Colonising Virtual Space


In Toronto recently, and now Sydney and Melbourne, I am having plenty of opportunity to contemplate the energy and determination it took for the original settlers to survive and thrive in what must have been hugely challenging circumstances. I find myself comparing their circumstances with those of the people I am here helping, people trying to bring the social web into the world of business. The same attributes of vision, courage and determination are needed. As are immense amounts of sheer bloody hard work. Building infrastructure, establishing laws, growing culture – the parallels are many.

However I then began to think about the downsides of modern cities. They all dominate the natural environment and, with a few local nuances, the architecture, populations, and culture are pretty much the same. They have also dominated, and to a large extent exclude, the indigenous populations.

I then found myself re-considering the parallels with the web. Maybe the geeks and early adopters are like the indigenous populations who worked with the land and lived in harmony with it. Maybe the settlers are the people who now follow on and “civilise” things turning online conversations into “social media” and BBS’s into Facebook. The hunting and gathering of the hyperlink will be turned into the factory farming of “social search”.

Maybe the geeks and idealists will end up being contained in reserves while the onward creep of northern European, middle class, industriousness continues to dominate the planet and the people on it ……