This article introduces and explores connections between rural traditions and contemporary projects of voluntary cooperation within emergent online network practices. The key examples are mainly from Finland, the Baltic Sea region, and USA. Reflections are made on the emergence of such connections during a transdisciplinary seminar organised by the author. The main body of the essay mixes social and network culture history, including rural village community support, known as “talkoot” in the Finnish language, its establishment within cooperative development during the 20th century, and the information communications and technology society of contemporary Finland. Discussions of collaborative web platforms such as wikis, the BitTorrent protocol, and “crowd-sourcing” open up questions considering their relation to older cultural traditions. The paper concludes with contemporary examples of where traditions of rural cooperation have conceptually assisted several Finnish entrepreneurial and activist projects. Throughout the paper “the swarm” is identified as a concept worth exploring further to illustrate where the expansive potential of network culture meets concentrated local action.
Rural Co-operation and Online Tools