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by Ewelina Czapla

The impact of the Internet on our ability to communicate and govern can be described through a two-phase approach where phase one technological impacts accelerate an existing process while phase two impacts are technological changes that create profound change to the way society functions.

The spread of Internet connectivity in past decades has greatly increased the ability to maintain personal communications as well as grow commerce, a phase one impact. The rise of the Internet has increased the ability to interact regularly with individuals thousands of miles away and conduct business without ever physically interacting with your customer. Your product may be produced in one country by a factory you contracted with, stored in a facility that you rented elsewhere and shipped by an international carrier to your customers in yet a third country; location is no longer a limitation. With the creation of bitcoin, it has become possible to maintain a digital trade where traditional banks and state regulations are a moot point, maintaining a digital economy.

Governance in the future may be conducted outside geographic boundaries within a digital realm where individuals are offered citizenship, a common currency and the ability to conduct business. Global movements may be spawned by an active leader with internet access who is not affiliated with any traditional government construct. We may well see the concept of an online nation arise as groups composed of geographically disparate people come together with common goals and a common currency, a phase two impact of Internet connectivity.

Traditional geographically bound states, which created the infrastructure for digital states to arise, must now consider the impact of these disparate populations coming together. This will leave many questions to be answered regarding the legitimacy and role of an online nation.