Feast Your Eyes: The Coffeehouse App
Talking with Sean Bonner about his new Coffee Common project reminded me of this recent illustrated proposal for a new app, called Coffeehouse Commons.
The pitch goes like this:
In the eighteenth-century English-speaking world, coffee houses were "the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself," according to historian T. B. Macauley. In addition to supplying an exotic stimulant—caffeine—coffee houses formed the central nodes in urban information networks. They were among the first public gathering spaces where news, ideas, and goods could be debated, produced, and exchanged. [...]
For the past decade, with the advent of Wi-Fi, the explosion of blogs and online news forums, and traditional media’s increasing reliance on freelancers, independent coffee shops have again become places where ideas are generated, news is consumed, and comment is free.
Despite the similar range of intellectual activity, the atmosphere is a little different in today's coffeehouses.
Gesticulating men in wigs passing pamphlets hand-to-hand have been replaced by Mac-dependent hipsters with bad posture and permanently attached headphones. Today’s coffee shop exchanges take place online, invisible to the other occupants of the physical space in which they are produced. Meanwhile, several coffee shop owners have declared war on their freelancing clientele, complaining that they hog tables, make a single coffee last for hours and create an anti-social, library-like atmosphere.
But wait! What if there was an app that tracked all that invisible opinion, exchange, and cultural production, and somehow transformed it into a visible, connected whole?