A New Year invitation to become a citizen of what is claimed to be the world's first virtual country - not a virtual world - is out there for all to accept. Wirtland (pronounced Virtland I believe) was established in August 2008 and Cristopher Luengo, the country's external relations manager is currently busy with a ning site, connecting on Linkedin and other social networking platforms. It will be interesting to see what relationships he forges, whether public relations will be at the heart of Wirtland's 'international diplomacy' and what GDP tally results over time.
It is a novel concept and Wirtland's latest information suggests Bulgaria is discussing official recognition of this new country without borders. The thought occurs to me that if everyone starts setting up their own virtual countries will we simply transport the problems of the fabric, real world, into the web states that are brought into being? Or would it be possible to create something new and more workable than the states we have now? It looks unlikely - after all one of the first activities of the Wirtland community seems to be running a 'Miss Wirtland' contest. Not necessarily something I feel might change either the virtual or real worlds. I can think of other things I would want to do first - especially as they seem to be quite earnest in their endeavours. If they put up an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest then I'll know it's a gag. That said, is online dominion the logical next stage for Web 2.0? Or would any 'new country' simply descend into the kind of digibabble that we find on Twitter and similar tools?
Anyone who is not happy with their own country can become a Witizen and will get a passport and other documents to prove they belong. The creators stress it is not a virtual world, in the same sense as Second Life, but a sovereign country that simply has no borders. So if you fancy emigrating online, now's your chance, before the virtual 'land rush' begins.