Lost & Found: Took a Break to Get Better

It’s been exactly a month since I’ve published an entry. This isn’t due to a loss in enthusiasm. I’ve changed my process and now instead of taking a day off to put together a moderately lettered post, I’ve decide to work on multiple projects at once, and publish twice weekly. This is where we are. This post is really a letter to you who has given an ear to this experiment in idealism, and taking on my own self-doubt. The reception has been great, and I am nothing short of thankful. Here’s a preview of what’s to come. (I’ll provide a link to the relevant articles as they become available)

Count Me In: Understanding the Inclusive Innovation. This will look at how description and prescription of innovation is changing.The urbanisation and rapid growth in emerging markets has contributed to a collectively significant market segment at the bottom of the pyramid, it is increasingly opening the field to disruption as innovators are being forced to tear up the rule book.

Is South Africa Great?  I made a promise to you in the first post and you could look forward to the next installations of the series. Part II: Security; Part III: Democracy; and Part IV: The Verdict

Churchill the Disruptor, Fringe Personalities and Disruption. There’s no doubt that disruptive personalities are far from normal. A study found that incidence of mental illnesses such as depression, ADHD and anxiety are higher in Silicon Valley than in the general population, Winston Churchill himself showed signs of manic depression. Are disruptive leaders great because of these ills or despite them?

Building In Democracy into our Cities: Developing the Post-Apartheid City. The National Development Plan (NDP) described geographical spatial distribution as a problem that has persisted after the fall of apartheid. The spaces we live in were designed to segregate. As in many colonial societies, cities and spaces were designed to serve one segment of the population and specifically keep out another; many post-colonial states such as Brazil have gone as far as to build entire cities from the ground up that would be models of the new society they were constructing. I think South Africa should focus on redesigning the urban landscape by tearing down and building up a fresh concept of city-living in a new democratic dispensation.

Exciting times lie ahead. I will intermittently publish posts related to other topics as they come up. I leave you with words from Shia LeBeouf: LET’S DO IT!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuHfVn_cfHU

I drank some of the Idlers Koolaid.

Easy does it. My firecrotch ginger cohabitant is a budding copywriter who made me appreciate the beauty of simple speak. I’ve always perceived myself an anti-obscurantist, vehemently opposed to useful information being hidden in a web of arbitrary procedure, verbose direction and nonconcomitant complexity. I try to be funny. Perhaps there is room in our sorrowful lives to explore what it could be in the proverbial vacuum, if everyone didn’t “expect” anything from you, if you could speak your mind – and not just use colourful language on Twitter when you get into a tiff with your bestie. Not necessarily a Bartleby-esque scenario, but rather Tom Hodgkinson’s Idler.

This year I’ve been fortunate enough to share a space with extremely creative people, it’s an unnerving experience. My days end with tales of awkward observations, a healthy hint of blasphemy (towards no particular imaginative deity), and a little far from politically correct discourse – yes that sounds like every kitchen conversation. This is where self-deprecation is expected and not followed by ego-boosting pleasantry, to reveal stories of how you opted to have lunch in a bathroom than face the twin-challenges of eating from a pungent lunch box and making nice with the people. The crush you wrote a poem, the acid rage, and owning up to ones gayer impulses. This may not be your kitchen.

What I’m saying is, I think there is a lot to gain from letting the inner gypsy out and taking on the simpler life. Smelling the roses. Taking time away from 5-point plans, mission statements and “I’m looking to move into …” talk – how about giving one’s nights to the now, taking time to rekindle the flame with words you had to leave in grade-school because they won’t give you A’s on essays or Ahs in high-level discourse. To always have to self-edit and self-censor in preemption of cool kids, “potential employers” who don’t have time to apply their minds to a profound remark, fuck’em.

My fire-crotch, Ginger friend said write like you speak and they will read it. I’ll give it a shot, but on some days I’ll revert to using “big words I don’t fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis”

I’m working on a piece relating to the hard-on for country every South African is expected to have, but I’m trying to educate myself on what makes a great nation-state, and whether we, South Africa, are a special case. I’m highly self-critical as it ventures into political science, an area I’m unfamiliar with but am always willing to give my liquored-up unlettered opinion on. It’s coming, don’t rush me.

No Filter : Cadre Consumption (Collaborative Consumption in SA)

  No Filter” is a new feature in my blog that I want to use as a platform for unfettered, flow state articles. I want to publish ideas off-the-cuff and hopefully spark a conversation or flesh them out at a later stage.

South Africans by in large love to consume, spend, with individual borrowing pegged at around 86% and a persistently low saving rate. We love having things, and nobody is going to tell us we can’t flourish. In our politely cynical way we never forget to say “thank you ANC.”

If we are going to consume our way to our grave or debt counseling, should we perhaps consider a better, more economically efficient way to go about our country’s favourite pastime? There is a way to consume productively, and that is consuming through collaboration.

Collaborative consumption isn’t a new concept and was first discussed by Felson and Spaeth in a 1978 paper titled “Community Structure and Collaborative Consumption. A Routine Activity”. Simply put, it’s the notion of socializing and consuming; having a night out with friends, hitting on the girl at the bar while your wingman leads her “We-need-to-leave”, arm-jerking friend into the fires of Mordor; sharing bed & breakfast with your new lady friend; raising the baby together, or finding out after this long winded sentence that your wingman played frontman a few times and you weren’t just sharing economic goods. Anyway, if you’re still here, it’s the idea that the very selfish desire to consume can be counterweighted by collectivism.

“It will never work” they said before Al Gore invented the internet. The idea of sharing is met with much resistance, it is quite objectionable that a value we spend years instilling into children would work for adults who understand its value – luckily you aren’t really sharing. I prefer the term collaborative consumption to describe business models like Uber or Airbnb designed for what others may call the “Sharing Economy”, because you aren’t really sharing are you? In fact, Airbnb gives you the perfect reason not to let your good mate crash in your spare bedroom “for a week tops” – while a tourist can free up some extra money to take an Uber to the local craft market. The access to the internet has made this new model a reality.

I propose South Africans adopt the term “Cadre Consumption” – the substitute being synonymous to what has been the savvy politician’s way of staying on the gravy train. The collaborative economy has less sinister intention, it rather moves us towards a resource-saving mode of consumption which also creates a collective ownership of the product. There are two things which are distinctly different to how we currently consume, and where the millennial winds are blowing:

  1. Things and Us need to get a divorce : studies show now more than ever, young people don’t like to commit – to jobs that may be disrupted into obsolence nor a smartphone they will be embarrassed to use in public in a year’s time. The hallmark of our time is flux, facilitated by the Internet pervasion and emergence of Big Data. To own is to commit, to a debt and a future of being ineligible for new software upgrades. This isn’t doing away with property rights, but spreading your exposure to disruption across the market for goods. It’s freelancing and being able to do what you love without reciting the corporate six pillar or filing for vacation days.
  2. “Target Marketing” is no longer an excuse to leave people behind: I plan to write a piece on inclusive innovation later. But more businesses have realised the danger in excluding the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) when planning a new product. If they must, BoP consumers move up. When they move higher  they don’t suddenly acquire a taste for lobster, they’ll carry that prior rejection with them to the till. Besides that, leaving behind the BoP means deepening the gap between rich and poor – a precursor to economic and political instability.

We won’t be sharing girlfriends, unless that’s what you’re into, but we will be using our resources more efficiently and sustainably. Looking at the state of our country and the planet, something has to change. What’s a little consumption among friends?