No wonder Brockley is ‘undiscovered’.
In our line of work, we often hear the phrase “The Digital Divide”, which refers to the haves and the have-nots of the online society. Victims of this divide are those without access to or the basic skills to operate the internet and therefore can’t enjoy the benefits of online discounts, internet-only services and Brockley Central talkbacks.
But there is another Digital Divide and it is much more serious. Because it affects us! In essence the problem is that, while you can watch an almost infinite number of funny cat videos and access research papers on the most complex scientific issues, you are screwed if you want to find a reliable guide to eating, drinking or playing in South East London.
We’re well used to never reading a review of anywhere or anything in South East London in the mainstream media, but even online, with a plethora of “comprehensive” guides to local life, the coverage is still abject. And it was partly in despair at this sorry lot that we decided to start this blog.
Here is a snapshot of the Digital Divide in action. We have deliberately not linked to any of these sites, as we don’t want to give them the Google-ranking satisfaction.
LondonTown – The Number One Internet Site for London
Two entries, compared to, say, Hackney’s 20+ mentions or Tooting’s nine.
And Brockley’s two entries are? The train station and the Brockley Barge.
AllinLondon – Your London Guide
The restaurants section is a little disappointing, with only four places getting a mention. Perhaps redemption will be found in the events section, with things like the MAX or the Summer Fayre getting some recognition? “Unfortunately we don't have any events listed for this region at present.”
Whereas, Brixton’s 'Relics of the Bottom Drawer' print works by Sarah Mellor exhibition is one of the many listed events from elsewhere in London.
SouthLondonGuide – the definitive guide to South East and South West London
A pretty poor site all round but to its credit, it manages to acknowledge Moonbow Jakes, The Talbot and Toads Mouth, but it misses dozens of other venues, still lists Homeview and its entry for “Takeaways” is as follows: * (Chinese) * Brockley Road, (020) 8*
London Eating – the definitive guide to eating in London
Take your pick from: The Brockley Balti House, Brockley Cross Café & Burgerhouse, Cinnamon, Foxberry Café, La Lanterna, Meze Mangal, Nass and Natt Café and Ozzie’s Café.
A restaurant search suggests Pizza Hut (doesn’t mention it’s takeaway only) on Lewisham Way, Taste of India and La Lanterna.
ViewLondon – The Londoners’ Guide to London
Brockley’s 3 entries compares to, say, Acton’s 14 or Cricklewood’s 15.
The Londoner’s bible, stuffed with articles about every conceivable aspect of city life.
Taking The Brockley Jack as our centre point, it searches its database of 2,500 restaurants for any place within a mile. And comes back with?
A Nando’s and a Japanese place, both in Catford.
Shepherd’s Bush, on the other hand, scores a respectable 13 entries. All of which seem to have the advantage of being in Shepherd’s bush.
In fact, Time Out doesn’t even have a category for Brockley or Crofton Park, although it does, have Lee (nothing in it, mind). Go looking for pubs in only New Cross and you’ll be presented with only three options.
The world’s most powerful search engine’s blind spot not only covers China, but also Brockley.
Type in “Brockley” and the first entry you get is Wikipedia. Fair enough. The second is a site, which says The Brockley Community Website is now closed as of 12th November 2003, which is hardly likely to inspire outsiders. The top 10 sites also includes the good old “South London Guide” and “AllinLondon”.
The internet black hole does have serious implications. It means that visitors and residents alike are often unaware of what areas like Brockley have to offer, with a resulting impact on business and local life. It means that even motivated people often struggle to understand how they can get involved in their local community. And it means when desk-bound journalists decide to write about Brockley, the best they can recommend in terms of eating and drinking is Fishy Business.
No wonder Brockley is ‘undiscovered’.