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  • 14:13 An interesting comment from Jakob Nielsen: "It's possible that [electronic] collaboration systems will depopulate cities." #

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It's possible but extremely improbable. One of the things about the Net is that it makes it possible to see how others live and to desire (one might even say covet) such a lifestyle. Lifestyles are easier to emulate where there are large population centres (not discounting the ability to have things delivered, of course, even to rural areas). Services particularly depend on population centres -- not just IT services but medical services, speciality construction and its supply chain, etc.

Also, many cities sprang up because of natural gifts -- the weather in the Bay Area and coastal southern California, for example, or the relatively natural disaster-free area of the East Coast in which you live. People will naturally gravitate toward such places.
Those are good points. I don't think collaboration systems by themselves will depopulate cities. But I do think a big part of urban populations is the set of people who are there solely because of their job. The competing pressures to leave a city are the significantly increased cost of living, traffic, worse air quality, and higher crime rates. For all those people who aren't as entranced by the benefits of city life, being able to have a job outside of a city might entice them away from it. Perhaps it won't entice them to live in the middle of Wyoming, but it might thin the city population out a bit. The weather in western MA isn't all that different from the weather in Boston, for example.

June 2017

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