The Lede, Thursday, March 15, 2018
By David Royse
You may remember I brought you the story not too long ago in this space about the proposed hyperloop connecting Cleveland, Ohio to Chicago, promising to cover that distance in about a half hour (which is less than it takes to get by car from the Cubs’ Wrigley Field in Chicago to the Sox’ Guaranteed Rate Field, also in Chicago).
Perhaps you remember the hype video that accompanied the announcement of some local government buy-in I included in The Lede a while back. (I’m including that video again below just because it’s great. If you live in the Midwest, or grew up there, and this doesn’t give you goosebumps and make you stick your chest out a little, you may be soulless.)
But alas, it takes more than some good short-film making and nostalgia to hyperspace forward into the hyperloop era. And, some of the doubt is starting to creep into the otherwise boosterish media discussion (guilty as charged, your honor) about hyperloop.
This story published yesterday at progrss.com points to some of that criticism, while also updating us on just how far away this idea might really be from fruition.
But come on – that video. If you can make this good of a video, surely you can get people moving around the country in tubes running on magnets and sunlight.
The company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, appears to be conceding little doubt.
It announced last week it has also signed an agreement for a feasibility study for a hyperloop project in Indonesia, and noted that it has done route planning for possible futures hyperloops in Europe and Abu Dhabi (of course Abu Dhabi).
But back to the American Midwest.
Whatever may be going on with HTT’s effort to actually build one of these things and get it running, it ain’t stopping with the great video. Damned if they didn’t go and release another one a couple weeks ago. The excitement just continues to build – whether the company does or not.
I love that video because of the time in which we find ourselves in the American political discourse.
The imagery here could be from the faction in the country that longs for those days the video celebrates – the hard-hatted days of steel mills, iron foundries, and, as the video says, “steel and cars and rock and roll, the brick and mortar of America.”
But unlike those who seem to want to return to a land dependent on steel and cars (rock and roll will never die), a surging force of (mostly) young, optimistic Americans aren’t looking back, but want to build the next America, one that’s even greater (and one, incidentally that may not be just rock and roll but a little more hip hop, K-pop and Tejano). Like the video eventually does, they’ve pivoted to the future. They may fondly remember the “rust belt” but they are more interested in what’s next. They’re interested in Making America Great in the Future, not making it how it used to be.
This is why I like bringing you these stories about new approaches to the challenges in how we live. Many stories about building things are about optimism – about making life better. About going forward.
I’m not naive enough to overlook the serious challenges this whole hyperloop idea has, among them money and the very real possibility that we’re caught up in the hype and it may be that nobody really needs to get to Cleveland in a half hour (go ahead jokers say it : does anybody really need to get to Cleveland at all?)
We’ll continue to follow it, hopefully clear-eyed and skeptical. And if you have a chance to get from wherever you are to Cleveland in less time than it now takes you to watch the movie Major League, maybe you’ll change your mind, finding that, in the immortal words of Ian Hunter, Cleveland Rocks. And if they’re first to get a hyperloop there, maybe nobody will tell Cleveland jokes anymore. But they probably will.
Smart Cities and Cities Being Smart
While much of the attention around the Amazon second HQ story is, of course, focused on who will get picked (my money’s on one of the DC-area bids, but that’s more of a hunch than anything), there may be a silver lining for the cities that don’t “win.”
SmartCitiesDive had a good story recently about how some of the places that have already been knocked out of the running trying to figure out ways to re-use some of what they did in the bid process.
Baltimore is using its very thorough bid plan for new marketing to investors and other companies that may be looking for new homes, for example.
But even better, cities are taking a good look at some of the things they promised in their zeal to bring in Amazon, to see whether many of those things ought to be pursued anyway. Orlando and St. Louis are two examples in the story.
And finally, “losing” bids have spurred hard looks in some places at local shortcomings, and may boost local enthusiasm for addressing some quality of life issues that have been overlooked. The story uses Detroit as an example of that.
Transportation, said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in the story, “is a central question of this region’s competitiveness against the rest of the country. If we don’t address this, we’re going to keep falling farther and farther behind.”
Lesson learned. Jeff Bezos may fix even some cities he doesn’t move to. How about that?
What Is Going On At SXSW?
Years ago, SXSW was in part about the promise of this new idea of social media. Now, a decade on, it is at least partly about having to answer for where that promise has gone wrong. Good story in The Verge
PRNews has five consumer shifts shaping 2020. What? I’m still trying to catch up to 2018.
Most of this sounds kind of jargon-y and buzzwordy to me as a sort-of tech outsider.. There’s at least one thing in it, though, I think is kind of useful: “The ability to connect to the internet serves as the linchpin. As the rest of the world comes online, there will be a growing number of mobile natives—people who solely use mobile. All the things have to play well together. The onus is on brands and businesses to partner together better, knowing that 80% of people will only use three apps.”
NOTES FROM THE AGE OF DISRUPTION:
Rolled out an “audio augmented reality platform, glasses that it says will augment not what you see as much as what you hear. Bose
Will begin upgrading its city mass transit information and advertising platform starting with Chicago’s CTA. Curbed.
Is still betting on a cryptocurrency future. Quartz
Today is the 63rd birthday of Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister. After watching thousands of high school and middle school-aged kids around the country walk out of their schools for a brief time yesterday to make their voices heard on an issue important to them, I think it’s safe to say that Twisted Sister’s message to adult society remains alive.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. @daveroyse on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org