Friday, 25 August 2017

The Digital Swamp Has Overtaken The State. Welcome to The New Village. You May Be A Target.

We have rules to govern the state: Elections, rules of order, recorded votes, pages of policy minutiae, backed by threats of force, but now the digital swamp is bigger than the state and it's unruly and snoopy.  You may have more to fear from "unfriending" and blocked twitter accounts than from the state. 

In village and tribal settings, we bump into all our neighbours every week. We are often blood relatives  and take great interest in their sexual unions, their work and kids, their status, beliefs and deeds.  We like to reinforce beliefs and behaviour by shaming, story-telling, kinship rules, force of habit and brute force. 

For groups much above 100, policy trumps relationships to maintain order.  Impersonal structures develop to safely form beneficial groups of towns, cities, states, parties, armies, guilds,clubs, and NGO's.  This includes double-entry bookkeeping, secret ballots, money, reading skills, concepts of "citizen, constitution, corporation", and the rule of written law.

But now we’re back in a village, a global village, thanks to the speed of light. It just got personal again.   Social media, twittering and texting, internet and email have shrunk the world electronically.  Linked-in people may be thousands of miles apart, but the digital time to connect  is less than a second and the cost is less than a penny.   Connect means “reach out" and “like”.  It also means, “Target” and "Hack."

What’s next?  Thousands of people who care little about me are now my neighbours in time and effort but not in place.  They vote me up and down at will when I appear in the digital swamp. Most of the news and fake-news is about this phenomenon.  Trump is attacked for culture, not for policy.   The news media are players. The parties are players.  So are bakeries. So are restaurants, billionaires, and corporate giants.  So is the state.   This is the wild wild west and if you’re lucky, you’ll just be un-friended for speaking your mind.  Your safety, your job security, your wealth and your reputation are visible in the digital swamp and you may lose them.

Yeats wrote, “What rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem?”  For a few hundred years, the state helped keep order but the digital swamp is now bigger than the state.  The rules are unwritten.  What is next?  

New forms of government, cultural government are in the wings.  I want them to stay clear of my liberty to do what's best for my and my family.  Yet I want safety, fairness and community strength.      "It could be heaven.  It could be hell".