• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, the built environment, planning adjacent topics, and anything else that comes to mind. No ads, no spam, and it's free. It's easy to join!

on Sarin's chaos theory


Dear Sarin...

i would like to applaud you for introducing this topic. I am also studying chaos theory's application to planning, albeit in conjunction with other theories. chaos theory essentially finds it's roots in mathematical probability theory and is a newly emerging concept. however, i am more interested in the qualitative aspects. in my search for the perfect planning form, i am reading a lot on social theory between east and west perspestives. carl jung and other philospohers have predicted for a long time that eventually there will be a grand fusion of many disciplines that have previously been seperated due to man's tendency to categorize and understand. for example, you start to notice how completely seperate arenas of thought and ground breaking theories are finding common ground on a number of themes. for example, physics and psycology, biology and religion. what many are finding is that a lot of theories of completely seperate disciplines are making their way into common nomenclature of strong sciences. when looking at the history of planning, it emerged from the "hard" disciplines of architecture, engineering.. that is until it started becoming influenced by other social disciplines such as landscaping and sociology. for example, why not look at it from a religious perspective (i hope i am not opening a can of worms here). in the west, we are essentially brought up in such a way to recognize the individual. joseph cambell and others put it as: we (in the west) are essentially a collection of seperate egos running around satisfying our individual desires, whereas in the far east, you are fundamentally seen as one with your surroundings. So...how to plan for that in the west? I view this dichotomy as a primary (but not the only) reason for a lot of discontent in the west with "cookie-cutter"development and impersonal communities...especially with the increasing rate of globalization (read: thomas friedman)....many old paradigms are being torn down at such a rate that it is incomprehensible to a vast majority to keep up with it. a blending of thoughts and ideas from across the globe are infiltrating peoples' conscience at a rate never before experienced in history...thanks to the internet. i think f.l. wright was one of the first poineers to recognize this, apply it, and was the impetus for his legacy.

in a nutshell: go for it. i also read in one of these rooms that people 20 years ago would laugh at you you for buying bottled water...look at today. i think planning could also stand to look at other disciplines otherwise thought of as completely distant. that's where the great ideas are. that's evolution baby! :D


Thanks for a very lucid commentary. You make some excellent points.

Several years ago as I was completing my thesis, I was struck by the similarity between the dynamics of manufacturing firm relocation and population geography. In the years since I have noted many other striking similarities.

Geography always struck me as a field of study that blended many different ideas. Among my fellow grad students we had people studying topics as diverse as micchorrizial (sp?) fungi, weather systems, and urban growth. Who are the people in demand today - those who can see "the Big Picture."