Sandy Ikeda writing in The Freeman on April 17:
“A planner can’t build an entire city (or neighborhood eve) because she can’t begin to design and construct the necessary diversity and social intricacy that happens spontaneously in a living city. And I don’t think she should even try because it can irreparably damage, even kill, the living flesh of a city. What can government do? In the ordinary course of its activities a government can perhaps at best refrain from doing the things that would thwart the emergence of the invisible social infrastructure that gives rise to diversity, development and genuine liveliness.”
I recommend the entire article. For me, it brought to mind childhood memories of playing computer games like SimCity, Civilization and Age of Empires. What games like this have in common is they allow the player to play dictator–view cities from the top-down, manage their economies, identify problems and create solutions by drawing upon knowledge of how the cities’ inhabitants (modeled to act like real human beings) respond to various stimuli. It’s great fun, and can make managing an economy seem relatively easy once the game’s rules and parameters are understood.
But of course, no model can account for the awe-inspiring intricacy that is the human mind, no matter how advanced. While it might be possible to centrally plan a city in the virtual world, it’s impossible in real world, where rules and parameters are always changing.