As recently reported in "Courrier international" magazine, the Oxford Dictionary editors have decided to remove the "cassette tape" term from their dictionary. This "sacrilegious deed” was denounced by USA today. The daily newspaper pointed out that the cassette tape is coming back, most notably in the independent music scene, where it is preferred for recordings.
In line with this news story, the virtualization of our society is being more and more criticized. In our Futur(s) 10 book, the "Back up" theme anticipated the questioning of progress when solely based on advances in technology. The book analyzes the need for consumers to "re-humanize" a daily life that feels overly dematerialized, standardized, predetermined in its form. All on the pretext of increased efficiency.
Lament on progress, praise for imperfection, and materialism nostalgia
1. In "the big switch" book, Nicholas Carr sees the systematic use of search engines as a possible factor of intellectual erosion. We do move huge quantities of texts and souvenirs at high speed, but are unable to take interest in their meaning and depth.
2. Henk Van Ess offers with his “Da Google code” book, tips to optimize online search. This handbook, filled with teachings, is a flagrant admission of weakness for our society, constrained as it is to adapt to the machine rather than the opposite.
3. Contradicting television formatting, a new generation of films and TV shows emerges. The now cult classic "Glee" is involved in rehabilitating imperfection as a sign of peculiarity (losers with difficult physical appearances, overweight, handicapped…). It takes an ironic look, yet with much empathy and without any sordid realism.
4. The family cell, with its madness and twisted ways, regains some charm. The mockumentary series “Modern family”, in line with “The office”, follows three atypical, archetypal American families, and pays a tribute to the dysfunctional family.
5. "Today, over the course of one year, we are faced with changes that, some hundreds of years ago, would have required several generations to occur". In her book, "Obsolete", Anna Jane Gossman brings forward how, with technological progress, many rituals and objects that were until recently still part of our lives, are now disappearing. Handwriting a letter, getting lost, using a telephone booth... With this inventory, the author tries to rehabilitate small forgotten habits, still full of poetry and humanity.
Evolution of values
Back to a more human everyday life
Fighting a form of daily de-materialization, consumers are looking for ways to reinvigorate their everyday occupations with drama and affect. Since things like taking a picture, listening to music, shopping, are being gradually emptied of all substance, of any meaning or peculiarity, counteracting with some serendipity and materialism is a way to humanize, enrich and reassure, as it restores structure and relief.
The same applies to the social field. Focusing on close circles, "true friends", and family is a growing trend. Realigning with "true life" means choosing friendlier entertaining activities, reflecting strong sociability and openness values.
Arty craftst & Human tech
Effects of real, materialization, rituals, random associations, handmade aesthetics... Deliberately imperfect products and services, with slower timescales, revitalizing consumption with substance, meaning and surprise…1."Pudding packaging", Yvonne Niewerth 2. "scratch meals", Jeremy Innes-Hopkins.
1. Opposite to the ultra-stylish, Yvonne Neuwirth imagined a pack with a roughly sketched, "hand made" style recipe, like an illustrated cookbook: practical and fun.
2. All-in-one kit, ready to cook meal based on different raw ingredients, depending on availability. The art of using up leftovers regains its charm…
1. "Serendipitor" application 2. A Screen capture of www.supermarketsarah.com e-shop
1. GPS and other applications display the fastest, most efficient way to get from point A to point B. Serendipitor does the opposite, for those in need of disorientation. Mapping places to discover, such as cultural or commercial spaces, the app also gives on the fly suggestions for possible actions to take in order to meet with people.
2. On her website, "Supermarket Sarah", Sarah Bagner, who's now in charge of Selfridges merchandising, displays products on a wall stage. The wall is shot and published in real life. Another way to recreate the charm: visual experience, emotion and touch of "offline" stores.