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Certainly this presents an interesting marketing opportunity. But it's a troubling issue to me for design of culture. To me, this suggest a larger question with similarly large implications for design:

What are the consequences of the "Big Sort"? Is Design encouraging less diversity?
At the macro level, the trend of professionals moving to smaller communities to be with others who are similar is one thing. They are able to do so with the advent of technology and the demand for their skill set in diverse places.

However, this also suggests to me a pattern of designing for the comfortable and familiar. That gets me wondering--are we painting ourselves into a corner with things like Pandora and the Genius feature on iTunes8? Sure I may get more of what I like, but does what I like change much?

Or, if I live in a planned community of people very similar to me, I may be reducing my potential for divergent thinking.

Does the overall movement in design discourage divergent thinking?

I think there's a time and a place for things that mesh well with the Big Sort phenomenon (I don't know how much control one has over this pattern).

But I also think finding and designing for opportunities that encourage new patterns and relationships is critical. Starting with what's common and building bridges outward to what isn't.

If graduate school is a melding of cultures and ideas (one side of the pedulum), what's the other side of the pendulum look like years later where people tend to form families, have kids, and live in communities that are much less diverse (e.g. the 'burbs). Is it community design?

Hmm. Gotta go back and look at some Christopher Alexander...

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