重庆韦博英语
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重庆韦博英语 The App of Life手机应用让城市生活更完美(一)
重庆韦博  2014/3/31 20:03:07

I am a late adopter of new technology, so I only recently discovered that an age-old urban problem had been solved. I was in a restaurant with friends. Outside it was cold, and on Sundays the bus ran only every 20 minutes. When to go to the bus stop? My friend pulled out his smartphone, and told me when my bus would arrive. It was a little trick—like finding another friend’s house on my smartphone’s GPS with three tired children in tow—but it made urban living easier. Thanks largely to smartphones, this is probably the best time ever to live in a packed city.
As my economics guru Stefan Szymanski explains, when the internet arrived many pundits predicted the decline of cities. After all, why live in a flat in Hackney when you could send emails from an old farmhouse overlooking a sheep meadow? But the prediction was wrong. Overcrowded, overpriced cities only became more popular, which is why Hackney flats have gotten so expensive. Meanwhile the countryside has turned into something of a desert, inhabited by farmers and old people, and used by the rest of us chiefly for long walks. In 2008, for the first time ever, most humans lived in cities.
They are lured by social networks. To be rural is to be isolated. You live in a village or suburb to have space, not to meet people. But cities create contacts. Someone you run into at a party or your kids’ playground can give you a job or an idea. The perfect one-on-one urban encounter combines mating, education and business development over a cup of good coffee. Mathieu Lefevre, executive director of the New Cities Foundation, says: “In a dense city you have these two-minute chance encounters that make your life richer. You and I have nothing in common, but maybe we meet and start Facebook together.”
For two centuries, technologies damaged cities. Factories brought dirt and noise. Then cars added sprawl: Los Angeles creates fewer encounters than dense Manhattan. Even in the 1990s, the desktop computer swallowed valuable space, and chained each person to his own desk. Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says 20th-century technologies were no use to a dense city such as Venice.
我是一个较晚使用新技术的人,所以我直到最近才发现,一个由来已久的城市问题已经得到解决。我和一帮朋友坐在一家餐厅里,外面天气冷,而且是周日,公交车每20分钟才来一趟。该何时前往公交站呢?我的朋友拿出他的智能手机,然后告诉我公交车将于何时到达。这只是一个小把戏——就和我一边带着三个疲惫的孩子,一边用自己智能手机上的GPS找到另一位朋友的住处差不多——但它却让城市生活更加轻松。如今可能是有史以来在一个人满为患的城市里生活的最好时候,而这很大程度上要归功于智能手机。
正如我的经济学导师斯特凡·希曼斯基解释的那样,当互联网时代到来时,很多专家都预言城市将要衰落。毕竟当你住在可以俯瞰一片牧羊场的古朴农舍里就能收发邮件时,你又何必要住在哈克尼的一套公寓里呢?但是这个预言错了。拥挤不堪、物价过高的城市只会变得更受欢迎,这也是为什么哈克尼的公寓售价如此之高。与此同时,乡村已经变得有点荒凉,只有农民和老年人住在那里,其余的人则主要把它当成徒步旅行的场所。2008年,有史以来第一次,大多数人都住在了城市里。
因为人们受到社交网络的诱惑。而生活在农村容易被孤立。你住在村庄或郊区能获得空间,却无法与人会面。但是城市能为人们创造接触的机会。你在派对上或者你的孩子们的游乐场上偶遇的人能给你提供一份工作或者一个主意。城市里完美的“一对一”邂逅能让你在品尝一杯美味咖啡的时间里同时进行交友、教育和业务拓展。新城市基金会执行董事马蒂厄·勒费尔说:“在一个人口密集的城市,你拥有很多与人偶遇两分钟便能让你的生活更精彩的机会。你我可能没什么共同之处,但是可能我们相遇后就开始一起开个像Facebook一样的公司。”
在过去的两百年里,技术的进步对城市造成了破坏。工厂带来了灰尘和噪音。接着汽车促使了城市的无序扩张:洛杉矶的偶遇概率要低于人口密集的曼哈顿。即使在上世纪90年代,台式电脑也在占领个人的宝贵空间的同时,把每个人都束缚在各自的书桌前。麻省理工学院感应城市实验室的主任卡洛·拉蒂表示,20世纪发展起来的技术对于诸如威尼斯这样人口密集的城市来说是无益的。

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