Cities, Regions and Internet Infrastructure in Europe
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Chapter 1: Introduction
The main aim of this book is to study the geography of the Internet infrastructure in Europe and highlight not only the strong spatiality of the Internet, but also how it affects and is affected by real-world geography. Using Castells’s (1996) “space of flows” as the main theoretical vehicle and drawing upon his seminal work, effort is spent in order to understand and explain the geography and highlight the regional economic impacts of the Internet infrastructure in Europe. The infrastructural element which is under study here is the international backbone network in Europe, aggregated at the level of the city-region. This backbone network consists of the long-haul links, which connect long-distance destinations and are responsible for the global character of the Internet (e.g. Malecki 2004). The resulting outcome is a study of the participation of the European city-regions in this global infrastructural network. Epistemologically, this book is placed in the emerging field of Internet geography or cybergeography, which is a branch of the field of communications geography focusing on the geographical aspects of the Internet. It feeds the discussion about the relationship between geographic space – the cities and regions – and this supporting layer of the cyberspace identified as the cyberplace (Batty 1997). Using Castells’s (1996) framework, this book is concerned with the first and supporting layer of the space of flows.