Sunday, January 3, 2010

Evaporating Borders: Need of new politics

Which is the need for local country politics in a completely connected world?

We really need to rethink politics, countries, borders, and social differentiation.
Current trends in online interactions are gradually and progressively changing the traditional sense of nation.
People influence each other through new communication systems and tools.

If we examine all the usual bounds keeping a country together, we see that all these are gradually being released.
  • Religion: It is gradually reducing its importance. Current religious terrorism is helping a lot in accelerating the process.
  • Culture: Younger people do not perceive strong local cultural relations. Dialects are gradually disappearing. Most art is cross-borders.
  • Language: De facto net language is English. Period.
  • History: Historical reasons are less perceived in a globally accelerating present. Young people is more interested in future. ( Are they to blame? )
  • Geography and Borders: Easy travel is gradually reducing geography role as a fence. Beside that many communities do not need to be localized in a physical place to prosper and evolve.
  • Currency: money transactions will shift to "plastic money" i.e. credit cards, or some other currency not bound to local political environment (linden dollars? whuffies? paypal or ebay credits?). Strangely, efforts to build an independent "internet currency" did not succeed. Probably because of bank lobbies not able to find a suitable agreement.
So, traditional "we are together" because "we belong" to the "same nation" are not going to work anymore.
Our identities are being revealed on the net. And we allow it without complaints. We share personal information more easily online than with a policeman.

Along with borders evaporation, our identities are progressively mixing and melting, and social media are becoming the main drivers for education and community building.

We quickly need to evolve the traditional meaning of politics.
We need young politicians. And newer ideas for an up-to-time politic science.

Consensus will not be built anymore with broadcasting, but leveraging online active communities, and promoting autonomous critical thinking.

Feedback cycles will be much faster. Traditional elections are slow and expensive.

New politics will be tough.

Marco ( @mgua on twitter )



Scott Lewis said...

Nice post! I agree with most of it. However, I think religion has a big part to play in the future. Especially after it starts to lose it's "specific" boundaries, similar to the loss of national boundaries. People have spirit and the internet is going to help focus that. Hopefully we can keep it rational, even though extremism is all the "rage" these days, at least according to the media.

Thanks for writing! You're words are very encouraging to a young new politico like me.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this -- very interesting.

One thing I would push back on a bit, though is this: "Language: De facto net language is English. Period." Don't be caught too tightly by the historical moment; Mandarin Chinese is very quickly overtaking English as the primary net language, at least in terms of numbers. The question then becomes will we face:

* A bifurcated web, where most sites are either English or Mandarin, but rarely both?
* A bilingual web, where most (popular/big) sites offer both English and Mandarin versions (probably through automated translation)?
* A rise in the use of Mandarin on the web by non-native Mandarin speakers?

My personal guess is #1, blending into #2 if automated translation improves. The one advantage English is likely to continue to hold for awhile yet is its use by non-native speakers. It does seem to be easier to learn than Chinese dialects.

Marco Guardigli said...


I am more for a language blending. Languages appear not to be static, and they will change quicker in these times of global connectivity.

I do not know about chinese schools, but I guess they are studying english too. They need to access western literature and documentation. Ok they will translate too, but I think that scholars and researchers must know english in order to interact with the rest of the world scientific communities.

I worked for many years with a far-east software security platform from, which is mostly developed in China. Documentation and knowledgebase was often written in "chinglish".
In my work I have to deal everyday with people in middle east and in India, and they have their own version of english dialects. It takes some time to get use to their saudinglish and indinglish sounds.
Definitely not Oxfordish haha.

My guess is that language will change, and a sort of blended mixture will arise. I do not think we will interact in chinese, but in chinglish.

We will gradually forget about correct syntax (software will help) and automatic correctors/assistants will silently kick in, like is now happening more and more when we text on our cellphones or when we send emails.

Quality of AI translations will gradually improve. In my work I am using it quite often. Ok it is not suitable for poetry, but its getting better. AI development is strongly related to language understanding. VOIP communications and VOIP stream analysis is also producing huge amount of data that are being fed to neural networks classifiers, that are learning how to extract meaning from intonation, speed, and other signals we embed in our conversation (Special emotion-sensing software is already used in callcenters to classify and route incoming calls to the most suitable operators). Translation of written sentences will benefit from this data, once the two domains will be correlated.