Cool History Society The Internet

Human Scale

Bookmarked Ri — The Distance Walked in an Hour by Craig Mod (

A ri is a unit of measure, it’s about how far a person can walk in an hour at a reasonable pace…Remnants of the ri system are scattered along the old roads of Japan. During the Edo period, ri were marked recurrently by hulking earthen mounds that flanked the road — ichi-ri zuka, “one-ri mounds.”

The idea of a single ri is old, simple, and human scale.

Human-scale things at a human-scale pace.

I feel like human scale is missing in so much of the world these days. Our cities are built at a bigger scale, our sprawling suburbs disconnected from a human pace and reliant on car travel. Walk? No one can fulfill their lives by walking — yet that is the most human of movement (no disrespect meant to those who cannot walk).

The internet is vast and contains multitudes, with few spaces that acknowledge our humanity — websites are designed for growth, more more more, never content to stay small. Never forming community at the scale people build community, because that’s not profitable enough, because community isn’t the real goal. Looking forward to seeing how non-profits and small groups can invent more, smaller public spaces online that operate on a more human level.

See also: Skittish, another experimental online gathering space that works to embody participants. Sounds similar to Gather.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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