Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hamilton, Social Media and Decentralization

I was reading this CBC Hamilton article on food trucks in the city where it mentions Hamilton is ahead of Toronto with regards to food trucks. Amazing that city council is more competent than Toronto's for food truck licensing, but then again Hamilton's council isn't as ideological as Toronto's.

The point in the article about social media helping got me thinking about centralization in Ontario. When I'm talking about centralization, what I mean here is the concentration of various commercial and government interests in the capital Toronto, often to the detriment of Hamilton. The head offices of the banks are in Toronto and all that entails, most of the Ontario government ministries and their relatively highly paid workers (especially with Ontario's weak private sector) are in Toronto. Further various media is heavily concentrated in Toronto, from the CBC to TSN.

I've ranted before on this blog that as a Hamiltonian advocating increased government spending at the federal and provincial level isn't really a good deal for Hamilton, as a big portion of the money ends up getting siphoned off into good jobs for Torontonians and Ottawans. Sure those ideas come off as so much right wing crankery, but it's hard to argue that Hamilton's slow economic decline since the 60's has coincided with increased share of GDP of the federal and provincial governments. This applies to to other cities in Ontario, like London, Windsor, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and the various Niagara cities.

So what does this centralization have to do with food trucks and social media? I would say that social media, especially Twitter is a powerful force for decentralization. People in Hamilton can go around old media, especially those located in Toronto and can communicate what's important to them whether it is local food trucks or something else. Consumption of old media has been decreasing with the popularization of the internet, with a decrease in old media jobs which is going to hurt Toronto far more than Hamilton.

At the same time, with the Harper government being adverse to more spending, that's bad for Ottawa for jobs. With Ontario's massive deficit problems, that's bad for Toronto for jobs. Hamilton will be less effected by this government restraint.

Hamilton does seem to be doing better over the past few years, especially considering the economic problems across the globe over the same period. Is social media solely responsible? Obviously not, but it is part of a larger trend where Hamiltonians do things for themselves and don't rely on the feds or province or centralized commercial interests.

Disjointed rant over. On the way to Open Streets on James, hopefully to find a food truck.

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