Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shrinking Cities

Our human nature makes us focus on and celebrate booming cities like New York, Mexico City, Tokyo and Vegas.
But we're surrounded by cities that are disappearing in front of our eyes: Detroit, Venice and Leipzig come to mind. Rural towns in the Mid-West.

This phenomenon has reached virtual worlds as well: Second Life lost 2.5% of its population in June and some of the bigger corporations have left for now.
Leaving behind abandoned buildings and islands, marketing displays celebrating nothingness, and one of the largest banks in the virtual world, Ginko Financial, closing down because of insolvency. Abandoning urban areas seems to be a pattern of our civilization.

The German project Shrinking Cities focuses on this social, cultural and economic challenge. It started with the fact that in Eastern Germany since 1989 more than 1 million apartments remain empty and countless structures and facilities have been abandoned.
And the project continued with a global research on this topic, Second Life being one of the global players.

Currently, they are sponsoring a contest in order to reinvent Second Life.

This is an intriguing project since we tend to focus on the new, new, new thing and when that turns into an old, new, new thing, we forget about it quickly.
It might be too late for Second Life to get the major marketers back but it might be enough to catch a second wind.

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