Explorations of Manuel Castells' "space of flows".
- Felix Stalder: Understanding the Space of Flows: Towards a Political Economy of (Financial) Networks - My interests are in computer-based communication networks--the space of flows--, political economy and finance, in decreasing order of importance. This means that I treat political economy as the toolbox to study such networks, a toolbox from which I pick quite freely the specific analytical concepts that can enhance the comprehension of networks, whereas finance serves purely as the field for such an analysis.
- CTHEORY: The Logic of Networks - The common theme underlying the diversity of regional and sectoral patterns of economic change is the incorporation of the new informational mode of development into the modes of production in their historically determined heterogeneity of institutional arrangements. Its most distinct result is the emergence of what Castells calls the space of flows: the integrated global networks. They comprise several connected elements: the private
networks, the company Intranets; the semi-public, closed and proprietary networks such as the financial networks; and the public, open networks, the Internet. It is this space of flows vis-a-vis which the social organization constitute themselves.
- Worlds of Large Cities: Pondering Castells' Space of Flows - Global city formation in third world cities can be viewed as defining new core places, implying a network rather than zonal conception of the core concept. This recognises the real increase in power and wealth in selected third world cities which is confused by Castells when he links this to megacities. From a world city perspective, the space of flows has not despatched uneven development to history but it is in the process of creating a distinctively new uneven globalization.
- World City Network Formation in a Space of Flows - The place where we might expect to find discussion of new geographies under conditions of globalization is where erosion of state powers are discussed. However states are typically contrasted with transnational corporations and their institutional advantages and disadvantages compared. Such comparisons continue to take as their starting point the world divided into sovereign states; the spatial mosaic of state territories is the taken-for-granted geographical framework for study. Such embedded statism undermines our abilities to fully
appreciate that spatial rescaling involves upheavals in spatial organisation of human activities. It is not that states are disappearing or even necessarily becoming less important, rather the point is that we can no longer assume that states are going to continue to be the prime geographical scale where command and power, and where identity and loyalty, routinely operate. Diverting our attention from states as institutions to the role of states as key providers of the spatial organisation of the modern world enables us to ask questions about alternative geographies of organisation; instead of institutional comparison to corporations we can make geographical comparisons with world cities.
- Review of Castells, The Information Age - In this review, I shall proceed as follows. First, I will try to convey a
general picture, or impression, of Castells' magnum opus by citing from the publishers' summaries, and from some of his own summary passages in the book. I will then concentrate on a single phrase of Castells - "space of flows", his most famous phrase - and try to uncover its meaning by tracing it, in a kind of backward narrative, to
its first occurrence in his work, in the essay "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life" written in 1982. "Crisis..." was a highly interesting and important essay; I will summarize its main theses, and then follow up those theses, this time in a forward narrative, through some of Castells's main writings, arriving at the book The Information Age once more. My concluding questions at that stage will be: what is new in the book? what has changed? what is its basic message?
- Thesis Proposal: Cultural Infrastructures in the Space of Flows - The space of flows directs the formation of a global field of interactive places and intense economic and cultural flow that favour the peripheral sprawl of cities and fierce inter-urban competition. In such a context, the logic of cities is absorbed by the networks they belong to. My purpose here is to highlight the potential of cultural infrastructures in articulating global flows or trends, and simultaneously catalyse the various local forces, providing cities with a sustained connection to trans-national systems and infrastructures.
- Networks, Communication Technologies, and the Reorganization of Urban Space: Challenges for Analyzing the Case of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - The purpose of our paper is to raise questions about the ongoing transformations of modern societies into so-called "network societies" -- a debate recently stimulated by the books of Manuel Castells about the
Information Age, the rise of network society, and the new roles of governance. We intend to present initial results of an investigation into the transformation of the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area. The case of Rio de Janeiro will illustrate the special conditions of a metropolitan area where the diffusion of the new technologies tends to create new forms of social, economic, and political integration, but simultaneously exclusions, too.
- Michael W. Longan - Geography, Community, and Cyberspace. Presented at the 1997 meeting of the AAG - A portion of the research for my doctoral dissertation which is concerned with
the ways that people construct local communities in the present era of global, economic, social, and technological change. Today my specific focus is upon how people in cities and towns in the United States have begun to use interactive computer mediated communications technologies to construct community computer networks. These are also known as public access networks, Freenets, and electronic villages among other names.
- Shaping the space of flows: urban economies and information and communication technologies - In his groundbreaking work on the informational society Castells developed a sophisticated line of reasoning to suggest the logic of the space of flows is superseding that of the space of places. Castells' concept of the space of flows is dependent on an analysis of the interactions between structures and actors whose behaviour, strategy and policy shape the way informationalism takes hold in society. He argues how this interaction is producing a dominant tendency "toward a horizon of networked, ahistorical space of flows, aimed at imposing its logic over scattered, segmented places, increasingly unrelated to each other". This raises important points for academics and practitioners alike concerning how local places, or more specifically urban actors, are to respond to the space of flows. Based on two urban economies in a traditional industrial region, three important features of the space of flows are examined in this paper.
- The Creative City's New Field Condition - If in the Network Society the production of culture has become pervasive and its main content will be produced by new culture industries, then the actors of these industries will define the climate or culture of production they will have to be in control of their environment. Urban development that in future wants to attract these industries, or in other words to become a "creative city", will have to have a distributed decision making system, it will have to operate as a complex adaptive system. Complex systems survive because they anticipate, and a transparent medium such as a wired network helps them anticipate.
- Remarks on the Relation between Social Science and ICT - Technological, economic, political, and societal developments have changed the 'research object' of social sciences, and they surely challenge a wide range of 'modern' concepts, models and theories. Indeed, the meanings and references of such concepts as 'society', 'social structure', 'interaction', 'democracy', etc. need to be redefined.
- Restructuring the City: Thoughts on Urban Patterns in the Information Society - The question is simple and profound. How will the flow of information restructure Nordic cities? If the question is simple, the path to an answer is complex. The structure of information is based on the interaction of flows rather than of places. Human action is connected to places as well as to the information that flows through them. Thus it is that cities and their relationships will inevitably be redefined in the information age. How will the flow of information restructure cities such as Oslo and Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen? We will the flow of information restructure small cities such as Haugesund and Joensuu? How will information affect the rural areas, crossroads and hamlets of the Nordic nations, where so many people live.
- Giddens on Castells - According to Castells, space organises time in the network society. The new spatial order is a "space of flows". quite different from the "space of places" to which we have been accustomed. People still cluster in specific locales, but these clusterings take their shape from their involvement in global networks. Consider the City of London. The City has been in roughly the same area for many years. It would seem there is a simple continuity from the 19th century to the present day. For Castells, however, this is not so. The changing physical structure of the City over recent years, with its dazzling variety of unorthodox architectural creations, is now dominated by its position in global electronic money markets. London, New York and Tokyo form a financial trading network, carrying on an endless series of transactions. Physical proximity and highly concentrated transactions remain important and even acquire increasing significance - but they have their origin in globalised information flows. They are no longer "places", where "place" is defined as a locale, the form and meaning of which are contained within its boundaries.
- Telecommunications Technology and American Rural Development in the 21st Century - According to Castells, space organises time in the network society. The new spatial order is a "space of flows". quite different from the "space of places" to which we have been accustomed. People still cluster in specific locales, but these clusterings take their shape from their involvement in global networks. Consider the City of London. The City has been in roughly the same area for many years. It would seem there is a simple continuity from the 19th century to the present day. For Castells, however, this is not so. The changing physical structure of the City over recent years, with its dazzling variety of unorthodox architectural creations, is now dominated by its position in global electronic money markets. London, New York and Tokyo form a financial trading network, carrying on an endless series of transactions. Physical proximity and highly concentrated transactions remain important and even acquire increasing significance - but they have their origin in globalised information flows. They are no longer "places", where "place" is defined as a locale, the form and meaning of which are contained within its boundaries.
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