*OVERWROUGHT METAPHOR AHEAD* When I was younger I used to love skateboarding. I was rubbish at it but am still interested in it (and I am excellent at EA Skate and Tony Hawks on the Xbox). The sport has clearly grown in this country and in my home city of Sheffield there are even a few skate parks now. A few special spaces where these activities are permitted and encouraged. I have also started to see the rise of anti-skating measures such as grind blockers.
Grind blockers are brackets that installed on surfaces to prevent skaters grinding or sliding their board on them. From the picture above they may not look like much but to other people they are cold heartless prevention measures. The owners of the property will say they are to prevent damage or to protect skaters from hurting themselves and not that they prevent the skaters trying to sue the owner of the property when they break their ankles or them preventing teenagers hanging around.
I can see both sides to these arguments but as a skater at heart I think they are primarily a device for stopping fun, creativity and interactivity. People that see a piece of civic infrastructure in a completely different way and that can facilitate the creation or usage of those things the builder / owner never dreamed of. There are many things inside major organisations that have been ruined with virtual versions of these grind/fun stoppers. Whether they be arcane rules that say you shall not use that piece of code for any other than its intended use, you can’t embed that thing from outside into this page inside, you can’t plug anything non-standard into this network or you can’t use that data elsewhere. Yes there are good reasons for these things but they must prevent a lot of fun, creativity and interactivity. If you want a more innovative culture maybe it is time to break off some of the fun blockers.