Where are You in this Digital World?
Yesterday in a conversation with colleagues, I was reminded that our geographical location can be traced once connected to the Internet.
We, the consumers of information via the latest gadgets have been told that the Internet marks the end of geography and distance. But, the reality reveals just the opposite.
The more we are digitally connected, the more we are anchored in geography.
Our digital devices make our moves traceable almost anywhere.
This very need for spatial orientation has become part of the Internet business model, aka the Internet of Things.
The Internet helps us know ‘where we are’ in exchange for the monetarisation of these conveniences. If companies know where we are, they can customize their offer of restaurants, shops and cinemas.
Uber finds innovative ways to move us around.
Airbnb offers us accommodation in the new places we want to discover.
In a matter of years, almost everything that moves will be digitized, be it cars, bikes or bodies, by using mobile phones or wearing digitized garments.
The Era of the Internet of Things will bring about new policy and ethical questions.
The 1st step in answering these complex questions should be to avoid a view of the end of geography. Geography now matters more than ever.
Virtual space remains ‘virtual’ for all of our basic needs.
Any future discussion on ‘virtuality’ and territoriality brings us to the question of the role of states. Territory is at the basis of statehood.
In the definition of states is sovereign control of territory. The world’s surface is divided into territories under state sovereignty, with the exception of the Arctic, the Antarctic and the open Seas.
The Big Q’s: Will a return to geography through the Internet’s geo-location tools reinforce or diminish the role of states, will the Internet re-define this ‘territorial’ aspect of humanity, will Internet businesses take the role of states in managing our interaction with our physical spaces?
The Big A’s are yet to be known.
But for sure we are in a new age of digital discovery, geography matters.
Have a terrific weekend.