Today’s easy tech connections only represent the tip of an iceberg
As a child, the world seemed small.
My friends were often determined by their biking distance. The closer they were from my house, the more friends we were.
Every now and again, I would run into someone from far away at school. Back in those days “far away” meant anything that was beyond a 10-minute drive. I lived in Nashville and didn’t know anyone who lived in Brentwood, Franklin, or Hendersonville.
It was never in my mind to make friends with someone outside my Middle Tennessee bubble. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to expand my horizons beyond my neighborhood. It was just that it was difficult to meet people in other cities, states, or countries.
When the internet came along followed by cell phones and cheaper airplane tickets, my world began to expand. It was easy to communicate with people from other cities and countries thanks to the internet, email, text messaging, free long distance calls, and Southwest Airlines.
Fast forward to today— not only is it easy to connect with others beyond bike riding distance, but it’s easy to connect with anyone no matter where they are located.
In a virtual world that allows instant communication, physical proximity does not matter as much as it used to. Unlike the real world, the online world has no physical borders making it simpler for people and businesses to make global connections.
This emerging trend is not yet fully understood, but it is hard to comprehend.
This movement toward a more remotely connected world is starting to move beyond business and personal relationships. The next phase of connectivity is virtual countries.
Although it may sound absurd, we already see early adopters of this idea.
Estonia, one of Europe’s smaller countries, was the first to introduce an “e-Residency” program that allows people from anywhere in the world to apply for digital citizenship. Started in 2014, the e-Residency program has allowed citizens from any country to establish an “e-Citizenship” giving them access to Estonia’s business-friendly banks and legal infrastructures. Entrepreneurs who are looking for access to the EU have already opened over 17,000 companies in Estonia’s virtual residency program.
Other groups have gone further.
In 2014, the “digital country” of Asgardia was formed. Completely virtual and not recognized by any other countries (yet), Asgardia describes itself as “…the First Space Nation, a unique international community of forward-looking people, a digital state with its own transparent economy focused on scientific progress on Earth and in space.”
Although it may sound like science fiction at first, Asgardia now has over 200,000 members from all over the globe. It has its own Constitution, digital currency and government. These likeminded “citizens” of a country that exists only virtually are pioneers and challenge the model that a country is defined by the land it inhabits and controls.
And then there’s “the metaverse.”
The metaverse, though not well defined, promises a digital community that uses virtual reality headsets to allow users to do everything from visiting a virtual museum to attending a virtual college, all from the comfort of their homes. The metaverse is a future vision of Facebook, which recently accepted it as its future.
Although I haven’t used my bicycle to visit friends in years, I still value the ability to drop in on friends or discuss a business idea with a colleague over a cup of coffee down the street. It might be fun to visit Asgardia as a getaway, just to see one kind of the future. Wonder if they’ll stamp my passport?
JJ Rosen founded Atiba. Nashville-based custom software development and IT support company. Visit www.atiba.com or www.atibanetworkservices.com for more info.
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