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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shapers of culture


One of the reasons to reach a city, if not the reason, is to influence a culture. However a new shaper of culture is emerging that has nothing to do with the city in fact it has very little to do with any geographical location at all. The internet.

Nothing, TV and movies included will prove to be as instrumental in both creating and undermining a global culture than the internet and ultimately can undermine the role of the city as the birthplace of culture. Here are a few examples.

Journalism has long been centred around the cities and local newspapers and radio have always been provincial and peripheral. However, the rise of the blogs as a journalistic tool have shown that major stories, news and opinion can be formed and broken by people working from their computer. The internet can disseminate news faster than anything else. This is not city centred.

TV and films have long been and will continue to be the product of the city, however Youtube and its unknown successors will demonstrate that entertainment need not be dependent on the studios. The next singing sensation can be discovered by the internet, the next comedic genius, the next acting star can all be seen without the need of the city.

Opinion and comment was long the domain of the newspapers and therefore the city. Blogs are changing all that. Key opinion formers will be read online and anyone, anywhere can have well reasoned and well written opinions.

Diversity of content. Because cities are concentrations of population and tend to be the centres of diversity they have become the places from which the broad spectrum of culture emanates from. Again the internet undermines that as well as encouraging that.

Now I don't see any end to the power and might of the city simply because we're all getting broadband. Cities will continue to concentrate influence and be the place to which artists etc are drawn. But need anyone at all from preacher to popstar be entirely dependent on the existence of the city to participate in the culture? Not any more. We live in a world of a billion online voices.

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