Countries Are Like OSs

Every country is like the big three mobile operating systems. There is a dominating capital, several major cities and the rest of the country. While the majority of people live in the latter, it is in the former two where everything happens.

There was this announcement on Facebook about a meeting with the chief editor of the Russian division of an international travel magazine with readers and potential contributors. The meeting is to be held in Moscow. When I tried to argue that for some reason everything seems to be happening only there, I was stormed with replies in the “we’re the power” style – there are lots of people in the capital ready to attend all those events.

One comment is particularly telling. Someone from the travel-writing school that organizes the event wrote that if a similar crowd of attendees can be gathered then maybe chief editors would consider having some moments off their travel-writing and editing duties and visit some provincial towns. The commenter’s condescending tone was supported by distorting the country’s name as if patronizing from their high capital and important position.

No, thanks. You can stay in Moscow enjoying the company of yourselves, suchlike snobs and those who moved there because they couldn’t stand living in the rest of the country.

Russia is like the big three mobile systems. There’s the iOS Moscow where all the buzz happens around millions of events and people. There’s the Android of Saint Petersburg and a couple of other major cities that collectively strive to somewhat reach the capital status but fail. When something new and good happens it happens in those two centres. All the quality apps are being first and foremost if not exclusively developed for the capital. It is always in the spotlight, from the glossy magazine pages and the TV screens to people’s minds.

The rest of the country is Windows Phone. If any apps are developed for this system they are certain to be less glamorous, with limited functionality (even compared to the same ones on other OSs), if any at all. The comparison grows even more true to life when you know that even the creators of Windows Phone are busy polishing their native apps for competitive systems rather than for its own. Hence come all the people who move to the capital, who cherish and glorify it.

And it is hard to blame them. When all the events and all the money are in Moscow where else could the young and aspiring go? What else should people from the provinces look up to but the more advanced systems? Even if the specs under the hood of those systems are not so illustrious nobody really cares.

The rest of the country will surely survive despite this internal brain drain and money/resources drain. We’d be much better without all those travel-journalists and their chief editors with all their condescension. At the end of the day, they will have to come down from the pedestal and look for more ideas, pictures, stories and people in the rest of the country of which they are of such a low esteem.

The only thing that differs between Russia and the OSs is that most people live in the rest of the country but use the bigger systems, while Moscow accounts for only 10% of the population and in this respect is more like a much more successful version of Windows Phone. So it is the rest of the country that should be polished, cherished and developed in the first place like the iOS.

Looking around we can see that Russia is not unique here. In practically every country it is the same – the capital is huge, attractive, eventful, rich and vibrant while the rest of a country is not necessarily so. There are exceptions that only prove the rule. For each New York, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai there are dozens of Londons, Parises, Beijings and Tokyos.

Centralisation of power, money, people, and happenings in the capital is the dominant disposition around the globe. So far the only solution was to establish a new capital and make it small. But then those New Yorks, Torontos, Rio de Janeiros and Mumbais are seen as quasi-capitals by the rest of the respective countries. Yet the biggest ones manage to somehow distribute the butter across their vast stretches of land. With all the dominance of New York in the USA, there are almost equal Chicago, Los Angeles, and to a lesser degree San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Boston, and Miami.

There’s St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Sochi, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg in Russia. But somehow they all collectively fade into the background. Can transferring the capital status to one of those or to some other town change the trend and make things better? I am not so sure. Maybe, in the end, it is best to enjoy a more peaceful life as a provincial town of people who managed to still stay here instead of succumbing to the capital’s charms.

Maybe in the end, Windows Phone is not so bad after all. They say at some point the trend might change with more and better apps being developed for the ugly duckling.

In the environs of Belinsky, Penza Region


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