Networked_Performance

Collapsing Geography

relayforlife.jpgNetworked innovation and collaboration means quantity may have a quality all its own. As education systems around the world approach parity, nations will finally be able to maximize the skills and potential of their populations… No nation-state will be able to compete counting only on the people within her borders. The most successful 21st century nations will be those that redefine what it means to be a citizen and build the largest networks of innovators.

“Geography constrains everything humans do. From our amazing abilities to navigate and model 3-dimensional space to the locations of multinational corporations’ headquarters, physical and social evolution have been firmly shaped by geographic constraints. At the personal level, it impacts how we build memories, communicate, and collaborate. At the cultural level, geography defines how and where cities are built, impacts rates of technological development, and has been the cause for innumerable wars. Geography is an inescapable feature of all our lives. Only in the most recent blink of human history have technologies arisen to combat the time, cost, and distance inherent to geography.(1) The telegraph and telephone provided the first communication links significantly faster than horse and ship. Radio, television, automobiles, and air travel further shrank the globe, changing where people lived and how families were structured. In the last decade, the Internet, World Wide Web, and cell phones have moved from geek gadgets to ubiquitous parts of everyday life.(2)

These transitions have helped create tremendous wealth and innovation, generating both hopes and fears that technology would truly change where and how people collaborate and build community. However, humanity has not profoundly changed. People still migrate to cities.(3) Whole nations emigrate in search of work.(4) While communication costs have dropped dramatically, the affordances of the telephone and Internet are sufficiently limited that innovation still generally happens in concentrated geographic areas.(5) People are not yet free to experience the collapse of geography, to build communities, groups, and businesses independent of location. Where is the great transformation? When will remote collaboration and interaction improve to the point that the information economy(6) will truly be upon us?

Virtual worlds will lead this transformation. The experience of developing and operating Second Life since 2000 demonstrates the impact of a virtual world to overcome distance and stimulate innovation and collaboration in software development,(7) design,(8) education,(9) entrepreneurship,(10) architecture,(11) philanthropy,(12) political organizing,(13) and institutional development.(14) Second Life has become a platform for collaboration and business that bypasses traditional geographic constraints, propelling several key shifts. First, Second Life demonstrates the power of using place within a communications medium, allowing distant participants to leverage real-world metaphors and habits to improve collaboration. Thus, participation no longer depends on a person being co-located with a project or other team members.” Continue reading Collapsing Geography: Second Life, Innovation, and the Future of National Power by Cory Ondrejka, Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, Summer 2007, Vol. 2, No. 3: 27-54, MIT Press Journals.


Oct 26, 17:25
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