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Business Consulting For The 21st Century Via A Holistic & Intelligent Approach

The world is still pretty flat

Consumed =>”The Increasing Importance of Physical Location” by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown on

Left a comment…

There is certainly some interesting food for thought here but based on the evidence presented I find the argument (if you will) rather flawed.

=> “People are moving into large urban areas at an accelerating rate…” First, I’m not so sure it’s wise to generalize on a national, let along international level. Believing that what’s true in Beijing or Calcutta also applies to the USA or Europe has the potential to lead to some pretty false assumptions.  Given the plethora of data available why do we continue to make such deceptive generalizations?

=> “today over 50% of the world’s population lives in dense cities versus ~30% in 1950.” Yes, we’ve all read this stats. But are people really moving in, or just being born and staying local to their “roots” as those areas are built out? The effect strikes me as more of self-fulfilling prophesy as based on historical momentum and nature (i.e., we typically live close to family) than on some other sort of truth we can draw conclusion from.

=> Related to the above is infrastructure. Developers not only build where there’s demand they build where there’s electricity, water, etc. True, you can get broadband and a mobile signal just about anywhere in the USA. That isn’t the case everywhere in the world. Infrastructure alone skews the numbers. Yes, people are still living where they are living. Obviously. What I’m questioning is is why.

=> That being said, the analysis above seems to be obsessed with technology. Not quality of life, not happiness but Yelp, etc. Frankly, that’s almost comical. I am far from a Luddite but I’m not so sure I want to live in an area where people are unable to strike up a conversation without the help of their cell phone. We’re just one traumatic event (e.g., terrorist act, deadly virus, etc.) away from a change in the perception in the value of urban closeness.

=> People (i.e., writers, reporters, authors, etc.) see what they want to see. Something tells me that Hagel and Brown are speaking more from personal experience and less from absolute objectivity. For example, every night I hear on David Letterman, “New York…the greatest city in the world.” Well, of course it is. We’re certainly not expecting the voice over to say, “New York…I pay an arm & a leg in rent. What am I doing here? I’m not really an happier. I was an idiot for leaving the comfort and quality of life of my small home town. I could have just visited NYC a couple times a year…”

At the moment, it appears to be a toss up. Florida is banking on history, established momentum and human nature. On the other hand, Friedman recognizes that many of the barriers and dynamics of a non-flat world are eroding. I suspect we’ll see the same thing, only different depending on how we look at it and when. In short, neither theory is going to die anytime soon.

Moi? I’m with Friedman.

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