Lord of the Tribes (The Glass House 31/5/06)

Two 26 year old Brits are hoping to turn a remote Fijian island into a tribal community, basing it on backpacking culture. And we all know there’s nothing more tribal than a bunch of British backpackers…

The plan is to fund the island via 5000 online tribe members who then get voting and visiting rights and meals and accommodation for a couple of weeks. But, best of all, they finally have an excuse to wear a loincloth.

They.re developing the island in an ecologically-sustainable manner. Which, if you believe John Howard, means they’re building nuclear power plants. / Which, if you believe Bob Hawke, means they’re using it as a nuclear waste dump.

It’s not the first time the English have taken over a pristine tropical island paradise and ruled at the whim of foreign communities far away…

The members of the online community all get voting rights. Don’t send spam around or you could get fed to the sharks.

The organisers are slightly worried that even if the online community runs well, the experiment may not work as well when tribe members meet face to face. And with no electricity on the island, the online community idea breaks down a little too.

Since the island doesn’t have electricity, and the voting is done online, unfortunately the only people who can vote on what happens to the island are those who aren’t actually there at the time…

The island has no water, electricity or shops: sounds like the perfect place for a holiday!

But with no shops, water or electricity, what are the voters voting for? Where to put the campfire? Whether to eat the dodgy-looking berries or the dodgy-looking leaves? Who to kill and eat first?

It’s going to be based on “backpacker culture”, but the organiser doesn’t want “people to see it as a cheap holiday to drink lots of booze and hook up with the pretty girl they saw online”. Does anyone else see the problem here?

It’s a unique experiment – to see if people who spend their life running a community online can spend two weeks away from a computer.

Only people who have joined the online community can visit the actual island. It’s like Survivor for nerds.

The island has no electricity – I guess their internet works by carrier pigeon.

It’s a great place for a holiday, and you get to build the resort yourself! / and you get to dig your very own shitpit!

There’s four people living on the island at the moment; it’s basically a sharehouse surrounded by sharks.

The current island population is four. Yeah, it’s a pretty small island. Basically a single sharehouse – so it’s ideal to host a couple of hundred British backpackers!

The organiser claims he’s not a hippie; he comes from a classic middle-class English public school background. Just like most other hippies.

The two organisers have a very clear idea of how the island will work. You just pay a few hundred dollars, and then you get to submit to their unquestioned rule!

You do have to chip in when you get to the island. The first group of 200 have to build a boat to get back off.

There are limited food options. You can only eat fish that’ve been caught off the beach, birds that have been speared on the island, or McDonalds.

The population of the island is currently just four native fisherfolk. And a Starbucks.

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