America 2.0

The inaugural post here at iProgress is a statement of sorts. A redefinition of the terms of American organization. A redefinition of the relationship between citizens, community, government, power, culture, and the complex interactions and meanings associated with each. To be sure, the term ‘America 2.0’ didn’t start here, with the title of this post. If one ‘Googles’ the term it appears sporadically throughout blog posts, clever comments in various nooks and crannies of the Web, and even in a handful of mainstream articles.

What you won’t find anywhere (that I’m aware of) is any articulated vision of what an America 2.0 would look like and, in fact, what the idea means. Generally speaking, America 2.0 is a simple allusion to the idea that citizens and government interact differently as a result of Internet and social network technology. The simple notion that individuals can now communicate directly to and about the government and its institutions is the essence of America 2.0, as far as my exploration has uncovered. What I intend to pursue via this ‘borrowed’ and underdeveloped phrase is a reexamination of the relationship between Amercan community, its infrastructure, institutions, individuals, and symbolic environment. This undertaking will be conducted through a lens ground and refined by scholars and thinkers from a wide variety of disciplines, but best articulated through the tradition of media ecology and the men and women credited with providing the core structure of its philosophy.

As America 2.0 grows and evolves at iProgress, participation from readers and fellow philosophers, scholars, and citizens of all stripes will be key, for, you see, America 2.0 is not a place or a concept modeled on top-down thinking, but rather from collaborative, multi-directional, grassroots communication that typifies the media environment in which our national discourse is currently advancing fastest.

An important note about America 2.0: Nothing is more important to understand about this concept than the idea that our sense of national character, our culture and our communities, are experiencing a kind of structural schizophrenia in large part due to the contradictions found in the way we have extended ourselves into a world of digital, electronic networks that stand in stark contrast to the corporeal realities that make up the ‘natural’ world, for lack of a better term. On one hand, we’ve seen the acceleration of corporations and institutions operating in a stratosphere beyond the reach of most individuals and their relatively small claimant groups. We’ve see ourselves immersed in electronic environments which have transported our consciousnesses around the world without a care for space or time, but our ideas and beliefs have become increasingly disconnected from our bodies and the physicality of our environment, in which the importance of ‘meaning’ and ‘action’ of the greatest concern. This includes notions of fairness, morality, ethics, and a sense of empathy that is essential to our humanity. The specifics of this phenomenon are for another time and another post, but it’s important to recognize that the basis for America 2.0 must be one of structural integration where the physical world meets the conceptual and the cybernetic.

As the pioneer of the concepts discussed here at iProgress, I intend to drive the bus, so to speak, by providing some intellectual foundations for this concept. Some of the core principles and structural elements will be mine and will hopefully provide a singular coherence to the project. Input from outside sources will always be welcome and should push the project in a positive and broadly useful direction. America 2.0 is what we say it is, and the ideas will begin to crystallize here.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hey Mike; Followed the link from twitter. The tweet had me interested and the post has me anticipating where this thing can go. Love the idea of a more intimate interaction between people and the “untouchables” (politicians, figure heads, etc.). Looking forward to the next post!

  2. 2

    mikeplugh said,

    I don’t want to give away the farm on this yet, but you’ll be on the lookout for topics like:

    * Online fundraising models as a substitute for taxation
    * The Constitution as living document (wiki)
    * Centrality of libraries to community infrastructure
    * City planning for the 2.0 ecology

    …and more.

    These ideas are all foundation pieces for scholarship I hope to pursue in earnest soon. Keep an eye out and pass along the link to as many people as possible.

    Thanks for coming by, brother.

  3. 3

    Terrintokyo said,

    good start, Mike.

    A question about what I think you’re saying here:
    “…our ideas and beliefs have become increasingly disconnected from our bodies and the physicality of our environment, in which the importance of ‘meaning’ and ‘action’ of the greatest concern. This includes notions of fairness, morality, ethics, and a sense of empathy that is essential to our humanity…”

    In my own experience, the ideas of fairness, ethics and empathy have actually become more prominent on the net, at least in the communities I frequent (esp. DailyKos). In other words, could it be that online communities that might have only had the one note dog-eat-dog posture in the past, have now matured enough to see the practical need for an implicit or explicit guideline that adheres to those basic guidelines that sane people know ‘should’ operate in the ‘real world’?

    I dunno. just a thought.

    Congratulations on making this happen!

    • 4

      mikeplugh said,

      Good question and point Terri. What I’m trying to communicate in that passage is the idea that the collective definition work undertaken in online environments is quite useful, but exists more as a disembodied spirit than a set of applicable, tethered principles by which physical communities operate.

      One of the central arguments I intend to make regarding political identity and community grows from sociologist Charles Tilly’s observation that until late-18th and early-19th century Britain saw the extension of political action through organizations, prior to that time political claims were made via one’s embedded identity. Laborers, acting as laborers, would smash the shop machinery in protest of unfair treatments. I’d observe that the rapid evolution of electronic tools of communication facilitated the extension of political identity into organizational models, whereby direct action was replaced by indirect action…protest marches, demonstrations, petitioning, and so on. In our current environment, I argue that political identity has been extended even further, to the point that our political identity has gone from 100% internal to external to metaphysical (via the properties of consciousness and the medium of the Internet). Political action has moved from smashing machines, to marching in the streets, to clicking links and posting disembodies messages across the ether.

      I don’t seek to criticize any of these modes of civic participation, but rather to highlight the need to build physical environments in tune with our modes of meaning-making. In order to tie our collective identity building and definition making to the physical world, the mechanisms of the physical world that engage with our ideas and beliefs must be suitable for who we are as homo sapiens of the 21st century America.

      That’s where America 2.0 comes in. I intend to suggest some radical changes to the structure of our communities that will move in the direction I’ve described. Does that make any sense?

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