Seemingly, one of the criticisms most commonly levelled at the Internet is that the stuff of any worth (defined generally not as that which has worth, but that which we currently seek) is impossible to find amongst all the junk (again, junk often being a relative term for everything that we weren't actually searching for). Obviously there is merit in this statement; much of the content on the Internet is mediocre at best, and a sizeable portion is, by most standards, junk. What occurs to me though is that the Internet is a far less legitimate target of this complaint than the actual world around us.

I should probably explain my thinking here.

Take any average town or village in a reasonably local cluster of towns and villages, and you will find a number of unexpected jewels; Restaurants of a quality far exceeding their reputation, small specialist shops with shop-keepers that actually have a knowledge about the goods they sell, craftsmen or mechanics of genuine skill, and hosts of other examples of pure excellence. This is not to say that every town or village is a veritable wonderland of the elite, just that if you know where to look, you will find quality in the most far-flung places. Now the problem I have with all of this is that no-one seems to realise. It seems to me that many people believe that quality can only exist in very large towns or cities.

if you don't believe me, try persuading someone from a large neighbouring town that a small village, known to most people who do not live in the immediate vicinity as the place the trains go to die -- Network Southeast would call it a branch-line terminus -- has possibly the best Tandoori restaurant in the entire of Essex (UK). Generally an assertion such as this will be met with a kind of vacant puzzlement -- 'if the place is really any good then why the hell is it located in blah?'

Some of the best features that an area has to offer are never discovered by more than a few people, simply because the majority never happen to pass by. However, happen-chance is only half the story; many people feel instinctively that quality always gravitates towards cities -- a million people can't be wrong after-all. The result is that large towns and cities are often our first port of call when looking for anything; So, whilst on the Internet the signal to noise ratio may be quite poor, we do not instinctively filter out some of the signal because its' location raises subconscious doubts about its' quality -- whilst those doubts may be present we generally still invest the time find out.

Basically then, my point is this :- please, next time you see a strange speciality shop, buried in the depths of an industrial estate, or you hear of a good restaurant in a village a few miles away, the next time someone you know talks proudly about some aspect of their otherwise crappy little town, stop for a few seconds and give the idea that there may be something worth taking an interest in the chance it deserves.

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