The Brockley Tea Party?

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters.


One of the Networked Neighbourhood researchers who led a study of hyperlocal sites including Brockley Central has blogged about the question of diversity in this sort of digital community. He says:

The founders I've spoken to about this have set their sites up with a vague sense of social purpose but no explicit intention to promote community cohesion. The sites don’t set out to be or claim to be democratically representative or culturally representative or accountable.

Those we've looked at in our London study are clearly dominated by people who are relatively affluent, educated and empowered. These are the people who put energy into helping the site grow, contributing and generating social capital (vaguely defined) and civic involvement to sometimes enviable levels.

Around them and among them live clusters of less affluent people, renters rather than owners perhaps, people from minority groups and with English as a second language, perhaps people who may not have home internet access but who use telecoms shops in the high street to call family in other countries and access websites in their own language.

We're pretty sure this is a fair summation of the situation on Brockley Central and elsewhere, as it is of nearly every type of civic institution. So long as Brockley Central provides a level playing field for all communities and keeps the discourse relatively welcoming, then we can sleep relatively easy. Certainly, for all the accusations that Brockley Central readers are all one thing or another, there is plenty of argument to suggest there is diversity of opinion on here, if nothing else.

We do our best to seek out stories from across the community, but we know that we see Brockley from a certain perspective that is not shared by everyone. Likewise, the rest of the middle-class editorial team. We want more local voices to speak up through Brockley Central, so if you have a suggestion for an article on a topic not covered here, please let us know.

What we found most surprising was the suggestion that the BC community might largely be middle aged. By the standards of most community groups, this site's editorial team is fascistically young.

However, Alexa - the website ranking tool - has some interesting observations on the demographics of our users. Although its findings need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it reckons that you are indeed disproportionately old, educated and (to a lesser extent) male. It suggests we need to quote The Social Network less and Citizen Kane more.

According to Alexa, you're also more likely to use the site while at work and far less likely to have children than the average internet user - which could explain all the moaning about children in the Brockley Mess that takes place during the hours of 9am-5pm.

The full Networked Neighbourhood research is published later this year and we will let you know its finding. Thanks to the reader who sent the article to us - they describe themselves as a 25 year old white, non-British person, who prefers to remain anonymous, natch!

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe most people do come on Brockley Central while at work, as there are hardly any comments put on at the Weekend.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh yes, there's no doubt about that. The traffic normally peaks around 1-3pm, but there's almost as much traffic in the evening these days.

The lower weekend traffic levels are partly to do with the fact that we publish fewer articles at the weekend.

Ratbag said...

At Work: tick
Middle-Aged: tick

Yep it's me!

Anonymous said...

I work from home mostly, I live in the CA, and I've lived here since 1973. So I'm about as un-typical of BCs users as you can get.

I do find the emphasis on Brockley station environs a little tedious. SE4 is a big area. I was thinking about how many times I've visited Brockley Stn since 1973, I can remember 4. St Johns or Lewisham are my preferred choices. So BC is good for local news and events I might not hear about otherwise, and I appreciate the hard work that goes into it, thanks Nick, perhaps its inevitable that a site like BC attracts such a limited active audience, by 'active' I mean the people that post comments.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - re: active community. A couple of points:

1. It's hard to know how big the commenting community is because so many people choose to remain anonymous

2. I think that's a narrow definition of the active community. Every day I get emails from people suggesting stories, many of whom I have never seen comment on the site. There is also a large community on Twitter who share stories and respond on there.

Finally, there are the people who do something about the stories they read - by volunteering for groups, trying new places, booking tickets for local shows, responding to BC adverts and so on.

Apologies for the emphasis on Brockley Station, I think it is mostly a fair reflection of the local news agenda though. The ELL is the biggest single story in Brockley over the last three years and has provided a tonne of material. The area around the station is the closest thing this this end of Brockley has got to a town centre and where there has been most change. And it is where there is most physical change to the environment, whether that be new developments like Bridge House, planting on Brockley Common or planned road layout changes on Coulgate Street.

Very little has happened to St Johns station in the entire time that BC has been running, although we did report all the timetable changes.

Headhunter said...

Hmm... I use the site at work, am educated I suppose, approaching middle age and childless. Oh no, I've become a stereotype....

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the original Brockley Common near the Brockley Jack? I'm against awarding scraps of development village' names like 'common'.

Nux said...

How old is middle-aged these days? I'm mid-thirties, one child, no job currently (other than the child above mentioned). Do I buck the demographic?

Monkeyboy said...

Tell me if I'm stating the obvious, but if your job involves staring at a PC screen all day then poping onto BC and posting a comment is easy. Deskbound jobs are more likely to be "middle class", not much chance of a casual comment if you're a dinner lady or painting a house. Not that middle class twatery isn't challenged on here.

Mb, 42, childless, public sector, higher rate tax payer, Guardian reading, deli loving, working class imagrant parented, smart arsed,, engineer, mail hating, atheist

Mb said...

By the way Nick, love the "tonne" of material. That will annoy the anti metric zealots. It's "tons" 2200lb, none of that European 1000kg nonsense.

max said...

Middle age is the new rock'n'roll.

Max, 41

Brockley Nick said...

Anon 18:43 - rest easy, sweet prince http://bit.ly/c7Ul5Z

Brockley Nick said...

@MB - the metric system is what all the kids like me are into these days. Pounds and ounces? That is whack!

Mb said...

One of our grads said one of my ideas was "sick"....that's a good thing apparently

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the 'history' of Brockley Cross, very interesting, but a tad too much conjecture drawn from old maps and not backed up by any other written source. Nice story, it might be true, and it might not.

anon just for once said...

I'm early 40s and fit the stereotype except for being female.

Miss L said...

A special snowflake here... 27, female, earn peanuts working in the charity sector and not really living in Brockley (used to be in SE8, now in SE13 - a few streets away from SE4). Oh, and never on here during working hours.

Anonymous said...

Middle aged is the new 80s electro synth.

TJ(O) - 41

mintness said...

Renters rather than owners? The horror!

Marc said...

Middle aged (38) white European, no kids, office worker. Have BC on RSS feeds so its constantly updated during the working day. A home from home.

Brockley Newbie said...

British, 20s, female, DINKY - so fulfil some of the stereotype but dispel other parts!

Have you heard of the rule of 1%? Bit old hat now but still very useful when looking at digital media. Can from a study on YouTube users which found that of 100 viewers of on the site, roughly 1% posted videos and 10% commented. So suggests your post-ers and comment-ers are a unique subset of your overall users and can't be taken as indicative of the whole user base.

Anonymous said...

What, no skateboarders?

Tressilliana said...

Has there been anyone older than me? Anon 17.46 might have moved here as a small child so I'm not counting him/her. Female, 49, married, two children, living in SE4 since 1986, public sector job, posting right now in working hours during short break from working on long, tedious document.

I'm left-handed as well if you want to start another survey.

Anonymous said...

49 isn't old

elsiemaud boy said...

I was going to say that Max is a very fit 41 year old (refering to his swimming). The question is though, does he still wear speedos?

max said...

Speedo trunks.

Tressilliana said...

Anon 16.13 is my new best friend!

PeterB said...

Early middle agged (60), white anglo-european born in London, SE4 since 1981, married, 15yr old son, self-employed computer consultant from home, home owner largish flat, atheist, anti-royalist, pro skateboard.

Mid-Atlantic said...

27 year old American guy - pro skateboarders, conservation, live events in Brockley, and Max in Speedos

Ed said...

Is this the dating page now?

drakefell debaser said...

Lou Baker seeks partner for company and fun times.

Fond of model train sets, ranting and watching SKY TV.

Telegraph Hill – Greater Dulwich area only.

No chavs please and sense of humour a must.

Anonymous said...

I think these local community groups are still at a fairly early stage of their development.

London is quite peculiar anyway, with its big city commuter culture people spend an inordinate amount of time either geting to and going home from work, or spending long hours there.

Having lived a long time in Brockley, I know that many of the people who live hear are not really members of the community in that they have very little interaction with the neighbourhood: they simply sleep there. It is simply a staging post for a few years before they move further out to the suburbs in search of big gardens and kitchens at a price they can afford. I often wonder how many of the seemingly huge numbers of young families will remain local.

Brockley, like many of the innter borough has a population that is has a fair proporton of its resident who are transitionary and therefore take little interest in the longer term development of the area.

Amongst those who have put down roots, so to speak, they are a mixed bag, there is just about every sort of person here. How they engage with the local community does not necessarily involve any of this Internet malarky.

In fact, I would say that given that one of the most striking features of the Internet is how it makes distance insignificant, its relevance to local communities is consequently small. When you can use it to join communities of like minded people from all over the world, why both with the neighbourhood? Facebook, Kidsnet, Football supporters websites, you can find any sort of community that is far more interesting than the parochial concerns of the immediate neighbourhood.

It would be interesting to know how people actually do use the Internet and how that maps onto their local community. I would guess that it is not much.

This blog is kind of an exception in that it is focussed on the locality and it appeals to a minority interested in local goings on and the doings of the council.

That there should be concern about it being representative of the local community is, I think, risible. That is just the political class being spooked by something they cannot control. Their version of what constitutes community is in any case itself quite skewed. You can look at any community newspaper put out by a local council to see that, they are unredeemingly corporate and consequently predictable and tedious.

I would like to see nore local community based websites. There are some good ones in London. This one is a bit limited by the blog format, but then it is low maintenance and these things take work. Which is most appreciated, by the way.

Brockley Tea Party? Stuff and nonesense!

qbf said...

"In fact, I would say that given that one of the most striking features of the Internet is how it makes distance insignificant, its relevance to local communities is consequently small."

Not sure what you mean. Of course there are on-line communities which could not possibly exist in the real world because of geographical limitations, and hence the internet's 'relevance' to them is high. That doesn't make local community websites any less relevant, does it? The point for me is that it's the only place on the internet where I can find out what's happening outside my front door - it connects me to my local community. I do venture outside sometimes too, and speak to actual human beings, but I still know a lot more about what's going on locally thanks to this blog.

Anonymous said...

at last something from a contributor (anonymous said)that makes sense. BC is a really worthwhile blog for finding out what is going on, and we should all be thankful for the work that goes into it. But a lot of the comments posted here remind me of the guff you hear on The Apprentice.

Rayleigh Addington said...

It’s shameful!!!

Brockley Nick said...

I love the Apprentice. Perhaps that's why I enjoy the discussions on BC so much.

Anonymous said...

Im a mid 40's single white male. I rarely ever post but I love the reading the broad scope of discussion on here, especially while wanking. A Coulgate St or CPZ debate always does it for me..

mintness said...

The point for me is that it's the only place on the internet where I can find out what's happening outside my front door - it connects me to my local community. I do venture outside sometimes too, and speak to actual human beings, but I still know a lot more about what's going on locally thanks to this blog.

Exunctly. Of course the internet connects us to the most diverse and wonderful of "non-location-specific" forums, but it's still a great tool for meshing the strengths of a local community, particularly in an era when talking to your neighbour has become that much less common.

In a way, it's the parts inbetween that suffer - in the same way as I'm far more interested in potholes-and-dogshit local politics than the world of Westminster, I don't really class myself as a Londoner (though who ever does?), but I'm as happy a Brockleyite as I am a citizen of the limitless and infinite cyber-world OH GOD PONCE OVERDOSE INSERT COMMENT ABOUT MUNG BEANZZZZZZZZZZZ*SYSTEM ERROR*

Anonymous said...

Brockley is a hotbed of community intrigues and gossip, none of which makes it onto this rather proper blog.

I mean it is very good at dealing with the doings of the council and alterations to the streetscape....but there is another world going on under the surface. Stories that would make a tabloid journalists toes curl.

Please support BC by clicking here when you shop with Amazon

Brockley Central Label Cloud