- "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision."
– Joel 3:14
Since the Enlightenment, the prevailing western mode of political thought has been that sovereignty—the power of governments—arises from the will of the people. This ethos also formed the culture of the early Internet era, where consensual decisions by the community of participants (who were relatively few and more homogenous than the population of all humanity) defined problem-solving and social architecture. Consequently, this digital version of popular sovereignty is a significant part of the perception of the modern Internet: Communities can exist for anyone, of anyone, without regard for geography.
This has led political theorists to speculate on the possibility of opt-in bodies politic, as opposed to geographically-defined entities. A person might choose to live in one location, but be a “citizen” of a community and subject only to the law of that community, rather than their physical place. In a system of Distributed Sovereignty, the participants of the community (or communities) might be spread apart geographically, but operate in a common virtual community and draw identity from that.
We also assume such a community would be strongly interested in developing technology to share and vote on matters of interest to the community. Social Media and Internet communities already make extensive use of methods such as the “like” and “share” and “upvote” to highlight the “best” content. These systems tie user social capital into the user’s ability to create material of interest to the community. Only instead of cat pictures, these would be laws.
Political theorists of the Enlightenment often worried about the power of the tyrannical majority, and such concerns would still be present within a government of Distributed Sovereignty. As would the problems of brigading, astroturfing, bots, fake news, content-free posts, and meta-humor.