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Communications The Internet

Is Tech Bringing Us Closer Together Instead of Allowing Us to Sprawl? 138

A columnist for Wired has an interesting look at how telecommunications are actually making it more interesting to reside in populated areas instead of allowing the complete disregard for distance. "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."
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Is Tech Bringing Us Closer Together Instead of Allowing Us to Sprawl?

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  • by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:45PM (#22132220) Homepage Journal
    You can't get cheap high-speed internet, reliable cellular service, or even reliable grounded electricity out in many smaller rural areas. Tech doesn't facilitate sprawl; sprawl facilitates tech.
    • How I cope (Score:3, Interesting)

      I live rurally. Without tech, I could not work internationally and live at home.
      I have wireless broadband which is expensive, but I get 2Mbps which is fine so long as I don't try stream video etc. In other words it is fine for almost all work stuff.
      I don't have cell reception, but if you're at home then landline typically works or I could VoIP.
      I probably get more power outages than cityfolks, but I have UPSs to give me a clean shutdown.
      • Re:How I cope (Score:5, Insightful)

        by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:02PM (#22132366) Homepage Journal
        Yes, but your situation doesn't invalidate my point.

        My point is that technology follows sprawl, not the other way around. When enough people move out to new areas and start creating enough demand for the tech in those areas, then the tech infrastructure will finally get built. Until then, very few tech-minded people are going to choose to live in remote areas, and those that do (such as yourself) are going to have to pay extra and use workarounds.
        • by novakyu ( 636495 )
          I can relate. My parents live in the mountains (their closest neighbor is 5 minute's drive away), and if you need constant connection to Internet, not to speak of anything else (cell phone reception, for example, is nonexistent---you need to drive out 10 minutes to get that), you can't live there. It's almost a good thing that my parents don't really use Internet (or the computer, for that matter).

          Nowadays, they have satellite (they can't get DSL, or even cable TV/Internet) for the "always-on" connection, b
        • Re:How I cope (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mini me ( 132455 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:00PM (#22132788)
          I live out on the farm and have access to pretty much all the technology that most people who live in major cities have. The government has made a big push to make sure the less populated areas are not left behind. If it were truly a free market, you'd be right, but there are other factors that come into play.
          • You are very much correct. Without the government pushing, it is unlikely that you'd even have phone or electricity! Internet access won't be any different than phone or electricity in the long run, I suspect. But I could be mistaken. If fiber to the home becomes the standard, it might be hard to justify continuing to run copper out to the farms.
    • by QuasiEvil ( 74356 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:08PM (#22132410)
      Um, unless you live up in the air, lack of a reliable ground is your own damn fault no matter where you live. It's provided by a giant rod out by the meter, connected to the ground conductors, and pounded deep into just what you'd expect - the ground.
      • Yes, but your building also has to be properly wired for it internally, and most older buildings are not.
        • your wiring is your responsibility. its your own fault if its not done properly, it doesnt matter where you live (unless you rent, then its the landlord's responsibility)
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I do live up in the air, you insensitive clod!
      • Um, unless you live up in the air, lack of a reliable ground is your own damn fault no matter where you live.

        I just moved out of an old POS I was renting for next to nothing in northern California's east bay area.

        The first time I plugged in a power strip, the "Wiring Fault" light lit up. Lo and behold, not only had the grounding rod been disconnected from the system, but the whole house was wired up with 2-conductor wire, even though there were your standard 3-conductor, "grounded" outlets. So even if I r

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by camperdave ( 969942 )
          Of course it violated code. Grounding has been required by code since 1962. You should contact the local authorities and have that firetrap rewired before someone gets hurt.
          • Of course it violated code. Grounding has been required by code since 1962.

            I am not a lawyer!

            I don't know about California, but in most places older structures are "Grandfathered", so they don't have to be remodeled to comply with local codes. However, any new improvements (or even repairs) must follow the current local building codes. It *should* (and may) be required that any dwelling being rented out to the public meet current codes, but again this is up to your local government to decide.

      • The method you described, mindlessly pounding a rod into the earth, can produce a transient signal.
        • The method you described, mindlessly pounding a rod into the earth, can produce a transient signal.
          Mindless rod-pounding has produced a lot more than that.
          • "Mindless rod-pounding has produced a lot more than that."

            Electrocution (one of my sister's boyfriends had a hilarious moment with an unmarked electric line). Ejaculation. And the ever awesome electrocution/ejaculation combo if you're down with that sort of thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Anybody who lives above the first floor (AKA "in the air"), not to mention people who live in an apartment building, can suffer from a no grounding situation that they can't do anything about. Basically the entire country of Japan (where I live) is not grounded, even though power strips are ironically three-pronged (Japan has the same plug as North America). However, there is a recourse for people with metal piping: you can ground your outlets by running ground wires to the cold water pipe under your kitch
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shiftless ( 410350 )
        Before replying to someone in a smart ass manner you might want to actually know WTF you're talking about. I spent six years in the Air Guard in the SATCOM field, and I set up plenty of grounding systems. There are plenty of areas where you simply cannot get a good ground, due to the soil conditions. A typical example is areas where the soil is really sandy. There are all kinds of other soil properties that make grounding difficult, that's just one example.
    • I have wireless broadband, satellite broadband, my cell never leaves full strength(I've had both Verizon and AT&T), and I live just a few miles from the largest nuclear power plant and am within an hour drive to about 10 more coal/natural gas power plants. My town's population is 262 (two hundred and sixty two...not a typo). About 10 houses down from me FIOS is available (I hope they get down to me soon).

      To get anywhere it's at least a half hour to drive, or a half hour ferry boat ride.

      So in short...a
      • I'm sure living 10 minutes from a large nuclear power plant has nothing to do with a lot of services being available....
    • by mrbcs ( 737902 ) *

      You can't get cheap high-speed internet, reliable cellular service, or even reliable grounded electricity out in many smaller rural areas. Tech doesn't facilitate sprawl; sprawl facilitates tech.

      Interesting. I live in a town of less than 300 people in Alberta. I have decent cell service, one power outage per year on average, and high speed internet through the SuperNet. 2.5 mbps down, 50 gigs a month.

      Tech has helped people move here that work over the internet. They can bring their families to a much slower (arguably better) way of life with almost no regard for crime. There's no traffic, the air is clean, people are nice. Way different than the cities.

      But this is Alberta, home of the $193,00

      • Back during the 60's-80's when crime in cities was rampant I could understand wanting to leave them. Now thats no longer the case. Then there's the pace of life argument. That one I don't get. I live in Boston and my personal pace of life is as slow as it could be. In fact the damn city shuts down mostly at around 10PM-2AM as the public transit stops working at midnight.

        People in Boston are mean, but I like it that way but folks in NYC are very nice. Traffic is fun, gives you time to listen to your iPods, d
  • Absolutely (Score:5, Informative)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:48PM (#22132242)

    Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh."
    And as a result, I choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a small town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.
    • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NIckGorton ( 974753 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:38PM (#22132646)
      I think the article and you are both right. Smaller places that are close to the 'Superstar Cities' in TFA are the ideal. I live in Davis, CA, which has the small town feel (though its actually a small city.) It is 70 miles from the closest 'Superstar City', San Francisco - which I visit just enough for it to be pleasant (several times a month.)

      So I get the high speed access, university atmosphere, and small town feel while still having access to SFO. Now if it weren't for all the drunk college kids it would be perfect.
    • by fabs64 ( 657132 )
      Amen to that.
      I tend to think the instantaneous nature and beautiful clutter of the internet has made those horrid sprawling mcMansion suburbs look all the more absurd to me.

      Maybe I would've hated them anyway.. but still.
    • And as a result, I choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a small town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.

      I too choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a large town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        And as a result, I choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a small town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.

        I too choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a large town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.

        I also choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a large city where walking, biking, and public transit all get m

      • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:11PM (#22132864)

        I too choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a large town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.
        Most reasonably livable cities predate zoning. Once the idea of limiting what was allowed to be where came in, the inevitable end was the Southern California bedroom community, where it's illegal to have anything but residential property -- for miles in all directions. If you want to drop in for a pint, the nearest tap is ten miles away.

        I'll class San Francisco as partly livable; Pacific Heights being a powerful counterexample. The older parts of Portland are still OK, but the burbs are a disaster. Seattle was all right until the Microsoft Millionaires bought up so much of the in-town real estate for game nights. Most other Western cities are a joke.

        The East is a lot more complicated, but what bright spots I've seen are specs in a sea of creeping unlivability. I haven't seen that much of Europe from ground level but what I have seen isn't encouraging.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          While living in the southwestern U.S. tech did nothing to physically connect me with anyone because it was too damn hard to overcome the vast distances of the region on a regular basis.

          After leaving NYC in '01 I moved to New England. Up here the story is exactly the opposite. Every county up here is its own little microcosm and networking through tech has put me in touch with all sorts of people who are easily accesible.

          I am fairly certain that it is not merely the geographical isolation of southwest vs n
          • I am fairly certain that it is not merely the geographical isolation of southwest vs northeast, but perhaps the psychological difference of growing up in these disparate environments that alters the way tech networking impacts your life.

            It's not the distances between towns in the West that makes the difference, it's the distances in the towns. Western cities were, in general, pretty small before the automobile and once cars became available they were adopted rapidly because of the distances outside o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
          My first experience with the idea of zoning was in SimCity. No European cities are designed along that kind of line. The closest you get is industrial estates, which are typically built on the outskirts of cities to avoid polluting the centre. The idea of separating residential and commerical areas seems to invalidate the point of a city; if you need to drive to get to work then why don't you just live in the countryside and enjoy more private space?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh."

      And as a result, I choose to live in a place where I don't have to drive to go everywhere: a small town where walking actually gets me places instead of an endless sea of other residences.

      Something I like about London (the only city with over half-a-million people that I've lived in) is it's essentially lots of small towns with no space between them. There's a community (shops, cafes, pubs, parks) probably within 10 minutes walk of everywhere in inner London [wikipedia.org] and probably much of the rest. This is the case in most of the UK, although the 'small towns' making up the city are smaller than here. I haven't spent enough time in the USA to know, but is it similar? I expect older cities (New Yo

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's a community (shops, cafes, pubs, parks) probably within 10 minutes walk of everywhere in inner London and probably much of the rest

        Any part of any American community more than 100 years old is still like this, whether it's a small town, a large town, or a city.

        But anything built up in the last 50 years is mostly sprawl -- everything is a 15 minute drive from everything else, and the shops, cafes, pubs, and parks all have *enormous* parking lots (yes, even the pubs). The parking lots are seriously

      • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:06PM (#22133164) Homepage Journal
        Our cities are absolutely wonderful places to be. When I'm driving around, my 4 wheels are always on solid pavement. Sometimes I'm asked to move at 70 miles an hour or more, but it's not all work. I spend vast amounts of time driving very slowly with thousands of other cars, bumper to bumper. It's a great opportunity to get to know the cute Chevrolet in the next lane. And several times a day I get to go out to parking lots where I can do more mingling with other cars in parking lots. My driver almost never walks anywhere. He buys me all the gas I need. I've very well taken care of.

        On the other hand, if I were a human, these cities wouldn't be very good at all. It's obvious to everybody that these beautiful cities just weren't designed for people at all. They are designed for cars like me, and it's wonderful being a car in these modern American cities. I don't know why the humans don't just leave for someplace they might feel more comfortable.
      • I lived in England for several years, and you are right --- London, and most of the outlying towns have the cafes, markets, pubs etc within walking distance of most places (although we had to drive to 1 hour to find a roller skating rink - but that is another story).

        America, with rare exception is in no way shape or form like Europe in this regard. Most of our major shopping areas are separated from the housing areas by significant distances, or barriers (such as an eight lane highway) that make walking pr
  • by Paul Pierce ( 739303 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:49PM (#22132252) Homepage
    All girls look hot in their Profile Pictures
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:49PM (#22132254) Journal

    Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh.

    Only because when people choose a picture for Facebook or Myspace, they always pick one which drastically misrepresents how attractive they are...

    Personally, I'm not sure I accept/understand the underlying premise - why would we want to 'sprawl' and have less interaction anyway? Living in a city for me and many people I know has nothing to do with compulsion, it's because it's fun, interesting, and a centre for culture, entertainment, and humans generally. Most people actually WANT more human interaction, not the Unabomber life. As such, I'm not sure how this (supposed) effect is "paradoxical".
    • Personally, I'm not sure I accept/understand the underlying premise - why would we want to 'sprawl' and have less interaction anyway? Living in a city for me and many people I know has nothing to do with compulsion, it's because it's fun, interesting, and a centre for culture, entertainment, and humans generally. Most people actually WANT more human interaction, not the Unabomber life. As such, I'm not sure how this (supposed) effect is "paradoxical".

      Exactly, I think the author is looking for something that isn't there. Single/young people preferred the active lifestyle of a big city before the internet and (OMG) they still do! Obviously this implies that the internet must have major implications in how they choose to live their lives - or not.

      The only implications I see from his examples are that people still prefer to meet face-to-face over virtual meetings or email, etc. How he turned that into implying that virtual communication fosters greater f

    • Speak for your self. I enjoy owning my own home. I enjoy not hearing every word that utters from my neighbors mouth. The small town life suits me just fine.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:49PM (#22132258)
    I can do this because of the internet + phone etc. Because I work from home it is easy for me to schedule international conference calls late at night etc. So yes, geographic distance is reduced. Where I work does not have to be where I live.

    But what about personal/relationship distance? Communications via email, text etc does seem to be replacing quality relationship time with a higher quantity of low-quality interactions. At a personal level we're drifting further apart. People no longer see themselves as members of a tight-knit local community but more as members of a global community. This defitiely impacts negatively on local neighbourhoods.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      tight-knit local communities have always been a little creepy to me anyway.
    • Ah, but with text and voice relationships you focus less on how the person looks and more on their personality.

      On your second point, about being part of a global community (without that "tight-knit" part), that one depends on WHAT communities you are a part of. I know of several places where the community is so tight-knit, everyone comes together every year or so to catch up and have that all-important "in person" time you fleshy beasts deem so important.

      Honestly though, I have found more people worth my ti
  • Digital Signature (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer ( 1213818 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:51PM (#22132262)
    It's something that's been changing for a while now. In a world where typing your name and writing your email address can legally constitute a signature, it would seem that we can remain disconnected easier. If anything, while it may make things like a handshake more rare, it makes it much more valuable. Imagine if you received a handwritten letter in the mail - it could be a death threat and you'd still be blown away by the care and thoughtfulness the author put into it.

    Technology is ALL about bringing us closer. Most no one's invented or created anything that brings us further away from each other. How close we used to be to people at 5mi can now be replicated at 10mi, making the people 5mi away that much closer. Humans crave contact - nothing will ever replace hanging out and joking around with some friends - and things like email, Facebook, IM, and SMS make it easier. It's the old argument of making the world smaller.
    • Technology is ALL about bringing us closer. Most no one's invented or created anything that brings us further away from each other.

      Fences, walls, soundproofing, clothing, automobiles, freeways, books, iPods, and firearms all serve to isolate people from each other by some means or another.

    • Technology is ALL about bringing us closer. Most no one's invented or created anything that brings us further away from each other. How close we used to be to people at 5mi can now be replicated at 10mi, making the people 5mi away that much closer. Humans crave contact - nothing will ever replace hanging out and joking around with some friends - and things like email, Facebook, IM, and SMS make it easier. It's the old argument of making the world smaller.

      I find that although technology is bringing us closer to the people far away from us, it is making us more distant to the people around us. So many people are so busy on their cellphones, etc, that they hardly notice what is going on right around them.

      Like those damn Bluetooth ear dongles that you see people walking around with like they are going to conduct some important business in the grocery store or something. Recently my wife and I met a friend, her husband, and kids for dinner. On the way out of

  • > "...networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh."

    Well, we're on Slashdot, so there's no possibility of us meeting the flesh of more attractive people.

    We'll just have to settle for what he describes. /TSG/

  • Isn't this pretty much the opposite of the "long-tail" theory?

    I guess every stupid sociological theory deserves an equally stupid response.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lijemo ( 740145 )

      Isn't this pretty much the opposite of the "long-tail" theory?

      I guess every stupid sociological theory deserves an equally stupid response.

      How are the two even related? The Long Tail is about what people like to buy, TFA is about human interaction. Apples and TRS-80s.

  • Wired? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @07:56PM (#22132310)

    Are they still relevant?

    Can I filter out articles linking to them?

  • If you'd like to put Ed Glaeser in some perspective, consider watching the Harvard economics department's PhD recruitment video here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDJ_VHmaHgY [youtube.com]

    Or the Harvard grad student parody video here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcN9ypgjApQ&NR=1 [youtube.com]

    Or the Stanford econ department's parody here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWMg66CuJVM [youtube.com]

    Enjoy!
    • by Otter ( 3800 )
      If you'd like to put Ed Glaeser in some perspective, consider watching the Harvard economics department's PhD recruitment video here:

      Wow, he *is* pretty attractive! And I live right near him! QE freaking D, buddy.

  • Did anyone see the bit on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday where they were talking about how Grandpa would walk 6 miles to the fishing hole, Pa would walk a mile to his friend's house, but Jr. can't get off his butt because of all the Interwebbing/gaming/TV that he has available. On the other hand, in the time it took Grandpa to walk to the fishing hole, Jr. could "connect with many friends online" and presumably have a meaningful conversation/relationship. Of course, this was not long after they were talking
  • I expect there to be Internet-spawned neighborhoods, just like there used to be various ghettos (in a good way). There was the Italian ghetto (Little Italy), the Chinese ghetto (Chinatown), the Japanese ghetto (Japantown), the Koren ghetto (Koreatown), the Norwegian ghetto (Bay Ridge), a gay ghetto (the Castro), and there will be a Slashdot ghetto etc.
  • Not so much... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:12PM (#22132444)
    I commute 50+ miles each way to work, but sometimes I work from home. Depends on how I feel. The nice "tech" the company provides me with: a ThinkPad T61, a cellphone and a bridge line, also allow me to maintain contact with my team, some of which are in Jacksonville (FL), while others are in Charlotte, NC, San Francisco, CA, and others are in Hyderabad, India.

    I talk with team members via phone, email and instant messaging constantly, and the majority of these people I've never met face-to-face.

    Sounds to me like tech is making it easier for work groups to "sprawl" around the country, and the world.
    • The company I USED to work for, and several of my associates STILL work for just recently recalled all its telecommuters. Not, not AT&T. My best friend enjoyed working from home usually 4 days a week. He is the only one on his team based out of the local office, and even his boss is out of another location. But now he is required to go in every single day, and they even set the hours, 8:30 to 4:30, in order to maximize commute time. I think they must be TRYING to get people to quit. The funny thing is,
  • Real time (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Paralizer ( 792155 )

    Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh.

    Why is the cell phone listed? Land lines do the same thing and have been around a lot longer, that is nothing new.

    E-Mail is just a faster form of snail-mail. I can understand wanting to meet a pen pal but I don't see how having one is more appealing than meeting someone at a public place.

    Facebook.. good lord. Social networking sites are a joke. I have more interesting conversations on IRC on a regular basis than anyone ever has on facebook. And that has been around for ages, as has instant messang

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I hear you. To this day, I don't get myspace. It's ugly, the content is largely crap, it just seems like a free webhost for people too lazy to make decent personal websites. Most other social networking sites I've seen are rarely any better.

      What I do get though, is that others not in my demographic get it. Those services seemed targeted towards the tribalist minds that make up the mainstream of society. Or to be slightly elitist about it, they seem targeted at the sheep who like to be part of a herd. The
      • by FLEB ( 312391 )
        I'm personally from the LiveJournal generation, but I did take a look at MySpace when a lot of my friends started joining up, and recently have gotten a Facebook account, for the same reason. So far, I still only use the LJ (plus a Vox, which is basically a LiveJournal with better tech).

        At least among me and mine, a few of the benefits...

        A lot of the draw of MySpace is that has some good tools to allow you to find people you know easily, without having to know their URLs or screennames, and to build an "alw
    • by Woldry ( 928749 )
      Slight quibble -- cell phones allow you to be more consistently connected. I never used to have the option of using a land line from, say, aisle 12 of the supermarket. Mind you, I'm not clear on how this makes it "more attractive to meet people in the flesh", but it is a significant difference between cell and land phones.

      Another slight quibble: having a pen pal can be more appealing than adding another social engagement to an already overloaded schedule. I can keep in touch with pen pals in a few minu
    • I imagine that the social networking sites are useful for networking but then the conversations go offsite.

      For instance, you move to a college in NYC and join both the college network and the city network. On the network page on Facebook you notice a highlighted group: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition. There you notice people posting on some subject...what they think makes a good DM. It isn't the ideal place for "chatting" but it'd be easy using this group to post, "Who'd like to meet up Thursda
    • by symbolic ( 11752 )
      Why is the cell phone listed? Land lines do the same thing and have been around a lot longer, that is nothing new.

      I imagine it's because the mobility of cell phones provide their owners with an "always there" quality that land lines cannot match.
  • Paradoxically, your cell phone, email, and Facebook networks are making it more attractive to meet people in the flesh."

    Reminds me of chapter one of myspace the movie [davidlehre.com] Warning!! video link

    Dude she's got "the angles" - the myspace angles, a shot of her but, legs, lips but no full body shot... all the ugys girls have those shots.

    I want to meet that.
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:21PM (#22132526) Homepage
    In the sense that almost every job which can be done remotely is done from India, there is great interest in jobs that involve face time. If those were most of the remaining jobs in recession 1.0, they'll be the only jobs left in recession 2.0.

    • by theJML ( 911853 )
      I'd have to agree with this. Personally the company I work for used to be spread out all over the globe. At this point we still have sales guys in other countries for obvious reasons, but more and more priority is put on face time. All new Engineers are to be hired locally to work in the office during standard office hours. I think they figured out that having local workers gives them much more control, easier management, greater sense of community, and more spontaneous meeting time than having remote worke
    • by HtR ( 240250 )
      Excellent point. I worked at home for 7 years, which was > 400 miles from the office. The company itself did most of it's work implementing network protocols for a large telecommunications company > 1000 miles away. It worked great as long as we were only dealing with other technical people. It only became a problem when a marketing guy joined the company who didn't like to write or read documents or couldn't be specific on the phone.

      Anyway, the company disappeared 3 years ago directly because of
  • The Wrong Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:33PM (#22132606) Journal
    This isn't a case of: "what does technology do to you?"
    It's more like: "what do YOU do with IT?"

    This isn't to say that new technologies can't oppress you in new ways when they are forced on you in (eg) employment relationships; just that the core of the problem there isn't technology - it's the employment relationship.

    When we are given real control over whether and how to use technology, it's plenty liberating; but putting a pager on a serf just amplifies his subservient condition.
    • Not only that, the question as framed is terribly uninteresting. So there's tech where there's people, or vice-versa, doesn't really make a difference and doesn't really matter much. You could probably have said the same thing regarding any media, at any point in time where there was some sort of communication technology working in some city.

      Things become interesting when we turn it around like you did. So yes, technology enables us to do lots of things, sure. But what's really interesting is what we do w

  • Dense areas focused on a common industry (Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley) are useful since the probability of encountering somebody useful by chance is high. In the same fashion meetings are local which is a lot better for budgets.
  • The only reason I can see that it is drawing people to cities is that no company wants to do rural cellphone coverage and you can't get broadband out there either.

    Bring the OLPC to the West, says I.

    Vik :v)
  • I see people lost in their iPods, cellphones, laptops, ignoring each other in public spaces. Its amusing how they ignore each other and sometimes trip over another.
    • I don't need any of those gadgets to ignore other people (although I own some of them), all you need is to be an insensitive clod.
  • I actually used "tech" recently to find someone I had lost contact with about seven years ago. Instant messaging was a godsend in this regard, but it was no substitute for a telephone conversation. Well, actually, we use cell phones. Phones are more personal/less anonymous than instant messaging (not to mention that you get the benefit of things like tone of voice). However, cell phones had an arbitrary delay between when one person said something and when the other person received it, making for really lon
  • *more* attractive to meet in the flesh? You must be new around here...
  • I was just saying to my partner that sionce I've moved from Sydney to Melbourne, despite all of the contact options (email, facespace, phone, irc, etc) I'm slowly dropping off the map as far as Sydney friends are concerned...there is simply NO replacement for face-to-face contact with a person you've physically met before; the friendship has a qualitative difference to an online/distance relationship, and it's very hard to go from the former to the latter successfully.
  • Smart environments (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • Someone needs to tell this to my WoW-addicted roommate, who never leaves his room.
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:28PM (#22133284)
    Parts of the hobby are dying out because people no longer have any space to put up antennas. And if they try something indoors, they find it flooded with computer hash. I'll take a country farm any day.
  • No matter how much technology progresses, I don't think there will ever be a good substitute for face-to-face interaction. Having met most of my closest friends in person, it is quite dull and unfulfilling to then have to spend ten or eleven months away from them while I complete another year of high school in America (fortunately, this is my last year). I keep in touch with them constantly with the aid of IM, email, and VoIP (free long-distance calls to Ireland have saved me thousands of dollars!), but eve

  • Good points in the article on the value of face time. My young grandkids now live on the other side of the country, and as great as live video conferencing is to see their new toys, their art, and their faces, living nearby would be much better!

    Same thing goes for telecommuting. I have been living in a fairly remote area for about 10 years (Sedona Arizona) and travel on business less than 3% of the time. This sounds good, and in some ways it is great, but work wise, it is a bummer to miss face time with the
  • I find it mentally stimulating to forum chat (e.g. pc world, yahoo answers, blog directories, mylot, commenting, etc) with others of similar interests within NZ and worldwide, as it's a good avenue to be authoritatively interactive. However, in doing so, I think I have lost a bit of verbal communication with real people, including some of my immediate family members and friends. Maybe advanced means of communication can create a partial isolation within your normal means of communication. Advancing (maybe),
  • Can we expect more condiment analogies on /., instead of car analogies? Net neutrality in terms of mustard and ketchup, open WiFi in terms of spice shakers on the table of a restuarant? Bring them on!
  • False dichotomy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @12:21AM (#22134002)
    The answer is "both". Technology gives us more options. Those that like living closer (evidently, most) can choose to do so. Those that like getting away (evidently, a minority) now also can and do choose to do so. There's always some pros and cons to either decision, but at least more options are available now.
  • they said that the greater use of comptuers would lead to less office paper usage. instead, everyone printed all sorts of crap for one reason or another, leading to an increase in paper usage

    they also said in the 1930s that the television was a great step forward for mankind as a potent tool for education. instead we got "american gladiator"

    and the internet was supposed to be this great philospher's lounge of idealistic thinking and positive intellectual discussion. instead we got fark.com

    many other example

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