Hey! You! Get Off Of Our Bandwagon

The Book of Berners-Lee

And lo, it did come to pass, as prophesied by the geeks of yore, that in the twenty-fifth year of the Web, the world entire, from Kathmandu to Timbuktu to Zanzibar to New York, began to notice its devouring by the Law of Moore.

And the eyes of the world were turned upon those places where that Law had been birthed, and numberless throngs of geeks still teemed, and CEOs and venture capitalists gathered and plotted; to the Vale of Silicon, and the City of Saint Francis, in California North. And it became apparent to all that London and Tokyo and New York, in their might and arrogance, had been displaced; that the Area of the Bay had become the new hub of the world.

And lo, the titans and mavens of the media, from their ancient complexes in London and skyscraping towers in New York, did dispatch emissaries to these newly sacred places, and hire residents within them, commanding: “Tell our people of these lands, and of the doings of their geeks, that our people may be appalled and entertained, and dream of traveling there as founder-pilgrims themselves, and shake their heads in dismay and warn of the comeuppance that will befall these upstarts on the day this bubble bursts, all at the same time. And keep your expenses low this time.”

And so these emissaries lamented the loss of the city’s soul, and reproached its decadent excess, and warned darkly of growing chasms between the mystical wizards(1) of Technology and the ordinary citizens, and between the old wizards and the young.

And the people of the City of Saint Francis did gaze upon these reports; and mightily did they roll their eyes.

But strive as they might to cast these tales entirely from their mind, they could not.

For it seemed true to them that in recent years the founder-pilgrims who had flocked to the City had grown as numerous as locusts, and to many, as welcome. And at brunches around the City there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and even wearing of sackcloth and ashes, when conversation turned to the monthly rent to be tithed if one were to move to a new apartment, even across the great waters in the Land of Oaks. Indeed it seemed to many of the blessed residents of this newly declared Promised Land that, increasingly, the Law of Moore brought wealth only to a few.

Once the City had been a haven for freak and geek alike; was there now room for only the geek? And yet, many of those who complained most bitterly about the newcomers had once been newcomers themselves. Was there no little hypocrisy there?

The denizens of this City were an intelligent, resourceful, and compassionate people. They sought solutions which would be fair to all. They understood that many more towers and rooms were required.

But now that Technology was King, and they were that King’s capital, any such measures seemed feeble and insufficient when arrayed against a colossal shift in wealth and power that was transforming the world entire — a shift whose very hinge was their City and the Vale to its south.

And so they bridled anew at every report dispatched around the world, telling of their wonders and their wealth and their decadence, where once they had been proud. They understood, too late, that while this rocket-fueled boom lasted, being pronounced Center of the Universe was more burden than honor, especially for a people who had long been devoted to arts and pleasures and subversions.

And soon they found themselves gazing with resentment upon the teeming masses around the world who longed to join them in their paradise, and wondering when and how this madness might end … and imagining darkly what might happen if it did not.

(1)Allow me to stress that according to no less a source than J.K. Rowling, “wizard” is a gender-neutral word.