Youngjin Yoo on seeing cities as computing platforms at TEDx

In November, TEDxPhilly brought together some of our city’s brightest urbanists and performers for a day full of urban inspiration and ideas about The City . As promised, I’m sharing some of my favorite talks here on Eyes on the Street. First was Diana Lind on urban highway removal. Next up, Temple University’s Center for Design + Innovation director, Youngjin Yoo on seeing the city as computing platform.

To Yoo, our creativity is being matched by technological innovation, and we need to use that power for good to improve our cities. Why cities? Because they’re increasingly where the world population lives, but also because they are the “most exciting, complex, most amazing, compelling human-made objects.”

Cities are layered, complex, connective, and brimming with data, and we should literally see cities as urban information architecture. “We should actually think of  city as a computer, not as a metaphor, but actually as a computer system,” Yoo said. “We are in fact, whether you like it or not, a part of a big computer system. As you move, as you use your computers, you are creating data. And we can actually harness it and use it for good purpose.”

With the right tools, the data generated and gathered in our buildings, cars, and phones can help improve the quality of urban life. And Yoo looks forward to seeing inclusive, generative design processes that connect the expertise of people who experience urban problems with the technological resources to help solve them. He is currently working on that very issue as head of Temple’s new Urban Apps and Maps Studio, which is geared at using technology to drive urban digital entrepreneurship.

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