August 31, 2014  |  permalink

“Revolution of the Present”

Three years ago, filmmaker Marc Lafia interviewed me for his documentary-in-progress, Revolution of the Present. At long last, the final cut has arrived (and embedded above for your viewing pleasure). What’s it all about? I’ll let Marc explain:

The hope was that network technology would bring us together, create a “global village,” make our political desires more coherent. But what’s happened is that our desires have become distributed, exploded into images and over screens our eyes relentlessly drop to view.

REVOLUTION OF THE PRESENT examines the strange effects — on cities, economies, people — of what we might call accelerated capitalism. Set against a visually striking array of sounds and images, 15 international thinkers speak to the complexity and oddity of this contemporary moment as they discuss what is and what can be.

Humanity seems to be stuck in the perpetual now that is our networked world. More countries are witnessing people taking to the streets in search of answers. Revolution of the Present, the film, features interviews with thought leaders designed to give meaning to our present and precarious condition. This historic journey allows us to us re-think our presumptions and narratives about the individual and society, the local and global, our politics and technology. This documentary analyzes why the opportunity to augment the scope of human action has become so atomized and diminished. Revolution of the Present is an invitation to join the conversation and help contribute to our collective understanding.

As Saskia Sassen, the renowned sociologist, states at the outset of the film, ‘we live in a time of unsettlement, so much so that we are even questioning the notion of the global, which is healthy.’ One could say that our film raises more questions than it answers, but this is our goal. Asking the right questions and going back to beginnings may be the very thing we need to do to understand the present, and to move forward from it with a healthy skepticism.

Revolution of the Present is structured as an engaging dinner conversation, there is no narrator telling you what to think, it is not a film of fear of the end time or accusation, it is an invitation to sit at the table and join an in depth conversation about our diverse and plural world.

If this film is a dinner conversation, then I’m the guest who’s had too much to drink. I hope you’ll stay for dessert.

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August 23, 2014  |  permalink

The Standard TWA Flight Center


(image ® ennead architects)

One of the perks of writing Aerotropolis was being asked by André Balazs in June 2011 to help him reinvent the airport hotel. The site was Eero Saarinen’s semi-abandoned TWA Flight Center at New York JFK, the last cathedral of the Jet Age. My role as a consultant was minor to say the least, but I was still sad to see the deal with the Port Authority of NY/NJ fall apart — understandably so, given the financial difficulties of making an airport Standard work. I thought our plans would never see the light of day, but ennead architects has gone ahead and posted their renderings of the site. Please click through, and enjoy a glimpse of the coolest airport hotel that never was.

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August 20, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Ideas: Smart City Limits

The Aspen Institute has posted an abbreviated clip from one of my sessions at this year’s Ideas Festival, “Smart City Limits: How Much Can Big Data Really Do?” I was fortunate to have Code for America’s Jen Pahlka, IBM’s Guru Banavar, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Luís Bettancourt discuss the limits of technology and theoretical models when it comes to improving the quality of life in cities. Enjoy.

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August 13, 2014  |  permalink

Van Alen’s “Future Ground”


The Van Alen Institute has partnered with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) to launch “Future Ground,” a competition to make New Orleans a global leader in reusing vacant land. I’m honored to have been asked to join Adrian Benepe, Toni Griffin, Mitchell Silver, and Stephen Zacks, among many others, to serve on the competition’s advisory board. “Future Ground” will generate flexible design and policy strategies that forecast and accommodate changes in density, demand, climate, and landscape over the next half-century in New Orleans, transforming abandoned landscapes into resources for the current and future city.

Three teams will be selected to participate in a six-month research and design process to tackle the social, economic, and ecological challenges underlying reuse of the most prevalent types of vacant land in the city. Working closely with local stakeholders and national experts, teams will produce implementable, replicable solutions that can be applied to specific sites citywide, and that can help catalyze change in cities around the world.

For more information on how to apply, please visit

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July 21, 2014  |  permalink

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions

There’s a short — barely a minute’s worth — of video highlights from my talk at the launch of Amsterdam’s Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions last month. I appear around the 5:20 mark and speak until 6:20. The magic of jet lag and editing has slowed my speech patterns to the point where it’s actually comprehensible. Enjoy.

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July 16, 2014  |  permalink

Architizer on the Serendipity Engine


Architizer has posted a brief story on the Space Forward Ideas Competition, in which my entry with Katrina Szabo, “Serendipity Engine,” was a runner-up.

The winning entry, “Print Screen,” imagines a programmable office in which workers print soundproof screens to shape their environment more or less on the fly. As for our project, “an app called Serendipity Engine combines tracking data and real space to promote social engagement and collaboration, not unlike smart-home products such as Nest and DARPA projects like Squad X.”

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July 16, 2014  |  permalink

Next City: Airlines and Airports Brace for a Massive Surge in Passengers


(Originally published at Next City on July 14, 2014.)

If you doubt the world is really comprised of a network of cities — rather than that increasingly creaky construct, the nation-state — look no further than time-lapse photography of global air routes. One can spot the glowing economic cores of Western European, Northeast Asia and the Eastern Seaboard at a glance.

But the strength of those ties is changing. Boeing released its latest 20-year forecast for aviation last week, and it predicts the number of airline passengers will double in the next two decades. The surge in new travelers will produce demand for 36,770 new planes worth $5.2 trillion, and Boeing expects the vast majority of those planes (more than 25,000) will be of the single-aisle variety – preferably a successor to the Boeing 737, as ubiquitous and utilitarian as a city bus. Most of these new customers will be airlines in Asia, as rising incomes in the continent’s emerging middle class propel waves of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian tourists to Phuket and Hainan just as the original 737s ferried Americans to Orlando and Las Vegas.

Such numbers might sound absurd to Westerners – how could there be twice as many passengers in a mere 20 years? But globally, air traffic has already nearly doubled in just the last decade. What’s more, the largest deals in the history of Airbus and Boeing — for 234 aircraft in 2013 worth $24 billion at list prices, and for 230 jets in 2011 worth $22.4 billion, respectively — were both made with an airline most Americans have never even heard of: Indonesia’s Lion Air. “There are three billion people in Asia, there are 300 million people in America. America has about three times more planes right now than Asia,” AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes told Bloomberg Television last year.

» Continue reading...

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July 10, 2014  |  permalink

Ready for Hillary


One of the highlights of attending the Clinton Global Initiative America this year was posing with “the Secretary,” as she’s called, as a reward for making a commitment to action. I didn’t have a “me wall” before, but I guess I just started one.

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July 09, 2014  |  permalink

Aspen Public Radio

Aspen Public Radio has a brief interview with me taped before last month’s Aspen Ideas Festival, but didn’t hit the Web until today. (I guess there was a backlog of thought leaders.) I talked about the usual suspects — cities, serendipity, transportation, and more. The audio is above.

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June 30, 2014  |  permalink

NBBJ: The City Is a Social Network

While visting NBBJ — the architects of Amazon’s, Google’s, and Samsung’s new campuses — in Seattle last month, I sat down to talk about cities, inequality, and the future of work. Please enjoy each of the resulting short films below:


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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. He is also a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute, and a research affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).

» More about Greg Lindsay

Articles by Greg Lindsay

Inc.  |  March 2015

Which Contacts Should You Keep in Touch With? Let This Software Tell You

Inc.  |  March 2015

5 Global Cities of the Future

Global Solution Networks  |  December 2014

Cities on the Move

Medium  |  November 2014

Engineering Serendipity

New York University  |  October 2014

Sin City vs. SimCity

Harvard Business Review  |  October 2014

Workspaces That Move People

Inc.  |  April 2014

The Network Effect

Atlantic Cities  |  March 2014

How Las Vegas (Of All Places) May Be About to Reinvent Car Ownership

Wired (UK)  |  October 2013

How to Build a Serendipity Engine

Next American City  |  August 2013

IBM’s Department of Education

The New York Times  |  April 2013

Engineering Serendipity

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Swedish Modern Comes To Town

Fast Company  |  March 2013

Working Beyond the Cube

Fast Company  |  December 2012/January 2013

Imagine Air Travel Without Hassle: Surf Air Can

WSJ  |  November 2012

Jeanne Gang

Fast Company  |  June 2012

That’s So Fly

Next American City  |  May 2012

Chartered Territory

The New York Times  |  Feburary 2012

Designing a Fix for Housing

Departures  |  October 2011

Instant Cities

Travel + Leisure  |  October 2011

The Future of Travel

» See all articles


May 21, 2015

Next City: The “Urbanologists” of URBZ

May 05, 2015

Mankind From Space on Discovery Canada

April 30, 2015

FedEx Access: Smartphones, Smarter Transit

April 23, 2015

The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative

» More blog posts