“Cities are the absence of physical space between people and companies. They are proximity, density, closeness. They enable us to work and play together, and their success depends on the demand for physical connection.”
— Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City
At HqO, we believe that cities are humanity’s most important social product. Since the start of the 21st century, social products have been thought of and focused on as online social networks. At the start, these products collapsed the limitations of physical distance, enabling us to connect instantly with anyone on the planet with an internet connection.
This mass connection enabled a tremendous explosion of knowledge sharing, creativity, and the breaking down of cultural barriers that enabled more global connections between people who would never have experienced each other’s life experiences. And yet — despite the proliferation of these technologies that enabled us to connect with anyone anywhere — people still continually moved to dense urban areas seeking real-life human connection. As history has shown, cities have continued to be epicenters of innovative progress and economic growth.
More recently — whether by design or by user error — our online social platforms are increasingly associated with symptoms of division, misinformation, depression, and loneliness. HqO’s response to reverse this trend has been through fostering real-world connections. Engaging with people in real life (or “IRL,” as the kids say) humanizes us. Looking someone in the eye and having a real-world shared experience will always make a more meaningful connection than a tweet.
This drives our purpose, which is building technology to create real-world experiences that lead to more meaningful connections. Within the built environment, we are currently focused on the places where people work, as we believe that economic success and opportunity is the core driver of the successful “live, work, play” value proposition that many communities strive for. When communities work well and prosper economically, people usually live and play far better.
Looking ahead, we believe that our real-world social infrastructure — defined by Eric Klineberg as the physical elements of community that act as a conduit to bring people together and build social capital — is in desperate need of technology enablement. In order to build successful real-world communities of the future, our social infrastructure must be modernized like any of the other products, services, and experiences we use and expect today. And if we build smarter social infrastructure, we believe we can help create more accessible economic opportunity, more sustainable cities, less polarized communities, and a happier — or dare we say ideal — world.
For more insights from HqO CEO Chase Garbarino, as well as information on the state of the market, download our free Industry Outlook today!