Technological Togetherness

“It is worth considering a little more exactly the new ways in which distance does and does not matter… if you wish to be a high earner, learning from other well-educated people, geographic proximity is growing in importance, whether in companies or in leading amenities-rich cities or most likely both.” – Tyler Cowen, Average is Over

The notion that technology is driving society apart and that telecommuting is emptying out offices is increasingly challenged through both anecdotal and factual evidence. In fact, a recent New York Times Magazine article entitled "The Not-So-Lonely City" made the case that people observed in decidedly urban public spaces - New York's Bryant Park or the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - were more commonly seen in pairs or groups, and that the relatively few people who were engrossed in their smartphones were simply passing time.

While the debate rages on in terms of housing trends favoring the suburbs or city living, there is little doubt that cities remain critical, and desirable, gathering points for society. Like the ancient Greek agora - literally "gathering place" - cities remain centers of commercial, athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life. That is not to say that suburban or rural environments entirely lack such activity, but by nature it is not as concentrated.

Individual preference will continue to ensure that a range of environments are available to satiate social - or anti-social - predilections. But, technology has enabled society to share more and discover more collectively, and has not walled individuals off from each other.