Michael Mehaffy

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" I am a researcher and currently a member of the faculty of Delft University of Technology (where I am earning a late-career PhD). The focus of my work is urban networks and their (spatial) dynamics, and the implications for economic activity and resource use. There is an important dimension of commons infrastructure in this, in the capacity of public space (streets, squares, etc. and the connectivity they provide) to promote interaction and "economic spillovers" (as the economists put it). This capacity helps to explain how great cities have been engines of economic opportunity, social mobility and self-organizing capability, and how we can promote this kind of capacity through better urban design in the future.

I have done research on this in various forms. I was recently a fellow at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where I did research on walkable cities and their self-organizing aspects. At Arizona State University a few years ago, I did research on "pattern language toolkits" as resources for communities to regenerate their public realm and promote economic development through peer-to-peer approaches. In New Orleans, a group of us proposed a neighborhood-based, peer-to-peer Wiki tool that would promote neighborhood development along similar lines.

Most recently at the Sustasis Foundation (a small research NGO in Portland) I have been working with Ward Cunningham, the inventor of Wiki, on a new generation of Wiki that is able to model alternative design scenarios, and provide quantitative predictions about the outcome of the design choices. The tool is very flexible and easy to use, which is ideal as a commons-based approach that can operate at neighborhood scales.

There is a 10-minute webinar that explains more about this (see link below). It is aimed at an audience of people already working with computer-based scenario-modeling tools, and it does not discuss the commons-based aspects as much as it might. But I think it will give you an idea.


By the way, I was recently asked to consult on the Yachay project, which as you may know is a proposal for a new university town and "city of knowledge" to the north of Quito. It builds on many promising ideas in this area, including knowledge spillovers, commons-based approaches, walkable networks, capacity-building and the like."

See Also

Archive of Selected Papers

Definition of P2P Urbanism

Geometrical Fundamentalism