The Web and Nation States

A while back The Economist published an article comparing Facebook to a nation state and imagining a future where Mark Zuckerberg exercised power and influence the way the head of a state would. Whether this is likely or not it is interesting to consider how we will manifest what appears to be our inherent tribalism when more of us spend more of our time connected to people beyond the boundaries of our own countries than we do with our neighbours.

I kept thinking of this as I listened to the first section of Sir Winston Churchill’s History Of The Second World War mentioned in the previous post. This section deals with the political positioning leading up to the breakout of war and the attempts by Churchill to convince parliament and the nation of the threat posed by the Germans and of the need to do something about it. I wonder how those conversations would go now given the more ubiquitous connections we have with each other?

I remember meeting the Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan a few years ago in Paris and him saying that through blogging and fostering connections online he hoped to make it less likely that the west would ever find the will to attack his country. It’s ironic that he is now in and out of prison in Iran due to the regime there, but his hope has stuck with me.

Maybe I am just an ageing hippie and hoping to reduce our antagonisms through increased online connection is naive. Maybe even if we reduce the perceived need to beat each other up over the old lines of difference we will find new ones based on the tribes we form on the web …