Our second session of our 2022 Tech + Culture series dives into the emerging trends of community building as facilitated by technologies. Connection by community is innate to species existence, impacting ecosystems with even the smallest shifts of alliances. The human species has of course elevated this capacity for connection through intellectual and technological constructs exclusive to mankind. During our session on Individuality, we resoluted that our individual relationship with technologies need grave attention precisely because of the fact that how we experience ourselves determines how we interact with others. The impact of technologies on our experience of self is therefore informing how communities are transforming and evolving into the future. The migration of community from the physical life to the metaverse is also shifting how we experience community, stretching the limitations of the boundaries and cultures of society around the world.
Techno Cultural Evolution
Many of us grew up looking for community online. Techno evolution made it so that we could explore connections beyond the boundaries of our physical and cultural communities. Learning about others, led to the questioning of our own values, rituals and practices. By exploring what else is out there, we are able to stretch and discover different facets of ourselves. With greater exposure, there is both greater enchantment and greater resistance. Most of all there was greater expansion into the possibilites of what communities could become. It offers cultures that are more private in practice, an outlet to engage more (Saudi Arabia has the highest penetration of active Twitter users). Countries with over population and mobility challenges have shifted to hybrid online community interaction long before the pandemic made it a norm. Cultural movements of diversity and inclusion sweep across the techno globe.
The pandemic also accelerated the shift of community experiences from physical to digital, challenging our understanding of what it means to be 'connected'. Platform fatigue is real. The more we spend time online, there more we crave to share actual physical space with others. Such (platonic) intimacy is integral to cultural bonding and has yet to–and many will argue can never–be simulated. What has emerged however, is a form of anonymous intimacy that technologies facilitate, inviting people to quickly abandon (cultural) guards and reflexes that are present in the physical world, allowing them to reach a different dimension of connection. In such depths of new connections, our cultural ideals are reimagined as we negotiate what to hold on to, and what to leave behind.
The power of community does not go unnoticed especially in a tech-enabled world. The opportunity offered by tech to enhance that power, through data and analytics, has become a key proponent in developing tech for community. Collective intelligence is about gaining insights for a–more often than not profit-driven–purpose. But what does community intelligence look like? How can we build value for nurturing a community beyond just the financial returns? What are the principles of community building that can serve sustainable and successful growth?
Ultimately, the success of a community is dependent on the purpose of the community and the role of the participants of the community. Technology offers us technical solutions for how to facilitate community, but the success of a community is as dependent–if not more–on the need that it's fulfilling. Different technologies will have different features that may be leveraged differently to fulfill specific needs, but no one tool is greater than the other. As we continue into the future, the search for community will continue to push boundaries through social and gaming platforms and into the metaverse through VR and AR (and eventually in some combined experience of the two). What it means for society is yet to be known.
May 23, 2022 5pm CET
How does technology challenge our accepted reality? What other dimensions can we access with technology? What does it mean about our experience of death?
September 12, 2022 5pm CET
Do you have topics you want to discuss in future sessions? Share your ideas on Slack.