The city as an informational medium




I would like to use the city of Vienna as an example. In 1900, Vienna was still among the 10 largest cities in the world, whereas today it ranks around place 250 in population.

The physical and population size of a city is not necessarily connected to its prominent function, it might be a burden. Still people in the developing countries are flocking in masses into cities, because cities are the core of economic dynamics. Cities offer easier access to everything, they offer economies of scale, they offer competitive advantage. To think that the cities will disappear from this planet is like asking gravitation to stop.

The more we have been connected to the media , the more we want to make use of the manifold opportunities that we gradually become aware of. The printing press, photography, radio and TV have dragged more people to the cities than the feudal expropriations of the 18th century. The cities themselves became storehouses of information and showcases of information exchange.

The processed and useful information that we call knowledge is stored in people and institutions rather than in media, and urban economist Richard Knight argues that the vast amount of stored information makes the city the place of economic dynamics. What he calls the žknowledge baseÓ is at the core of the gravitational force which makes cities grow and prosper.