City Networks in Cyberspace and Time [chapter]

Andrew Boulton, Lomme Devriendt, Stanley D. Brunn, Ben Derudder, Frank Witlox
ICTs for Mobile and Ubiquitous Urban Infrastructures  
Geographers and social scientists have long been interested in ranking and classifying the cities of the world. The cutting edge of this research is characterized by a recognition of the crucial importance of information and, specifically, ICTs to cities' positions in the current Knowledge Economy. This chapter builds on recent "cyberspace" analyses of the global urban system by arguing for, and demonstrating empirically, the value of Web search engine data as a means of understanding cities as
more » ... situated within, and constituted by, flows of digital information. To this end, we show how the Google search engine can be used to specify a dynamic, informational classification of North American cities based on both the production and the consumption of Web information about two prominent current issues global in scope: the global financial crisis, and global climate change. everyplace" (Abler, 1974) , remains entirely unmet in several key respects. Society and technology shape each other in complex ways. While, at the most basic level, ICT implies a decoupling of simultaneity in time from contiguity in space (Castells, 1996) , informational flows-the informational "cloud" of ubiquitous communications-are in fact, underpinned and enabled by a vast, physical (placed) ICT infrastructure. Thus, rather than rendering place irrelevant, cities' economic performance and their prominence within the global urban network becomes, increasingly, a product of their positions vis-à-vis all other places in relation to ICT networks. Electronic communication has not and cannot be substituted for the social, cultural and economic advantages of urban agglomeration. Or, as Goldsmith and Wu (2006, p. 56) put it, very simply: "[f]ar from destroying cities by making place irrelevant, the production and consumption of Internet content, and the infrastructure to support it, are concentrated in cities." This chapter seeks to unpack this question of the positions cities occupy in relation to ICT networks, meaning that we seek to understand "cyberspace" as an object of study in the context of global urban networks. In contrast to earlier ICT-based urban research in which analyses tend to trace out a 'cyber' geography via physical infrastructure and material connection, we suggest two ways cyberspace can be incorporated into global urban network research. First, we consider cities as lived places with attributes-experiential, economic, representational, infrastructuralwhich are represented in and produced by their cyberspaces. And, second, we consider cities as nodes in transnational networks of capital, ideas, representations, and information. Our focus on cyberspace offers a new take on the methodological question of how to study cities' positions within urban networks, especially, in the context and under the aegis of the information-based
doi:10.4018/9781609600518.ch005 fatcat:6w3egvqwurd4dgzenextk2fnh4