Category Archives: society

What is the dining table really for?

Dinner happens everywhere now: on the couch while streaming a television show, hunched over a kitchen countertop, on a commute home. The shift happened right under our noses — in a 2019 survey about cooking at home, while 72 percent of respondents grew up eating at a dining room table, only 48 percent of them still do so now. The American dining room is dying a slow death, and we’ve barely batted an eye. For the sake of convenience, we don’t sit down for capital-D dinner anymore. What has this fade into obsolescence done to the dining table, and to the people who once gathered around it to share a meal? The dining table hasn’t disappeared — there are plenty next to my family’s on Facebook Marketplace — but its meaning seems to have been altered forever. Read more (Vox)

Japan Inc. should use COVID-19 to end excessive formality

Extreme formality runs deep in Japanese business culture, stifling employees’ sense of ownership and suppressing innovation. Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic offers a chance to disrupt such staid traditions.  Excessive formality hurts companies in three ways. First, it discourages young minds from voicing their opinions. With the business environment shifting so quickly, and the maturity curve of wisdom being flattened — if not reversed — businesses only suffer by being deaf to younger voices. Read more (Nikkei Asia)

There is a saying in Japan: “When rules exist, they have to be obeyed.” (Cultural Knowns and Unknowns)

“In Japan, people have an impression that when someone stands out, they will be targeted or bullied,” she said. “So people learn not to stand out, and young people see this as a survival method. Teachers talk about individuality, and yet people’s uniqueness is crushed.” In corporate Japan, that in turn creates an atmosphere in which people are often scared to speak out, particularly in meetings, and especially if they are women, Oshima and Nozu said. Read more (Washington Post)

Mapping Knowns and Unknowns

The Responsible Object: A History of Design Ideology for the Future

Within the design discipline, calls for sustainability and social responsibility have become some of the most common rallying cries of the past decade, generating countless new products, materials and technologies―all designed to change the course of our future. Adjectives like “sustainable,” “green” and “eco” describe this new wave of socially committed design. But though today’s conditions are urgent and particular, the ideologies behind these new products are often not totally new, but rather a part of design history. Contemporary sustainable design is just the newest chapter of a story that stretches back throughout the previous centuries. The Responsible Object presents a selected history of socially committed design strategies within the Western design tradition of roughly the last 150 years, from William Morris to Victor Papanek, and from VKhUTEMAS to FabLab. It includes about 20 interstitial mini-posters with slogans from the text, printed on different colored papers. Learn more (Amazon.com)

China’s TikTok Is Banning Users Who Brag About Their Wealth

The purported aim of the ban is to promote “rational spending” and “a civilized lifestyle,” as well as build a healthier community on Douyin, according to the notice. A spokesperson for the platform told media that flaunting wealth “pollutes the social atmosphere (on Douyin) and is particularly harmful for the mental and physical well-being of minors.”

The recently announced cleanup has actually been underway for weeks. Since the start of this year, close to 4,000 accounts that shared content related to the six now-forbidden categories have been given the boot, the statement said. Read more (Sixth Tone)

The Real Reason We’re Wearing All-Black During The Pandemic

Lockdown dressing has divided us in more ways than one. You might remain committed to comfort via loungewear – or perhaps you’ve started dressing with some semblance of structure in order to bolster your mood each morning – but there’s further proof that we’re all approaching pandemic dressing differently. Read more (Refinery 29)

Protopia Futures

Protopia disputes the dystopian and utopian visions of the future which currently form unproductive and finite binaries that distract us from acting now. Instead, Protopia Futures is a continuous proactive prototyping of possible futures, as Monika Bielskyte puts it, and one that pushes back on restrictive narratives of futures imagined by a privileged group of people.  Read more (Medium)