Is the world a global village?

Is the world a global village?

 

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Editorial 2016/11: All4Pack and the world as a global village

Maarten van Leeuwen

One of the major events in our industry is coming soon: All4Pack, previously known as Emballage. Alvey has a stand there, and I sincerely hope to welcome you there.

A question we previously addressed, is why we would be there at all. After all, there is now the Internet and the world has become a global village. Or has it?

On the first question, we provided the answer a few years ago: we’re there because we wish to meet with you. Indeed, we at Alvey of course love and adhere to modern technology, but we still believe that nothing in this world can replace face-to-face meetings. This, we believe, has to do with human nature and human psychology. After all, what we sell is trust, and it is hard if not impossible to generate trust exclusively over the phone or even via Skype and similar applications.

And has the world become a global village? I believe this is pure nonsense. A village is a place where most people know each other, and where you can walk from one side to the other. The world has 7 billion or so inhabitants, of whom I think I know maybe 2,000 or so. And when I visit my sister, who lives in New Zealand, I will be traveling for over 36 hours from door to door, almost none of it on foot.

Yes, through the Internet we can, of course, reach out, theoretically at least, to almost any other citizen of this world. However, there are language and cultural barriers, and time zone differences, making real contact unlikely.

Yes, I can easily find a second hand car in Rio de Janeiro, or a plumber in Nairobi. But what can I do with this information? It would cost me a fortune to ship the car to my home, even if I got it through endless customs and regulatory hassles. And the plumber from Nairobi is unlikely to be willing to fix my taps for an acceptable cost, even assuming he could get into the country.

On the contrary, I find it irritant that many websites seem to try to hide where they are. In most cases, what we need is something fairly local, less than let us say 10 km from where we need the service or the product we’re looking for. And Internet traffic analysis confirms this: over 80% of such website visitors come from distances of tens or hundreds of kilometers, and only a small proportion is transatlantic.

I do not believe the world will ever become a global village, nor do I believe this is a bad thing. The human being will always be constrained by the time it takes to travel physically, and will always need physical contact with others. We need, just as our ancestors, to sit side by side and watch the open fire, and share a glass of wine – or tea or whatever – from the same bottle or kettle.

Maybe it is for this very reason that we are here on our beautiful planet.

Maarten van Leeuwen
Group Managing Director

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