003 - Shrinking World - Communication

Geographic knowledge and understanding

Our 'shrinking world' and the forces driving technological innovation:

changing global data flow patterns and trends

patterns and trends in communication infrastructure and use

Key Concepts

The process of technological advancement has led to a decrease in the friction of distance and a 'shrinking world'.


  • To be able to describe and explain the changing global flow patterns and trends.

  • To be able to describe and explain the patterns and trends in communication infrastructure focusing on undersea telecommunication cables.

  • To be able to describe and explain how technological innovations have created a 'shrinking world'.

Key Terminology

            • Mobile internet traffic

            • Broadband and fibre optics

            • Global Positioning System (GPS)

            • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

            • Global Village - we will define this in activity one.

Define the words above by using the 'Useful Links' below.

Useful Links

Activity One - History

When discussing the idea of communication we are not just thinking about how we talk to each other these days, we also need to consider writing and therefore the range of different electronic communications we have.

      1. Create a timeline to show the key developments in communication. Make sure you include the following key inventions - telegraph, telephone, radio, TV and the internet.

      2. A Canadian thinker in the 1960s called Marshall McLuhan coined the term 'Global Village' but what is that?

      3. What are the implications of having a 'Global Village'?

Useful Resources

Timetotoast - Evolution in Communication

Wikipedia Definition - Global Village

Inquiries Journal - Understanding the Global Village

Textbook - 'Geography Global Interactions. Study and Revision Guide. HL Core Extension' by Simon Oakes Page 34 - gives a good outline to the history

Activity Two - Describe

As always we need to be able to interpret graphs to gain knowledge of what changes have occurred over time.

      1. Describe the changes in global internet traffic between the years of 1994 and 2019 by using 'Image One' below.

      2. Explain at least four reasons why you think this change has occurred.

      3. Using 'Image Two' describe the pattern of internet use.

      4. Explain the reasons for the pattern you have describe in question 3. Why is the pattern not uniform?

Activity Three - Explore

As you have now found out there has been a huge change in the way that we communicate with people but how is this all possible?

      1. Using the first article in the 'Useful Resources' box describe where the 'hard' infrastructure is for our telephone and internet cables.

      2. Using the youtube clip below, make notes on how the infrastructure of telecommunications is developed.

      3. Using four different colours for the four key categories mind map the patterns and trends in the use of communication infrastructure. Use the textbook - 'Geography Global Interactions. Study and Revision Guide. HL Core Extension' by Simon Oakes Page 35 - to help you.

                • Economic Globalisation

                • Social Globalisation

                • Cultural Globalisation

                • Political Globalisation

      1. How has the use of the internet help to bridge the economic gap between the haves and the have nots? Use the textbook - 'Geography Global Interactions. Study and Revision Guide. HL Core Extension' by Simon Oakes Page 36 - to help you.

Useful Resource

Submarine Cables

Activity Four - Possibilities

You now know the huge role that the internet has played in helping to connect the world and you need to remember that the most revolutionary changes have occurred only in the past 30 years. After all I didn't even own a laptop until I started my first teaching job! So what does the future hold?

      1. Watch the youtube clip below and describe the potential future for the internet. Do think about the how it may be used and what infrastructure is needed to make the changes happen.

Exam Style Question

'Global interactions are influenced more by political processes than communication processes.' Discuss [16 marks]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com