The human race owes much of its past success to big cities (regardless of whether individuals like them or not). When it comes to cities, bigger is better, but we can’t seem to get more than 0.5 percent of us into any given city, so getting to 5 percent (350,000,000) is pretty much unthinkable. We can’t even imagine what it would look like.
Perhaps a different approach is needed. Can humanity reap the benefits of bringing together hundreds of millions of minds without physically gathering them to one location?
The answer was supposed to be the Internet. The Internet, and specifically, the Worldwide Web, promised to connect people, the way cities do, minus the attendant physical limitations. It promised to make geography obsolete, and physical proximity unimportant.
The internet is definitely good at connecting people in certain ways. Facebook has 800 million users who log on regularly. That’s well over 10% of the world’s population, and about 40% of the world’s 2.1 billion internet users, and they got there in under 8 years.
What happened, then? Why is physical proximity still so important? What is wrong about the way the web has evolved?