Jon Kamen

Jon Kamen Most recently the executive producer of  Britney: On the Record, Jon Kamen is chairman and chief executive officer of

I’m a producer. I have a company called Radical Media: tv shows, documentaries, advertising. We work with NGOs and very eclectic projects.

I got a call from Richard (founder of EG) – I can say it in 3 words:


What does that mean?

The amazing thing is this goes back to something he did all the way back in 1961. One of Richard’s first books was maps of cities done to scale. Anyway, he brought us in to help realize it and reveal what this concept of mass urbanization would mean in our everyday lives. This is a work in progress, going to share a little teaser film we put together because every time we show it to people they get inspired.

[The film has started, talking about how 1.4 million people are moving into cities each week. How will we care for our children? Our aging? Ourselves? How will we live? How will it change the way we work, invest, trade, learn, eat, consume, recycle, power, engineer, innovate? 19 cities with over 20 million people in the 21st century. Understanding lives in the world’s largest cities. Finding the future first.]

The concept of finding the future first was born, and it was based very much on the understanding of the way we live in cities. By 2050 2/3rds of the world’s population will live in cities, up from about 50% right now. The data around that becomes incredibly important in the future. Some people say the world is flat, but it’s actually rising, the rise of supercities.

It’s a 5-year project, but we’re going to share it as we go along. It’s technology, education, health care, crime. Something that will affect every city, and that every city needs to share with itself. Choosing the first 19  cities just as a template, just as something to compare, a benchmark.

Before I begin, we have to take a look at the history of cities. This will be Planet Earth but for people. It’s about the migration. In 1000 A.D. Cordova, Spain was the largest. By 1500 Bejing started to rise , and 300 years later was the first city to be over a million people. By 1900 London became the center of the universe with over 6 million people, then in 1950 New York was pronounced the first megacity with a population of over 10 million people in the greater metropolitan area. Now the US has fallen behind and population centers are shifting to Asia.

It’s a planet of water. That’s why these cities pop up where they do. One frightening fact: if the rise of water continues at its current pace, all 19 cities we’re studying will be at least partially underwater by the time we’re done with the project. Cities may be part of the solution though, as vertical living can be a lot more efficient. There’s a placeholder website up at They’re currently looking for a broadcaster to support 30 minute shows culminating in a 12 hour project much like Planet Earth, then books, exhibitions, and finally ending in summits and conferences.

Imagine a half hour show on things like transportation, what’s it like getting to work in Bangladesh, in Tokyo, what’s the average commute time? (25 minutes in LA, 79 minutes in Dacca.) If you look at healthcare, it’s about the pulse of a city if it compares to life in the city. (200 patients per doctor in Berlin, 3800 in Decca.) Life expectancy is longest in London at 87. In 1950 Lagas had a population of 200,000, today it’s at 11 million and counting. Energy per capita, and eventually guides to the different cities, and someday the cover of Time and National Geographic. The exhibitions are going to become urban observatories, want the first one to be in Shanghai in 2010, if you look back at the history of expos in difficult economic times they tend to be very influential. In Shanghai there’s currently a museum for urban planning, they currently do balsa wood models of the entire city, but it’s changing so rapidly they can barely keep up.

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