A paper I worked on with Matt Zook and Lomme Devriendt has just been published in Journal of Urban Technology (Vol. 18, No. 1). The title of the paper is: Cyberspatial Proximity Metrics - Reconceptualizing Distance in the Global Urban System. I was very much a third author on this and the key conceptualisation and all the analysis was undertaken by Matt and Lomme.
You can download a copy of the paper here.
Abstract: In this paper we analyze how distances between a sample of a hundred major world cities varies when measured in cyberspace. The project develops a novel spatial statistical model based upon the number of user-generated placemarks indexed by Google Maps. We demonstrate how this metric captures the “invisible” patterns of intercity information flows and helps comprehend the contours of the complex digital network that exists between large urban centers across the world. Using a specially designed software program to interrogate Google Maps, a series of keyword searches (“tourism,” “business,” “hotel”) as well as each of the city names were conducted in each of the sample places. Comparing this digital measure with the material movement of people and other relevant descriptive variables, such as national economic development and language differences, we were able to provide a cogent model that plausibly explains why certain city pairs (especially those that are physically distant) exhibit strong informational linkages. While the strength of these digital connections undoubtedly demonstrates the continued importance of physical proximity and established transport infrastructures in the twenty-first century, one can also observe significant evidence for [new?] digital “wormholes” whi ch indicates that processes of globalization driven by online interaction also operates by its own rules.