Web Culture: Individuality, Belonging, And Scalar Freedom

Part of a Series

A talk from 2008, building on the threads in A Well-Ordered Humanism And The Future Of Everything.

I gave a presentation yesterday at Reboot10 in Copenhagen called "Web Culture: Individuality, Belonging, And Scalar Freedom" and I think I scared some people a bit. There is a broad streak of darkness throughout the talk, since I suggest that the future we are moving into -- where we are already, actually -- is being framed by the crumbling of mass institutions as a result of their cumulative failures, and this is creating a power vacuum into which something will move.

I hope that web culture will save the world, and if not, I despair.

The notes below are what I wrote prior to the talk, not exactly what I said.


Thank you. It’s great to be here, in Copenhagen again, with so many good friends.

This talk is like the saying about weddings, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

I am mixing a bunch of things together -- social tools and the web culture they are shaping, human cognition -- its limits and promise, deep thoughts from other thinkers, and the blue, well,… the blue might be the dark shadows holding onto the bottom of what I am going to be digging into. The shadows of our time: the limits of unfettered growth, rising populations, and our flirtation with global ecological catastrophe.

My talk is entitled “Web Culture: Individuality, Belonging, and Scalar Freedom” and I am trying to meet the theme of the conference -- “Free” -- halfway. I am only treating the “free” concept on one level: the notion of individual and social freedom in this changing future. I hope I can tease some challenging ideas out, and share my thoughts in an accessible way. I hope that you can help me develop them.


This talk follows close on the heels of presentations at the recent Enterprise 2.0 and Web Widget Expo conferences, and follows my explorations of the themes surrounding web culture, and its place in our future. I think I am working on a book, and it that is so, it’s likely to be called something like “Web Culture and the Post-Everything Future”.

In those other presentations -- Web Culture and the New Ethos of Work, and Social Meaning In A Fragmented World -- and several talks last year, including the presentation here at Reboot last year (Flow: A New Consciousness For A Web Of Traffic), I have been poking a stick into the anthill that is the Web, and the connectedness that comes from it.

But we are not self-made. We do not live in a world where the Web is everywhere, and even if we did, what sort of world or Web would we have?

Like an infant, much of what we are capable as a society is derived from what is innate in us, as living creatures. We -- individually and collectively -- inherit much of how we process the world. But, again just like an infant, so much that we become is learned. We can all speak, and learn to do so merely by being exposed to language, like iron will rust if exposed to moisture. But we do not learn to count, or think logically, just by exposure to a world waiting to be counted or to be Venn diagrammed; neither will exposure to those who know how alone work. Learning to count takes training, and thinking about the world rationally may take decades, if it sinks in at all.

And then there are the darker aspects of the world we inherit and learn. Superstition and belief in the supernatural and magic is a universal of all human cultures, as is coalitional violence, innumeracy, taboos and rituals, a universal desire to control the weather, and thumb sucking. Ok, leave the thumb sucking to one side. Still, as many as 40% of Americans believe in witchcraft and magic, and 87% believe in angels.

On the other hand, there is a wellspring of hope in the universals we share. A universal resistance to abuse of power is a counter to our natural nepotism, as we favor kin over others less closely related to us. Murder is universally condemned, as is the principle that there should be a redress of wrongs when injustice occurs. We find laws and rights and obligations between members of social groups are ubiquitous, but so is the notion that outsiders -- the others -- do not have the same rights as do we. In this last instance, think about Guantanemo and the collusion between out elected officials in Western countries to deny basic legal rights to accused terrorists.

Which brings me to the second part of this prologue: we are living in this specific universe, this world, today. Here we are, in the preamble of the 21st century, at the close of the industrial era and at the start of… what exactly?

Well, a time of enormous changes, all of which factor into the Web Culture that is emerging.

Globalization is flattening the Earth, and for many the question is ‘can I avoid being flattened?’ Rampant growth in the past fifty years has not led to general improvement of the lives of many: in the developed West most have not experienced any significant increase in quality of life, while a small, increasingly disconnected elite has grown frighteningly wealthy, while chanting the industrial age mantra of unfettered growth at all costs. No western leader has really attempted to argue against growth as the fundamental premise of governance, the basis of the state, and the aspiration of the individual. And as a direct result, we are tottering on the brink of an ecological catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. And the power of coalitional nationalism is failing, as developing nations reject Western controls, and as the undeveloped world spirals into chaos.

In the developing countries, individuals are seeing the impact of growth -- on an individual level, the quality of life is shooting up for many, while others are moving into slums, where crime, drugs, and alienation from the state are breeding an underclass with little or no allegiance to the state. There is tremendous vitality and enterprise in the developing world, but we are confronted with the sobering fact that 1990’s Western lifestyles if adopted by only China and India would lead to a tripling of the world output of CO2, and collapse of the deep ecology of the planet. While this tragedy of the commons rages, the undeveloped world is possibly worst.

Large parts of the world today are basically ungoverned, or governed through coalitions of tribal, criminal, or warlord forms of control. In many countries that appear to be a state, the state may just be the spoils of gaining control by some group. Even parts of developing and developed countries may be ungoverned, like breakaway regions, or so-called feral cities growing from the enormous surge in urbanism in the past 50 years. There are 200,000 slums worldwide, where the governments have basically given up providing the basics -- water, sanitation, protection -- and people will affiliate into coalitions that will provide them options. This is projected to lead to two billion slum dwellers -- effectively outside of our world -- by 2030.

The interaction between these societal realities and the cultural universals within us all is leading us to a very dangerous future.

I have come to believe that Web Culture is our only hope, is we are not to fall into what many are calling the New Dark Ages. We may already be in the New Middle Ages, a time following the peak of industrialism, the collapse of states like the Soviet Union that exemplified the power of centralized states, and the failure of industrial growth-based economic policies.

I don’t think there is a King Arthur out there, who will ride up and avert disaster. Not even Al Gore can do that. If we are going to change the world, it will have to be following Gandhi’s dictum: we have to become the change we want in the world.


Apologies. It was blogging that did this to me. No neat conclusions. A barrage of conjecture, wisecracks, and one-liners, disguised as a presentation.

My work has been focused on the technology underlying the web: social tools in particular. But my interests extent to what I call ‘webthropology’ -- the anthropology of the web, specifically web culture.

Regarding my work, I am more of a ‘synthesyst’ than an ‘analyst’. What I am offering is not analysiis, drawing logical conclusions from a set of data, using the clockwork side of my brain alone.

I am attempting a synthesis, looking for the big picture, based on intuition as well as reasoning, a ‘whole head’ approach to understanding.

This is more art than science, more storytime than than the News at Eleven.

I am aware of the incongruities here. An American speaking on the balance of individual and social freedom at an international conference in Europe. I spend enough time in Europe to know that this may lead to knowing looks being exchanged from one European to another. Another bigmouth American lecturing us.

But I like to think myself as part of Web Culture, for all my hopeless Americanisms. And this talk is about choosing one’s tribe, and helping it thrive, as much as it is about anything, which is a universal theme and that has to include even the most cowboy individualist in Texas.


The core of sociality is the individual. Individualism is a universal. People are universally concerned with what others think about them, and want to be considered in a positive light. As a result, people will manipulate the various facets of their ‘self’ to make themselves more popular and connected and through that to gain reputation and authority within their social groups.

It is through our connections with others that we define ourselves, the way that we actually become human.

As people sharing these motivations form groups, the individual is made greater through the sum of connections. And so are all the connections.

These dynamics work universally, and are exploited or harnessed everywhere. This forms the basis on which everything else hangs. And the social revolution on the web directly follows that model, as we have seen in all successful social applications and networks.


One of the major trends of the late twentieth century has been the gradual, but now accelerating decline of mass.

Mass media, for example is crumbling, as participative media has grown, largely as a result of the capabilities inherent in the web. Centralized media, and the dynamics that made it strong, have begun to fail. One:many publishing is falling fast, as individuals have discovered ways to communicate and connect through web-based tools. And this undermines the economics of centralized (or centroid) media. The entertainment industry has given up on putting the genie back in the bottle, and has surrendered to the inevitability of a whole new day, buying the massiest of the social solutions, like YouTube and MySpace, and trying to make them act like television. Worldwide social experiences like World Of Warcraft are being valued like movies, while in fact they are societies inhabited by the people exploring new ways to interact, globally, on a bottom-up, realtime basis.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of smaller scale social solutions grow, creating a shared order in a world of shared chaos.

People are relearning the ancient practice of shared community, shared understanding, and the benefits and costs of small scale human involvement.

As mass politics, mass government, and mass industrialization have reached their endgames, people, as individuals are finding less joy and meaning in being massed. We have learned that -- after some baseline -- happiness and purpose does not come from being a cog in the economic growth engine.

We do not find belonging in belongings.

The center cannot hold because those principles that have driven mass culture -- unsustainable growth, exploitation of shared and limited resources, and the primacy of mass belonging -- have been pushed beyond their limits, and the consequences are clear to us all, like potholes in the road.

These are the outcomes of what Isaiah Berlin referred to as negative freedom -- the freedom from all social constraints -- and as we move to the edge, we accept the constraints of belonging, and reject the negatives of mass identity.


One corner of the emerging world is web culture. It is perhaps a harbinger of what could happen in the larger world. Maybe it is like William Gibson wrote, “The future is already here. It is just unequally distributed.”

I have characterized this (like others) as a movement from the center to the edge. The edge is where individuals relate to other individuals, and derive their sense of self and meaning from these relationships.

And we know that this is a human universal: people everywhere are made human through their ties to others. This is how we root our beliefs and our aspirations -- when we are most happy -- and when we turn away from these natural ties, things fall apart.

Without that sense of belonging, we have alienation and hatred, we have people mistakenly believing that more -- more possessions, more money, more square footage in their more isolated McMansions -- is better.

Various people have taken to calling this future we are moving into post-industrial -- just as industrial growth is exploding in the developing world -- or post-ideological -- even as ideological battles confront us on every side.

I lump this together, perhaps unhelpfully, into the post-everything future.

Why do we say post, when it seems to be intensifying? Because there is no general belief in easy answers. Those that have studied the costs of the growth economy -- the core underpinnings of industrial growth -- have come to believe that is is unsustainable. That we can’t stripmine the earth forever, pretending that there are no costs. We have to count the price of the CO2 being dumped in the air. We have to value the irreplaceable water in the aquifers that are dropping, dropping, dropping the world over. We have to realize that if every person in China were to want the same amount of fish that the average Japanese person eats, they would more than double the decline of fishstocks that are already on the edge of collapse already.

It does not seem that the ideas of westernized industrial growth and mass individualism is going to be sustainable, even while many in the developing world are watching Seinfeld reruns, wish for a refrigerator or a car, or the chance to shop in an air-conditioned mall.

Our old cultures have been stripmined too: the ancient relationship of people to the land and close group involvement has been converted to urbanism and alienation.

Mass agriculture in the name of low cost output has led to the largest migration of people from the land to cities in human history. There are over 200,000 slums in the world today, because people move to the city and cannot find meaningful work. There will be 2 billion slum inhabitants in 2030.

Meanwhile, on the edge, people are discovering all over again, that connection to other people around issues that matter can become the defining source of happiness and purpose, in a way totally different from mass affiliation -- being a citizen of large and unresponsive country, where ‘culture’ has become a product of multinational corporations, churned out from music, movie, publishing, and television factories.

Our old dreams are manufactured. Our new dreams must be bottom-up, like connection on the web, or in wiring within our heads. If we are to make sense of the post-everything future before us, it will have to come from our conversations among ourselves, on a social scale in which we feel that we matter.

Post-everything will mean embracing something we know will involve us, leaving behind our second-class status as members of the mass audience, and become living, active participants in a new culture.


Much of the world lives at small social scale. It was the norm for millennia. We have had only a few hundred years of mass culture, and we have lost something critical: the sense that individual freedom must be checked by the needs and long term good of the group.

America is the place where the credo of growth has run to its logical end, and is perhaps the place most responsible for the challenges before us. But China is using 40% of the world’s cement, right now, and large multinationals the world over have developed a global food production and distribution system that is based on cheap gas and unsustainable water use. This is a global threat.

We know that is is those who are most connected, those that can create bridges from different groups, that usher in the creation of new ideas, new insights, and new solutions to problems. We, the edglings living our lives on the Web, have a new purpose. We can help create the cross linkages in the world, so that people experimenting with local food production in Vermont can connect with cheese makers in Switzerland, and experts in Kerala, a province in India, can provide insights into literacy to inner city education programs in the US.

People the world over will be moving to the edge, just as fast as they gain access to the web. For now, only some of us are here; we have to prepare for the refugees from mass culture as they arrive, and we have to help with tools to smooth the way between us, and to counter the failures of mass organizations.

It is the misdeeds and broken promises of mass culture that imperil us.

One aspect of the rise of the web that is central to this talk is the long tail of human relationships. Just as the long tail can be a metaphor for new economics based on the Web -- with low cost or zero cost of inventory, companies can support a gazillion product niches with small markets -- the long tail can be used as a way to think about belonging and identity.

As web tools drop the friction involved in being connected, we can meaningfully remain in contact with larger groups, and with more groups, than we could before. We are training ourselves -- stressing the cognitive centers associated with theory of mind -- so that we are becoming a generation of hyperconnected.

Those that oppose community and shared identity will attack this as illegitimate. It”s ADD, they will say, it’s internet addiction, etc. And yes, everything can be over done. But at the same time, I believe we are growing more capable in our capacity for human connection: we can be more involved -- in a distributed, partial way -- than before.

This long tail of relatedness and relationships changes our sense of identity and belonging. We can meaningfully belong to many groups, and invest ourselves deeply -- in parallel -- in their purposes.

Those of us who become most adept at this may become the most important and respected citizens of the post-everything world: the bridge builders that can arc from one to other groups, and act as arbiters and mediators. Remember that reputation-based authority and the belief in mediated settlements of disputes are universals. So this suggests a future role for the most connected, as people worldwide begin to lose faith in mass organizations to solve our disputes, or to even come up with workable compromise.


I maintain that we are returning to ways of interaction that are ancient, pre-industrial.

This social revolution is subversive and will be fought by the mass culture machine. Bloggers were wild-eyed fringe lunatics, but now we are being joined at the edge by the best and brightest journalists, who are learning a new freedom at the edge. Our social tools have created a brand new place for people to congregate, play, and work, and those that at first suggested that all this was a fad, a mania, or some sort of plot have started to try to embrace it, if only to try to turn it to industrial use. But the endless efforts to suggest that web services like Twitter are failures because personal productivity does not increase through their use are laughable: we know we are trading industrial productivity for networked connectedness. We are basing our ethics on being connected and shared meaning, not industrial performance. We are embracing the ancient truths of deep play, and creativity, and love, and dropping the mass culture masks that were manufactured for us, along with the industrial dreams.

So much of what is being turned up as we plow these apparently virgin fields is old stuff, things that we threw away as we left socially scaled communities, as we migrated to the cities and took our seats in the factories to make goods, or building buildings, or drive trucks. We are going back to participative norms, and social systems based on high levels of personal involvement on a personal basis. We are moving back to the deep rules before mass organizations rewrote all the rules.

Even the rules of mass government will be reconsidered, and our relationship to the nation will be made less important, as we find the benefits of being intensely involved in small, human scale polities. The future may be the past, when we find the most important relationships are those tied to growing, distributing and consuming food, the systems we contrive locally to care for the young, sick, and elderly, and how we come together to find common cause in the face of crisis, uncertainty, and fear.

The subordination of the individual to the needs of the group is what has allowed some ancient people to share common resources in a sustainable way for millennia. We will have to learn those tribal ways again, and real fast, if we are to survive the next hundred years.


I've used the terms Centroids and Edglings to distinguish people based on their orientation to mass; those deeply involved in mass institutions are Centroids; whose of us that have migrated away to the edge, defected, are the Edglings.


Note that I don’t say democratic. The web isn’t democratic. Web culture is based on networks, and affiliation. All people are not equal on the web: there is a decided inequality, based on reputation and influence, just as in tribal cultures. This is a force that is both positive and negative. It has strong conservative tendencies, since reputations are built over time.

However, new people, companies, ideas emerge on the web all the time, and some catch on. There is constant change against a conservative backdrop. The cream can rise to the top. Actions and words matter more than position or organizational position. So, it's egalitarian in the sense that anyone can jump in, but not everyone can swim well, and some will sink altogether.


Moving to the edge is almost by definition a rejection of the hypothetical objectivity and impartiality embedded in the myths of journalism (and mass government, where hypothetically all citizens are equal). Edglings embrace subjective, whole head, and situated partiality.


Hierarchies are left behind, and we return to networks.


The nuclear family is a largely industrial model, based on grinding larger, richer, and more resilient family systems into irreducible components, like interchangeable parts on the assembly line.

Falling back to larger collections of people to distribute the demands and obligations of childrearing and caring for the old or infirm is a sign of tribal norms reemerging.

David Ronfeldt has described tribes as “the first and forever form” of social organization. As he has noted: “even for modern societies that have advanced far beyond a tribal stage, the tribe remains not only the founding form but also the forever form and the ultimate fallback form.”


Mass government -- nationalism -- will become significantly less important as Edglings get more involved in local networks and global affiliation.


I discussed the transition from mass to participative media earlier on.


The thread that I am banging on the most in this talk is the movement from unsustainable to sustainable solutions -- like the defection away from industrial food -- will move to the immediate foreground in the near term.


We have learned that people are not made happy by their increasing belongings. On the contrary, there is an upsurge in interest in finding more meaning in life. One of the universals is that people are happier relative to the degree that they believe they are immersed in social networks in which what they do and say matters.

Mass religion is collapsing. Even in the US, where an evangelical resurgence is taking place, it is in effect an explosion of hundreds of small Christian sects, for all intents and purposes, as protestantism is being fragmented by the tug-of-war between liberal and conservative ideals.

Meanwhile, the edglings are reverting to something like Taoism, an enigmatic sort of personal spirituality, derived from a generalized sense of connection to the universe, as part of something large and wonderful. No more angry gods on the top of a mountain sending down commandments, or martyrs dying for our sins. We are left with Father Time and Mother Earth spinning in their special ways.



We have to come together in new ways, and not just to find purpose in life, not just to coordinate work, or to find a mate. We will have to apply what we have learned about the dark and light of open social systems to recapture the future.

The bonds of trust and friendship that we are building at the Edge, today, may become the initial bridges that connect the tribes of this post-everything future.

We have learned that trust and reputation is personal, non-transferable. That obligation is between individuals, and that any group -- elected officials, criminals, prisoners in jail, slum dwellers, and web edglings -- will attempt to use whatever power they have to attempt to benefit their own, potentially to the detriment of ‘others’. So we need an ethical system -- like that which is emerging on the web -- where abuse of power is not tolerated, where rank and office is irrelevant, but where one’s reputation and honor is everything.

Sounds like the Mafia, right?

Tribalism is based on shared obligations, and when we redefine ‘Us’ to mean everyone, although we are also ‘us’ working and living in the smaller, tightly connected communities that make up the lives of most people.

If there is an elite in the new future it will be those whose personal networks bridge many worlds, who help create solutions to large shared problems, those who synthesize views from many local cultures and viewpoints and make us richer for it. Those that aspire to bring us out of parochialism and division into a new sense of shared purpose and personal meaning derived from connectedness.

As in old tribalism, these leaders may not have title or office other than Doctor, Professor, or just plain Mademoiselle. But these new leaders will emerge, bottom-upped by the forces reshaping the world. Not produced by party politics, or even any democratic process. The most important ten million might be artists, musicians, whole-head entrepreneurs, writers, or community organizers. There’s plenty of room for new approaches to old problems, and the left hand of tribalism will mean that these bridges will be built to the warlords and criminals that will be managing the lot of the bottom billion, to the antidemocratic leaders of China, to the lost and alienated in Parisian suburbs and Brazilian favelas, and even to the so-called Islamists who seem intent on pulling us back into the 14th century.

All of this factionalism must be bridged. All of it. We can’t build a wall to keep some of us out. We are the whole anthill, the whole city of Earth, including the tough neighborhoods, the marketplace, and the University on the hill.

We can’t pretend to be just one group. We are many, but we can learn from the universals, and honor that which we all share: Law, rights and obligations to the group, fighting against the abuse of power, and a belief that the rights of the individual must be honored by the group. However, the freedoms and obligations of individuals to the group can be wildly different, although there is always a covenant. And mediated settlement for grievances is a universal, which gives us hope, despite patent idiocies like Guantanamo.

And it will fall to us, those living on the edge of the Web today, who have turned up at least some of what we need to be doing, and this is where we will build a bridge to all those teenagers in feral cities, to the two million living in US jails, and to the bottom billion in slums across the world. We must learn to hang together, or surely, we will all hang apart.


Consider farmer’s markets, as a trend, how they can link people back together through something amazingly basic: food. As mass agriculture falls back from its late 20th maximums, more food will be grown within a few hours of where it will be consumed. This will have all sorts of repercussions, but the increase in social involvement between growers and consumers will bring food back to the edge. This will be a global trend, as the costs, hazards, and unsustainability of mass agriculture become understood.

We should aspire to know the people growing our vegetables, or raising the rabbits, chickens, cattle, and fish that we eat. Food must become as participative as we have made media.

The increase of urbanization will lead cities to become even more important, and for nation states to decrease in their authority. People’s affiliation with small regions -- through tax revolts, referenda calling for increased autonomy, and outright breakaway -- will lead to a balkanization of power. While this can lead to all sorts of darkness -- ethnic cleansing, brushfire wars, and so on -- it will also counter some of the excesses of zero-sum western style nationalism. Consider a US or EU where state and national boundaries become increasingly irrelevant, but individual and social affiliation becomes increasingly localized. [This will also be driven by increasing awareness that nations cannot or will not respond to growing ecological crises, like Katrina.]


The concept of political or philosophical freedom is not a human universal, like thumbsucking and telling right from wrong are. As understood in the West, freedom is a set of principles that define the relationship of the individual to the nation state that exists to protect the governed. It deals with property rights, what the individual and the government can do legitimately, and how conflicts between individuals and between the state, individuals, and groups will be handled.

Freedom has grown from the feudal roots of medieval common law into something intertwined with the expansionist aspirations of the industrial era. The dark shadow of industrial freedom is the inherent tragedy of the commons implicit in unfettered striving for individual advance without obligation to others except through the mediation of government.

We have lost the human scale of connection that channeled freedom in socially relevant ways. The freedom to exploit private property in such a way that leads to the collapse of shared resources is the outcome of this socially unbound notion of freedom. And we see it at every scale: the neighbor who cuts down a wooded area, leading to the collapse of the habitat for animals in a much larger region; the city upstream that siphons off too much from a river, leaving those downstream to suffer; the nation that burns so much fossil fuel that the world heads for ecological catastrophe; the blogger that takes money to plug a product without disclosing the relationship.

We have lost the core social feedback loop, where individual choice was bounded by social obligation. Where the notion that we are all in this together, and while a specific individual may own some piece of property, everything is connected. All people are connected. The habitat on your patch of land has an impact on mine. Pouring poisons into your back forty will leech into the shared aquifer, and all our grandchildren will have increased rates of cancer. We have learned these truths the hard way, by letting freedom get ahead of our obligations to the group, at whatever level.

We are now moving into a time when we will scale freedom based on the social context involved. Ownership of a patch of land will not mean it can be destroyed for profit, because everything is connected in a fractal patchwork, so destruction always splashes onto those nearby. So groups will have to have a say in what freedoms will be accorded to their members.

However, those freedoms will be scaled based on many, some undemocratic, factors.

Those with the greater potential to cause damage will have to step up to the greater degree of obligation associated with that. So the greatest landholders are those whose freedoms will need to be checked most directly by group sanctions to make sure there is a world for any of us in the future. At the present time, however, it is more like the opposite.

The modern western notion of personal property will be tempered by this new understanding: that we are all connected on a tiny spaceship moving in the direction of the star Vega near the constellation of Hercules. Since we know that unfettered growth is unsustainable, we will have to rethink freedom at a fundamental level.

Most importantly, at every scale of social belonging a different sort of collective decision making (another universal) will have to be brought to bear to major problems. However, as we move away from mass government and into a Web future, direct participation in decisions of importance to us will be the norm.


However, new tribalism shows that democratic style voting and oppositionally entrenched political parties will give way to tribal chieftain style factionalism, hopefully tempered with social checks on violence and coercion. This is the way the Web works, and it appears to be in our wiring, for better or for worse.

The hope is that this new elite will be selected based on their ability to bridge across diverse groups, who excel at finding common cause. And we will learn to avoid those who seek to make personal benefit from their position of power, and we will turn away from leaders who treat the state or the land or the people as plunder.

I can safely predict that the journey ahead will not be easy. It is a true revolution with all the discord, disruption and contention that revolution implies.

The powers that be will resist our defection to new social systems that devalue their authority. We will be called names, derided, even imprisoned.

But the alternatives are even worse. If Web Culture -- we, the edglings -- don’t work to save the world, I fear that the many groups who share common cause will not be brought together.

We have to become the bridges between these pockets of the revolution. We have to be the midwife of the change we need to happen.

It falls to us to bridge these new social worlds. We must choose, we must accept this new and limited idea of freedom as the price of moving from the center to the edge.