Edge, The
The Edge
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cotton, Bob; oliver, Richard


"'The Edge' is a cyberpunk metaphor for the place where 'the New' develops. The idea is that the extreme edge of a habitat is the place where mutations flourish and become established. Applying this metaphor to human society, the New is likely initially to establish itself on the fringes of respectable, mainstream social activity places such as the pop underground, the demi-monde of artists, designers and intellectuals, and the wilder world of technofreaks, hackers and cyberpunks.
As Peter Schwartz explains in The Art of the Long View (1991): 'People and organizations often organize knowledge concentrically, with the most cherished, vital beliefs at the protected centre... The structure, the power, and the institutional inertia all tend to inhibit innovative thinkers and drive them to the fringes. At the social and intellectual fringes, thinkers are free to let their imaginations roam, but are still constrained by a sense of current reality.' And at the Edge people do more than let their imaginations roam they start to live the New, working within the spaces and gaps of organized society to create their own room for movement and self-expression.
The people of the Edge seize upon those inventions and innovations that open up new possibilities, that free them to be the people their imaginations tell them they are. To do so they may twist, appropriate, misuse and distort those inventions from their original purpose. Much of the story of our century has been of a movement of ideas and activities from the Edge to the Street and finally into our official versions of reality. The story of hypermedia and cyberspace is likely to be the same."


"Alan Kay has remarked that the future of a successful technology is to become mundane. The place technology becomes mundane is on 'the Street'. The Street is the melting pot where consumer culture meets the lifestyle of 'the Edge': the place where the Walkman and the Gameboy thrive alongside the ghetto-blaster and hi-tech trainers; the place where the new cyberspace media will be adopted and adapted to the needs of real people. And like the Edge, the Street is also a metaphor for everyday life the almost invisible world of inventiveness, creativity and adaptation, where people find their own ways of getting by: the chaotic, messy place where we actually live. It is here that technology and media live or die, flourish or disappear.
Some of the most startlingly inventive uses or misuses of technology take place on the fringes of society, on the Edge and on the Street.
The Street is a much wider context than the exotic fringe of the Edge. It is what goes on in homes, workplaces and public meeting places.
The Street is more than 'The Market' as in 'let the market decide' because people do not simply make choices between one product and another. They invent and improvize uses that are often far from the imaginings of their producers. Those people professionally concerned with hypermedia and cyberspace, who can develop an empathy for the ecology of the Street, are those who are most likely to prosper in the turbulent, destructive, creative times of their passage from the glamorous and new to the mundane."

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