A few years about when Jason and I were just starting to build metroblogging, before we started calling it metblogs, a term being thrown around a lot was “a citizen of the internet” when talking about where someone was from rather than a specific location. It was kind of a joke but kind of not. A few years earlier another friend (also named Jason) was using the phrase “the new internationalism” in describe his friends, younger people who weren’t confining themselves to one culture or one part of the world like their parents probably had. I riffed on that with metblogs and for a while was saying it was “the new internetionalism.” it was too convoluted of a reference to make sense to, well, anyone really, but I’ve been chewing on this idea for a while in one form or another. Traveling is part of this, but it’s not just about going somewhere as much as it is experiencing it and bringing part of that experience back with you.
Between 1999 and 2006 I didn’t leave the US once. In the last 48 months I lived in Austria for almost 2 months, have visited the UK 8 times, Germany and Canada 3 times each, France, Japan the Netherlands each twice, and several cities throughout Ireland. Inside the US I’ve driven with friends from both Austin, TX and Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA. These trips were slow and with the intent of experiencing the in between not just the destinations. I’ve also spent time in New York, Washington DC and Chicago. What I’m getting at is that I have actively tried to go places and see what other people were up to. How are the living, and what are they enjoying. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself by watching other people.
I’m not the only one doing this, and I’m far from the most traveled member of my circle of friends. More and more people are going more and more places more and more often. And the more we all do this, the more we’re all faced with borders and the crossing there of. Not just physical country borders, but legal, technical, and cultural differences that are much more tangible. For example, at this very moment I have my passport jammed in with Euros, Pounds, and Dollars in my pocket. I have 3 different kind of power adapters and 2 mobile phones connected to different networks. Last night I had a conversation about a friend of a friend who is a skilled architect who has had to requalify for all her certifications 4-5 times in the last few years because she’s moved a few hours in one direction or another which happens to be across country borders.
I went off on a tangent there, but polar bear with me for a moment as I promise there is a point I’m slowly getting at here. The recent economic situation in the US, which has had ripple effects (sometimes some very big ripples) around the world has gotten a lot of people thinking about what ifs. There is usually a lot of hand wringing and woe-is-me-ing going on with those what-ifs but I think they are important questions. More importantly are the ideas they bring about, and I don’t think those should only be looked with “oh shit” colored glasses on. I’m not saying I think the potential collapse of any economy or government is a good thing, but I do think there’s a good deal of value in looking at how things and people function independently of the rule of law in their current airspace.
In fact I think it’s something that should be looked at far more frequently. Using the real world examples above, who could say their life wouldn’t be easier if no matter where in the world they were the currency in their pocket was valid, they could plug in whatever electronic device they wanted to the closet socket without any adapters and the phone they are using right now continued to work without interruption or massive roaming charges? On a more etherial level what if they degree you worked your ass off for was accepted on every corner of the world, or if you knew you could get healthcare no matter where you were, or if you knew your job security was based on your performance and not what the political climate might be. Lofty ideas sure, but I don’t think they are that unrealistic.
If I buy a Music CD I don’t even think about the fact that I can play it in my car, on my home stereo and my laptop without issue (and without concern which brand makes each unit). That might not have been the case if there weren’t people pushing for standards and compatibility between devices. I think it’s going to be increasingly important to look at other things from a cross platform perspective. But by platform I mean global regions. How might the world look in a post super power society?