The Great Fragmentation: We Are All Weirdos Now

Tech Crunch | July 12, 2014

By Jon Evans

“Technology isn’t a section in the newspaper any more. It’s the culture,” quoth Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, prompting some eyebrow-raising by Guardian and New York Times columnists. And here’s some more from TechCrunch… but my stance is a bit different. “The culture”? That’s an oxymoron. There is no such thing as majority mainstream culture any more. We are all weirdos now — thanks to tech.

Balaji Srinivasan of Andreessen Horowitz wrote a terrific, farsighted piece in Wired last year, in which he observed:

An infinity of subcultures outside the mainstream now blossoms on the Internet — vegans, body modifiers, CrossFitters, Wiccans, DIYers, Pinners, and support groups of all forms. Millions of people are finding their true peers in the cloud, a remedy for the isolation imposed by the anonymous apartment complex or the remote rural location … The latest wave of technology is not just connecting us intellectually and emotionally with remote peers: it is also making us ever more mobile, ever more able to meet our peers in person.

He suggests that a “reverse diaspora” could cause groups of likeminded people to come together and form new communities — indeed, new nations; “cloud cities or countries.” Which immediately brings to mind the phyles of Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, geographically distributed nations whose footprints are dispersed unevenly all over the world rather than contained within a single contiguous piece of real estate.

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