10 April 2008

The future of Europe lies in email

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Clay Shirky
Clay Shirky, author of the book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organising without Organisations (see also these posts), argues in a short essay that the future of Europe lies in email:

“The EU is the test case for the effects of the Internet on government. No other multi-national region of the world has gone so far to dismantle national broders. Within the EU there are no passport checks, no customs checks at internal broders, and no barriers to work – any citizen of any of the 12 EU countries can work in any other EU country without needing a visa. Things that Americans take for granted, like being able to move 3000 miles for a job, are available to the citizens of the EU for the first time. In other words, the EU has most of the trappings of a country except the citizens, and the citizens are being produced at places like easyEverything. The people sending their email there are Europe’s first post-national generation, its first Internet generation, the first group of people who can move from one country to another if they hear that life is better elsewhere. The willingness of this generation to ignore national identity is going to confound their elders, the people who have grown up convinced that sentiments like ‘The Germans are efficient and humorless, while the Italians are undisciplined and fun-loving’ have an almost genetic component. Nationality matters less than economics – the Internet generation is going to behave more like customers than citizens.”

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