a network of other communities where you can share your ideas, knowledge, relationships, and organizational information.

The High Line

I herewith draw your attention to the High Line, an unused, elevated railway that cuts through Manhattan's Meat Packing district. Some good, artsy pictures here, the official site of the organization that wants to redevelop the High Line here and a book with even better artsy pictures (and an essay by brilliant Harvard landscape/urban historian John Stilgoe) here.

Human Markup Language

We have a Planning Markup Language. Adam Rogers proposed a "Real World Markup Language". Why stop at inanimate objects? Enter the "Human Markup Language".

<world> </world>

Real World Markup Language

Chris has been flacking the idea of metadata specific to urban planning and related fields for a while now (and hey, if you go read that article from planning, ignore the lead -- I just re-read it and, well, what can I say except I was just a kid when I wrote it).

So the basic notion is pretty cool: all the data that an architect, planner, contractor, builder, etc.

Mobile Taiwan

Via Taiwan News, via Smart Mobs, comes word of a project to build a mobile phone broadband Internet cloud over all of Taiwan by 2008. Salient bits:

The target is to set up the basic infrastructures to combine cellular phone network service, IT computer platforms, and broadband Internet links with a total 6,000 kilometers of the broadband fixed networks, and 10 "mobile cities" plus 15 "special mobile districts" around Taiwan by 2008, according to Kao Tien-tzu head of telecommunication and information section at the advisory group.

Kao said the project has now been underway and the government has the goal of taking Taiwan from number 20 to among the top 5 countries in the world for wireless on-line access, while at the same time lowering the charged service fees to up to 80 percent to be competitive with the top ten most inexpensive national rates in the world.

Swedes say whatever the Swedish is for "yes" to trams

The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute has a (extraordinarily slow-loading) report out (in Swedish but with an abstract that comes very close to being in English) on tram and bus use. Here's the PDF of the report, but in a TechTalk public service, here's the salient bit, with a couple teeny edits, from the abstract:

...public transport makes much more efficient use of the street area than car traffic. Trams are more than twice as efficient as buses, when the number of passengers carried is considered. IN the period 1986-1996 the European cities which based public transport on trams show a bigger growth in the number of passengers carried than do cities which rely on buses.