Monday, March 29, 2004

Another week and three more questions...I think the semester is getting to me.

After I trudged through the language of David Harvey's article, I found his 1989-era comments to be relevant now. For instance, he states that the nature of inter-urban competition cause more uncertainty and rapid change in the urban landscape. If cities fail to be competitive, developers will go elsewhere. He expands on this later in pointing out that competition is so high that cities may only provide the illusion of hospitality as there is no time to develop the actual environment--image over substance. I find a parallel situation in websites and the modern media, in general. I find there is more emphasis placed on who is the fastest or who has the catchiest tune, than on who is telling the truth. What I wonder about is why this sells?! It drives me nuts, actually. There was an article titled "News Reports for Ultra-Short Attentions" about the "Fox Report" in the NY Times on Sunday about rapid fire delivery, if you're interested. Are people (North Americans?) this bored or overwhelmed or unhappy that the illusion satisfies them to the point where they won't seek out what is behind the image? Where has the substance gone or was it ever here?

I'm glad we watched the Silicon Valley film before reading Harvey's article because it helped me image an actual situation he theorizes about in his article. If urban entrepreneurialism increases the gap between incomes in an area and the statements about the potentially ephemeral nature of urban entrepreneurialism, then what happens when industries move and the gap is left? The wealthy can move. The poor may not be able to go. Is the rapid pace of urban entrepreneurialism contributing to a wider disparity of income groups with longer lasting impacts? If industries form a pattern of operating and leaving, which some seem to do now, how will this affect people in lower income groups? And will they have a voice?

The Web is a very amorphous space. Most people don't imagine what Google does when "Google Search" is clicked as long as the requested information shows up on the screen. Greg mentions in his article for this week that support specialists or the ubiquitous computer guys are de-emphasized in the web-based communications network even though they fill essential roles. Perhaps because the web is such a formless space, things and people associated with it appear just as formless. This may be an extension of the weak-links we discussed earlier in on-line interactions. When people hover in reality, we can ignore their low-status space in favor of our personal, high-status space. This creates skewed versions of power structures. How is this personally affecting the marginalized worker?

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