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Will Davies

How about social exclusion? The point about the gulf between floating 'spaces' and rooted 'places' is (as Castells puts it) "elites are global; people are local". Crabtree and I have a piece in Renewal next month, explaining what the internet can do about this.

Gill Adams

For me, this is one of the most pressing questions of our age and may, it occurs to me now, be something to do with age itself, and the age/stage of policy-makers.

The problems associated with geographical space become much more apparent the older you become - even if you're elderly with a computer to hand, you're still a material being ever more rooted to the spot and increasingly unsupported by the 'floating' nature of community and ever more dependent on a material world which is diminishing in different ways.

One way to influence policy might be to make sure policy-makers live 'as though they are old' for a bit - that means sheltered accommodation, limited mobility, limited income, a great deal of time to fill. You could see this as the literal 'end-product' of our societal activities at the moment - but many of us would rather age were a 'richer' experience.

This is one reason why we believe that 'computer clubs' (one of hairnet.org's new ventures) should be rooted in the physical community. In my home virtual community, the end result of all our computer activity is often (still) a tombola stall outside Safeway's or something similar.

There was some work done by Harvard University years ago looking at indicators of community 'health' measured in various ways, eg crime stats, illnesses, etc. The only common indicator (a global project) was that 'healthy' communities had loads of clubs - whether bowls, snooker, crochet, political, faith - the type didn't matter. Their financial status was not an indicator!

Anyway, sorry for rambling a bit...I suppose I just agree with you both!

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