This small posting is the first in a series related to the impact of globalization on the Midwestern city. Globalization is here, it is real, and it isn’t going away soon. It affects, or should affect, every consequential decision a city or company makes. It should even affect a lot of the decisions we make as individuals, such as what education or careers to pursue.
It’s hard to know how to react to globalization if you don’t know what it’s doing. If you don’t know what’s going on in the world and what it means, you are at a huge disadvantage. A lot of American media is, as we know, very parochial. So you’ve got to choose your reading material wisely to make sure you are getting what you need to stay abreast of what’s going on. Here are some suggestions I have in that regard.
First, it is essential to have a proper international news source. In my opinion, there are only two choices you have: the Financial Times, which I’ve often touted here, or The Economist. I personally take the FT. It has excellent global news, business, and commentary, as well as targeted but quality arts and culture coverage. Their FT Weekend edition on Saturday is a must.
For magazines, there are many choices, but one that comes to mind is Monocle. This newish title is published by Tyler Brûlé, who also founded Wallpaper magazine and writes a weekly column called The Fast Lane for the FT Weekend that appears on the back page of the Life and Arts section.
Monocle is really a lifestyle magazine focused on travel, culture, fashion, and design, aimed at the transnational elite that globalism has spawned. I recommend it above other similar magazines because it also has good business and political affairs coverage, often profiling cities and locations that are overlooked. Its coverage is truly global in scope. What’s more, understanding what the international hipster elite is up to is important, because their desires form, right or wrong, the benchmark against which “world cities” or “creative class cities” are measured. It should come as no surprise that Richard Florida is working with the title. You don’t have to be megarich to read, though it helps if you actually want to buy anything it profiles, nor do you have to agree with its tone, but the understanding of the benchmark for what the transnational winners of globalization have is invaluable.
This month, July/August 2008, is a particularly good read because it is dedicated to the question of what makes a livable city. Indeed, they pick their 25 most livable cities, get perspectives from mayors around the world, and create their own checklist of must have items. It’s a must read.
One caution, subscribing to this magazine is not recommended because the subscription price is far higher than the newsstand one.
Moving on from periodicals, there are a few books I’d highlight. One is of course Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat. I’ve also mentioned many times before Richard Longworth’s Caught in the Middle, which deals specifically with the affect of globalization on the Midwest. These two tomes should get your started. As I identify them, I will pass along additional must-reads.
As the saying goes, without awareness, there is no choice. Educating ourselves and being aware of what is going on in the world and with the process of globalization is the first step in being able to make intelligent choices about how to react to it.