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Home Metrogenesis Techniques
Techniques


The Internet For Dictators

Let's say, you're ruler of some small land, with your subjects suitably under your thumb, but Machiavelli's The Prince just isn't cutting it in the high tech world of today.  Laurier Rochon has published The Dictator's Practical Internet Guide to Power Retention, a treatise on how a fascist regent can get a handle on the Internet before things get out of control.   The instructions are heavily influenced by the Arab Spring, with a focus on Facebook and Twitter as the sources of all evil, but I'll bet if you've gotten to be a dictator you're smarter than a 5th grader and can transcribe the threats of free public communication into the technology of your time.     On the other hand, if you're a member of a gung-ho rebellion, the Practical Internet Guide will be helpful to your movement, because, overall, the result is that once these technologies have taken hold, Pandora's box cannot be re-sealed.

 

Strong Towns

The Strong Towns group has published a small booklet called "Curbside Chat", which gives a nice overview about how the current methods of metrogenesis, focused on sprawling new development and public infrastructure overspending, are going the wrong way about things.    The booklet shows how the promise of new property taxes isn't the golden egg it appears to be: the support the city will have to provide over the years will far exceed the benefit gained by new taxes.  That is, if you're state isn't stupid enough to ban property taxes altogether, but that's North Dakota's problem.  The booklet doesn't say that property taxes are good or bad, either way: the goal is that a city needs to look at long-term investment, and not focus on a series of short-term gains which are offset by long-term expense.   Giving developers deals in order to gain predicted taxes, while taking on additional utilities and street maintenance, is stealing from the future.   The booklet does go into some more Green-ish aspects, such as community agriculture, which isn't necessarily a fix for food scarcity nor an easy place to find workers willing to work for cost-effective hours and wages, is a bit on the edge, but the rest of the booklet is square on giving cities a fiscally-conservative goal while producing a progressive end, both of which make me optimistic for my community.

 

The Brondby Haveby Kolonihavehuse

Brøndby Haveby is a little Kolonihaveområde in Holland, and if that's not enough weird characters for you, the aerial photo of this unique civic planning method is after the break:

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WikiHomes by WikiHouse

The art collective WikiHouse.CC has compiled a number of modern concepts - crowdsourcing, computer-controlled machining, and prefabrication - to come up with a Ikea-like method for producing housing.  WikiHouse promises the ability to 'print out' your house, and have it shipped directly to you for hand assembly.   Their 'about' page does claim to have some engineers on board, but I find the widespread use of plywood for structural support to be a bit wishful.   There's no reason they couldn't CNC custom-fit 2x4s from 2x6s like Lincoln Logs.  Lincoln Logs, incidentally, were invented as a prefab architecture toy for kids by Frank Lloyd Wright's son.  CNC styrofoam blocks could be included for instant insulation; pre-fit conduits could fit together like a bicycle frame for quick electric wiring.   They're still a ways from it becoming a viable process, with quite a few rough edges to be worn away on the production side.   Prefabricated, unassembled homes aren't unusual, of course.  Sears produced thousands of prefab homes sold by catalog, Lustron homes were made from formed steel, and panelized homes are becoming increasingly common.  What I think WikiHouse is trying to do is to make the source of the home less singular. 

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