I’ve had a number of posts here arguing for introducing more “friction” into how we interact online, but there’s a parallel discussion happening out there about how we move through life offline that for all intents and purposes is about introducing fiction into our cities.
“You move through a space and you dwell in a place,” Sennett told CityLab’s Ian Klaus last year. “It’s a distinction for me that has to do with speed and automobiles. When people start driving at a certain speed, they lose awareness of where they are. … Where this gets reflected in urbanism is the more we create spaces where people move fast, the less they understand about what those spaces are. At about 28 or 30 mph people, moving through an urban environment stop being in a place and are in space instead.”
This isn’t just about speed limits but about design choices such as “raised crosswalks and street-narrowing curb extensions”. (Never before having ever heard of raised crosswalks, I’m already now obsessed with the idea.)
It makes one begin to wonder what is it that makes us in the first instance so often design and build for frictionless movement, why it takes us so long to notice that the friction we didn’t include could have been good, and why frequently we nonetheless don’t seem to overcome or correct the frictionless spaces we’ve constructed.