People who pack up and transport their house twice a year become choosy about their possessions. I recently traveled among the nomads of Mongolia for two weeks and had a chance to inspect their belongings. I was there to photograph their traditional practices, which were more intact than I expected. Along the way I discovered the Mongolians may have a few lessons for the future of digital culture.
The population of Mongolia is 3 million. Half of them live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, which may be the least green city in the world. Drab Soviet apartment blocks cram a town without parks, lawns, or trees. The other half of Mongolians live in deeply rural areas. An abrupt boundary at the edge of the city marks the end of the concrete and the beginning of the infinite grasslands that stretch to the horizon.
For the next 600 miles in any direction there is not a single fence on this treeless lawn. The cropped grass wraps the contours like a green rug. This uninterrupted carpet is marred by very few paved roads, and fewer electrical lines. It is perhaps the most primeval landscape on the planet: wide open plains of nothing but grass, rock, and sky.