Monday, 16 April 2007

Book Part 6

(sorry Charles ;)

part 6 link


Charles Frith said...

Splendid work. The thing about blogs and particularly this way of giving feedback is that points are raised which stimulate thoughts and I can toodle off and write some stuff down, and then return to the flow of thought with no one the wiser :) This is probably what I need in real life. A freeze frame stopwatch so that inspirations are noted down (or nipping off to get the kettle on) without disrupting the thought processes on both sides or anyone taking umbrage that I'm not listening.

Sharing or extending culture is surely going to hit a point where it's cheaper to reward people with credits for sharing and extending than it is to make a profit out of selling a brand new item? It's that personal global carbon trading scheme thing again and is of course highly idealistic but if here isn't the place to air ideas where else? The car is the one thing that people hold onto as a symbol of independence more than any other. Just sit in a vehicle with anyone and get talking about parking fines and spaces. I feel a disconnect with reality, that I can only ease by exclaiming dead faced that it can only get worse (inside chuckling away) I'm aware that car sharing is never going to be adopted with flung open arms. We've all enjoyed the comfortable and hermetically sealed environment of a warm car on a cold night with the tunes pumping, or radio 4 piping away and the heater blowing warm air on the legs. Who wants to change all that with a passenger who could conceivably, smell a bit musty and even worse have questionable politics? I'm only airing this because sharing culture is really important for greenormal living. If the notion of individual car ownership can be undermined then the rest will surely fall into place. OK, so here's my view, if myspace can put together people who have an interest in Robbie Williams and Cuddly Kitten photos then surely it can put like minded people together who wouldn't mind sharing a ride.

Here's an idea I've dreamt about which is that whether we like it or not people are to a point, defined by geography and location. If any government were really serious about improving productivity and efficiency, well surely it would make sense to enable people to actually do stuff in the fastest, most effective, and least environmentally impactful way possible. Currently the thinking is that if a screw is needed to put a picture on a wall it appears to make more sense, as well as improving the economy, to get in a car, drive to the DIY centre, buy a drill, rawlplug and screw and return to the home. Look at all those businesses that made a buck out of that! But is it actually productive? Surely it would make sense in an urban environment to have a dot com domain name for every street in the land? Something like . A place where people were encouraged to use it for sharing/community and even minor dispute resolution (loads of other stuff too really)

Seriously. Most digital rejectors (and they are many) haven't got a clue what myspace is, but would grasp something like where a localised request to borrow would make a lot of common sense, which isn't actually all that common. People relate to their address in a way that hanging out online doesn't quite convey for the online rejectors. A sort of ceefax for individual roads or something. Sure there would need to be a whole new etiquette and potential arbitration system (you broke my power drill you did!), that would be required for relying on community again (we used to know what it was before affluence and the consumer society hit us sideways) but the pros outweigh the cons. Now then, who should pay for all this technically tiny yet asymmetrical administration (low admin/high population usage)? Well the power companies of course! It's just nuts that the gas supplies are already being switched off by Russia and we aren't thinking this through. It's a no brainer. It's on the same line we've been thinking about in different ways for brands getting greener by endorsing greenormal actions. Imagine if Powergen, British Gas or Scottish Electricity put some dough into this or a craigslist/ebay idea for those that prefer anonymity. Their creds would go through the roof and they haven't even begun to roll out the solar energy panels! A sharing/conversation/community economy is where it's at. There are ways to monetize it as well. I'm convinced of it. If successful online gambling outfits and/or winning gamblers can make money online by playing poker or whatever it is people do without actually doing anything, then surely frugality and diminished carbon footprints can do so as well.

So, I guess that potentially; increased productivity, efficacy and greenormal go hand in hand. A beautiful coincidence again John - I like that. I guess I'm not really so sorry that all those power drill manufacturers (and the makers of the laughing bottle opener that is in a draw not 10 metres from me and has never been used), which exist in China might have to cut back and enforce a siesta on their workforce. Sheesh what a bummer!

So that's my spiel on sharing. Nice in theory, possible in practise and great in reality.

I've barely worked my way through the fifth chapter now, and I see Baudrillard has poked his head out which is a good time to park this comment for a few hours and deal with a couple of chores before recommencing and settling down to enjoy this one again :)

Charles Frith said...

Hmm, interesting. That whole thing about - a rediscovery of the value of objects of greater age (rather than ‘the latest’). This is interesting because one of the things about the disposable culture seems to be that the time line for objects to attain this status is rapidly diminishing. I'm thinking about the retro chic revival. That whole thing about putting an iPod into a Walkman case is a prime example of how the external design fetish for out of date objects is quickly gaining ground. You only have to take a good look around a car boot sale or a charity/thrift shop to pick out some really choice pieces if the condition is reasonable. I guess I'm trying to say that with the whole life cycle of products is speeding up beyond belief, the time that one has to wait for it to be seen in a nostalgic light is remarkably shorter than it used to be. The way that fashion or trend driven design plunders the past has driven inspiration to look increasingly closer to the present. This is probably a good thing if the idea of keeping onto things and taking care of them can be shared. For instance mobile phones. I bet that the Motorola Razr becomes a retro fashion chic thing in under 5 years. The relentless speed with which particularly mobile phone tech is progressing suggests to me that by the time iPhone version 5 comes out the Motorola will be as desirable as the first 'car battery' sized phones that used to be carried around. Yeah, and now that I think about it, I've discovered this whole 'your new mobile' is waiting for you marketing in the UK a lot recently and it sucks in the way that they take the guilt out of replacing something that really doesn't need to be replaced. People seem to be so unhappy with their lives that the latest new/new is a brief respite from the reality of a debt ridden consumption obsessed life.
OK reading this I see you go on to make the same points I just did so I'm clearly commenting too early now :/
That point about renaming the year 02007 is awesome. If there is one thing Microsoft could do to put faith in the future it would be to change the date system on their computers. OK, include both MS and Apple. That's a big idea. Hugh at gapingvoid is blogging as a Microsoft guy now isn't he? Worth an email I think. Didn't Mark Earls have dinner with him the other day too. Usual suspects and whatnot :)
That shareffeur idea is one that the occidental affluent classes really don't know the beauty of. In Asia, drivers are often employed to enable the users to get around unstressed, get on with work in the rear, and be dropped off at ostentatious points without having to search for parking (a big problem in the metropolisis). I recall one time feeling uncomfortable that the driver asked for me to sit in the front and urged my bosses to fill up the back seats. When I explained that I hadn't meant to take what I thought was the superior seat they pointed out that the important people sat in the back and that in these instances, many would assume I was the bodyguard! From planner to spanner or something like that. But the point is, that driving your own car is a social faux pas in Asia. Prestige is being able to get on with work or whatever in the back! One for Benz or BMW to think about conveying to their customers. I noticed earlier that you mentioned Mercedes do advertising that urges their customers to walk as often as possible. I haven't seen this but it's an idea that had struck me as being the best bit of branding ever. So good it shouldn't be used... Resale value through the rood and a bit of exercise in the mix. This is not wishful thinking, this is what I call a real brand. A bit like if say iPod becomes so ubiquitous that it might be an idea to encourage their fans to take a break and listen to the real world sometimes. Yes, only truly great brands can encourage less use. Nikes might be another idea too. Which reminds me, aren't there only about 10 or 20 real brands anyway. Or is it just me?
Just getting towards the end of the chapter and touching on Christmas again, I'm sure that huge parts of the populace are reluctant about the whole glutfest anyway, and yet wouldn't it make so much more sense that for those who are in two minds about the whole thing but feel under peer pressure to join in to make a halfway stand against it, and celebrate a few days later. That way they get to enjoy all the sales and the unwanted presents on ebay without being crucified financially.

....Kinda like approachingreen before greenormal :)

John Grant said...


I love the local street take on sharing

there's a nice scheme I came across chatting with the Young Foundation that has similar civic local values:

I think your key insight might be that people chat easily with strangers on cyberspace; it could break the ice with community sharing (just as you become quite chatty/matey across ebay trades)

maybe the shareffeur thing should start in Singapore or Shanghai too


John Grant said...

neighbourhood fixit link