Driving Forces

I knew going in that one of the things I wanted to focus my thinking on for this course was the growing levels of social interconnection as facilitated by communications technology. So I suppose it was inevitable that the predetermined driving force I find most compelling is that connectedness will continue to rise, and rise rapidly, in terms of both demographic penetration (more people will have access) and ubiquity (people will have more and more regular access). This seems to be rather well supported by the current US administration’s push for a national broadband plan from the FCC, as well as continued infrastructure development by the major telcos (fiber-to-the-home, newer and faster cellular data technologies, bigger pipelines for cable data transfers).

This actually leads, at least in my mind, to a fascinating critical uncertainty. Will the drive toward urbanization increase in importance, or decrease in importance. One of the traditional functions of dense urban environments has been to foster high levels of interconnection. Because long-distance communication tools, especially for groups, have historically been poor, and because face-to-face contact is still the highest bandwidth method of communication in regular use, urbanization has been essentially inevitable to whatever degree our logistics systems could support it. While urban centers certainly do more than facilitate communication, it strikes me that this has always been one of the most important drivers of the movement. Thus it becomes a serious question whether or not increasingly good tools for long-distance communication will be enough to sort of ‘take over part of the market’ for communication facilitation from urban areas.


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