One aspect of small settlements worth noting is the fact that they were small enough to make identity theft near impossible. This is no longer the case in a world 'village' for myriads of reasons. Privacy and anonymity remains the last defense at personal level until perfection (in a practical sense at least) of global identification and authentication technologies.
Privacy is a fleeting phenomenon---up to mid-19th century most of the population lived in small settlements where everyone knew everything about everyone else. The privacy emerged when large numbers of people moved into cities and formed anonymous crowds.
What is happening now is just an end to this short period---the technology catches up with us and loss of anonymity and privacy is just one more consequence of the entire world becoming one huge village.
Yes, that identification "catching you" is the fodder for many recent headlines. While I agree with you in theory, and I don't hide behind that anonymity of the Internet, there's a part of me that relishes the idea of, at times, not being quite so unique.
In a world of ever expanding numbers, the ability to hide from surveilance is easier in the cyber world than the real world.
On-line, you can say you are anyone and there is little verification done. (One of the many areas I would change). In the real world you have to present photo ID and valid credit card, but when you throw in video surveilence, You or your clone leave a unique identification wherever you go. That identification can eventually catch you.
So I am all for a tighter identification process on-line so that individuals are again unique.
Just my opinion.