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Point-Counterpoint on the Transformative Potential of the City 2.0

In respective reports on this week's awarding of the TED Prize, Anthony Flint and Diana Lind promote different opinions on the potential impact of this year's winner - The City 2.0.
March 2, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While Lind acknowledges that "the integration of technology and civic life is here to stay", she does so without fully buying into the revolutionizing potential of The City 2.0, offering the caveat that, "how exactly we use technology to improve civic life is still unclear."

Taking the skeptics approach to the transformative power of technology alone, Lind notes that, "While the Internet is great for ordering shoes or reading blogs, it might just not be the best holistic system to organize people or to create change in cities." In pointing to the development of the High Line as an example to support her critique, Lind writes that, "Anyone who has read about the High Line, for example, knows that structure wouldn't have been saved, redesigned and funded by wishes or social networking. It took people moving outside the comfort of their email in-boxes, interacting in real time, with real political structures and communities."

Reporting from Long Beach, where the prize was officially awarded, Flint relays the optimist point of view on the potential of The City 2.0 to reshape cities around the world, as promulgated by those assembled at the Long Beach Convention Center.

According to TED curator Chris Anderson, "The idea of The City 2.0 is 'empower citizens to connect with each other to help reshape their own cities,' he said, a global call for collaborative action that marries technology with civic engagement to meet 'the ultimate design challenge.'" Optimism was in abundance amongst the experts and activists in attendance towards an "all-of-the-above global urban policy, crowdsourced from the ground up."

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Published on Thursday, March 1, 2012 in Next American City
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