Tribal Cultures

In this article I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, Chris Anderson talks about how cultural references are more fragmented than we might think. Starting with the whole NYT Goatse “incident” he noticed that even though you might work, play and live with various people, you don’t necessarily share the same bits of culture. Things that you think are obviously part of what surrounds you and form your culture aren’t necessarily known by all.

I realize that time and again when working onsite with various clients. When talking with other “internet people” who build websites, spend time on the web and generally know what it is I’m often stunned at what they don’t know. When I first started this blog 2.5 years ago I couldn’t believe that the guys I was working with, programmers, hackers, guys who read Slashdot for christ’s sake! Didn’t know what a blog was. (They did know about goatse though, that’s where I learned to lock my screen when leaving my desk!) We shared a “tribe” but I was also part of a whole different one.

Even though we shared a lot of web related knowledge there was a whole wide slice of it that I knew intimately, felt was closely connected with the rest and yet they had no idea about it. Same thing happens with current clients, I expect web designers, information architects and coders to know what is going on and yet an astonishing number of them don’t know about Flickr, del.icio.us, Wikis, blogs (although that’s becoming rare) or RSS. They have no idea wha’t going on with the recent slew of web apps. To me these are intrical to the web I work and play in, to where the web is going and yet so many draw a blank. I guess that’s why I have enough work to make a living at it ;).

Going back to Anderson’s post though, he was thinking more about “purely cultural” things, not technological trends, he listed 10, of which I know 7, so I guess we share a lot of the same tribes. He also points to this great Wikipedia page about internet phenomenons and it lists a lot of them. Lots of fun/weird stuff in there.


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