In computing, Moore’s Law stated that the overall processing power of a computer would double every two years. This has literally powered the start of a wave of technological development, whose social impact is unfathomable, especially if we remember we are still the same cognitive creatures we were hundreds of years ago, when things changed at a far slower pace. This is both frightening and exciting and has accelerated the outcome of international capitalism – globalisation; that great sway of moving things, from people to pins.
Around 2009, more people lived in cities and urban areas, than in rural parts for the first time in history. Partly explained by population growth it is also to do with mass migration to the expectant honeypots of city life, both in home countries and abroad. Those who work in the cities, sometimes leaving their families for many months or even years, send much needed money back to family members who are no longer able to make a living from the countryside. In the Philippines for example, ten percent of its population work overseas, generating some $25 billion in remittances to their home economy (10% of its GDP). But I have always wondered what of the country without the ten percent of its population. What effect can this have?
Mike Gallagher’s powerful poem, Paraic and Jack and John, tells a familiar story of the Irish diaspora, who have left to go to the UK, America and elsewhere, and the gap this left for those still living in Ireland. “not too many options there,/the bus up Gowlawám,/the train to Westland Row./Holyhead gave them choices:/Preston? Ormskirk? Cricklewood?” These men traversed the 260 mile long A5 road that runs from Holyhead on the Welsh island of Anglesey all the way to London and the Kilburn Road. (more…)