Archive for March 24th, 2010

Live Dense or Die

An interesting point of departure from this graph that’s been making the rounds of the U.S. packed into one Brooklyn-style New Hampshire is one I’ve mentioned before, via the work of Brian Pijanowski:

If the percentage of parking lot area in the county (0.44%) is scaled to the area occupied by the conterminous United States, the entire states of Connecticut, and Massachusetts (12,550 + 20,305 = 32,855 km2 ) would be paved over with parking lots.

To put this another way: The American parking lot currently consumes much more space than the entire country’s population would if it were scaled to Brooklyn-style density.

Hello neighbor!

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 6:19 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Transportation Economics in World of Warcraft

I came across this line in William Sims Bainbridge’s new book, The Warcraft Civilization, on the social sciences of the virtual World of Warcraft:

Some long-distance travel is free, using the public ship, zeppelin, or teleportation systems. But much flight from point to point has moderate costs. Maxrohn found that a nonstop flight from Light’s Hope Chapel in Eastern Plaguelands to Nethergarde Keep in the Blasted Lands costs thirty-one silvers and fifty nine coppers. However, it is possible to fly from Light’s Hope to Stormwind for nine silvers and sixty-three coppers, and from Stormwind to Nethergarde for seven silvers and forty-seven coppers. Thus, stopping at Stormwind saves fourteen silvers and forty-nine coppers, or slightly over 45 percent.

It’s intriguing that this rather echoes the market for using frequent-flier points — i.e., it will cost you less for a flight with stops. This raises all kinds of interesting questions: What dynamics account for the pricing (e.g., does greater network traffic increase the cost of travel) and the network disequilibrium? Why would anyone pay to travel if one can teleport for free (a question for Patricia Mokhtarian)? Is there a Kayak-type application for analyzing the costs of travel, or is it all trial and error? Do people interact on the public ships and zeppelins? Is private flight much faster than the public options (presumably teleportation is instantaneous), and is there a “last mile” or connectivity problem with the public options (so to speak)? And lastly: Are there any travel externalities in World of Warcraft?

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 12:34 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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March 2010

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