There’s a lot of speculation (that’s all you can really do) about what our world is going to look like on the other side of this pandemic.
I think it’s easy to overreach at a time like this and prognosticate dramatic change — such as the demise of cities and urbanity as we know it. But while I do believe that there are bound to be changes, I also know that after 9/11 most of us eventually stopped being afraid of flying and of being in tall buildings. We forgot and moved on.
So, what might change?
Scott Galloway argued on his blog today that “things won’t change as much as they will accelerate.” In other words, this pandemic is simply going to make the future happen faster. And one of those things is going to be a faster shift to online for higher education. It is untenable for education costs to continue increasing at the pace that they have been.
In this recent Intelligencer interview with Chamath Palihapitiya, he puts forward the idea that medical data might start to be used publicly. Meaning that, after this is all done, we might be willing to give up a certain amount of our personal freedom in exchange for knowing whether we’re in a restaurant with someone who is shedding a communicable disease.
And finally, Richard Florida recently published this online talk about how cities can bounce back from COVID-19. In it, he argues that, yes, cities will survive and that it could actually reinforce the “winner-take-all urbanism” that we have already been seeing.
This, of course, is really just the start of the conversation.