The Shapes of Spaces — Technopoles

Like the industrial revolution, the economic revolution connected to advances in ICTs has had major impacts on urban areas. Physical reconfigurations, as well as economic shifts related to shifts in capital, have marked cities all over the world.
Montreal’s Cite Multimedia, seen from above

During the dot-com boom, the prefix “cyber” became synonymous with instant capital (Mosco, 2004). In the past twenty years, the global cities described by Sassen (2001) have received an influx of techno-capital, and “technopoles” have emerged, shaped by the enormous capital that was (and still is) attached to the development of internet networks and content. Silicon Valley in California, Silicon North in Ottawa, India’s Bangalore/Hyperabad region emerged as powers specifically because of their high-tech industries, while New York’s Silicon Alley and the Soho region of London augmented their traditional power through a new association with ICT-related capital, labour, and infrastructure. Whether centred in new or old technopoles, the infrastructure developed and extended in that period has had lasting effects. Zook (2001) describes how the development of North American technopoles can be measured by the number of domain names registered in each location: New York, Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles areas had the highest concentration of domain names, in line with their burgeoning technology and entertainment industries. These locations, where specialized human resources combined with high levels of infrastructure development, have “fixed” large amounts of dot-com capital.

However, capital fixity has not just meant consolidation in global cities but also attempts by second- and third-tier cities to attract cyber-capital. Sometimes this has taken the form of developing “cyber’ identities for these regions. The Siliconia Website lists 105 locations with appellations including Silicon Swamp (two different cities in Florida) Silicon Plain (Bangalore) and Silicon Parkway (both the Garden State Parkway and an area in Connecticut). The competition for these monikers points out the importance of the “cyber” association for local governments hoping to cash in on the rush of digital capital in the 1990s. However, successfully attracting and retaining that capital requires significant investment by municipalities, and as explored above, most second-tier cities lack the influential social networks to really profit from their dot-com connections. Despite this, many cities, even second-tier ones, have experienced changes related to the presence and increasing influence of ICT-linked capital and infrastructure.