by Timothy Lee
Wed, Jan 23rd 2008 12:41am
One of the most common themes of writing about the Internet is that it's going to make geography irrelevant. There's clearly something to this. I'm writing this post in St. Louis, and before it goes live it will be looked over by Mike, who's normally in the Bay Area but is in Scotland this week. Still, Tim Harford has an interesting essay arguing that the Internet can also make geography more important by increasing the value of living in a high-density area. He gives online dating as an example: in the old days, a single guy living in New York might have several million single women to choose from, but with no way to quickly sift through all those options, the New York dating scene wouldn't be noticeably better than other cities. But now, with online dating, people have much more sophisticated tools to sift through the options and find someone who perfectly matches their interests, age, religious and political beliefs, etc, before they ever meet. I've personally noticed the high cost of not living in a major city. I've met a number of people online through a shared interest in technology policy, and almost all of them live in the DC, San Francisco, or New York metropolitan areas. So while the Internet has made it possible for me to write from anywhere, it's also made me more acutely aware of what I'm missing by not living in a larger metro area.
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