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?