We (everybody, I’m guessing) are currently floating along the digital tide, peering out through the translucent and pliable—but potentially fragile—vistas of Web 2.0, the rubble of the revolution baking on a treeless island behind us, the glistening, mineral-rich sand of possibility strewn along the shoreline just over the lip of the bow—whichever direction the bow lay in a bubble.
It’s not a dotcom or real estate or credit bubble. No, those have burst already, dumping the starry-eyed faithful into the sea or, if they could swim well enough, into the new bubble, which Tim O’Reilly says is a “reality bubble.”
Well, yeah, I’ve been watching the election coverage.
But that’s not what he meant. CNet’’s Caroline McCarthy captures what he meant nicely, reporting from the Web 2.0 Expo:
“[Y] ou have to conclude, if you look at the focus of a lot of what you call ‘Web 2.0,’ the relentless focus on advertising-based consumer models, lightweight applications, we may be living in somewhat of a bubble, and I’m not talking about an investment bubble. (It’s) a reality bubble."
Global warming. The U.S. losing its edge in science and technology. A growing income gap. "And what are the best and the brightest working on?" O’Reilly asked, displaying a slide of the popular Facebook application SuperPoke, which invites you to, among other things, "throw sheep" at your friends.”
I think he’s saying we’re not living up to our potential. He’s probably right. But it’s not like everybody’s throwing sheep. There are people out there doing innovative things; people out there doing all kinds of things. Some throw sheep, others recreate the Big Bang, and six billion others do everything else in between.
In the words of the Joker: Why so serious?
I don’t think you can expect everybody to buckle down all the time, to fret about the state of the world 24/7—the world spins anyway and guess what? There’s not a heckuva lot you can do about it except your own small (infintessimal, even) part. Sometimes that part is clowning when everybody else is stroking their worry beads.
A reality bubble? Sure there is. But it could be worse.