Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Internet: The City of the Future?

The online edition of the New York Times has a new article which fascinates me: It`s called "One Path to Better Jobs: More Density in Cities" ( Ryant Avent, an economics correspondent for The Economist, writes about the economical advantages of the city. The author describes that the density in big cities like New York reduces travel time and considerably lowers costs of commuting. Both should bring more jobs, the author claims.

I agree. But I guess, we can now also get many advantages from a big city when we surf the Internet. Maybe the Internet is the city of the future?

Like the big city, the Internet creates density: This post is written from Bonn, a sleepy town in Germany. It could be read in New York City, Tokyo or elsewhere in the world and competes with millions of other websites which are just one click away. You could easily compare the legion of online retailers, suppliers of content or other online offers worldwide by using search machines or networks like Facebook.

Using the Internet spares you a lot of travel costs, the way a super-dense city does. You don´t have to go to an travel agency to buy a flight anymore, and from your home you can buy kitchen equipment, shoes and lots of other things, even download books & movies, games and music. It takes just seconds.

Avent praises cities as " incubators and transmitters of ideas, and, correspondingly, engines of economic growth". This also fits the Internet. You don`t have to go to an University to study, you don`t need to visit a  library physically, now more & more schools come to you at home. You can exchange any idea worldwide by using Google, Twitter, Facebook and other websites.

Like the big city, the Internet creates a larger market "which facilitates competition, which again boosts quality and reduces prices". A producer of sophisticated coffee machines can find customers in the whole world which enables him to sell very specialized devices. In a small city without the Internet there wouldn`t be enough buyers for it.

Like the city, the Internet "reduces the risks associated with specialization and therefore encourages more of it. By allowing workers to focus on tasks at which they’re relatively better at than others, specialization helps drive economic growth" . As I wrote recently the Internet is part of the technical progress which has enhanced the wealth of the world since centuries(drivebycuriosity)

Often cities and the Internet work hand in hand: A restaurant could find more customers by advertising its specialties on the web or sending meals to customers homes, cinemas can lure visitors by showing trailers, rock venues attract customers by introducing their performance bands (with the little help of Facebook, Youtube and other sites).

It`s true, the Internet will never be a complete substitute for a city, but it could take over a part of their function and develop a new kind of virtual city.

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