Thoughts on Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism

The use of bowling as part of the “old” groupings is a red flag for me. My wife bowls in a league every Friday night. You know that this means? We can never go out with friends on Fridays. We can never go to synagogue on Fridays. We can never go away for a weekend. We can never eat at a normal hour on Fridays. We can never go to a play or movie on Fridays, unless they start after 9:00.

It takes a stubbornness and determination to live in a networked society and cling to a little box group (not to mention an understanding spouse).

But I think this points out an interesting point. In the past, geography was probably the most limiting factor in the groups people belonged to. In the future it will be choice. If you do not make an explicit choice, you will belong to groups for very limited timeframes; you will lose the advantages of long term relations and bonds. If you do make an explicit choice to belong and to remain an active member, you will lose the opportunities to form new bonds and interests that can be more exciting, especially for short amounts of time.

In one sense it’s like love, and in another it’s like exercise. There is an excitement about the first kiss, the first few dates, and the many other “firsts” in a new relationship. You lose those in a long term relationship; but you gain something else, something that is deeper. In exercise, we all know how exercise helps the body and the mind. We all, at one time or another, end up joining gyms and/or buying equipment. But, how many of us stick with the regimen for decades?

So, does this indicate that there is more need for us all to learn how to make better personal decisions and how to balance the advantages of maintaining course with change?

Second thought

As the article talks about the decreasing influence of space, I start thinking of my company. We are two partners, both working from our homes. In once sense, we could be anywhere, but we are about 35 minutes from each other. Thus, proximity must have been an influence, but is not now a limiting factor.

And, while we are in the northeast, we work with associates all over the US. But even then, these are associates that we have gotten to know at conferences within a particular industry, and then worked with virtually on projects. These associates work with us on projects where their expertise can help us; they are not corporate employees, there is no formal binding contract; yet we seem to work with them often; and we make some sacrifices beyond contractual obligations so that their needs can be met, as they also make concessions so that ours are as well. Associates usually start with a specific well-defined role, but their roles grow as our mutual desire to work together becomes more important than the specific skills they offered us at inception. And, with most associates, we continue to see them at least 2-3 times a year.

Certainly, the ability to share document (Google docs) and to message each other makes working in this disparate way easier.

And, we have clients all over the world. Again, we have met most of these clients at industry conferences. All have some US component. All speak English reasonably well.

How will our interactions and feeling of belonging to a group change as we grow?

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