Saturday, 10 December 2011

Retail vitality

A website of  history of the town I live in had a section on shops, with particular reference to the to time when I was growing up. The writer and some commenters seemed to lament the bygone age that seemed to be a heyday. OK, a bit of nostalgia is common, but it did lead me to a train of thought about what town centres are for.

TZM and TVP are about using science and technology to sustainably fulfil human needs. Town centres, just like anything else, need to be assessed on whether they directly (ie not through jobs and money) address human need sustainably.

The internet/www provides more and more people with direct access to the goods and services they need and therefore the town centre doesn't need to do this; and it can't compete with the convenience of on-line life. Technology is not going to stop making our lives easier in this way. So what, if anything, are town centres for. What human needs can they fulfil given that technology has taken over much of their role in this.

I don't think that techology has, as yet at least, succeeded in providing the means to convivium that public places provide. For all the ability to communicate instantly with people all round the world, there is no substitute for being with people, other than those you live with, even strangers - people watching. And I don't think eating and drinking will ever become separated from this convivium, so things like pubs, cafes, and restuarants will continue in some guise.

I also don't think live artistic performance will ever completely die out.

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