Friday, November 27, 2009

urban and peri-urban sustainability policies

I find Kevin Kelly's writing a pleasure to read. Contrary to many who popularize science he has a deep understanding of current science thinking and an uncanny ability to extrapolate it and indentify questions that are yet to be addressed.

Recently, Andreas Lloyd has "remixed" Kelly's 1994 book entitled Learning from self-organizing systems in nature and technology. Lloyd has made Kelly's book much more accessible by removing, moving and editing the original. This has become a popular method in music. See for example my son's mixes on . [My son is Jordash]. Lloyd has adopted the method to writing.

In the final chapter Kelly raises and answers a question that sums up much of current deep science thinking.

"So how do you make something from nothing? From the frontiers of computer science, and the edges of biological research, and the odd corners of interdisciplinary experimentation, I have compiled Nine Laws of God governing the incubation of something from nothing. These nine laws are the organizing principles that can be found operating in systems as diverse as biological evolution and SimCity. Of course I am not suggesting that they are the only laws needed to make something from nothing; but out of the many observations accumulating in the science of complexity, these principles are the broadest, crispest, and most representative generalities. I believe that one can go pretty far as a god while sticking to these nine rules:

§ Distribute being

§ Control from the bottom up

§ Cultivate increasing returns

§ Grow by chunking

§ Maximize the fringes

§ Honor your errors

§ Pursue no optima; have multiple goals

§ Seek persistent disequilibrium

§ Change changes itself.

You can download and read the entire book for free at Once you read the book, ask yourself what policy and planning measures should be promoted to advance urban and peri-urban sustainability.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Stan Czamanski prize for best paper by a young regional scientist

I have been around Regional Science since my early high-school days in Philadelphia. Some kids of the Philadephia I-O table research team were employed during the summer vacation as "research assistants". We wore NASA name tags and felt proud that our salary was paid by NASA.

Many of the small group of people who called themselves regional scientists at the time are no longer with us. I find it rather sad. Walter Isard, the father of the field and Stan Czamanski are still around. Walter is a few month younger than Stan.

I was very sorry to hear that Walter did not attend the November meeting of the RSA. It was a first. The founding generation is no longer present at the conferences and soon their impact on the organization will be forgotten.

Stan just turned 91. I decided to mark the occasion by organizing a young scholar prize in honor of my father. The prize will be awarded during the annual meeting of the Israel RSA organization in January. So, if you are presenting a paper at that meeting and you are a young scholar who recently completed her PhD, please submit you paper for consideration to the organizing committee.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Entrepreneurship, innovation and more

I just came across the following short video clip about the resilience and dynamism of the Israeli economy and the societal driving forces behind it: The video is a promo for a book entitled Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle.

It raises a vast number of hypotheses concerning entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel. While some of the assertions explaining the record breaking performance of Israel's economy seem correct, there is a need to perform an empirical analysis. In particular, cross-sectional data within Israel could provide counter-intuitive evidence.

I recommend the book.