No more "we".

Many early internet users heralded the arrival of the "netizen" - the user who, even though he or she was sitting in front of his or her personal computer at home, was somehow part of a vast community of users that possessed an awareness of, and a desire to be part of, that community. Instead of taking to the streets, "the people" took to their PCs. Only the venue had changed - the sense of community remained.

But that's only one possible perspective on that transition. Another would suggest that even before we started reaching out to the world via the internet, any actual semblance of community had become particularized. What may have been a collection of individuals who through a common interest became, at least for a fleeting moment, a movement, broke up into highly categorized interest groups, groups with their own axes to grind and little ability to go beyond their particularlist interests in order to remain a movement.

The internet seems surprisingly well-suited for these particularist, one-cause, groups. Within the vast expanses of cyberspace any group can find even a handful of like-minded people to form a "community". The internet allows us to pick and choose our own mini-crowd. And each mini-crowd thinks that its decisions are wise ones because they stem from a crowd, regardless of the fact that the crowd was defined in advance as one that would make particular decisions.

Go to: Are crowds really that smart?