Monday, January 21

Technology and community

Tim Harford writing on how "how email brings you closer to the guy in the next cubicle" -- Technology makes it more fun and more profitable to live and work close to the people who matter most to your life and work. Harvard economist Ed Glaeser, an expert on city economies, argues that communications technology and face-to-face interactions are complements like salt and pepper, rather than substitutes like butter and margarine. Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh.

Exactly. If we see technological communication as replacing face-to-face community we're missing the point. There is a certain paradox in this whole thing. From a technical standpoint people can work from anywhere -- and some do -- and some of us do more work from a distance at times -- but as a whole people still go into the office and still gravitate toward the cities. The technology gives us a new level of flexibility and a new way to stay connected with those in our face-to-face circle.

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