Tuesday, June 06, 2006

International Migration Lessons for Pittsburgh

When I fall in love with an idea or a concept, an entire world perviously unknown to me begins to appear everywhere I look. My current passion concerns virtual networks and knowledge management. Many of us are currently struggling with communicating in a non face-to-face environment. Our education did not prepare us well for the emerging knowledge economy, which stresses collaboration with many people in a variety of locations. A recent article in the New York Times helps to illustrate this point: Immigrants hear God's word, in Chinese, via conference call.

Lonely and geographically isolated Chinese migrants in the United States are finding community via a church conference call. The sermon itself is not as remarkable as the resource network that has developed. Organized religion has a long history of connecting people around the world who will likely never meet, particularly the Catholic Church. But only recently has technology allowed these people to share resources and enjoy regular contact despite barriers of distance.

Pittsburgh should pay attention to these migrant networks, reorienting itself and its educational system to take advantage of a developing economic, political and social structure.

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