The internet is not shit

...and the virtual communities are not dead, Tom Coates reminds us.

Yup. The value of the Internet is not in e-commerce, or web services, or ubiquitous computing, but in the simple fact that we all need to belong. Before, you could only be a part of the community that was physically around you, and if you weren't accepted in that, well, there wasn't much you could do about it.

Now, at least theoretically, anyone can find a group to belong to.

(Is this the reason why people have clustered up in big cities? Not only to seek shelter, but also because it is easier to find a community?)




Comments

"Is this the reason why people have clustered up in big cities? Not only to seek shelter, but also because it is easier to find a community?"

Partly. Larger concentrations of people offer a number of advantages, and the freedom to be who you are is one of them. The larger the city the larger the propability that there are people who share your interests there. The problem, of course, is finding them. For a simple theory on the evolution of communal pressure and indidualism (as well as differentation of labour) in rural communities and cities, refer to the works of Erik Allard, the grand old man of Finnish sociology.

--J-Ko, 07-Jul-2003


Cool, thanks!

But will the commoditization of the internet mean less pressure to cluster? Today's Helsingin Sanomat comments that Helsinki is actually losing inhabitants, about 3000 persons this year. Partly this is due to the housing situation, but how much is the modern information technology affecting the matter?

--JanneJalkanen, 07-Jul-2003


As Helsingin sanomat notes, the neighbouring cities of Vantaa and Espoo are still growing quite rapidly. This means that the greater area of Helsinki is still growing quite nicely. EU future study people project that Helsinki and the neighbouring cities are one of the fastest growing areas in Europe at least for the next 10 years (if memory serves) - especially if the highway to St. Petersburg is built.

Sorry to burts your bubble, but even if the 'net enables people to connect from afar, most of us still crave that human contact as well. :)

--J-Ko, 07-Jul-2003


I was really saying that we have more options than "live in the city, packed next to each other" and "live out in the woods with no human contact at all". There's probably a middle ground somewhere - depending on personal preference of course - which balances out.

Perhaps Espoo and Vantaa are just closer to this balance than Helsinki?

--JanneJalkanen, 07-Jul-2003


Nah, it's all or nothing. :)

Suburbs kill city culture. They substitute BBQ-sessions in tiny homogenous communities for vibrant multicultural street culture. They are middle-class, mid-brow, middle-of-the-road mediocrity in the worst possible way. Suburbs are just a modern version of the peer pressure systems of rural villages.

Espoo is an extreme example of this. The politics there are repulsive. Espoo is the most American city in Finland.

I do understand why people move to safer and cheaper areas when they have kids, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

--J-Ko, 07-Jul-2003


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