Making a mark

Walking around Toronto this morning I was struck yet again how alien cities on the American content can feel to those of us from Europe. It is like walking around inside a 3D Sim City. I always feel intimidated by the scale and impersonal nature of the architecture and this time was struck by just how much the corporate world is allowed to dominate the physical space over here.

This got me thinking of the different ways some of us choose to make our mark on the world. For some their choice is physical and imposing, building immense structures and slapping their names on the side of them. For others it is taking on massive challenges. Waking past an old sailing ship moored in the harbour I was struck by the courage of those who discovered this continent , literally risking life and limb for their achievements.

I also know that it is really ideas that change and shape our worlds before anything concrete manifests itself. I love what I do and feel honoured that I get the opportunity to inspire people to use social media to do whatever it is they are trying to achieve but it is certainly different from building skyscrapers or sailing across the world!

12 thoughts on “Making a mark

  1. Concrete, steel, and neon lights soon fade. Advancing the connectivity, communication, and (dare I say) democratic aspirations of (at least some) humans is an awesome thing. Call me crazy; call me Pollyanna. I am convinced social media portends a sea change in the way just about everything political, economic, and social gets done.No doubt being at the tip of the spear is both exhilarating and painful. Glad you’re there. Thanks.Rick

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  2. If you walk east on Front St from the Fairmont for just 10 minutes, you will come to the St Lawrence Market neighborhood, which is quite antithetical to the financial district where your hotel is.

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  3. Thanks for kind comment Rick and thanks for the tip Jevon. It’s a bit drizzly out there at the moment but I’ll have a look next time I am out.

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  4. The Beaches is nice too … I’m 75 metres from a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Ontario, and the closest corporate logo or skyscraper is quite a ways off .. by just how much the corporate world is allowed to dominate the physical space over hereThat’s maybe 30 or 40 square blocks … not the whole city. Not to negate your point re: corporate world’s domination of physical space. That’s certainly more visible, as you point out, in North American cities.Mebbe in places like Mayfair the domination is just more discreet .. but no less present or powerful ?

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  5. I’d agree that the corporate world affects British life too Jon but the visual impact is less. True if I was in the city of London there would be skyscrapers but they tend not to have bloody great logos on them and, thanks to the fire of London, they still have to fit into the rabbit warren of streets around there! I guess I am just harking back to my old Cotswold Villages vs Milton Keynes theme.

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  6. I think you miss something of Toronto by concentrating on the Corporate. One of the surprising things about Toronto is how many people live in the tower blocks so near to the corporate. Yes they may have a large weekend "cottage" but there is human to human networking going on in Toronto during the weekdays and evenings.The other thing I find fascinating is how there seems to be a relationship between the amount of space available in a country and the height of the buildings. It is counter intuitive yet generally true. Hong Kong is an exception but there is a whole heap of land around many tall american cities.

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  7. I had a very nice meal with friends in the suburbs last night and whenever I am in a city I make a point of going long walks in whatever natural environment there is. This post wasn’t meant to be about Toronto and Rick seems to have been the only one who realised that!!

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  8. I recently visited Egypt and while wandering around Luxor Temple and other monuments that have survived for in excess of 3000 years, I could not help wondering what folk in 5010 years will marvel at from 2010. I guess radioactive waste will still be around.

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  9. Really enjoyed your talk this evening at the iSchool Institute . . . Thank you for sharing your insights on social networking and the challenges practitioners face when pursuing its adoption in corporate environments.Hope you enjoy your stay in Toronto . . . appreciate your comments about the scale of things North American relative to Europe . . . although London is a major metropolis its always felt to me as if things are on a much more human scale thereBoth my wife and I were born in the UK and visit family there as often as we can . . . between visits we make extensive use of tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch with family and friends around the world

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  10. On North American vs European architecture and public spaces: that’s one of the many reasons I like going to Europe as often as possible. Older cities (in Canada, established before 1900; in Europe, different time scales would apply) are so much more interesting and stimulating than new cities. Thanks for your talk tonight at the iSchool. Any chance you might want to take on an intern for your consulting projects? 🙂

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