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Shrinking World

Our ‘Shrinking World’ and the Forces  Driving Technological Innovation

What is meant by time space convergence?

1. Change in the perception of time and distance and virtual erosion of geographical barrier due to improvement in transport and communication technology in recent times.
2. Virtual shrinkage Physical reduction of time taken to travel between two places due to improvement and major advances in transport and communication system. This has significantly reduced the impact of geographical barriers separating countries and people.
3. It is a process made possible by technological innovation in transportation and communication by which distant places are bought together in terms of the time taken to travel or send messages between them.
4. Heightened connectivity has changed our perception of time, distance and geographical barrier to the movement of people, goods, capital and information.
5. Anti-thesis to Distance Decay model and the concept of frictional effect of distance

This perceptual change has been described as time-space convergence by Janelle in 1968 and as time-space compression by Harvey in 1990. Harvey’s View of time space compression as an opportunity for global economic empire builder (TNCs) to search for new markets and profits.


Basic definitions:
Transport systems are the means by which materials, products and people are transferred from place to place.
Communication Systems are the ways in which information is transmitted from place to place in the form of ideas, instruction, messages, opinion, views and images. Before, the development of electricity in the 19th century information could only move at the same speed of a transport system carrying it. The development of telegraph and then telephone broke this link and established a new era.

Theoretical Explanation of time-space convergence

How time-space convergence was calculated by Janelle

Janelle plotted changing travel time between Edinburgh to London (approx. 600 km) in different historical time starting from industrial revolution and found how the space time shrinkage generates the perception of feel close together effect as a two week stage coach journey between Edinburgh to London in 1958 was ultimately superseded by an air travel lasting barely 2 hours. He concluded that the two cities had converged at an average rate of 30 minutes per year over a period of 200 years.

GIS and an element of ICT

Growth of air transportation

Evolution of air travel

GPS as an element of ICT

Anti-thesis to time space convergence

Distance decay model- describes the effect of distance on cultural or spatial interactions. It states that the interaction between two places declines as the distance between them increases. However, with the advent of faster travel, distance has less effect than it did in the past.

Frictional effect of distance by Tobler (professor at the university of California)– describes the force that creates distance decay. Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related to each other” is referred to as the “first law of geography’. Because of this “friction,” spatial interactions will tend to take place more often over shorter distances; quantity of interaction will decline with distance. Friction of distance is less in developed countries than in poor countries due to better transport infrastructure. It is also less in urban areas than in rural areas.

ICT: Evolution and Development

ICT (information and communications technology or technologies) is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and internet network, hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing, distance learning, E-voting, electronic commerce and do on.

What is Internet?
A worldwide computer network that can be accessed using computer, mobile telephone, digital TV, etc. The Internet access service can be provided through a fixed (wired) or mobile network: analogue dial-up modem or standard telephone line, ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or ADSL, Cable modem, High speed leased lines, Fiber optic, Satellite broadband network (SkyDSL in Germany), WiMAX, Mobile broadband network and so on.


Internet Revolution: How and why Internet network has grown over time

Military imperatives (political background) behind the development of new internet technology: Many of the major research and development were actually led by the military might and imperial ambition including several recent innovations in transport and communication. For example, development of Jet engine took place during the Second World War and the Korean conflict in 1950s. Communication satellites and major advances in GIS/GPS own much to the cold war after Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957 and entered into the era of space race with its rival super power USA. The origin of computing also has its root in wartime research and development, including German Z3 projects. Internet itself has significant military origin.

The Internet has revolutionized the field of communication like nothing before. The Internet is a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals through their computers without regard for geographic location. Internet is a widespread information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called Galactic Information Infrastructure. The technological evolution began with early research on packet switching and the ARPANET while the current research continues to expand the horizons of the infrastructure along several dimensions, such as scale, performance, and higher-level functionality

The role/use of internet in globalization (4minutes play)

Technical development of Internet

Satellite internet connecting the rural areas

Mobile Broadband Internet: Faster and efficient connectivity

J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 introduced his “Galactic Network” concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. The concept was very much like the Internet of today. Licklider was the first head of the computer research program at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of US). It started in California with a low speed dial-up telephone line creating the first wide-area computer network ever built. It became necessary to change circuit switched telephone system to packet switching .Plan for ARPANET was published in 1967. In ARPANET design was upgraded from 2.4 kbps to 50 kbps.DARPA wanted to build a networked system that could stretch across the United States linking governmental and scientific organizations using existing phone lines and four Interface Message Processors. For the first time, scientists could harness the power of multiple computers in remote locations. UCLA’s university computer were linked Stanford Research Institute computer ran on the Genie operating system. Computers were added quickly to the ARPANET during the following years, and work proceeded on completing a functionally complete Host-to-Host protocol and other network software.
The original ARPANET grew into the Internet. Internet was based on the idea that there would be multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design, beginning with the ARPANET as the pioneering packet switching network, but soon to include packet satellite networks, ground-based packet radio networks. LANs and resource sharing began to appear in the late 1970s.
Ethernet technology, developed by Bob Metcalfe in 1973, is now probably the dominant network technology in the Internet and PCs and workstations
World Wide web was born in 1990. The recent development and widespread deployment of the World Wide Web has brought with it a new community, as many of the people working on the WWW have not thought of themselves as primarily network researchers and developers. A new coordination organization was formed, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Initially led by Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the WWW) of the MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science.

Spatial diffusion of internet (including mobile internet)

  • As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, technology adoption remains one of the defining factors in human progress. There has been a noticeable rise in the number of internet and smartphone users over the past two years in the emerging and developing countries.
  • Global Internet usage is reshaping the way we access information and services online. Currently, more than 3.42 billion people worldwide access the internet in 2016. The majority of global internet users are located in Asia, with Europe following in second place. Currently, more than 11 percent of worldwide internet users access the web from North America.
  • Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection in 2016. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014.
  • China, the country with most users (642 million in 2014), represents nearly 22% of total, and has more users than the next three countries combined (United States, India, and Japan). By 2014, India has become one of the second largest internet users in the world with nearly 462 million users in 2016 mostly located in the urban areas. However, only 12% of the population has access to internet and only one-third of India’s internet users are from rural markets.
  • United States, Germany, France, U.K., and Canada have the highest rate of internet penetration with over 80% of population in these countries has an internet connection.
  • Internet usage is constantly increasing. Recent leaps in technological development, leading to the ubiquity of mobile technology, have fuelled the rise in internet activities. Some of the most popular online activities are social networking, online search, online video and online shopping.
  • The ever-expanding e-commerce market is a huge attraction to internet users worldwide, as shown in the growth of e-commerce volume and consumer spending in selected countries. Annual online spending as share of disposable income is a prime example of this change in shopping habits as a result of the internet.Smartphone Users Worldwide is around 2 Billion in 2016


Development of ICT is vital to global interaction

  • ICT has allowed cheap, reliable and almost instantaneous communications around most of the world, permitting the sharing of information on an unprecedented scale.
  • Civil society organizations (CSOs) are steadily and successfully applying ICT to the promotion human development. Well designed websites have made policy documents available online and allowed the formation of virtual communities of likeminded people.
  • Two way flow of information from government to people and people to government has made the success of e-democracy and e-governance. It signifies government providing information to the people and also interacting electronically with the citizens.
  • Expressing of common interest and public opinion has become easy, faster and effective.
  • On the other hand, political group running online also cater remote citizens working in a globalized world.
  • Media, portal search, social network sites help to form public opinion and awareness.
  • Linkage and flow of information have helped the civil society to act as a watch dog on global development and controls market by influencing public opinion.
  • Fan clubs are major issues in social networking. Companies are conducting public poll before launching any products or reviewing a product.
  • ICT has made a financial market revolution through electronic banking, shopping, selling, marketing, retailing and so on.Popularity and ease of e-cash has made the online business smooth and efficient. Civil societies may benefit as end receiver for example many organizations are able to accumulate global donations.
  • Virtual relationship has produced a qualitative shift in the way people are related to each other.


Critical aspects

  • Some authoritarian government have worked to restrict the use of ICT by civil society like the military government of Myanmaras it tries to isolate the country from the rest of the world.
  • Internet crime and sensitive data security are major concern as this may lead to the total malfunctioning of a system.
  • However, It is said that computer generation is suffering a sedentary lifestyle and that has led to the risk of life style diseases. Vitamin D deficiency and other related problems are very common among the children as they spend too much time on indoor pursuits.


Social Media

Click here to review a brief history of social media 

Evolution of the popular social media platform

Review the most popular social networks worldwide as of October 2019, ranked by number of active users



Digital Divide:

ICT Haves and Have-notsDigital divide signifies inequalities in access to ICT such as Internet, mobiles etc. It is a social, economic and political issue referring to the differing amount of information between those who have access to information and communication technology like Internet and those who do not have access to it.
Factors that creates digital divide are-Economic capabilities (measured by GNI per capita disposable income), Spatial location (rural urban set up and threshold population), disability and age (elderly population over 60s the so called ‘silver surfers’ display generation lag and lower adaptability to changing technology), government policy and level of democracy (for example internet censorship and restriction in North Korea), gender inequality (male female differences which in many cases may be a socio-cultural construction) and the level of education and literacy rate.

The Influence of the Physical environment on global interactions

Natural resource Availability and the potentially limiting effect of geographic isolation, at varying scales 

Consumption means using up of a resource.  Resource means anything that has functionality. It could be natural substances like water, wood or supply of skilled workforce.  Natural resources are components of the physical environment that are used to satisfy human needs and wants. Geographers are particularly concerned to study the balance between the availability of natural resources to its demand and consumption pattern. The role of technology and economy unlock resource potential. Resource exploitation led to the development of the Core-periphery relationship. Natural resource wealth does not necessarily trickle down to the poorest people of the country rather it may create civil war for the ownership over resources as in Sierra Leone over the control of the diamond trade or invasion of the foreign power in the form of neo-colonialism. This is known as ‘paradox of plenty’ or resource curse.

Who are the indigenous people and remote societies? How are they affected by global interaction? 

•Indegenous people are the original settlers of an area, living on that area for centuries and generally display close community ties and a close connection to the local ecosystem.
•Remote societies are the indegenous people of an area but mostly uncontacted and isolated communities. These are thecommunitiesthatlive without significant contact to the globalized world.
•Uncontacted communities are mostly located in densely forested areas in central Africa, Asia, Papua New Guinea and in South America….particularly separated by geographical barriers like dense forest, vast stretch of ocean such as islands at the considerable distance from the main land etc.
•The Sentineleseof Andaman Nicobar Island in India still continue to reject contact with other people.

Sentinelese of Andaman and Nicobar islands

Read Fobes Article (link here) on Who Are The Sentinelese?

Review this video (link here) and find out the impacts and responses of the tribes in Amazonia to globalization

The cultural identity of the Jarawa tribe of India is under serious threat

The Jarawas live in the west part of the south Andaman and Middle Andaman Island in India. They depend upon the forest and sea for hunting and gathering food. Recently they have been forced to establish contact with the outside world.  Their own cultural identity is under threat because of the following reasons:

  • Tourism and the construction of the Trunk road.
  • Encroachment into their territory has increased pressure on their land.
  • Exposing them to new diseases by contact with the outsiders to which they have no immunity.
  • Cheap flights to Andaman has increased the accessibility as a boost to Andaman tourism and an easy way to get there.

Remote communitiesand cultural contact: A case of ‘Neo-imperialism’

What happened?

Tibet is one of the most remote and isolated parts of the world (known as roof of the world).China attacked Tibet in 1950 and took control over its territory. The buddhist spiritual leader fled and sought refuge in India.Tibetan perceives Chinese invasion as a form of  imposed colonial rule and desire to have the political right to self-determination.

Threats to their own identity and culture:

The chinese government has encouraged  migration of the ethnic Han Chinese into the region. China-Tibet Railway  finished in 2005, encouraged migration of the Han people and increased military presence in the region. Tibet‘s resources are moved to urban industrial centres. Han Chinese are occupying all important administrative and better job positions.




Coronavirus has been labelled as a pandemic but a handful of countries have not yet reported any cases. Lesotho was the last African country free of COVID-19 but it has now confirmed its first case. In case of North Korea and Turkmenistan, the data is said to be manipulated. Due to the secretive nature of the government and the degree of state control over the media, it is impossible to tell the true side of the stories for these countries. In general, the countries escaped COVID-19 so far are mainly least globalized countries with remote and geographically isolated locations. These countries are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, North Korea, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu… Identify the locations of these countries on a map and discuss this statement.

Refer to the Aljazeera article on this topic.

Statista data showing which countries have escaped Coronavirus so far?


Reading suggestion and reference: Oakes Simon ‘Global interactions: Study and revision guide’ HL core extension, Hodder education.  SEE BLOW.  Page no. 38 (table 4.13) – How location affects connectivity?

Reading class work: Exam focus, pp-39-41 and try to answer the following question.

Q. Explain what is meant by time-space convergence? 12 marks

Q. Using examples, explain the relationship between transport innovation and reduced friction of distance. 12 marks

Q. ‘Time space convergence is largely a function of the economic forces’- Discuss this statement. 16 marks

Q. ‘Physical geography is the main reason why some places and communities are less connected than others’- Discuss this statement. 16 marks

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