Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Serendipity: Introducing USC's Peter Gordon

Chiasm recently wrote about the importance of filters in a market of extreme diversity. Linking to Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice, which notes the existence of such a thing as "choice fatigue", he maybe misses what he aimed at with the reference to Devo. I suspect Schwartz was actually referring to Devo's song, "Freedom of Choice":
Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want
What we don't care about in the age of Google is the tenth page of search results; what we do care about is the first three, and maybe even the first page above the digital "fold".

All this got me thinking about my bête noir, and thence to Google, whereupon I found the following aged CNN article. Included is an extended quote from USC's Peter Gordon regarding the New Urbanism:

Peter Gordon, a professor at the University of Southern California's Graduate School of Policy, Planning and Development, rejects [Kunstler's claims]. "This Doomsday stuff is always wrong," he says. "People who are ignorant of the previous track record of Doomsday forecasts blithely go on making them, which is fine. But it's when they prescribe harsh measures for the rest of us to live by that we ought to take serious notice."

Gordon says the New Urbanist model of living has one crucial flaw: People actually like suburbs.

"What I define as a livable city is where real people are choosing to go. That's the only way I can define it," Gordon says. "That may not jibe with the image of what's livable to certain writers, but ... it's the preferences of the people that ought to count in some calculus somewhere."

"The argument that people like driving around in their SUVs and living in pod subdivisions is really beside the point," Kunstler says. "People also like shooting heroin. People also like drinking too much. People like eating more fatty food than is good for them. There are a lot of things that people like that the world does not necessarily reward them for."

Now of course if economic circumstances force people out of such developments, it's another matter, and such an event (see the title of this blog) is not unthinkable. But, in keeping with Odograph's post linking to the Kenneth Deffeyes interview the other day, it's critical to filter out the apocalyptic, just because it tends to be so often wrong. Aside from Gordon's home page (chock-full of interesting-looking reads), he also has a blog. I leave this behind today as much an artifact for me to return to, as to publicize his efforts to whatever small audience I have.