Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Theoretical physicist Geoffrey West gave a TED talk earlier this year in which he presented evidence that simple mathematical laws govern the development of cities, from Bogota to Birmingham. Like biological organisms and systems, cities always demonstrate economies of scale. He says:

“The reason for this is because of networks. All of life is controlled by networks. From the intracellular, through the multi-cellular to the ecosystem level. The question is any of this true for cities? Cities are just physical manifestations of your interactions and the clustering and grouping of individuals…

“Cities deliver economies of scale. Fewer petrol stations per capita the bigger your city is. Not surprising… This is true of any infrastructure you look at in any city around the world.

“But even more surprising is if you look at socio-economic quantities. Wages, wealth, patents, crime, AIDS cases, flu cases.”

Double the size of the city and any of these factors goes up by 15% per capita.

“Anything you can think of goes up by 15%... This is a universal phenomenon.”

The bigger the city, the more efficient it is, the more of everything there is, per capita. Whatever it is.

“The reason for this is us. Our interactions and networks. The bigger you are, life gets faster. Even the speed of walking gets faster as your city gets bigger.”

Now, Brockley Central is no theoretical physicist, but if the cause of these efficiencies is the networking effect of cities, then the implication would be that if the networks are more intricate, the scaling effect should be greater. Instead of getting 15% efficiency – a super-connected community should achieve a higher number.

It’s a hypothesis, but one we’re trying to prove with Brockley Central. Making SE4 and its surrounds the best-connected community in the world via the web, Twitter, Facebook, the forum and more Twitter ought to make us more efficient.

In other words, we won’t rest until you’re all rich. And have the clap. Join us!