Starting from conflictive predictions of hitherto disconnected debates in the natural and social sciences, this paper contains the – to my knowledge – first encompassing analysis of the spatial structure of human activity beyond nation-state borders worldwide (a) across eight types of mobility and communication and (b) in its development over time. It is shown that contrary to what popular terms like “death of distance” and “end of geography” suggest, the spatial structure of transnational human activity is still heavily shaped by physical space. I demonstrate that the relation between activity and distance follows a specific mathematical pattern that can also be found in the movements of many animal species as well as local-scale human motion: Lévy flights with heavy tails that obey power laws. This pattern is also shown to remain remarkably stable over time. The figure on the right shows what a Lévy flight typically looks like: the path of a walker who takes many small and few long steps and changes his direction randomly in between.
As both the graph itself and the goodness-of-fit measure R² show, the power-law fits the observations almost perfectly. In the logged version, the observations cluster closely around the power-law line and the R²=.968 is only slightly below the perfect fit of R²=1.
This finding (which also holds for other types of mobility and communication under study) is clearly at odds with the common notion of a "death of distance" or an "end of geography" in structuring social relations.
For more details just have a look at the paper.