via spaceandculture I found this short text by Felix Stadler, which makes some nice concise points in analysing the development and thus influence of the concept of space in times of flow …. (BTW … through passing this on along a line of via links the article shows its own movement through these indicators thus underlining some of the arguments stated within the text: In many ways, people are not ‘more connected’ than before, but rather, the connections which characterized dominant processes (even within the counter-culture) are increasingly made and maintained in the space of flows. … just as one among other points to relate to …
The ability to operate translocally in real-time has diffused through society at large, though quite unequally. Small firms, criminal organizations, social movements, and even individual people can network globally with relative ease. Thus, more and more places on which the social actors in these networks rely, are becoming decoupled from their local environments and determined by translocal flows of people, goods, money, and culture. These networks are highly specific. For one, they can easily adapt their components as changing demands or self-selected goals require. Thus, they only need to cooperate with those who match their own shared culture. Second, cultural specificity is not an option, but a functional requirement for networked organizations. Relying on adaption and cooperation, rather than command and control, they need to establish a distinct internal culture in order to build trust and facilitate communication. Corporate mergers, apparently, fail so often because the managers cannot fashion a new ‘corporate culture’ out of the two existing ones. In the process, the cultural differentiation between the networks is growing. From within the network, this appears as a process of integration and ‘community’ or ‘team’ building. From the point of view of physical space, which none of the network actors ever escapes, this appears as a process of fragmentation and of increasing isolation of social actors from one another, despite the fact that they might share the same physical space. This process has advanced to such a degree that it applies to the highly connected as well as to the disconnected. In fact, the two groups mirror each other. In many ways, people are not ‘more connected’ than before, but rather, the connections which characterized dominant processes (even within the counter-culture) are increasingly made and maintained in the space of flows. The flip side of this ability to forge translocal connections is that those connections made in the space of places are becoming weakened. There is no need to relate to others just because they are physically present. Rather, places (and people) can be bypassed, rendered invisible from the point of view of those operating through the space of flows. This new form of exclusion applies to whole regions, but also to particular neighborhoods. It works on all scales.
This situation poses a great challenge to the projects of ‘open societies’, understood simply as political system in which those in power are accountable for their actions to the public and the fundamental rights of all individuals are respected. Historically, the institutional foundation for open societies have been liberal democracies. These are built on the assumption that people who live in one territory share certain values, or, at least, certain experiences. This communality is the glue that holds together the body politic. It served as the ultimate frame of reference in the endless game of compromises that characterizes the open political processes. This communality, however, is eroding as space fragments. Contributing to this erosion is the retreat of the state from the life of citizens, leaving them to fend for themselves. Thus people migrate – sometimes voluntarily, sometimes forced – into new communities, making them increasingly unresponsive for compromise and consensus without which liberal democracies do not work.