London or Manchester? Wasn’t this technology meant to make geography irrelevant?


So I've been considering moving to Manchester (Salford) for a while. For those who don't know, the BBC is moving a good part of its workforce and operation to the Salford area. Most of it will be up and running by 2012 but my department is moving up earlier. So there's some serious benefits to moving up earlier including cheaper housing and more choice about where to live. The idea of MediaCity:UK hub is nice but these types of projects can go ether way. The new BBC Scotland offices at Pacific Quay is actually really nice, but some people I have spoke to don't like the location or building. Some people have already moved up to Manchester but the question that plagues me is, should I leave the amazing city of London for Manchester? What would you guys do?

Why does it matter where I work, when most of my job involves online presence? And would you believe it or not a future tense podcast got me thinking…

Why technology has not trumped geography


Economist Tim Harford argues against the notion that computers, the Internet, cell phones and other technology have made or will make geography any less relevant.

In his new book The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World, Harford argues that in some ways, where you work and live is more important than ever, thanks to the technology that was supposed to make the whole concept of place irrelevant.

I guess this is consistent with what Richard Florida and Paul Graham have been saying for years too. A long time ago I believed we could work remotlely and do meeting via im and video conferencing. I tried it and it didn't work, even for someone like myself. Hence social events are huge and there's little better that chatting to people face to face over a drink or a meal. Now I'm starting to rethink my thoughts about setting up hotspots of creativity in the middle of nowhere. Is setting up shop in the middle of Salford going to really pull the creative people? Or are we going to get a office of pension watchers? Who knows?

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and