How are globalization and communication interrelated to each other in a ‘global village’? ‘Global village’ is a term introduced by the Canadian scientist Marshall McLuhan in 1964, which refers to the idea that mass communication allows the world to be interpreted as a village (Murray, 2006). McLuhan was the first person to introduce the concept of a global village and to define its social effects. His insights were innovative at the time and influenced the opinions of people about media, technology and communications. McLuhan chose the words ‘global village’ to point out that “the world has become compressed and electrically contracted, so that the globe is no more then a village” (Murray 2006, p. 31). The idea of the global village closes the distance between countries, as an event experienced in one part of the world can be witnessed in other parts of the world as well. It establishes an image of the world where information can be shared across borders. The World Wide Web can be seen as one of the expressions of the global village.
All these developments point to an intensified global connectedness and the beginning of the world as an interdependent system. As is made clear, more and more people are involved in global systems of consumption and have access to global networks of communication (Knox & Marston, 2007). In the Netherlands, nowadays many people have access to global networks of communication. In 2008, 86 per cent of all the households have access to the World Wide Web (CBS, 2008).
What is most significant about the latest developments in communications is that they are not only global in reach, but are also able to influence the local scale; it works in two ways. As this influence occurs, some places that are distant in kilometres are becoming close together, while some that are close in terms of absolute space are becoming more distant in terms of their ability to reach each other in a virtual way. Globalization is changing the way time-space operates and is being thought of. Time-space geography has formed an important subject since the work of Torsten Hägerstrand (1986) who is the founder of the behavioural approach within time-geography. Building on this framework, there are three ways of thinking geographically about the relationship between time and space (Murray 2006):
- time-space convergence (refers to the friction of distance between places)
- time-space distanciation (stretching of social systems across time and space)
time-space compression (destruction of space through time)
Especially the second one, time-space distanciation is relevant according to social network site Hyves, as time-space distanciation refers to the stretching of social systems across time and space. The term was introduced by sociologist Anthony Giddens and refers to the interlinking of people and places over increasingly large distances. Like McLuhan, Giddens points out that people interact in two ways; face to face, and over larger distances through communication technologies. The second has become important, as it is ‘distanciating’ the relations between people: people (or social networks) that were previously distinctive have become connected and interdependent. In this way, people who are not actually present in absolute space can be important social actors. This process does not lead to homogenization, Giddens says. What he wants to make clear is that people have the possibility to reorganize global scale systems instead. By releasing the control of local practices, social activity becomes disconnected from the context of presence (Murray, 2006 and Benko & Strohmayer, 1997).
As is made clear, globalization in general has been and still is a much-discussed phenomenon. In his book ‘the Globalization of Nothing’ (2004) Georg Ritzer divides the term globalization into ‘grobalization’ and ‘glocalization’. The following two descriptions give an explanation of both terms and they are being discussed in relation to social network sites, with in particular Hyves.