In the same interview that Howard Rheingold did, that I wrote about in my last post, he also touched on some ideas of the political ramifications of online communities. They aren’t new ideas, in fact they’re old ideas. It’s what attracted me to the Internet, and the World Wide Web in the first place. The idea of communication, finding like minds and working together (collaboration). The interesting part to me is collaboration – with collaboration you have an element of taking responsibility and control of what you’re working on. That level of personal responsibility has always been something that interested me since I see it as a keystone of civilization. As things move progressively more fractional, and large governments continue to become more and more unable to operate efficiently, we’ll see a return to local government and more personal responsibility for what we do.
Which is exactly like what we have online – what I say and publish online I will stand behind. The fact that most people who are online stand behind what they say is encouraging for a future where we have more individual responsibility. The follies that celebrities encounter online hopefully will subside as celebrities learn how to manager their identity and communities form around them to attempt to mitigate some of the damage done.
Maybe too the online community will lead us to smaller nation-states which are manageable and where people feel that their vote matters. Maybe, just maybe that means we won’t blow each other up so often as we start to collaborate with others across the world. Maybe that might grow some empathy for tragedies that occur elsewhere, and incur rage at repression in other places (and at home).