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“When Everything Is in the Cloud, What Does ‘Place’ Mean?”

That was a quote from the inaugural Gigabit City Summit courtesy of Josep Piqué, Director Strategic Sectors – 22@Barcelona during the wrap-up section of the inaugural Gigabit City Summit. Amid so much great discussion and information sharing during the global conversation, this comment from Josep Piqué stood out to me as a very rich, life-changing strategic question in the years immediately ahead.

As more of the “things” we work and play with are digitized, they have the potential to become omnipresent. When you start to digitize organizations and the structural elements that give organizations their presence and power? Well then, if not all, than a whole bunch of bets are off.

This was exactly the point that Simon Kuo raised when the early Building the Gigabit City results were shared. Simon talked about how education and businesses will be turned over as physical structure is completely re-envisioned.

These points got me thinking about some of the areas affected if “places” becomes irrelevant. I will admit, this list is not based on extensive research or philosophical exploration. I simply started a list of ideas about what place might mean and some of the related areas that could start to change.

What Does Place Mean?

Place is where someone or something is from . . .

  • It shapes a person or object’s history and background
  • It’s somewhere you stay or leave and may return to in the future

Place is where people meet and congregate . . .

  • Governing happens
  • Learning happens there
  • Information and opinions are shared
  • Spiritual beliefs are celebrated
  • Friends are made

Place is where functions are carried out . . .

  • People work
  • Marriages happen and families are created
  • Money is saved, spent, and invested
  • Teaching and learning happen

Place is where people are entertained . . .

  • Movies are shown
  • Concerts are performed
  • Sports are contested

Place is where goods and services are consumed . . .

  • Goods are sold and bought
  • Medical treatment is provided

Places are where people reside . . .

  • Property is sold, bought, and owned
  • They are defended
  • People live, raise families, and are buried
  • Taxes are paid

How would you change this list?

There are clearly duplications and omissions among this list inspired by Josep Piqué and Simon Kuo. Would you help build and improve it by sharing your ideas on what “place” means and how it shapes our lives today . . . and will in the future? – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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8 Responses to “Gigabit City Summit Idea: When Everything Is in the Cloud, What Does “Place” Mean?”

  1. John Caswell says:

    Mike a great and thought provoking article as always. As you allude – very few of these require a place in the bricks and soil sense of the idea. Digital mchanisms are rapidly replacing many of them. So in the spirit of Singularity does that just leave human contact… What is the list (and it does include some of these) that REALLY requires human contact as that may define place. That presupposes things that demand touch and smell and taste but not visual or aural senses….it’s a major concept as even these are rapidly being digitised too.

  2. Mike Brown says:

    Lisavieta Andrade (@andradelis): Tangible space where we create the intangible? RT @Brainzooming: Fill in the blank: Place is_____. ow.ly/cuEmw #cloud #virtual #ideas— Lisavieta Andrade (@andradelis) July 25, 2012

  3. Joe Tierney says:

    Great post Mike. Absolutely love it! This is a conversation I’ve been having (or at least have been trying to have) for the past few years. While the idea of a physical place may mean less, a digitized place itself becomes much more powerful. This transformation can flip work and play on their heads.

    This is a transition that takes most organizations that move to the cloud the better part of a year+ to really understand – what does it mean when a file becomes a “place” instead of a “thing”? Instead of passing a “thing” around the office, compiling information to create and then distribute another thing – a process that can take a week+ – we can meet at the place and create simultaneously. Instead of “get this thing back to me by Friday”, we can “let’s all go to this place and do this now”.
    I think newer services take this to another level – the combination of a file becoming a place as well as the ability to create a virtual meeting place. The combination of Google Hangouts and Docs for example. 10 people video chatting while simultaneously creating.
    Sociologist Ray Oldenburg developed the idea of these “Third Places” (not the home or the office), impromptu meetings in somewhat unstructured gatherings. These “third places” have played an oversized role in the history of new ideas, innovation and creativity.

    This blog post for example is a place. This is what makes blogging such a powerful medium compared to predecessors like a pamphlet – a thing. The physicality of “place” may be less relevant but places themselves are playing a larger role than ever! Very exciting changes to think about.

  4. Sherb13 says:

    This reminds me of a lecture I attended recently based on Einstein’s theory of relativity …

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