"Zur ganzen Wahrheit gehören zwei – einer, der sie sagt und einer, der sie versteht." Henry David Thoreau

The Digital City Manifesto

Deutsche Version hier.

“Twitter and Facebook are, OMG, so last millennium,” is the first phrase of Anand Ghiridharadas’ oustanding letter from india two weeks ago. And he is right, he is probably more right than he knows. I think they are grandchilds of an ancient structure. Why?

Paris-Foto:  Patkisha (SXC)

Paris-Photo: Patkisha (SXC)

In Ghiridharadas’ little village no one lives in anonymity and radical privacy like we do in our modern single-family houses. Everyone gets to know if the neighbours are argueing heatedly or love themselves from break of dawn until sunset. It seems to be a part of the game, that everyone is involved in everyone’s everyday’s things. It is because it is better to be part of a community. You hear opinions even when you do not ask, receive advice you do not need, get a little love from everyone and a lot from no one.

The Origin Of Digital Cities

These values are familiar to everyone. Not in day-to-day life, but at least you have heard about it in history lessons, where we once learned about the origins of civilisation and cities. The roots of our big capitals lie in groups like clans and tribes. Once a tribe decided for a good place with a cave as an ancient inventory and a near-by natural spring they piled various community tasks on top like caring for kids and the old ones, cooking for the whole clan and stuff like that. The consequence was that they got more leisure.

Leisure Creates Culture

Leisure was the most significant outcome of all planned mutual activities. It was driver and cause of all following cultural benefits like tools or even basic materials like iron. One had to be full up and part of a reliable and friendly community in order to have enough time for trial and error experiments with stones and bones. Unlike many of experts who want us to be more efficient, it is extremely important for a tribe to be effective. That means, it is ok if you fail and it happens to be quite normal that we do not invent wheels and knives every second week – even if we have a lot of leisure time to hang around and try things out.

Social Networks Are The Daily Dingplace

In the mediaeval structure of some special villages there was a particular place which derived its singular significance from ancient creeds. They were cult sites or places of worship which played an important role in the local community systems. Later on religions like judaism, christianity and islam built big holy buildings on this special places. But the important aspect of these ancestors of digital cities were the ding (ancient german and scandinavian word for thing) because these were the places for law cases. The tribes met and discussed things that went wrong between the local clans and tribes. It was the beginning of legal practice. They became also the first marketplaces because the traveling merchants could be reached by everyone and vice versa without long journeys in dangerous times like those. The negotiations about good and bad between these tribes can be seen as a prefeudal and predemocratic role model for institutions like the United Nations. I must admit that they excercised more power than the UN nowadays does.

This is the very point when it comes to social networks as digital metropolises. At the moment they lack of a community driven legal/moral institution that controls community by the community itself. If we could stabilize these tribal standards the web could be a digital medium of billions of bonfires where people hang out some time and can discuss stuff from new sneakers to moral issues without any aggressive goals like consensus. It would have the same results than delousing has with certain social mammals. It makes a cosy atmosphere, it fosters social connections and it makes everyone stronger by knowing where he or she belongs to.

Up to now we only have bonfire and merchants online. There is no delousing or even legal practice. So if we do not meet in order to find our moral horizons, we do not really have something in common that leads far beyond the same sneakers. It is not about sophisticated ethical discussions on deontological reasoning, but it is about public discussions on the behavior of some members with the yardstick if their actions limit or even enhance other people’s liberty or to argue about consequences that have to follow certain kinds of behavior.

Explosion Of Modern Democracy

So social networks can give back power and responsibility to people where they meet. This can lead to an experienced usage of social skills in real life. Because delegating power and responsibility to other people like politicians, religious leaders and even employers weakens ourselves in the practice of social life.The utmost human duty of aligning one’s moral intentions with others cannot successfully be handed out to others. This is an act of self-underestimation that we have to reverse. The Web as a means of interconnectedness can help us build an infrastructure to do so globally. This is a big opportunity to work against alienation and anonymity in western societies and against all the hidden and obvious forces of oppresion in other countries.

The Digital Capital Is The Nation Of The 3. Millenium

How do you regain your power? Sounds like revolution. But this is not the most important thing. It is all about discussing a world where we all want to live without anonymity and protection against aggressive soliders of fortune. Non one can do this alone. Political parties are more or less part of the problem itself than a solution. It is all about a fusion of millions of bonfires where your friends and fellows hang out – social networks. There everybody can say anything as loud as it is usual in indian villages about whishes, griefs, visions or the awful color your mate’s hilarious sneakers. The community will judge in any aspect.

Marketers will recognize, that they can heat 2600 cities with the power they need to store all this data on servers. People will adapt their behaviour to this strategies and go beyond where no marketer is. The critical mass of people is huge. And the network effect increases the opportunties to play a cat-and-mouse game with companies that want to force you to consume. So grow the social networks. Change them. Build new ones with parks, recreation areas, arenas, villas, hotes, freeways and the big wild wilderness.

But do it in reverse sense of capitalism. Take the politicians, companies and religious leaders to the cleaners: The citizen ot the 3. millenium sets their rights and duties together in a profound discussion. The consumers of the 3. millenium dictate the market. The human being of the 3. millenium dictates the moral.

Author: Joerg Wittkewitz. Creative Commons (BY-ND). You can copy the text, if you link to this source and name the author.

Bookmark and Share

Post to Twitter Post to Delicious

Folgende Schlagwörter: Die Gesellschaft, Digital City Manifesto, Politik, world

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Kommentar-Regeln - Rules Of Commentary:

Durch einen Klick auf den Absende-Button stimmt der Kommentierende folgenden Regeln zu:

  • Bitte möglichst reale Klarnamen verwenden (Im Zweifel Vornamen)
  • Keine persönlichen Angriffe

Substanzlose Kommentare, SPAM oder persönliche Angriffe werden gelöscht und ggfls. in Rechnung gestellt. By clicking the Submit-Button, you accept a 500 € fee for any comments that only publish advertisments for products or companies and do not refer to the article or other comments in terms of a discussion.