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Blog // Thoughts
January 8, 2013

13 Things I Can Do Without In 2013

This list is a companion to yesterday’s piece, 13 things I want more of in 2013. Today’s list is like a set of anti-resolutions, things I will aim to avoid in the coming year. 1. Artisanal – I love handmade, limited edition and traditionally created foods, drinks and products. But, while the artisanal movement promotes […]

This list is a companion to yesterday’s piece, 13 things I want more of in 2013. Today’s list is like a set of anti-resolutions, things I will aim to avoid in the coming year.

1. Artisanal – I love handmade, limited edition and traditionally created foods, drinks and products. But, while the artisanal movement promotes some great values, it is too often cloaked in excessive and self-aggrandising PR. It’s time to say yes to the amazing stuff and no to the hype.

2. The New Cafe – I enjoy drinking coffee in Singapore, by which I mean drinking the local style of rich, thick and sweet brew known as Kopi. But, finding a decent Espresso, my preferred drink, is a struggle. While a new cafe seems to open every other week, none of them can manage an Espresso of real character and substance. Trips last year to Adelaide, London & Hong Kong only served to remind me what a “God Shot” really tastes like. Time to give up on the overhyped cafes and either drink Kopi, or be thankful for my Nespresso machine.

3. Photography Magazines – Almost every photographer I’ve spoken to in the past couple of years has expressed disquiet over the state of many photography magazines. Many magazines feel like light editorial copy sprinkled over relentless advertising and the illusion that more gear will get you to a place that can only really be reached by hard work and perservance.

4. Clever T-Shirts – Popularised by both hipsters and the eternal post-adolescence of today’s adults, clever t-shirts with their ironic and occasionally humorous slogans have long since stopped being edgy or smart. Geeks might still rule in some ways, but this defensive and ironic moment in geek fashiondom is over.

5. Apps – 2013 will be the year of app-backlash. I remember when the internet first took off in the 90s, we bloated our hard-drives with free & shareware games and programmes. Then things settled down & we got used to doing more with less code clogging our systems. The same thing is happening with apps on mobile devices. People are getting more ruthless about deleting what they don’t use and clarifying what they expect to do with their devices.

6. Networking – Popular with faux startups, unemployed executives and those trying to pitch second rate business to business services, networking events are massively popular here in Asia. As part of my plan for 2012 I didn’t attend any and, quite frankly, I didn’t miss them. I’m not the only one in the creative sphere who is cynical about the hype around networking events (and the networker’s social media platform of choice, LinkedIn).

7. Debates About Race – There’s a lot I like about Singapore society and I believe this country has achieved so much because of a sensitivity to racial issues. However, in the popular press and online commentariate, it has become a fashion to turn every social issue into a question of race. And, to make matters worse, many debates about “identity” around the world have become safe harbours for racist and xenophobic opinions.

8. Acoustic Guitar Slinging Singer Songwriters – I like to spend a bit of every week checking out new music from unsigned and emerging artists. I’m always finding amazing new talent, but all too often the talent is obscured by poorly shot videos, with a singer performing in their bedroom and plaintively strumming an acoustic guitar. It’s a terrible habit because it makes talented songwriters, often with good voices and decent songs all sound the same.

9. eBooks – I love the idea of eBooks, especially the notion of carrying a whole library in a mobile device, like my iPad. Except, eBooks don’t really work for me. Although the eBook reading experience is improving all the time, given the choice I would always, always prefer to read a paper book. I’m not the only one.

10. Happiness – The current obsession with happiness in popular culture is the ugly step-child of the self-help industry. It’s also a pointless obsession because humans are neither predisposed by nature nor programmed by evolution to experience happiness all the time. Of course, we would all know this already if we lifted our heads from the facile self help books and scanned the thousands of years of deep reflection on human nature by philosophers, scholars, clerics, poets and dramatists.

11. Social Media – While a growing band of people are turning their back completely on social media, the much bigger trend is social media rationalisation. It takes so much effort to maintain multiple online presences that many are cutting back on the number of services they sign up for, or stick with. Expect to see more people making either/or choices amongst the major services (like Facebook, Twitter and Google+) and dropping more of the secondary services altogether (like Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare).

12. Catalog Luxury – What is the point of shelling out huge bucks for a “luxury” good when everyone around you can do the same? So called luxury brands have done really well over the last decade and will continue to do OK with the emerging rich, especially in Asia. But, the emerging trend will see our notion of luxury redefined towards ideas of uniqueness which may, or may not be connected to price.

13. Advocacy – Like “evangelism” and “engagement strategies”, advocacy is a borderline meaningless zombie word that has marched with unrelenting inanity over our professional horizon. Don’t advocate, which literally means to call for help. Instead actually get off your arse and help, by building real foundations for change and maintaing a long term commitment to making them work.

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Responses
Leonie 8 years ago

I am really enjoying these lists, Fernando. And I find myself agreeing with a lot of this one – particularly 1 (though I do it for the products, not the hype anyway), 3 (for the same reason), and 11. Nic wore t-shirts with funny stuff on them long before it was cool and I like his sense of humour (he doesnt ever try to be anyone other than who he is – a geek) and I gave up networking last year because I didnt see the point in it and I would rather have conversations about what is important to me, not what I do for a ‘job’.

    Fernando Gros 8 years ago

    Leonie – thanks. I should point out again that I love the Artisanal movement, I just cringe at the hype and some of the copy in magazines. And, I have more than my fair share of clever T-Shirts. Heck, I even have an Origami Unicorn T-Shirt!

Toni 8 years ago

An interesting set of points, many of which have passed un-noticed, probably because I move in less rarefied circles (;-) and don’t connect with the world through media like TV.

One that was dear to my heart was your comment on acoustic guitar-based artists. While there are exceptional players who can give the instrument a voice, most of the time it’s a bland semi chordal rhythm instrument that just provides a wash of backing that says nothing. If electric guitar did not exist I think I’d have gone back to brass.

Another was networking. While it can be useful, that very seldom seems to be the case, and I wonder if it’s more about people being paid to organise meetings than it is about helping useful contacts to be created.

Finally photographic magazines. Your comments sound very much like the kind of things I remember thinking when I stopped buying AP and a couple of others in the late 80s. After a while the same old articles seem to come round again and again, all the while telling you why you must have this or that piece of gear to be able to create images like such and such. It must be very hard to balance content against advertorial, since these magazines are supported on advertising.

    Fernando Gros 8 years ago

    Toni – I don’t watch TV either. OK, I own a TV, but I don’t watch TV, if that makes sense.

    I agree with your thoughts here. In terms of singer-songwriters, I’d like to hear some of them create a basic backing track with even just a few beats and synths. Anything that adds texture.

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