By James Cherkoff, Collaborate Marketing.
A couple of years ago, I heard Sir Tim Berners-Lee describe the muddled state of his splendid creation in this way :
‘If your sink is blocked for a few weeks and you remove the plug to dig out the obstruction, the offending mangled mess of soap, fish bones, human hair and other horrible gunk in which bacteria has set up home, is exactly like the World Wide Web’.
Now, for many tech-heads, geeks, tinkerers, everyone in Silicon Valley and other early-adopters it didn’t get much better than this organic mush. And the gooey paradise remained intact for a long time. However, for the mainstream (aka Everyone Else In The World) the web remained a mysterious, slightly sad place where only-the-lonely gathered.
But the online social revolution has blown away this view. In part, by throwing up some gated communities, such as AppStores and Social Networks, where regular folk can talk to each other without fear of their Gucci loafers getting sullied by geek-grime. In fact, for many, it even became rather exciting to mix with the technorati and let some of their magic coding dust rub off. But not too much. And certainly none of the whiffy stuff.
Personally speaking, gated communities where the comfortably-off huddle from the excrutiating ravages of real life, such as potholes and unmown lawns, always sound pretty dull to me. However, there are times when we’d all like to withdraw into sanctuaries of expert topiary and poo-free paving, away from the open clutter of the real world. In such harbours of tranquillity there are no worries about unsightly neighbours or anti-social viruses. The no-nonsense management are constantly poised, ready to pulverise any shady individual who dares to disturb the peace. For some, such walled gardens become claustrophobic as they tire of the same faces and fences. The security staff start to look like prison guards and the disorderly streets where the everyday folk dwell begin to look enticingly vibrant.
(Not that I’ve ever spent anytime in a gated community you understand. Although I did once spend two weeks at Centre Parcs and was very relieved to escape, er, I mean depart).
However, for many these well-ordered suburban enclaves that consist of friends, family and neighbours is exactly what’s required. All the time. And this is what the early-adopters, geeks and webnorati struggle to understand. The gurus who rail against the vice-like grip of Steve Jobs brighter, lighter, whiter Appstore, or Zuckerberg’s perfectly manicured Facebook empire, overlook that most people don’t want to see what’s blocking their sinks. And they don’t mind if that hardwired convenience means the management is watching over them. They just want to get on with their happy, gunk-free lives.