This morning, I was taking a walk and looked at the street that was unfolding in front of me. And I tried to imagine what that street looked like 200 or 300 years ago. Suddenly I realized that all these houses and concrete were sitting in a landscape that was probably made of trees, little hills on the horizon. So I stopped a minute and I pulled my Instagram account to look at some of the pictures I took few years ago. You can listen to the podcast here.
One of the pictures caught my eyes. It was the picture of a tree in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. That tree was near a monument overlooking the Manhattan landscape, with a quite open urban landscape. You could see that these houses were built over the last 100 and 200 years as well. And suddenly, I realized that the same had happened over the last 200 or 300 years in that landscape in Brooklyn. Under this layer of concrete and houses, a landscape was probably there with forests, trees, rivers and streams.
And all of a sudden, my mind went forward to the future to imagine what might happen in the same street, within the next few years, or even the next few 100 years. My mind tried to imagine these next steps. The last few hundred years has witnessed that layers upon layers of urban infrastructure had been overlaid over our world, over the natural landscape that was made of rivers, hills, valleys. But during the last two decades, it’s another kind of layers that are starting to build themselves upon each others. These are of another kind. Silicon Valley calls it “digital transformation.” The very street where you live, the very neighborhood where you reside, your city, is giving birth to digital layers. Digital layers that live in the cloud.
Several years ago, I went to Istanbul in Turkiye (the city that we used to call Turkey). There are parts of the city where you can see the different layers of history, with ancient ruins all the way at the bottom, then later constructions and so on, all the way to now. That’s what the last 300 years look like. And 500 years from now in the future, what will it look like?