Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

What it means to have a community has changed dramatically over the last two decades. In the latest episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, host Reid Hoffman discusses where things stood in 1997, when he was founding an early social media company:

"The idea with SocialNet was that the online community was important, but what most mattered was local community, was the people that you actually spent time with around you, that you could touch, the tactile experience of the people you're going through life together."

Why it matters: Where community was once tied to your geographic location and the people around you, the internet and the rise of social networks broadened that definition to include any group with a shared interest, writes media trends reporter Sara Fischer.

The value of these communities is clear in cases where geographically dispersed people share a problem or cause, like those dealing with rare forms of cancer, immigrants acclimating to a new country, and mothers in need of breast milk to keep their kids healthy.

  • Yes, but: Virtual communities based on shared interests can have dark sides, too, particularly when it comes to politics. Social media users often self-select into groups with similar points of view, creating so-called filter bubbles that can increase polarization and discourage civil discourse.

To Hoffman's point, the web has also created more opportunities for people to connect with those people physically close to them through geo-targeted event postings, recommendations and groups catering to those with a shared interest within the same town or city.

Be smart: Despite all the opportunities to connect with others digitally, people across age groups ultimately crave in-person interactions, according to a recent SurveyMonkey poll for "Axios on HBO".

Expand chart
Data: SurveyMonkey poll conducted Nov. 9 to 13 among 1,820 U.S. adults. Total margin of error is ±3 percentage points. Modeled error estimates: Ages 18–34 ±6, Ages 35–46 ±4, Ages 65+ ±7. Survey methodology. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Go deeper: Listen to the full episode of the Masters of Scale podcast.

Go deeper

Wall Street is no longer betting on Trump

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Betting markets have turned decisively toward an expected victory for Joe Biden in November — and asset managers at major investment banks are preparing for not only a Biden win, but potentially a Democratic sweep of the Senate and House too.

Why it matters: Wall Street had its chips on a Trump win until recently — even in the midst of the coronavirus-induced recession and Biden's rise in the polls.

With new security law, China outlaws global activism

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The draconian security law that Beijing forced upon Hong Kong last week contains an article making it illegal for anyone in the world to promote democratic reform for Hong Kong.

Why it matters: China has long sought to crush organized dissent abroad through quiet threats and coercion. Now it has codified that practice into law — potentially forcing people and companies around the world to choose between speaking freely and ever stepping foot in Hong Kong again.

48 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: There is no new normal

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The longer the coronavirus pandemic lasts, the farther we're moving apart, according to our analysis of nearly four months of data from the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Ever since life in the U.S. as we knew it came to a screeching halt, we've been trying to get our heads around what a "new normal" will look like. But so far, the politicization of the virus — and our socioeconomic differences — are working against any notion of national unity in impact or response.