Top of the world, ma!

Last week, Tyler Brule spoke at Nokia. One of the suggestions he made for societal trends to watch was that of an informal, ‘top-of-the-world’ cultural confederation forming; knitting Vladivostock, Sapporo, Vancouver, Rekyjavik, Helsinki and Beijing, and points between, somehow.

It seemed a bold claim, but I thought there might be something in it – already Helsinki Vantaa airport is a major stopover hub for flights between Europe and China / Japan.

Later the same week I read a story in the Economist [Subscription required, sorry] about one of the consquences of global warming being that the Northwest Passage would de-ice and become a viable route for shipping all year round.

Such a route would shave something like 4000 kilometres off the existing Panama Canal route between Europe and Asia. The story left me a little dumbstruck, as for one thing, it pictured global warming not as catastrophy (which it undoubtedly will lead to many of) but as a matter-of-fact that will reconfigure human geographies, commerce and culture.

Trade routes, until the advent of telecommunications, had enormous influence on culture. In the age of the internet, would a top-of-the-world commerce result in a top-of-the-world cultural continuum as suggested by Tyler Brule?

0 comments
  1. Andrew said:

    Global warming as terraforming practice run, then?

  2. Chris said:

    I’m particularly excited about this, because trade routes brings immigration, and culture. Pre-Internet, trade routes were the quickest way to move food, goods, language and ideas from one continent to another. I still think that physical movement accelerates cultural collaboration, even in this everything everywhere time. Bring on the reindeer donburi and the poutine!

  3. Speaking for Vancouver, we’d be in (though, note: Vancouver is south of London).

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