--> Gill Blog: Urban Telecommunities

Gill Blog

Monday, July 10, 2006

Urban Telecommunities

Urbanization is a feature topic in the Harvard International Review this month. The lead article, The Future of Urbanization, is written by N.J. Slabbert who, among other engagements, is an advisor to the Telework Coalition, a Washington DC-based ressearch group.
Urban Telecommunities As Regional Growth Engines

A good microcosmic example is an initiative to develop the town of La Plata, Maryland, into a pioneering telecommunity (E-Burb or wired suburb), presenting significant implications for the future of greater Washington, DC, as well as for urban regions throughout the United States, for which the La Plata project offers a growth engine model. The project envisages a telework community in which many residents will remain physically in La Plata while working virtually in DC or elsewhere, linked around the clock by fiber-optic internet and video. The project's controlling idea is a telecommunity concept developed by Dr. J.J. Hellman.

This "urban telecommunity" is not telecommuting as commonly understood—employees working from home occasionally or a loose network of geographically separated people linked periodically by the internet—but a formal group of substantial size, whose members, both remote and proximate, are continuously connected via a combination of on-screen and other contacts for public or private purposes of collegial cooperation, with most members sharing a common geographical locale. The idea of a dedicated social organization using teletechnology in this way to support a widely distributed urban workforce, metropolitan services infrastructure, and rurally located small community is an innovation of far-reaching practical and theoretical importance. It brings into useful illustrative convergence a cluster of concepts that together portends a new era in urban philosophy, embracing information technology as a positive and crucial contributor to both the social and infrastructural architectures of community.

Read the whole article to learn more about how teletechnology is shaping a new urban order.


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