The Reverse Revolution

Apple's newest venture is simply called "Places".

Without even asking, I know where this is going. Location-based networking is the new vogue in social media, and it looks like Apple is benching their innovative tendencies to leap onto the bandwagon.

And I don't blame 'em, although I can't help but wonder at the direction we're being taken. It's no secret the world shrank as access to the internet spread, and now it seems we're shrinking even further, but in a different, more perambulatory, living-in-a-village kind of way. Localized networking is rapidly becoming the de facto operating trend.

We're looking closer to home for our needs. We're starting to buy and eat produce that's grown on surrounding farms, for example, rather than chemically summoned from a Petri dish of genetically-beguiled sludge by a stooped man in a white coat. We're eating meat from happy, frolicking livestock that's been raised on rustic salad. We cook and eat these wonderful morsels in homes built and furnished by local artisans who take pride in their craft, instead of roaming gangs of drunken, drug-addicted, overweight ne'er-do-wells who either can't speak English or mumble it through a distressing paucity of teeth. And that's just the women.

Yes, it appears to me the cutting edge of our mobile technology is now allowing, nay, encouraging us to interact in the ways we did before we invented all this digital electronic devilry.

Let me pause for a moment while this incongruity sinks in.

I think I need to sit down.

So is it hegemony or homogeny?

After big business attempted to homogenize the world, now we're becoming more divisive. The point of homogeny was to increase blanket consumer satisfaction: every Big Mac across the world is identical. A Burger King french-fry is the same thickness and flavor in Nebraska as it is in Bahrain. Yet as we shift towards prioritizing local crafts, foods and services, aren't these massively-bloated purveyors of similarity panicking? Maybe just a smidgen? Can they continue to co-exist?

Of course, they're already trying. Starbucks, for example, urges their franchises to individualize their decor and foodstuffs (as long as the coffee remains identical, of course). Wendy's are making fries with bits of potato skin still on to demonstrate they’re actually made of potato (a marketing behavior I still find a little worrying). Sure, these are token differences, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

How long do you think it will it take us to start demanding more pronounced differences when we travel? Wouldn't it be wonderful to relish and explore the characteristics of different places, y'know, like we used to? This kind of used to be the whole point of traveling, after all. The entire concept of vive la différence has since been lost, somewhere, in the translation.

We appear to have come full circle.

Personally, I love doing my grocery shopping online and having it delivered to my door a few hours later. It harkens back to the days when such stores (albeit typically much smaller, family-run affairs) delivered foodstuffs via bicycle basket after a telephone call.

After fifty years of cultural revolution and a snowballing juggernaut of technological evolution we're finally arriving circuitously back to where we started, albeit now we're emailing our shopping lists in. (There the shopping is done and packed to be delivered via combustion-powered conveyance (liberally distributing a noxious cocktail of poisonous fumes along the way) to your dwelling. Sure, the fee could floor a granite boulder, but the convenience is palpably similar).

This was a task formerly accomplished in the same time or less by calling a human storekeeper with madly-pedaling offspring who surrendered their consignment, upon achieving your abode, for next to a nickel. Sometimes we even walked to the store and laboriously hauled it back ourselves. The very notion! If the current reverse revolution continues, I suspect this behavior may well replace the need for the expensive treadmill stoically gathering dust next to the cobweb-draped dumbbells in the spare room. Grocery shopping may even mushroom enough to supersede Crossfit as the next exercise fad. Then we can cancel our costly guilt-laced gym memberships and instead spend our shopping crusade conversations cheerfully marveling at these advances in social media technology.

Is this ultimately what big business' standardizing innovations and our pervasion of internet access is unwittingly pushing us towards; a regressive return to stuff we used to do? I think it is. And I think I like it.

So what's the next step?

If we're going to continue taking this truncating of the world to the nth degree, what's on the horizon?

Well, I have a radical idea for the next cultural downsize: how about we erect a purpose built structure (or convert a derelict gym), where we can actually physically juxtapose and engage in verbal dialogue? We could sell delicious alcohol-laced beverages to ease the gears of interaction and smooth the flow of discourse. Perhaps we could adorn the space with games of chance and skill, thereby honing our physical and mental dexterities? Maybe introduce some kind of coin-operated musical device to provide welcome melodious entertainment? A small stage could host the occasional live performance by local troubadours.

Hell, let's do it at my house. I'll get some more chairs and tables in, maybe knock a wall or two through to make the living room bigger. I'll build a bar. You don't know which house is mine? Not a problem, I'll hang a wooden sign over the door. I might even start brewing my own beer and selling it to the general public, that way I can do this full-time. I've even got a name for this venture: Public House! We could shorten it to "Pub".

The more I think about it, the more excited I’m getting. I can't wait to tell everybody on twitter.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. So it's funny that I was able to imbibe upon your epiphany by means almost completely contrary to the described direction that technology seems to be taking. I suppose I'm using the internet in some outdated fashion. I would not have read your blog unless a theological monolith alien to my culture and geography hadn't mistakenly re-tweeted a letter I enjoyed by another lesser known (to me), but from all appearances, more locally attuned jello-loving practitioner of some form of Jesus Jiu Jitsu. Anyway, since I liked his thoughts the tweet telling me to take some time and tarry upon your blog was a suggestion that I took with a voyeurous expectation of receiving upon my mind another insight to life foreign to my specific cultural context, but never-the-less an enlightenment to my broader worldview. I found it fascinating that by means of diffusion, anonymity, and accident I happened upon a strangers note that illuminated within my mind a desire to uncover the unique components of my community that I had apparently convinced myself I could find with my computer.


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