Social communities are a lot like Newfoundland's fisheries

Six hundred years ago, fishing ships from Europe plied the banks off the island later known as Newfoundland. They found a bounty of cod and other fish, giant schools that had grown thanks to an ideal environment and a relative lack of predators. A balance remained for the following three hundred-odd years. Wooden fishing boats, even when deploying larger and larger nets, could not pull in enough cod to affect the reproduction and growth of the great schools of fish.

The arrival of the industrial revolution, with its steam trawlers, insulated holds and tremendously strong winches to draw in giant nets, marked a swing in this environment's fortunes. The decline in cod stocks accelerated with every decade, to the point where the cod fishery effectively collapsed in the late twentieth century.

All the while, ostensibly informed fishery and government experts from Europe and Asia argued that their fleets were only "taking a sustainable catch" from the area. Their view was coloured, however, since their research was funded by the very fleets stripping the Grand Banks of its fish.

The communities that had drawn their livelihood from that part of the sea - in Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Portugal and Spain - had to adjust rather radically. Not because they thought the environment around them had to change, but because more technologically advanced players thought they could dominate fishing practices.

Which leads me to a wonderful series of analogies from Richard at adliterate:

"... At least in traditional media there is a basic level of respect that keeps the communication inside ad breaks and clearly demarcated from the content. But on the internet brands brands wander around like really irritating guests at a party, intent on looking in every room, having a butchers in your wadrobe and trying on your pants.

Online there are no no go areas at all, and guess what happens once a brand has had its fun? It sods off to the next big thing which, in the words of the fast show, 'this week is mainly Facebook'. Witness the speed with which brands got into and out of Second Life faster than a particulaly nasty bug gets through your digestive system.

And this behaviour is driven by unscrupulous brand advisers that treat the internet like the big trawler fleets treated the oceans for much of the twentieth century - a place where you can do what the fuck you like, cause any amount of damage and never suffer the consequences in your lifetime."

[tags] adliterate, fisheries, Newfoundland, community [/tags]