I just went back to something I wrote four years ago in Shanghai, working on a letter about my early days in publishing and how they shaped what Berkshire Publishing Group is becoming today, and found that I was writing then about community as well as about my October letter’s subject: the “two cultures” and how we are working to bring this great divide through interdisciplinary collaboration. I’ve also been thinking about the protests near Wall Street in New York, only a couple miles from where I sit on a miraculously warm and bright October day, and about the role our sense of community (as well as the lack of a sense of community) plays in both the protests and the financial system that is at issue. Here’s what I commented in 2007 at the Berkshire Blog:
When I attend events with lots of Internet-savvy people, like this forum in Shanghai on Nurturing and Commercializing Online Communities, I’m struck by a new type of “two cultures” divide. There’s a business aspect, which I’ll write about later, but what struck me first were the casual references to “living digitally” and “virtual life.” Myself, I don’t think there is such a thing as a virtual life, though I’m happy to use online interaction to enrich my life and work. We have only one life, and our connections with other people are amongst the most important determinants of our personal happiness and our accomplishment and legacy.