This week your read on the street has been put together by me, Charlotte Street’s Creative Director. It’s an eclectic mix of stories that have surprised, alarmed and inspired me over the last seven days and I’ve tried to take them from an array of new and interesting publications that still allow free or limited access, so that you can try before you buy.
We're heading into six weeks of information warring in the UK as we stare down the barrel of an unlovable election. Giles Whittel's lengthy article in the online magazine Tortoise offers up some fascinating insights on the leadership strategies used by Vladimir Putin with a focus on his use of propaganda, tech and cynicism to unravel nations, including his own. As we approach the twentieth anniversary of Putin in power, it feels like an opportune moment to reflect on how much his strategies have served as a prototype populist playbook for those closer to home.
Supply chains on the blockchain please
For the health-aware and eco-conscious among us, it is a horrible time to make food choices. Behind every plant-based food trend from avocados to nut milk is a story of ecological destruction and human slavery. Yes, human slavery. This story of cashew milk is one particularly horrifying example of a supply chain that is undoubtedly played out to varying degrees across many of our favourite foods and across the fashion industry too. How to fix it? Supply chain certifications with blockchain verification built in, test cases for this are already up and running in the luxury goods sector. Rainforest Alliance, Utz, Fairtrade and EU certificates could all contribute to the fight and government could even slap a tax on the producers of uncertified foods.
If you insist on eating meat, make it a squirrel or a badger
Sticking with the theme of food choices, we move seamlessly from nuts to Nutkin's Law and the reasoned argument for eating more meat, as long as that meat is grey squirrel or badger. Magazine editor and freelance journalist Patrick Galbraith was an associate here at Charlotte Street Partners when I joined. He is now the award-winning editor of The Shooting Times where in his first two years and at the grand old age of 25 he has monetised events, social media and video content while making the magazine the leading title in its sector, according to Sir Nicholas Soames anyway, who reportedly knows a good shooting magazine when he sees one.
Finding a cure for the beauty sickness
Have you felt inadequate lately? You're not alone. The beauty sickness is rife amongst us all, but is particularly acute for the younger generation. Intense feelings of ugliness and inadequacy are coupled with the belief that being their best physical self - even if only online - will bring happiness, acceptance and respect. Unsurprisingly, plastic surgeons are reaping the rewards. The most annoying thing though, according to Foges, is the faux-feminism touted by "many a half-naked babe on social media", who reclaim physical beauty as some sort of revenge on the patriarchy. The fallout being unbridled misery and insecurity. Now it's time to "stop perpetuating the fantasies of perfection that make girls miserable". For parents of young women, this is a must-read.
RankBrain meet BERT Weirdly-named algorithms are getting together as Google's existing search algorithm, RankBrain, joins forces with its latest super smart development BERT to give us much, much better search results. Here's an AI test case we can all not be afraid of. In fact, it's a great example of how AI is able to improve our lives without trying to change our behaviours. This development is likely to dramatically speed up the death of SEO, that irritating practice of copying the same supposedly relevant words, over and over again, into your web pages so that you can creep up the Google charts for no better reason than that. AI is making our website searches work more organically and that's a paradox to enjoy.
The World in 50 Years
I’m fascinated by what brilliant minds think our future may look like. The media must cover the news of the day and I thank them for it but God grant me the time to consider the bigger picture. In this article, the possible answers to some of the world’s biggest questions are put forward by an array of experts and creatives from Isabel Allende to Temple Grandin and Andy Kuper, founder of LeapFrog Investments.
A pre-Christmas goose
I was a gamer for decades, until my kids took over the console. A lifetime Nintendo fan (yeah, yeah, I fit all the gender gamer stereotypes I know), I have always loved the psychedelic good humour and silliness of their games. Then my kids started gaming on the PS4 and it all got seriously dull with standoffish avatars and nights of endless flossing. But the balance has been restored with the arrival of Untitled Goose Game. The unlikely smash hit from Nintendo puts you in the body of a goose to move around and make mischief all over the place while its little flapping feet and honking mix with a catchy, Debussy driven theme. Playing video games is proven to help relax and release trauma from humans as well as improving human relationships when we collaborate to play. So bring on the pre-Christmas goose I say.
Winning the war on climate change
Alongside having a laugh, hope is one of the most important mental traits we can cultivate in life. According to 20 years of scientific research and 41 years of my own experience, hope reduces feelings of helplessness, boosts happiness, reduces stress, and improves our quality of life.
So, here’s something to inspire hope in all of us as we take on the most daunting crisis we’ve ever faced together. This article from the World Economic Forum paints a picture of what the world would look like in 2030 if we pulled our collective finger out by employing, at scale, the solutions we already have to many thorny environmental problems.
Written by Harriet Moll, Creative Director