Life In Electronic Communities

We live in electronic communities. In our ever changing world, the art of the magazine, the letter to an editor and the essay gave way to the blog. Grafitti gave way to Facebook‘s wall, the telegram to the Tweet.  I believe the blog will give way, as will the wall and the tweet someday.

Image representing IBM as depicted in CrunchBaseIn my lifetime, IBM got so big that it became the object of anti-trust actions by the government, then it was eclipsed by Microsoft and Microsoft became the object of anti-trust activities. Now Google and Apple are under scrutiny by anti-trust authorities.  They are eclipsing Microsoft. There is some sort of giant wheel of change rolling down through the ages. It has not stopped even for the most vast and deep pocketed of organizations.

Microsoft Corporation - 1978

Microsoft Corporation - 1978 (Photo credit: Brajeshwaras

Stills from videotape of Bill Gates' depositio...

Stills from videotape of Bill Gates' deposition at 1998 United States v. Microsoft trial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw the TCP/IP, the foundational technologies of the Internet, arise out of a balkanized private networking ecology that included incompatible systems by Novel, Microsoft, IBM, Banyan and others. I saw AOL try to privatize the Internet and it seemed for a time like they would succeed. They didn’t. I see today, Facebook privatizing the Internet. I don’t believe they can sustain  it.

World War II deaths

World War II deaths (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my father’s day, a new normal had arisen among those born in the depression who fought World War II. They had the nuclear family and the single bread winner household. A general ethic held it to be a disgrace for a man to not  work. There was even a tacit discrimination favoring the man with a family to  support. That is gone. The point of work became the achievement of financial independence, AKA freedom from work. Those extended and nuclear families were appropriate in those bygone eras when ‘go forth and multiply’ was a strong human need. Now, the planetary environment seems to be endangered by our numbers. We don’t need institutions that support multiplication any more. Perhaps, we can improve the quality of our species rather than our quantity.

What does this have to do with blogging? Blogging is an art form, a literature. It is a cultural expression and a way of “mind sharing.” My sense is that the close physical community, with ties based on physical proximity are giving way to communities of common interest and values. The Internet allows these electronic communities to exist. They do lack some of the qualities of face to face interactions, but they are communities nevertheless and they are probably here to stay.

Having a couple of kids, my wife and I have often lamented the loss of that old tribalism that could help us, on a face to face basis, with our children. There is a new tribalism, however, of mailing lists, blogs, websites and the  like, where we are able to find solutions and support for so many of our needs. Increasingly , this network  is our community. Our tribe is more electronic all the time.

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