The demise of clubbing isn’t just a cultural loss, it’s an existential deprivation for generations who are coming of age.
In 2006, there were reckoned to be 3,000 nightclubs in the UK. By the end of 2019 there were less than half that number, and late last year, the figure was put at only 1,068. The reasons for this decline are partly about what has happened to our cities, and the mindset of many of the people who run them: a story of rising rents, authoritarian councils, and the kind of gentrification that involves people moving into bustling urban locations and then having the brass neck to complain about the noise. Of late, clubs’ finances have been made even more impossible by the effects of the pandemic, and colossal rises in running costs. But whereas last week’s budget saw Jeremy Hunt announcing a freeze in beer duty that he called the “Brexit pubs guarantee”, the fate of clubs is not something politicians really talk about.https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/mar/19/isolated-humans-dance-together-demise-clubbing
Cultural Dimensions and Possible Futures
There is a distinction between uncertainty and ambiguity. We live in ambiguous times, not uncertain times. There is relevant information available for us to better understand the possible future ahead. The key to robust foresight is the ability to effectively combine distinct analysis tools to clarify the details of social change.
Central to the toolkit I teach to students and use with clients is a method of applied semiotics called Culture Mapping. Culture Mapping allows us to analyze language as patterns of social change. It provides a matrix to measure the way language migrates in meaning as it is used to express our affirmation or dissent from established societal codes.
Other tools are useful in providing additional context to establish hypotheses for analysis. For example, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions allows us to establish benchmarks of distinct contextual meaning from county to country. This is particularly useful when determining how social language might affirm or deviate from norms in a country.
The foundation of these cultural dimensions is very useful for discourse analysis. The key is to see how the emerging language is deviating from certain norms. The signifiers of these deviations provide taxonomies that indicate the dynamics of change within that country. Evaluation of the distinction between probable and possible futures is determined by that taxonomy more than any other factor.
In the examples, here, I propose how EV adoption might differ in China vs. the USA. The language in the commercials provides examples of linguistic differences that confirm the hypothesis established by the cultural dimensions. How EV adoption evolves in each country will reflect the expressed synergy of dissonance in each cultural power system. How well each country trusts or mistrusts the social order they are in.
How South Korea emerged as the center of the beauty industry is another interesting case study of cultural dimensions related to the semiotics of everyday life. Beauty in South Korea has become an expression of the tension of cultural dimensions. The innovation in the category has a lot to do with the dynamics of rapid socio-economic growth, rigid competitiveness, perfection, and an emerging desire to break away from all that and be relaxed and comfortable in one’s own decisions.
‘The Era of Urban Supremacy Is Over’
From July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, “New census data shows a huge spike in movement out of big metro areas during the pandemic,” Frey wrote in an April 2022 paper, including “an absolute decline in the aggregate size of the nation’s 56 major metropolitan areas (those with populations exceeding 1 million).”
This is the first time, Frey continued, “that the nation’s major metro areas registered an annual negative growth rate since at least 1990.”https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/15/opinion/post-pandemic-cities-suburbs-future.html?utm_source=Blueprint&utm_campaign=3a02128ede-Newsletter_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b0b9cbf437-3a02128ede-231014502
Gen-Z has suprisingly few qualms about others buying fake fashion
In the age of BeReal when authenticity reigns supreme, Gen-Z has surprisingly few qualms about buying fake goods — especially when others are doing it. In a proprietary study of US Gen-Z consumers aged 13-25 fielded by Juv Consulting, BoF Insights found that a majority think it’s acceptable for others to buy counterfeits. Meanwhile, over a third are personally willing to wear dupes. Estimates of the size of the overall counterfeit and pirated goods market vary, ranging from $1.7 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year, making it the largest criminal enterprise in the world.https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/retail/bof-insights-chart-watch-gen-z-counterfeit-luxury-goods-fake/
Your brain may not be private much longer
VW Gets Ready to Reveal a People’s Car for the Electric Age
Volkswagen is about to do what Tesla didn’t during its recent investor day: show off an affordable electric vehicle for the masses.https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-15/vw-gets-ready-to-reveal-a-people-s-car-for-the-electric-age
TikTok Is Changing What It Means to Be ‘Old’
“I started noticing this trend of people who are essentially your peers, they’re a few years younger than you, addressing people who are older than them like they’re elderly, talking to them like they’re a senior citizen,” says Laurier, who is based in the US state of Georgia. In January, she made a TikTok about the “rampant” ageism she sees on the app. “The way that it is normal these days for someone in their late teens or early twenties to call someone in their late twenties or thirties ‘old’ or ‘washed up’ … I just find that really disturbing,” she said in the video.https://www.wired.co.uk/article/tiktok-teenage-look-ageism?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
Africa’s comic book superheroes tell the continent’s forgotten stories
In 2018, Beserat became the publisher of the first Ethiopian superheroes — Jember and Hawi, each with an eponymous comic book — retelling episodes in his country’s 3,000-year history with a twist. With seven books in English and Amharic achieving $128,000 in sales, Etan Comics hails itself as the “home of African superheroes”.https://www.ft.com/content/2fcbe1f9-f282-4527-b4e2-86cf102b1f27
The Golden Era of Celebrity Beauty Brands Is Ending
The bubble is bursting as shoppers increasingly favor quality over star power.
More than 50 celebrities and influencers — from singer Lady Gaga to tennis phenom Naomi Osaka — have launched cosmetic, haircare and skincare brands in just the last three years, according to a Bloomberg News tally. The US beauty industry is particularly alluring due to high operating margins and the daily-use nature of many products. Like other parts of the consumer sector, the boom was also fueled by cheap digital advertising and all the money sloshing around the economy due to low interest rates.
But rates have surged, fears of a recession linger and consumer preferences have changed. Post-pandemic shoppers are more interested in skincare than makeup. They’re also more discerning and increasingly considering a brand’s quality and authenticity — or the lack thereof — thanks to the flood of product reviews on platforms like TikTok and Reddit. A celebrity’s backing doesn’t matter to a majority of female shoppers, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence survey of 650 cosmetics and skincare users in January.https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2023-celebrity-beauty-brands-makeup-skincare/?ai=eyJpc1N1YnNjcmliZWQiOnRydWUsImFydGljbGVSZWFkIjpmYWxzZSwiYXJ0aWNsZUNvdW50IjowLCJ3YWxsSGVpZ2h0IjoxfQ==
Forget Utopia. Ignore Dystopia. Embrace Protopia!
“Either we’re headed for a dystopia or we’re headed for a utopia,” Mr. Kelly, 70, recalled in a recent interview, describing the prevailing attitudes about the future at the time. “Neither of those seemed to be feasible, or even desirable.”
So Mr. Kelly coined a term to describe a third option, meant to represent the reality in which he believed we already lived: protopia.https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/14/special-series/protopia-movement.html