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8. Face to face or teleconferencing?

I have been receiving a daily email called “Delancey Place” for several months now. Each day brings a page or so of ideas and analysis from some current book, usually about history, politics, or social science.  It is written from a secular perspective, but is consistently clean, informative, and relevant, although you will need to read critically, and occasionally simply delete the post from your mailbox. You can read it online, or subscribe to the feed at Here is a brief selection from a recent post, dealing with urbanization.

Edward Glaeser in Triumph of the City (Penguin Press, 2011). “Silicon Valley and Bangalore remind us that electronic interactions won’t make face-to-face contact obsolete. The computer industry, more than any other sector, is the place where one might expect remote communication to replace person-to-person meetings; computer companies have the best teleconferencing tools, the best Internet applications, the best means of connecting far-flung collaborators. Yet despite their ability to work at long distances, this industry has become the world’s most famous example of the benefits of geographic concentration. Technology innovators who could easily connect electronically pay for some of America’s most expensive real estate to reap the benefits of being able to meet in person.

“Statistical evidence also suggests that electronic interactions and face-to-face interactions support one another; in the language of economics, they’re complements rather than substitutes. Telephone calls are disproportionately made among people who are geographically close, presumably because face-to-face relationships increase the demand for talking over the phone. And when countries become more urban, they engage in more electronic communications.

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