The Cloud Kingdoms of the Network
As the Network continues the process of condensing into discreet clouds, different environmental capabilities emerge and borderlines are drawn between the kingdoms. Sovereignty takes the form of providing a scalable computing infrastructure on which immigrants can homestead. The cloud kingdom must reliably provide arable land, keep the borders between the lands of neighbors and protect the cloud from external invaders. Clouds are not democracies, the Prince is not an elected position— his domain is seized and created out of the aether of the Network.
We seem to be entering the Hobbesian era of the Network, we seek the protection and benefits offered by the Sovereign clouds. As the hinterlands begin to fill up with brigands and pirates, safe transport cannot be guaranteed on the open roads of the Network. Within the borders of the cloud’s sovereign territory, the administrative privileges of the Prince allow for the removal of elements that may disturb the established order.
Once a kingdom has been firmly established, it begins to gather around it the accoutrement of culture. It engages a court architect, scientist, composer, scribe, and jester. It’s through the work of these artisans that the legacy of the kingdom will live in the hearts and minds of its subjects.
In a classical kingdom, the border is defined as the perimeter of the physical lands of the kingdom. As the size of the kingdom grows, the border becomes more difficult to defend. The recent incident with a leak of digital data puts the dilemma of the modern Prince into stark relief. As every node within the cloud potentially stands at the border, the allegiance of the sovereign’s subjects becomes an issue of the greatest importance.
Real-time computing enables the cloud kingdom to offer a privately public message stream that narrates the current state of the kingdom. The subjects of the kingdom tell the kingdom how it is in the present moment through permanent marks in a messaging system. This information is used to the benefit of the kingdom and its subjects. The real-time message stream also creates the possibility of a real-time streaming leak. The admonition to not put into an email any comments that you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing printed in your morning newspaper, will put a damper on the value of a real-time conversation.
Some would contend that the border cannot be defended, and that only a form of absolutely public transparency is suitable for use within a Network-connected digital medium. This would imply that any broader, more expressive form of speech must occur outside of the digital context. To counter this, the Prince must argue that, within his cloud, the power of his security measures will guarantee the border and the private communications of his subjects.
We live in interesting times.