Getting A Grip On The Future Economy

I’ve been asked by several people for the link to the video of my keynote presentation at the first Intelligent Communities Institute symposium last fall, on “Seizing Our Destiny: Getting A Grip On The Future Economy”.   This was the latest version of the future-oriented strategy to succeed in the world as technology and how people will make a living both change  –

© 2013 Norman Jacknis


Rockefeller Foundation Medal For Betaville

Last Thursday night, the Rockefeller Foundation had its (Storm Sandy-delayed) ceremony for the winners of the 2012 Jane Jacobs medals.  My co-founder of the Gotham Innovation Greenhouse won the award for Technology and Innovation – the first time such an award has been made.

In this video (, Carl presents some of the ideas that led to this award, including Betaville and its use by a global community in the Open Line Studio project of the Gotham Innovation Greenhouse.

© 2013 Norman Jacknis


Video: How To Get Fit For The Future Economy

A few weeks ago, in a post “How Intelligent Communities Get Fit For The Future Innovation Economy”, I summarized my keynote presentation at the Annual Summit of the Intelligent Community Forum.

If you’d like to see a video of the keynote presentation that ICF recorded, go to

Unfortunately, the ICF staff also cut out all of the brief video clips that engaged the audience, including holographic-like telepresence, laser projections on city walls, virtual/physical interactions on Times Square and the like.  (I suspect they were worried about copyright issues, although they needn’t have worried.)

If you’re interested in seeing those videos, in their full length, you can find them as follows:

As always, please send me your comments and observations (

© 2012 Norman Jacknis


BetaVille: Citizen Collaboration For Urban Design and Planning

I have been working with the Carl Skelton, Director of the Experimental Media Center of New York University / Polytechnic Institute, in conjunction with the Municipal Art Society of NY, on their Betaville project for collaborative urban design.  Betaville is also part of an international partnership led by the Technical University of Bremen, Germany. 

In a nutshell:

“Betaville is an open web-based environment for real cities, in which ideas for new works of public art, architecture, urban design, and development can be shared, discussed, tweaked, and brought to maturity in context, and with the kind of broad participation people take for granted in open source software development … If a user-generated TV network is possible (YouTube), why not a user-generated city? How could this not be fundamental to the concept and practice of citizenship?”

Take a look at the video presentation from the recent MAS New York City Summit, entitled “From Science Fiction to Future-Making in Real Communities"  –

Although we are used to urban planning being dominated by the professionals, this clearly does not guarantee the best results all the time.  A case in point was the planning and design for what is now called Central Park in New York City.  After an initially disappointing professional design for the new park, the New York City park board ran an open contest in 1860 for a design.  From among thirty proposals, they decided that Vaux and Olmstead’s proposal was by far the best – even though Olmstead was not yet considered to be an experienced professional.

In this century, BetaVille can be the platform for a range of contests to envision critical parts of a city.  It would enable more people to participate and provide a wider range of ideas for the urban amenities of the future that will be as successful as Central Park turned out to be.

© 2011 Norman Jacknis

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It Just Takes Some Imagination

I had the good fortune to be around Miami this past Saturday night as the city hosted Sleepless Night when the clocks were turned back for the end of daylight savings time.  This is part of the international Nuit Blanche network of cities celebrating the arts and culture.  

Of the more than 100 events in Miami Beach, one that attracted a very large crowd was the “vertical dancing” on the glass side of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, which houses the New World Symphony.  It was performed by Project Bandaloop as “Bound(less)” with Dana Leong.

I posted ten minutes of excerpts from this show at .  (There’s a two minute version someone else posted at

Aside from noting how cool this is, as I was watching, I thought how straightforward this was – instead of letting the side of a building just provide a skin for the occupants, this transformed the side of the building into a dance floor.  (The other side of the building is a huge screen that lets people outside see and hear the concerts going on inside.)

It’s simple and, compared to lots of other civic events across the US, it is relatively inexpensive.  All it takes is some imagination to create this kind of Wow! experience in your city.

I realize, of course, that not every city has the large pool of artists, dancers, musicians, etc. that can be found in Miami.  So I’m not suggesting that every city imitate this particular event.  But every city has the potential for interesting experiences, which can be discovered with a little imagination.  

As the broadband-based video communications becomes more widespread and more of what we produce are intangible services and knowledge, there will be an increasing number of people who can make a living anywhere they choose to live.  What a city might have done to attract tourists in the past, it will have to do to retain and attract residents.  

Like SleepLess Night, give them a reason to be there.

© 2011 Norman Jacknis


From 1954, AT&T’s instruction for the last “communications revolution.” Is this what we need for the successful introduction of broadband?  😉

© 2011 Norman Jacknis


I put together this PowerPoint to help government officials understand how the Internet is changing people’s perception about how government should operate and to scare them a bit if they don’t respond to this trend.  It is intentionally edgy and provocative.

© 2011 Norman Jacknis


We are impatient and quick to dismiss ideas that don’t take hold quickly, but I regularly see evidence of how long it takes a new technology to become accepted.  For example, it might be worth considering the success of iPad as a delivery mechanism for newspapers in light of this 7 minute video from 1994.  (Courtesy of Teresa Martin.)

© 2011 Norman Jacknis

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Chattanooga Gigabit Fiber To Every Building

This is a segment of the Council for the New American City at the US Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting, June 17, 2011. It features Mayor Ron Littlefield and Norman Jacknis, Cisco IBSG Public Sector Director discussing the gigabit fiber network that the city has deployed throughout its metro area and its implications for future economic development.