|A new class of person has emerged in the online world: Digital Natives. While living in San Francisco, I also live on the Internet. The Internet is now a place: a two dimensional world that has transcended the web; there is no government, and the citizens are Digital Natives. As Digital Natives, we are not people that only exist in a physical sense–we are something or someone metaphysically different. We are no longer just citizens of say, the United States; we are also citizens of the Internet.|
The concept of the Digital Native is a paradigm shift. In the past, there were movements, but not full worlds where one can exist and do as one pleases in parallel with their physical being. Some Digital Natives are deeply affiliated with all sorts of interests that bring them together organically: Piracy groups, massively multiplayer online games, open source software development, cracking encryption, etc. Others become deeply interested in movements such as Anonymous, the RBN (Russian Business Network), or even terrorist organizations.
I’m not trying to say a Digital Native is better than someone unplugged in the Congo, I am trying to say they exist in a different social construct.
Some Digital Natives may feel like their digital citizenship takes precedence over their physical citizenship. They choose not to define themselves by what country they live in but, rather, by what online movement(s) they are involved in. In these situations, what law does one live by? How are the actions of a Digital Native regulated? Governments don’t know how to react to, control, or assert power over them in these situations.
Digital Americans are no longer just American citizens–they have a deep affiliation as Internet citizens as well.
This scares the crap out of Governments all over the world, because they are ill prepared to deal with these situations. To government regimes that are comfortable asserting their control, this concept is terrifying. How do they counteract the changes online and the movements? Do they need to change their politics, defense, propaganda, and warfare?
Apparently the U.S. Government thinks so. In June of 2009, under an order signed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Pentagon announced it will create a Cyber Command to oversee the U.S. military’s efforts to protect its computer networks and have presence in “cyberspace”.
Now even the US Military war machine is joining the world of Digital Natives.
I’m a bit worried, not for us, but for them.