Global Communications Global Selves Global Cities Understanding the Connections
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? • about content & context? • about identity? • about space & place? • about community?
CONTENT • language is not a reflection of reality but a model of reality • signs, symbols and signals are different ways of constructing space and time and structuring perception (Adams) • signal: you, here, now • sign: complex organization of time-space (meaning depends mechanically on grammar) • symbol: sets up vague and powerful links between here & there, now & then (Sontag)
HOW TO STUDY MEDIA • Media do not drive social change • Media are adopted within particular cultural contexts and places and adapted to the needs of particular people (Graham & Marvin) • Media like all technologies provide a means of understanding what it is to be a human: we imagine ourselves as complicated computers, (just as looking back in history we saw ourselves as automatons, animals, clay, …)
CONTEXT • Meaning is affected by: • different physical environments (Adams) • different media (communication technologies) (McLuhan) • different relationships between sender(s) and receiver(s) (Fiske & Hartley) • different social structures
EMBODIMENT • Traditionally, we interacted with others as embodied selves most of the time • writing and printing started to break down this association • the telegraph drove the wedge in further • still, most people acted in-place most of the time • Our daily routines now involve substantial amounts of disembodied interaction
EMBODIMENT • Disembodiment leads to greater fluidity of identity (chat room experience) • If identity is understood to be a sign or symbol like any other, then: • social authority becomes more questionable • the meaning of “public” and “private” changes • social order is temporarily “up for grabs” • sense of anarchy • opportunities for traditionally disempowered groups & individuals • changing forms of intimacy • changing ideas about oppositions such as male-female, human-nature, here-there, etc. (Haraway)
DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LIFE? • Poster says communication through sign sequences (books) is “overdetermined” • writers try to convince people • they make statements with some definable relationship to the “truth” (even in realist fiction) • the textual individual is expected to be rational, critical, autonomous • yet he or she must accept a framework of interpretation to make sense of texts: ideologies (including the ideology of fixed and stable subjects) “overdetermines” meanings
DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LIFE? • Poster says communication through images (TV, film, Internet) is “underdetermined” • many-to-many communications, indeterminate locations, leaky borders, instantaneity, and dependence on technology all presuppose different kind of “reading” subject • mode of reading is participatory • everything can be captured and altered • master narratives are absent • bottom-up structuring of social situations • anonymity and active engagement loosens one’s “place” in the social hierarchy
DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LIFE? • Hénaff & Strong argue: • democracy depends on access to information • public space serves various functions: • deliberation • debate • mutual encounter • seduction/persuasion • voting is only a small part of the democratic process (not the most important part)
DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LIFE? • Hénaff & Strong ask: • Is the “virtual public space” an acceptable substitute for physical public space? • Since old public spaces were often… • centralized • impersonal • awe-inspiring • full of monumental architecture • designed to elicit a sense of nostalgia … what is gained by leaving these authoritarian qualities behind?
DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LIFE? • Hénaff & Strong propose: • virtual public space needs new modes of political representation (“direct democracy” is a chimera) • virtual public space needs new rules and procedures for making decisions (anarchy is interesting but not particularly effective) • each node (invisible community) in the information network must be seen as center of information
WHERE ARE WE HEADED? • We live in an Information Society • The Information Society has a geography • The structure of that geography centers on key urban centers • Where are these centers and how can we understand them? • Whenever there are centers there are also peripheries • Where are these peripheries and how can we understand them?
WORLD CITIES • The collective geography of the Information Society depends on certain key locations • These are the centers that drive the expansion of the Information Society • These are the places that benefit most from the development of an Information Society
The Air Transportation Network COLORS show spheres of economic, cultural, and political integration
ROSTER OF WORLD CITIES(after Beaverstock, Taylor & Smith) • Two ways of looking at the urban hierarchy • demography → megacities • urban system → world cities • Most world city theorists agree on 3 cities at the top of the hierarchy: • New York • London • Tokyo New York London Tokyo
ROSTER OF WORLD CITIES(after Beaverstock, Taylor & Smith) • Theorists have not agreed on a way to rank world cities below the top, however. There are several alternatives: • cosmopolitanism: hard to define or quantify (1960s work of Peter Hall) • role in international division of labor & MNCs: a bit clearer (1980s work of John Friedmann) • predominance of producer services: easy to measure, serves as a good proxy for what we are looking for (1990s work of Saskia Sassen) • scale of financial sphere of involvement (1990s work of Howard Reed)
ROSTER OF WORLD CITIES(after Beaverstock, Taylor & Smith) • Alpha, Beta, and Gamma World Cities • measure and compare the global dominance of cities in regard to: • accounting • advertising • banking • law • These are examples of “producer services”
3 CLASSES of WORLD CITIES(after Beaverstock, Taylor & Smith)
LINKAGES OF WORLD CITIES “World City Network: A New Metageography?” by J.V. Beaverstock, R.G. Smith and P.J. Taylor http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/rb/rb11.html
GROWTH POLE PROJECT • Pick one of the cities in the two preceding diagrams (at any level of the hierarchy) and study its: • history & prospects (1 webpage with maps & images, interlinked carefully to all 3 of the others) • economic situation (1 webpage) • political situation (1 webpage) • cultural situation (1 webpage) • For economic info see the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/
CONCLUSION & QUESTION • Some measures of centrality in the Information Society reflect directly on our daily life (cosmopolitanism) • Other measures of centrality require us to consider: • What lies hidden by the Information Society? • What makes the Information Society possible? • The answer to both is the global economic system. • Why?