Local Beach

Local Beach is a Joy. Interesting Lessons for Tech platforms.

A visit to the local Beach always uplifts me. Perhaps it’s the sensation of walking on sand with bare feet. Maybe it’s the invigorating breeze flowing in freely without any man-made barriers. The beach is populated with people of all ages and backgrounds, each in her own world. The sea is the lively hood for fishermen. For others, it’s the freedom to exercise, stroll around, sit around gossiping, and munching on the local treats sold by the vendors.

Parents lovingly introduce toddlers to the miracles of nature. School kids are splashing about in the water. A couple of elderly people seated on the benches are busy laughing and chatting. I suspect they are sharing tall tales from their past. And a girl is sitting by herself writing something down. Perhaps, we have a budding author in our midst.

The vendors are selling their wares. Corn on the cob, assorted fried “feel-good” foods, Bitter Guard juice, and soups for the healthy all are in demand. These are small vendors – no branded names – but they belong to the Beach.

The mom is now letting the toddler dip her toes in the water. The toddler screams in delight. There are appreciating and encouraging smiles from all around.

The Local Beach has a rhythm of its own

The beach life goes on. Every day follows a rhythm; the waves unceasingly deposit their wares on the sands and takes something else in. And yet, every day is different. The Beach has the miraculous ability to shape-shift. Like a mirror, it takes on the hues of your moods. We can sit side by side on the sands and yet have very different experiences.

The mobile beckons; someone has a Tweet that the algorithm thinks I should see. I open the Tweet lazily and realize something profound “The Local Beach is the ultimate shared platform.” And its ability to have sustained over thousands of years show that the idea is a good one.

And yet, why do we have strong opinions about Twitter, Facebook, and Uber? These are platforms too and shared by vendors and people. Contrast this with the Beach – everyone likes it!

So how is the local beach different from Tech platforms?

The Beach is different in many ways. The Beach has a profile, but no “hidden” personality or agenda. We don’t suspect the Beach of sending only the waves it wants our way.

It’s a public property and run by many groups.

We have Corporation employees taking care of cleanliness and the policemen ensuring safety. Local groups support the upkeep. The vendors take care of their parts of the Beach – not only do they love it, but it’s also their livelihood. In short, no one person profits at others’ cost – there is no hidden “agency” here. The groups work together. They punish unlawful behavior. They ensure the beach is clean, safe, and alluring as nature meant it to be. We think co-operatives are inefficient. But when you look at the Beach, you see a case-study of complex, self-regulating groups work perfectly.

This is not the case when we discuss a social media platform or, say, Uber. We know there’s a ton of AI, and we do hear all the right noises of customer-first. But people with quarterly revenue targets and opinions run these platforms. We suspect that money or the personalities who run the platform will push their view of truth our way.

And lastly, the Beach has no memory.

The waves come, we experience them, and they vanish forever. The Beach does not judge, nor does it aim to become better for people based on their choices. The Beach has a life of its own, and to enjoy it, the visitors have to sync themselves to it. Today, instant forgetfulness is a feature and not a bug. The ability to experience and let go is a superpower. After all, we aren’t the persons we were yesterday. We change every moment. So why hold on?

The Technology platforms are a good start. But they are still evolving. We feel like outsiders when using them, We love the gimmicks and the innovations, but we don’t feel like residents. Hopefully, the platforms will evolve to trusted online homes over time. But when we are at the Beach, we feel at home. No one judges us – not a personality, not an algorithm, not a sponsor. And that feeling sure is liberating.

And that’s one meandering, meditative post. What do you feel?

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