Major cities in the information world: monitoring cyberspace in real-time
Faculty of Applied Economics
Loughborough :Loughborough University, Department of Geography, Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network, 2009
GaWC research bulletin ; 308
In this paper, we introduce a relatively new approach to identify cities in the current Information Age. Mindful of Manuel Castellss call for a new spatial logic, we argue that the informational flow characteristics of contemporary inter-city connections has to be taken into account when measuring the importance of cities. However, while recent information-based studies on urban networks are valuable additions to the global urban systems literature, we would argue that there remains a lack of up-to-date and updatable measures of information flows that acknowledge that these flows are intangible and not simply embodied in people (in the case of airline network analysis) or places (in the case of studies that focus on the physical, enabling infrastructure of electronic communications). In order to understand m ore about cities and their relative positions in the Information World, we should study not only tangible informational infrastructures and their associated material flows between places, but also the cyberspaces of cities in relation to digital information. To illustrate our approach, we introduce and argue for Web search engine databases as appropriate datasets for examining the growing importance of knowledge as a raison dêtre for a citys economic ranking on national, regional, and global scales. Based on a quantitative and qualitative hyperlink analysis utilizing the leading and de facto standard Web search engine Google, we derive real-time informational rankings of the worlds 100 largest cities in respect of two prominent current issues global in scope: the global financial crisis, and global climate change. It shows amongst others that traditional, developed Western cities are most prominent in terms of the environmental measures while in terms of the financial criteria, new Asian financial centers are ranked more highly. The paper is concluded by outlining an agenda for further work on the hyperlink-based informational city rankings.