Wired: How Email Brings You Closer to the Guy in the Next Cubicle

19th January, 2008

As a columnist (which is fancy for “journalist in jammies”), I ought to personify the conventional wisdom that distance is dead: All I need to get my work done is a place to perch and a Wi-Fi signal. But if that’s true, why do I still live in London, the second-most expensive city in the world?
If distance really didn’t matter, rents in places like London, New York, Bangalore, and Shanghai would be converging with those in Hitchcock County, Nebraska (population 2,926 and falling). Yet, as far as we can tell through the noise of the real estate bust, they aren’t. Wharton real estate professor Joseph Gyourko talks instead of “superstar cities,” which have become the equivalent of luxury goods — highly coveted and ultra-expensive. If geography has died, nobody bothered to tell Hitchcock County.
Maybe it’s because society hasn’t wholeheartedly accepted the idea of working remotely. Or perhaps communications technology just isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. After all, the journalists and consultants who tell us that location is insignificant are biased. Like me, they’re the people whose lives have been most transformed by the Internet and cell phones.
But I think the truth is more profound than either of those glib explanations: Technology makes it more fun and more profitable to live and work close to the people who matter most to your life and work…

Continued, subscription-free, at Wired.

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