Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Internet of cities

This graph provided by gapminder.org  shows the relationship in 2008 between percentage of Internet users in a country and its urban population.  The general trend is pretty clear, people who live in cities and other urban areas are more likely to be Internet users.

This actually is not surprising when you keep in mind that richer countries tend to have more urban populations.  People who live in villages are going to find it harder to not only earn the money to get on line but also to even get connection to the Internet.  The mobile Internet will likely change this, but it remains the fact that even today people who live in built up areas are more likely to be on line.

We conclude that the relationship is a bit deeper than just one of money, though money may be the cause.  Cities are deeply connected to the Internet.  We believe the concept of a cyberspace that is detached from real space is a misleading myth, in fact the same processes that create cities create the Internet.  The creation of information on the web, from Wikipedia pages to twitter is being driven by the same social processes that make cities.  That is the Internet extends the process of city creation, or to be even more precise the process of social organisation and economic organisation that have created cities go beyond just cities in creating and structuring the Internet.

Cyberspaces illusion of being separate from real space is an illusion.  Our research shows that almost all on line data comes from cities, and most of it is about cities.  Wikipedia data is far more likely to be about things in urban areas.  More tweets come from cities, more foursquare check ins, more of all the behaviours of production and consumption of web data take place in cities.

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