In some ways I may have made a mistake in naming TheWayoftheWeb a few years ago. Because the Web isn’t the important element, and neither is mobile, print, radio, television or pigeon post.
Any Japanophile videogame or anime fans will already understand the Otaku reference, but the best explanation comes from brilliant author William Gibson:
‘The otaku, the passionate obsessive, the information age’s embodiment of the connoisseur, more concerned with the accumulation of data than of objects, seems a natural crossover figure in today’s interface of British and Japanese cultures. I see it in the eyes of the Portobello dealers, and in the eyes of the Japanese collectors: a perfectly calm train-spotter frenzy, murderous and sublime. Understanding otaku -hood, I think, is one of the keys to understanding the culture of the web. There is something profoundly post-national about it, extra-geographic. We are all curators, in the post-modern world, whether we want to be or not.’
In the book, his heroine wears a Buzz Ricksons jacket, – a Japanese firm recreating American military clothing with the kind of passion for detail which particular Otaku appreciate.
But there is a group of Otaku for every subject imaginable. Individually, each one may be an expert, a maven, a connector, an influencer. But for all the talk of reaching out to ‘influencers’ – I worry we’ll miss the society that allows those people to have influence in the first place.