There's an interesting debate brewing around what Robert Scoble describes as the passionates vs the non passionates, or alternatively described as the first adopter/ Crunchmemeosphere vs the rest of the world. Loren Feldman's contribution is as always directly to the point, and the point remains one of an event horizon of echo within a small statistical group of tech lovers vs the greater community.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance..... And, when the echoes had ceased, like a sense of pain was the silence. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It's easy to be passionate about technology and the internet and its place in the world, and I make no apologies for often joining the crowd in sharing a passion for the new and shiny. But any such immersion is always taken with a grain of salt, the seeded idea that for all that I feel necessary to buzz that often many of these products are doomed to fail, the concept of mainstream acceptance replaced by one that lacks a business plan, that aims for the next Crunchmeme headline or Arrington write up and ignores the billions outside of the space.
Have we, living inside a bubble of who is first with what is shiniest lost touch with the world outside our digital frontiers, a world where MySpace became the king of social networking, and where Photobucket is the prefered choice of photohosting over the tag friendly Flickr. A world where people don't have 300 accounts across 25 microblogging platforms, a dozen social networking sites, and god knows how many other sites we tried then forgot 5 minutes later.
Strangely, it's why I loved Gnomedex so much. It wasn't the typical tech conference crowd and speaker list, instead Chris challenged the audience with a rich tapestry of varied thought, from Mars, to Ignite, and the realities of the global poor through the efforts of the simply amazing Beth Kanter. Next to the Cyborg Anthropologist was a guy who made a living bringing 4chan cats to the mainstream, and a guy who spends his time dancing around the world. Certainly in depth occasionally it may have been frivolous, but it was a strong reminder that outside of the crunchmemeosphere that there are people creating, challenging, innovating, and they aren't simply tied to the next business plan free first adopter aimed web startup.
I heard...... the great echo flap And buffet round the hills from bluff to bluff. Lord Alfred Tennyson
Every space needs its first adopters and passionates. The seed that spreads the word of value must always start somewhere. In a world dominated by corporate manipulation that the tech world has cast aside its reliance on the corrupted memes of mainstream media instead allowing a guy like Scoble to have a voice that spreads further than the newspapers of old is a positive. But it must be taken with not a grain of salt, but with an entire truckload, because in replacing one medium with another we are creating our own elites, an echo that bounces round the hills from bluff to bluff, with the rest of humanity often residing on the other side, oblivious to our rambles.
I will not pretend to offer an answer to the problem, particularly when I am sometimes a contributor to it. Keeping it real is a poor cliche, but the reality distortion medicine should be prescribed in twice daily doses from your family doctor. Rise up from your keyboards and cross the street, observe if you're outside of the Valley the unwashed masses living without many of the things we use. See how the things they use are different, and note that while it is alright to like shiny things, the real opportunities lie outside of the cruchmemeosphere we live in.
headline credit: Alexander Pope