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Seeing two news reports so close together got me thinking about the eternal connections (perhaps affinities is a better word) between government information and urban development. It strikes me that the myriad issues of information haves and have nots extends not only in terms of economics, but also in terms of population density. In other words, for the great many of the poor around the world live in essentially dense urban wastelands with little access to services or facilities that are quite commonplace in most developed cities. In America, this discussion often plays out along rural versus city lines, but even in most cities, there are still tens of thousands of people equally isolated from much of the broadbend and robust aspects of the web many middle-income families take for granted at home, work, and in school.
A recent UN report shows that the issue of housing and the poor is only going to become more difficult. World’s Cities Report 2006/7 points out that it —
"…comes at a time when the world is entering a historic urban transition; in 2007, for the first time in history, the world’s urban population will exceed the rural population. Most of the world’s urban growth – 95 per cent – in the next two decades will be absorbed by cities of the developing world, which are least equipped to deal with rapid urbanization. The majority of migrants will be moving to small towns and cities of less than one million inhabitants. Already, more than half of the world’s urban population lives in cities of fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, and almost one-fifth lives in cities of between 1 and 5 million inhabitants."
At the same, from another source, zdnet, is mention of an initiative called the Open Architecture Network (http://www.openarchitecturenetwork.org) a program designed to use open source software to facilitate more affordable housing.
Strikes me that these reports are just further indication that the importance of other kinds of public information (state, local, international, regional, non-profit) will likely dominate in our near futures.