Inside Asia Podcast

Reimagining “Community” (w/ Kai Soto)

December 2, 2021

I open this episode with a question: What is community? It’s changed, I’d argue. Not by definition, so much. But in terms of what people have come to expect from it. And I’m putting emphasis here on the word “expect.” 

In our digital world, joining a community can be as basic as adding one’s thoughts to a chat, then leaving. Or as complex as building a movement and enlisting global “followers.” There are even names for these modes of engagement. In the first instance, post a controversial or unpopular message, and you’re called a “troll.” In the second instance, say or do something big, rash, or daring, and you’re branded an “influencer.” In the crazy and mixed up world of digital communities, these traits foster both envy and derision.

My guest this episode, Kai Soto, suggests that something’s been lost in our rampant drive to build community solely on the foundation of datasets. That’s what the world of digital social media has done for the most part. Some good has come from it. I wouldn’t be so bold to suggest it hasn’t. But something has gone missing as well. My conversation with Kai tries to get to the bottom of it.

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