Weaving the network fabric
When I talk about the effects of internet and mobile communications as an infrastructure I try to point to the effects this is having off-line. My use of the internet since the late 80’s has always been about connecting with people. Nothing virtual about it. Our summer, which Elmine and I spent in Canada, was again proof of the fabric that gets woven thanks to the internet collapsing obstacles of distance in space and time to 0.
In the woods with Chris, and cooking with Boris (photo Elmine)
Gerrit Eicker a while ago asked me to respond his statement that there is no global village, just many globalized villages. (I’d add ‘and globally oriented villagers’). The short answer is I agree, and I don’t see it as the balkanization of the internet or as a threat either. My personal global village gives me neighbours I would not have had in any other way, without taking away me being rooted in a local community. Globalized villagers, as I tried to convey in my recent talk at Reboot, are people who have seen their circle of empathy enlarged to a global scope, which informs their local actions. It used to be nation states served as the middle man between the individual and global level and as a conduit for empathy, motivation, (as well as hate). The internet and mobile communications as infrastructure are taking out middle men left and right, and they are chipping away at the relevance of nation states in much the same way. Nation states are on the way out, I am sure (but it will be a long way).
Our trip to Canada (and the US) this summer was basically a tour of part of our globalized village.
Dinner with Jon, Raman, Cyprien and Renee, cycling with Roland and Simon
Canada, a place, a group of people
We had never been to Canada, yet we immediately felt at home.
Fellow globalized villagers, contacts and friendships originating in on-line interaction, followed by f2f meetings in Europe, have had an important role in finding our step in new cities and a new country for the past month. They formed catalysts into the rhythm and pace of Vancouver, introducing us into the local life. Within two days we started being part of those hanging out in coffee bars for conversations, spend a summer evening on the porch with neighbours enjoying a BBQ, doing our own cooking as well as ate at great little restaurants tourists wouldn’t find. Jon and Raman, Cyprien and Renee, as well as Roland, and Boris made us part of their daily lives in Vancouver, as did Nancy and her family in Seattle. On the other side of the continent, on Prince Edward Island, Robert and Robin, and Peter and Catherine did the same during our stay on their red island inviting us into their homes. Along the way we also met up with Andy, Lee and Sachi, walked in northern rainforests with Chris having conversations that were basically an exploration of shared values and notions, talked about the potential of globalized villagers to network themselves out of problems with Marc and Christine, had a first f2f meeting with Dave over dinner in Toronto, and (again) met up with Jon giving us an insider tour of Montreal and dining with some of his friends. Meeting all these friends, some for the first time, was the common thread through our trip for me, next to being a ‘regular’ tourist in some amazingly beautiful landscapes, three major cities and musea, and seeing various kinds of wildlife.
Photo fun with Nancy, drinking Grolsch with Lee and Sachi
Take it forward
Touring our globalized village, or at least the Canadian neighbourhood of it, (not surprisingly) turned out to be inspiring both personally and professionally, and will probably be felt in a lot of the stuff I will be thinking, reading and writing about in the coming 6 months. And I intend to make sure it will lead to some tangible collaboration with at least some of those we met this summer.
Dinner in Toronto with David, dinner party on PEI with Peter, Catherine, Rob and Robin.
Weaving the network fabric