greg lindsay

greg lindsey 2

intro’d to Greg as he moderated a metropolis mega city session at aspen ideas festival 2014:

(and then Mellie met him) – when he was talking about engineering serendipity:

we have not come up with any better way to create these encounters…


2 other parts on his site below..


amsterdam 2014:

accelerating fusion – a smart slum




13 min – how do you find the bottom up way to do it – immigration..

19 – we’re proposing a new layer of governance that bridges the gap between the two – something that doesn’t need to be as vigorously policed and regulated – what is the minimum viable governance that we can get by..

sounds like Andrés ness and desktop regulated ness




serendipity engine

Given this information along with members’ histories and profiles, the
Engine can intervene as well as listen. Coworkers not only decide
where they want to work each day, but whom they want to work with —
people’s locations are logged by the system. And even if they don’t
know their future mentors, co-founders, or funders are present — the
Engine is happy to make the introductions.

resonating with app ness


find/follow Greg:

link twitter

Greg is a senior fellow for world policy: 

Areas of Specialization:

Urbanism; trade; transportation; economic geography; urban migration; informality; sustainability.

on one of his books:

“The days when we built our airports around cities now seem distant; in the new, mobile century, we build our cities around airports . . . Cities are becoming like airports—places to leave from more than to live in. I’d always sensed this, but it came home to me with almost shocking immediacy when I was reading the dazzling new book Aerotropolis. One of its authors, John F. Kasarda, is a business professor in North Carolina who flies from Amsterdam to Seoul preaching the gospel of building homes and businesses near airports. Co-author Greg Lindsay is a journalist who knows how to make Kasarda’s research racy while raising questions about the cost of living in midair . . . Aerotropolis points out that we can still address the oldest needs but in new and liberating ways.” —Pico Iyer, Time

his site:

greg lindsay site


city ness






Greg Lindsay (@Greg_Lindsay)
7/10/15 6:16 AM
What I did on my summer vacation. RT @GlobalSN: The Cities Season—busiest time for an urbanist @Greg_Lindsay #cities

  • Listening to the Rebuild Foundation’s Theaster Gates and author Charles Landry engage with the 32 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge in Detroit. Landry described the evolution from “City 1.0”‑ a hierarchical, rigidly public and private model— to “City 3.0” in which hybrid organizations empower residents to make and shape their cities to their needs.
spot on.. but begs all people free.. as the day. which we re not yet willing to do
Theaster ness set free – for all of us. let’s do this first.
engineering serendipity:
It’s not enough to ask where good ideas come from — we need to rethink how we go about finding them.
perhaps mostly about listening.. to what matters first.. then the ideas et al..  are right before us.. (assuming we’re dancing the dance – which we aren’t currently)
ie: io dance, www ness..

perhaps we need to step back and redefine what serendipity means:

  1. Serendipity isn’t magic. It isn’t happy accidents. It’s a state of mind and a property of social networks — which means it can be measured, analyzed, and engineered.

measured..? i don’t know..

2. It’s a bountiful source of good ideas. Study after study has shown how chance collaborations often trump top-down organizations when it comes to research and innovation. The challenge is first recognizing the circumstances of these encounters, then replicating and enhancing them.

perhaps they are just what happens … in the raw/natural. where we haven’t yet been. ie: rev of everyday life. let’s go there. just to see..

Any society that values novelty and new ideas (like our innovation-obsessed one) will invariably trend toward greater serendipity over time. The push toward greater diversity, better public spaces, and an expanded public sphere all increase the potential for fortuitous discoveries.

i guess it depends on your goal for serendipity.. if it’s more alive\ness and/or antifragility and/or more serendipity.. i don’t think we’ve increased that.. over time. i think we’ve repeated/efficientized some  algo.. but because it hasn’t been open enough for all or simple enough or deep enough for all .. it’s not working. (ie: bullshit and B and ridiculous ness.. all around us)

i guess (to me) it depends on if we’re all playing first. so fortuitous discoveries beg to be toward that. ie: short.

i don’t think serendipity – the dance – can happen until we’re all playing. i think the infrastructure for serendipity is equity. otherwise it’s just a bunch of borderful/inequitable/et al bantering about.. (again – bantering or whatever is fine.. if we’re all able to do it)


because we can’t predict which ideas will collide and fuse, we cling to boring productivity and efficiency. We not only run our lives but our entire economy this way, using GDP and even grosser statistics to measure progress that has never unfolded in a straight line. Life is emergent and unknowable — we’re just terrified to manage it that way. And because we only attribute our success to serendipity after the fact (if at all), we typically consign it to anecdotes (e.g. Post-it Notes), turning to them only when the numbers don’t add up. The problem is that more and more of the most important numbers — including patent applications, R&D budgets, and even economic growth — have stopped adding up.
if they ever did.. no?
imagine we let self-talk be our engine.. toward perhaps optimal and ongoing serendipity..
It’s no accident that the Watson Research Center produces more patents per year than any other building in the world, and IBM more than any other company.
patents et al – a means to stifle serendipity… careful not to perpetuate it by using it as a measure/wall/roadblock.. no?
thing is.. we have the means for global equity today. why are we not there yet..? perhaps because we’re lost in measuring ie: patents.. that haven’t yet gotten us there..
Burt’s findings have been borne out again and again; in one study, a slight increase in serendipity generated more revenue and projects while speeding up their completion.
money … a means to stifle serendipity… careful not to perpetuate it by using it as a measure.. no?
to min and max david graeber
Ito talked about the qualities he’s cultivated within himself — being “antidisciplinary” and retaining his “beginner’s mind” — which he hopes will guide the Media Lab. “We aim to capture serendipity,” he said. “You don’t get lucky if you plan everything — and you don’t get serendipity unless you have peripheral vision and creativity.”
Even Google cancelled “20 percent time,” its celebrated policy of granting engineers one day a week for personal projects. To capture serendipity, the company is looking at space instead of time — hence the design of its new campus, in which everyone is just a short “casual collision” away.
what if that’s because we need 100% – ie: 20% is a compromise

What makes a city great, in other words, is how well its people are connected — to the city itself and to each other. And to make a city better, you have to engineer serendipity.

Which is what Tony Hsieh is trying to do in Las Vegas.


Ethan Zuckerman. In his book,Rewire, he sketches a set of recommendation and translation tools designed to nudge us out of our media comfort zones and “help us understand whose voices we’re hearing and whom we are ignoring.”


So, what if we borrowed Ayasdi to power a social serendipity engine — one to identify who’s nearby, parse our hidden relationships, and make introductions? How would it work? We’d want it to be as easy as Tinder, which now owns half the mobile dating market. Next, we’d need context — why do I want to meet this person? Tinder works because its logic is binary: Swipe right or left. Everything else is harder.

a nother way – small print ch 2


I’m staking my own claim: Serendipity is the process through which we discover unknown unknowns. Understanding it as an emergent property of social networks, instead of sheer luck, enables us to treat it as a viable strategy for organizing people and sharing ideas, rather than writing it off as magic. And that, in turn, has potentially huge ramifications for everything from how we work to how we learn to where we live by leading to a shift away from efficiency — doing the same thing over and over, only a little bit better — toward novelty and discovery.

so yes. groundhog day ness. iterating detox till we get to eudaimonian surplus.. ness.

but pruning built in as well – just like you here:

@mikeryan Thanks, but these days I really need to conserve all of my indignation for Uber.

only for things like assuming money, work, et al… systemic cleansing ness.

let’s do this first… serendipity to the max .. sure to follow.



april 2016 interview..

We all have to do a better job of thinking weirder..



mar 2017 audio interview (42 min)

NewCities (@NewCitiesFound) tweeted at 7:18 AM on Thu, Apr 06, 2017:
Our Senior Fellow @Greg_Lindsay in conversation with @Media_Dojo on connected #mobility

1 min – how we move our bodies thru our cities.. mobility – john

3 min – greg on new cities foundation history

5 min – most hyped.. has been uber..

7 min –  1\ micro transit: replace bus.. midpoint between bus/uber.. truly shared vehicle that can serve multiple points.. make it possible for more and more people to live w/o having an auto

2\ public transport: metro lines.. paired with next gen micro transit.. (la.. raise 100 mn)

8 mi – 3\ mobility as a service: public transport is going to have to change.. ie: london.. double decker buses all private services.. none will lose money on routes.. can we do that for next gen mobility.. public transport as app on phone.. menu of options.. able to buy tickets et al

10 min – public transport going to have to change.. meaestro of all public/private services.. so no fear of getting stuck somewhere

18 min – if everyone has a smartphone there’s a lot of things we can do.. but if they don’t.. limiting..

19 min – comparing circulatory system of our body to transport in city – john

21 min – meanings of mobility have become intwined.. 15% of budget on transport.. ability to move.. to jobs..


22 min – still fundamental problem.. deep in silos.. making sure trains run on time..

26 min – tfl (transport for london?) works pretty well

29 min – on teens not getting dr licenses .. used to be id that not a kid anymore – john

30 min – working w google.. phone had become this emotional nexus.. qualitative.. not quantitative.. all the language we used to talk about our cars in springstein songs.. now applied to smart phone.. struck  me.. that could be way to liberate us from cars.. unweave from having to own car for status

31 min – people would rather be on phone than car..

32 min – younger people prefer to compute than commute

38 min – transit in the street but also work/play in it.. prototype future in which vehicles aren’t forcing people out of street but co existing with it.. biggest effect.. parking minimums.. savvy developers are asking for more exemptions.. incentivizing renters/owners to not have cars..  ie: if don’t have car.. 100 a month in credits for transit.. uber..  benes.. changes whole development

39 min – previously inaccessible neighborhoods become desirable ..

40 min – take develop costs out of parking.. help with housing  ie: 246 a month to subsidize parking whether they use it or not .. starts to solve a chunk of housing/living affordability


Greg Lindsay (@Greg_Lindsay) tweeted at 4:44 AM – 5 Aug 2019 :
This report on the damningly large full-lifecycle carbon footprint of scooters reminds me of an essay I wrote years ago arguing how fast-cycle innovation is inherently at odds with sustainability. (

from 2011

It may prove impossible to decouple innovation from consumption.

i don’t think so

if we just focus on fittingness and augmenting that interconnectedness

While this has produced a world in which seven billion people are living longer, healthier, and happier lives than at any point in human history, it also means we will forever be wriggling free of sustainability.

7b living longer, healthier, happier lives than any point in history..?