The City of Coordinated Leisure

Cory Doctorow’s “The City of Coordinated Leisure” is a fantastic short story snapshot of what could be possible if our cities were built to better automate drudgery and free us all up for more play and stronger communities. The story spins out of the author’s non-fiction piece “The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots“, where he proposed that “using bright green, high tech coordina­tion tools, we can restore the pastoral green, artisanal autonomy that privileges mindful play over mindless work.”

 

But looking around now, what he noticed was the grown-ups, whose work-scheduling apps had been able to rearrange their schedules to give them all an impromptu day off, right then, in the middle of a week, in the middle of a beastly heat wave, in the middle of their very own street.

He thought about the social-studies unit he’d done on the industrial revolution, about the artisans and farmers who’d gone to work in the factories, how the cities had taken away their freedom to make hay while the sun shone or switch to outdoor tasks when the weather was nice and do their indoor jobs when it was miserable.

Cities used to be a trade-off between options for jobs and people to marry and things to do, and no options for when and how you did them, because you were all packed so tight that whatever you did rippled out to everyone else. No one could manage all the complexity of checking in with everyone who’d be affected by your choices.

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