Thursday, November 21, 2019

New book: How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables

My new book was released a couple of weeks ago. ‘How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables’ published by Meatspace Press and edited with Mark Graham, Shannon Mattern and Joe Shaw. It is available as open-access download. There’s also a limited print run, with artwork specially designed by Carlos Romo-Melgar and John Philip Sage.

The book consists of 38 chapters, with all but six consisting of speculative short fiction. It started life with one line statement on Facebook - ‘You can probably hear me howling into the void where you are’ - about an article titled 'Cities should act more like Amazon to better serve their cities.' The FB post generated some discussion and sparked the idea for a book exploring the notion of cities run like or by businesses. The post was shared on Friday and by Monday over 30 academic FB friends had offered to write chapters about different companies.    


Should cities be run like businesses? Should city services and infrastructure be run by businesses?

For some urban commentators, policy-makers, politicians and corporate lobby groups, the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions.

Others are critical of such views, cautious about shifting the culture of city administration from management to entrepreneurship, and transforming public assets and services run for the common good into markets run for profit.

The stories and essays in How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables explore how a city might look, feel and function if the business models, practices and technologies of 38 different companies were applied to the running of cities. What would it be like to live in a city administered using the business model of Amazon (or Apple, IKEA, Pornhub, Spotify, Tinder, Uber, etc.) or a city where critical public services are delivered by these companies?

Collectively, the chapters ask us to imagine and reflect on what kind of cities we want to live in and how they should be managed and governed.

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