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What does a digital nation state look like?

December 3, 2010

Swedish news papers are launching digital versions on Apple’s iPad – and seem to be somewhat surprised that they’re now going to have to comply with a set of rules that are very different from what they’re usually operating under.

Spotify’s music library reflects a specific set of values, morality and legal system no matter where the listeners are and what they expect.

Citizens used to having rights according to their chosen nation state find that when they move more and more of their lives onto the digital arena those rights are replaced with Terms of Services that reflect corporate and cultural values.

One solution would be to move backwards, to create digital nation states accurately reflecting the nation states of our physical presence. We could even pretend we’re travelling between such digital nation states when using different Internet services, but it’s not likely we would accept the shift in legal system and cultural values implicitly while still sitting behind our desk at home.

There seems to be no easy solution to the fact that we have created a single global digital nation everyone can access where it’s impossible, not to say unwanted, that a single (or multiple of) nation state can enforce their cultural values and laws. Another aspect of the current situation is to describe it as corporations (though still bound by the nation state they’re operating from) having created their own digital nation states with laws and values – Terms of Services – where being a citizen of the state of Facebook is different from being a citizen of the state of 4chan.

The Internet has been in public use for about fifteen years. During the next ten we’ll become connected in real time, outsourcing both our memory and decision making to external services not bound to a single physical location.

At no point in history have so many people changed their culture of moral values as quickly as will be needed now. It’ll be interesting, to say the least.

It will also likely become very ugly.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Håkan Jonsson permalink
    December 4, 2010 8:58

    People’s Republic of Apple? Great post.

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