Steve Rayner on Path Dependence in Cities
An interesting presentation by Steve Rayner in which he discusses the significance of Path Dependence and “lock-in”.
Path dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant. (Wikipedia)
Steve explains that our cities are significantly impacted by past innovations and decisions…such as the location of streets, the invention of the car, and technologies like electric light, flushing toilets, and elevators.
Lock-in through path-dependence can end up causing cities and processes to work in ways that are no longer efficient or sensible. Some kind of mechanism is necessary to allow for flexibility or a radical break in order to escape from the status quo. This is largely what Steve’s Flexible City website is about.
A particularly amusing example in Steve’s presentation is that the size of the space shuttle’s rocket thrusters were determined by the width of a horse’s ass…see the video for details.Continue reading »