Is the internet becoming a force for a trans-national virtual government?
As the internet extends its reach without regard to national borders, you begin to wonder just how pervasive the internet will become as a political force whose dimensions are unknowable. However when you begin to see how some of the incredibly popular social sites, such as Facebook, begin to implement payment schemes that are taking on aspects of a trans-national currency, you begin to wonder if a virtual-government is not far behind.
Facebook’s wallet appears to be morphing into a banking system in which the currency units are “credits” which is taking on aspects of a virtual currency. While credit cards are the lingua franca in the USA for on-line payments (along with PayPal), this is not the case in many other markets. I have seen even in Europe where credit cards are not as popular, or as pervasive, as we see in the USA. Travel to Latin America snd you will see even less credit card use.
Facebook is growing at quite a clip – currently there are 200 million Facebook users. Consider that there aren’t all that many countries with 200 million people and you get some idea of just how large this diverse user base is. Consider also that Iran considers Facebook enough of a “threat” to the current government that it banned it. The threat, by the way, was Iran’s tech-saavy younger folks looking for information about candidates running in the next election – what a threat!
Social sites such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace do something that is anathema to any autocracy – they facilitate free and open communication among its members. Autocratic governments are notorious for banning anything that smacks of unfettered communications for its captives citizens lest they succumb to perverse foreign influences.
However you begin to wonder if something analogous to what we see in the print, record and movie industries is beginning to take hold on the governmental side of things. Frankly it’s not a stretch to make a leap from failed business models in industries facing digital competition to failed governmental models facing competition from trans-national social sites. The overarching fact remains that the internet has become a great force for facilitating social interaction in a variety of formats and ways, and that among internet savvy folks, unlimited access to music, videos and news is a great equalizer among various cultures.
Could be that this century will be marked as the beginning of true social globalization – not wouldn’t that be something!