Seeking Originality in a Distracted World. 

Everything unbiased, uncommodified, empowering. This blog is about reclaiming originality in an environment that constantly directs us to adopt prepared formulas. Exploring a meaningful, modern lifestyle while unplugging from commercialized culture and manufactured taste. 

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Future of Business: Meaning is the Message

Image Credit: philly.comMarshall Mcluhan's old, iconic quote "the medium is the message" may be in need for an update. Given the weakening appeal of advertising-like messaging and the inflation of communication channels it looks like the new version of McLuhan's statement would be less about where you communicate but about who you are. For example, Neil Blumenthal, CEO of the fashionable glasses manufacturer Warby Parker came from the non-profit world and decided to build a successful company that has “doing good” built into the product. For every Warby Parker customer the price of buying a pair of glasses includes a donation of glasses to someone in need. It’s more than a marketing idea but a narrative that encompasses the entire company and all stakeholders. He and his friend’s embarked on a deliberate journey of creating a company that is successful in business and has a meaningful mission. Infact, he believes that aligning the core product with a larger purpose will be the norm for business to attract high value clients and quality talent in the future. Meaning works.


Passing the Age of "Peak Stuff"

Photo: robtm2010"Peak Stuff" is a discovery by Chris Goodall detailed in his blog and a recent Guardian article. Data indicates that the UK reached the peak of material consumption around 2001-2003, "stuff" being tangible things like biomass, minerals and fossil fuels. It suggests that some nations like the UK are indeed reducing the level of their physical belongings based on a national trend of owning less material and living more efficiently. 


Appreciating Local Specialties

Chocolala Antigua. Photo by rworangeWorld class specialties from unexpected places. A recent trip to Central America reminded me that we are often not aware of local specialties or at least badly underestimate their quality because we think we know what is supposed to be "world class". For example, the common wisdom goes that the best chocolate must come from Belgium or Switzerland. In supermarkets we buy the branded, fancy packaged, industrialized version of what used to be a traditional specialty from these countries. The best chocolate I had this year comes from ... Guatemala. The city of Antigua has a rich variety of chocolatiers and their quality and creativity is stunning. Ever tried hand-made chocolate with a touch of chili, cumin, pepper, orange? It's from a different world, literally. How many places have we visited without looking or asking for local specialties?


The Beauty of Having a Unique Perspective

Photo: yowayowacamera.comLevitation in Tokyo. Natsumi Hayashi posts a daily picture of herself suspended in the air on Her meditative photos offer a magic, sometimes humoristic view on everyday life in Tokyo through her lense only.


Air-Drying Laundry

Photo: Valt3r Rav3ra - DEVOted (via Flickr)


The Wonder of Tabletop Games

by Mumbai Paused (via Flickr)There is something fascinating about tabletop games like Foosball, Pinball, Pool, Table Hockey or Ping-Pong. They are the opposite of arcade games: tangible, social, spectator-friendly, low-cost, cross-cultural and timeless. Many tabletop games even feature professional player leagues and world championships. The first video games often copied tabletop games, then evolved into an entirely different kind of experience: industrialized, complex, simulation-like, addictive, screen-bound. One of my favorite tabletop games is Carrom, a finger-pool game played mostly in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. It's simple, peaceful and has an elegant gameplay.


Preserving Heritage in Gentrification

New Coffee Shop in Landmark Bakery (Vesuvio)

Once Dry-Cleaner, now upscale Hairdresser (Harry Chong)

We sense when our beloved old neighborhood places are about to go out of business. Over time, we got attached to them, we got to know the aging owner, hoped they would keep up their timeless trade against prevailing trends, the rising rent, stay open another year. Eventually they close, that's business, we wish we had bought there more often. However, in some cases succeeding owners are mindful of the tradition they replaced and keep memories alive. Very few of them go as far as taking over the existing name and shop to run an entirely new business. Two of them are depicted above. Harry Chong was a charming, sometimes sloppy dry cleaning service, now occupied by an upscale hairdresser. Vesuvio an old SoHo bakery is now a hip cookie and coffee shop. A nice continuation of heritage in gentrification.


The Art of Improvisation

Improv StageWe can always put the script aside when we feel things are becoming too scripted. Improvisation is the art of creating something in the moment. Improvisation techniques can be learned by everyone and are based on a few key principles, most importantly "yes and" and "truth in comedy". It creates a powerful attitude of affirmation and truthfulness which is particularly conductive to exploring new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols or new ways to act. The technique applies to many different forms of life, communication, expression across all artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic, and non-academic disciplines. In addition to comic relief learning how to improvise may open entirely new doors in our minds. 


Objects that Last a Lifetime

Image: SonOfJordan via Flickr"We are too poor to buy cheap products" once said the grandfather of my very good friend. Many brands claim to be the best but very few seem to back it up with substantial warranties. "If you want to build the best product you must offer the best warranty" states Dense, the Danish manufacturer of audio equipment introducing their lifetime guarantee. Commitment to longevity is a refreshing contrast to disposable consumption. A real lifetime warranty, valid as long as you live (not the product design life) without asterisks or fine print shows that manufacturers truly stand by their products. On the flipside, it is equally important that we cultivate our ability to identify and appreciate quality. Let's take a moment and celebrate the manufacturers that offer these warranties - like Creuset (Kitchen), Densen (Audio), Zippo (Lighter), Osprey (Hiking), Outdoor Research (Hiking), Patagonia (Outdoor) (...) 


Keeping Local Languages Alive

Photo by Anhtu | A Conversation in India"Killing Time" (Wiallmoot un Tietverdrief) is a collection of illustrations, observations and humorous poems about animals written in "Lower German", a local dialect of the German language. With the permission of the author I was looking to get the paperback book published on Kindle to make it digitally available to the community. After scanning, converting and uploading it to Kindle Direct Publishing I got the following response: "Thank you for your recent submission to the Amazon Kindle Store. However, please note that we are only accepting new submissions in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese at this time. As a result, we will not be publishing your title(s): "Wiallmoot un Tietverdrief". Kindle Publishing decided to focus on very few global languages. A vivid example of how commercial bias accelerates the decline of local languages e.g. from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe as well as regional or historic dialects. How? They are simply excluded from digital publishing.