words among

Monday, April 28, 2008

I am stupefied by how dead Brooklyn and Manhattan seem at night. I realize that thousands are sleeping within earshot of just about anywhere you go, but I would expect to see more life regardless, and I would love it if the daytime and evening culture were still available in small doses during the wee hours. Why shouldn't I be able to go buy a book and a muffin at 2:30 am? If we could provide that stuff for those who want it without causing nuisance to those who don't, I bet these two boroughs would spawn a nifty handful of all-night cafes.

Dampening noises is a tricky endeavor wherein a lot of things work well but few things work really well. I suspect that the invention of some kind of active panels might be the breakthrough we need. There are a lot of social norms that would change if we didn't have to worry about waking people up as much. There are also a lot of ways the economy would change if we could treat the night more like the day or evening.

Another invention I expect to deeply impact New York City late next decade is some product that absorbs sweat and keeps it off your clothes, no matter what you're wearing or how much you're sweating. I don't know if it will be an ultra-absorbent fabric or a battery-powered vaporizer or a bacteria that turns the sweat into oxygen, or a hybrid of all three. But I see a huge gain to be had in enabling more people to make practical use of their skills in running and cycling, and for more of the year, and in freeing people to exert themselves without needing to arrange logistics for a shower.