CRF Blog

Something to Stand On

by David De La Torre

In Something to stand on, part of its special report on tech startups, The Economist reports that “proliferating digital platforms will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy, and even government.”

PROVIDING THE RIGHT platform is sometimes all it takes. Instead of planning new pedestrian plazas by the usual bureaucratic means, New York City’s department of transportation just marks an area on a street with temporary materials and then lets local organisations, architects and citizens decide what to do with it. The programme has so far produced 59 plazas, including the Pearl Street Triangle in Brooklyn, a small urban oasis with big potted plants and shaded seating.

In the physical world, platforms can be simply something to stand or build on, like a New York City street. They can also be basic inputs for many other activities and products. Railways allowed services such as mail order to develop; the power grid brought forth a plethora of electrical household appliances; and standardised containers boosted global trade. Even Barbie dolls can be seen as platforms for all kinds of profitable add-ons, such as shoes, wigs and handbags. [more]