Manuel Castells recently gave a talk on how the information society and cities are colliding. Given that he has perhaps the world's sharpest eye on the subject, I wish I were there to here it. Luckily, Peter was, and he took good notes.
To me, one of the critical insights here is that the global city is not London, New York, Tokyo or Jo'berg -- it is the part of each which is connected to an analagous part in each of the others.
The global city is a distributed phenomenon. There is only one global city, and it floats on top of the others like lace.
Another key understanding is that the physical, the neighborly, the visceral and urban and the virtual, the connected, the digital and networked -- these are symbiants, not competitors. The public square and wifi compliment each other. Public transportation and high density go extremely well with the kind of highly networked, extremely social lives which digital people live today. The Megacity and the Net are in love.
The Megacity and the Net are in love but the Megacity and the Rural are at bad-tempered and bloody war with each other.
Nah, that's too one-sided a fight to call a war: the Megacity won that debate two centuries ago. We're just watching the aftermath now, the clean-up. Pretty much every rural place on Earth (that hasn't devolved into total f-ing meltdown) has been incorporated as a hinterland to a metropole.
Rural places that can function without their corresponding megacity are so rare now as to practically not exist.
Unfortunately Alex, half the world still lives in rural areas. I would hazard that there are rural areas in the developing world that are not linked into mega-city economies.
The rural is undoubtedly dying though. I guess the question that comes to mind for me is, should we care?