There are some really important changes going on that will shape the process of designing cities, and how we move and interact in them, over the next decade. Here's Mark's shortlist:
1. Huge cuts and a focus on the essential
Everyone - from entrepreneurs to public administrators, needs to adapt to a world where innovation "culture" is no longer focused around the bleeding edge, the piece of the economy that is the "growth" market. Instead, the most important innovation will focus on achieving dramatic cost savings or improvements in the usefulness of essential services - stuff that absolutely has to happen, rather than 'nice to haves'. In other words, the target market will be the "decline" market. Don't be scared. This is surprisingly good news, because we'll focus on solving big problems, instead of peripheral ones.
2. The gulf between skills and jobs
While today's corporates and governments meet at "Cloud Computing" conferences to debate how to put their boring, dated processes online in new ways, a new generation of digitally-empowered workers is approaching over the hill. These people need jobs, and already have, on their own laptops, far more flexible, powerful, communicative tools than almost anything that exists in the firms they're applying to work for. The result is going to be a crisis - new skills and new tools that many firms will resist adopting until it's too late. Young people will be hired into environments, start using 'enterprise' systems, and conclude that everything is lame. Successful firms (and governments) will attract the talent, harness these people and embrace the constantly evolving set of tools these people bring for themselves.
3. Big office space becomes obsolete
We all need somewhere to work - but what most organisations don't need is large buildings with big reception areas and "working" floors packed with desks and computer workstations. Yet today, the office is the definition of modern business and modern cities. This is about to change. Expect great confusion as developers and property owners resist the change (and the resulting fall in building values), while others see the opportunity to create larger, more flexible living and working spaces, possibly made available in completely new ways. You'll also see networks of people who came together digitally move into physical environments for the first time, in a big way. This will be exciting. Remember, New York lofts used to be warehouses and factories. Throughout history, new communication networks, from ships to railways to cars, have always led to the creation of new physical communities built because of them.
4. Consumerism in crisis
This one deserves two paragraphs. A couple of questions will dominate debate over the next few years. Will we expand or reduce the gap between rich and poor? Is a society whose wealth is measured based on the production and consumption of things, or the manipulation of their on-paper value, actually sustainable (economically, not just in terms of resources).
The dramatically changing ability of people to share what they do and think has the potential to reshape the way we decide what to buy, and how we articulate the experience of using those things. We're not saying you won't buy stuff - it just won't be the same hierarchy as it's been for decades. As the ripples from the financial crisis continue, fundamental questions about what wealth is, what it means, and how it should be demonstrated, will make for an interesting era. Notions of ownership have been in flux ever since most people stopped buying music, as an object to own. In an era when an iPhone is now a more useful, cheaper, social vehicle than a Ford Fiesta for many (especially young) people, an "Apps" culture means we are likely to buy lots more virtual stuff, rooted in software, where the emphasis is on doing rather than just having. The authenticity of objects, and the connections and associations they imply, is also likely to become ever more important.
5. Open versus closed
London's teenagers are likely all by themselves to generate and organise far more data than London's public authorities will over the next ten years. As the power of open source collaboration stretches beyond software, as the masses rush to share updates, pictures, and video of what they're doing and what they think, we're going to hit some nasty issues. These might be about security, privacy, lifestyle, even thought. But a lot of them will be about people defending existing approaches, who seek to undermine and discredit those who believe that by sharing ideas, knowledge and resources, we can create more wealth and better cities. Watch this space.
Joe and I would love to talk to people who have views on any of this. Bounce us a note, leave a comment, or please share this with others who may be interested. If you're in London, drop by and we'll film your comments. Or if you want to write a nice guest blog, we'll post it.