June 18, 2024


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Context book to read this week: How to rediscover the wheel?

“A Brief History of What Happens Next From the Wheel to the Car”

Tom Stondage, Bloomsbury, August 2021.

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A chalcopyrite miner from the Carpathian region, in 3,500 BC, had no idea he would take copper ore to his hut as a metalworker to make a wooden wheel in order to make a metal wheel. He invented an object that was going to change the world. Over the next five centuries, the policy of the four-wheeler pulled by bulls was to spread along the Black Sea coast to Europe and Mesopotamia. This new engine, which made it possible to carry cargo and passengers easily, will promote the growth of economic transactions. In Mesopotamia, in 2,600 BC, chariots drawn by donkeys were part of religious processions and were used for military purposes and to carry their weapons.

Four thousand years later, when our civilization was deeply marked by the expansion of the use of the wheel, from diligence to the automobile, the beginning of the questionable era of this automobile society, today we are trying, in a way, to rediscover the wheel, or in any case its application conditions. What happened to the transport system built by the industrial and urban revolution of the 20th century that is so disgraceful today? This is the question that The Economist journalist Tom Stantage would like to answer in his brief history of travel.

The car did not say its last word

Naturally, the beautiful part of this story is dedicated to the 20th century and the “ridiculous” place, which, according to the author, was later made for the automobile, to be arranged throughout the public space around it. According to the author, the automobile was a kind of smartphone before its time, bringing freedom, status and shopping to its users. It specifically tells the story of Victor Crohn, an Austrian architect who took refuge in the United States and fled the Nazis and designed the suburbs of Minneapolis in the mid-1950s. Buildings, offices, green spaces, a shopping center and parking spaces. Advertisers took his plans and removed green spaces and buildings to keep only the shopping center and parking lot. The first “mall” was born.

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Is it possible to end the era of the automobile and rediscover a public space that completely ignores it? Probably not in the short term. According to Tom Standage, it is necessary to create a new model to share the gap between different types of movements. He calls for a kind of “movement Internet” through which the user can choose the mode of transport that suits him at a particular place and time, which begins to develop in many cities. However, the automobile does not close the door easily on the face and relies on new electrical and artificial intelligence technologies to protect its role.

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For those of us who have increased the use of the wheel in all its forms, from limousines to scooters, never forget that we owe it to the Carpathian miners …



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