Tom Coates has unearthed something that amuses me: Oxbridge Life, "a free interactive network for anyone who is studying - or has ever studied - at Oxford or Cambridge University. It helps both current students and experienced professionals reach out to fellow members of the Oxbridge community to make the most of each other’s knowledge and connections."
Obviously this would normally be quite odious for all the same reasons that McKinseys, say, is odious. But what tips this out of the realm of 'sinister' and into the realm of 'charmingly wrong about society and basically everything' is that you don't have to prove you attended Oxford or Cambridge to register! So where the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge provide the UK with genuine and generally regressive forms of social filtration (aka 'meritocracy') - generating the aforementioned 'Oxbridge community' - Oxbridge Life is a perfect hunting ground for people who idolise these great institutions but didn't attend them.
(Which reminds me of a job interview I had once:
Him: " ah! I see you went to cambridge... I've always been an Oxford man myself!"
Me: "oh right. Which college?"
Him: "oh... no I didn't actually go to Oxford")
One of the funniest bit of Oxbridge Life is the singles section, which has the strapline 'finally pillowtalk worth listening to'. What would this involve?! Sweet nothings about your punting technique? Dreamy reflections about one's first May Ball? But funnier still is the fact that the website looks, to my untrained eye, quite well designed and built, suggesting that someone takes this idea seriously enough to invest time and money in it. To the credit of Thomas Power, founder of ecademy, he has never claimed that his online club is especially exclusive (which ultimately is its main problem), but sells the idea in terms of the support it provides to lonely or unemployed professionals. By contrast, to establish an online network without any filtration mechanism, but to sell it in terms of elitism and snobbery, is utterly ridiculous. And yet, if it gradually undermines the Oxbridge brand (which is all it can do) perhaps it is a welcome intervention to British social hierachy.