Years ago, living with my grandfather in Brighton, UK, he would often remind me, “all you need to build a town is a Church and a Pub”. That all you needed was a place for people to congregate and socialize. Once those institutes were in place, people would begin to gather. The first “settlers” would then get be the ones who define that town’s culture with their own flavor of religion, political and social views. If the beliefs of that town were popular enough, if lots of people identified with it, the town would grow and become more powerful. One’s physical proximity was important to the towns survival so it was a matter of convincing others to move there.
For some time now proximity has not mattered as new digital towns and countries are built and dismantled everyday, often around a common interest. These towns are constantly shifting, growing and shrinking, with new ones being born everyday. The more quickly they grow, the faster the culture changes.
TechCrunch’s article We No Longer Live In Actual Countries But Digital Ones touches on this idea, discussing XKCD’s “Map Of Online Communities 2”.
It’s interesting to think of the world we live in as a collection of digital countries. Each with its own set of guidelines, norms, leaders, gatherers, cultivators, etc. The best part is we get to join most any one we want and can move between them in seconds.
All you need now is a computer.