"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
- Steve Jobs
Their businesses were made possible by the enormous growth of the Internet, and they are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the radical changes that this network-of-networks is driving through how we live, work, shop, travel, worship, educate and entertain ourselves. Those changes include a ruthless reduction in job opportunities for those without the knowledge and skills to compete in an Internet-enabled economy. They also blur the barriers that we have long used to distinguish my community from yours, and ease the obstacles of distance and remoteness.
The economic area of a metropolis once included just the city and its immediate suburbs. With telecommuting, Web conferencing and e-commerce, the net spreads far wider. A small city hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis once had little hope of participating in the global economy – except for suffering its negative effects in the form of business disruption and job loss. Today, the barriers to that participation are less physical and more in people’s minds and hearts: in their level of education, willingness to change and their attitude to the world beyond their borders.
"If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people."
The future is unknowable. But today’s best guess is that the current disruptions in technology, the economy and the environment will only grow more intense. That creates a challenge that Intelligent Communities around the world are rising to meet. They know that the physical form of their communities, their competitive advantages as a place, and everything about how citizens and organizations interact with them is undergoing upheaval. Faced with the need to plan, they approach the planning of land-use and infrastructure, economic growth, sustainability and community development in revolutionary ways. And through that revolution, they are creating a new renaissance across the city, the suburb, and the rural region beyond.
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