posted: 7 June, 2019
Welcome to ThisIsRetail (don’t you mean Dispatches? 🤔 Keep up! That was, like, soooo last week), your weekly look at some of the more diverse and unexpected stuff influencing the way we buy, sell and consume in the 21st century.
We’re not a news feed, nor are we algorithm-powered content aggregator. No, we prefer to painstakingly hand-pick the innovative, the new, the stimulating, and the provocative. Expect diverse and, sometimes, esoteric features on culture, politics, travel, art, music, literature, and technology – plus anything else we find intriguing – so long as it’s on a collision-course with consumerism.
So why are we doing this? Well, amid the doom and gloom that clouds the sector, we want to shine a light on some of good stuff going on. We’re optimistic for the future of retail, but it’s up to us all to seize the opportunities it presents.
This week we’re looking at the fight for domination in the escalating Sino-American trade tussle (and what it means to you and me), waving iTunes off into the digital sunset, and sending a culinary love bomb to the South of Italy. Let’s go!
- The looming 100-year US-China conflict
The most important geopolitical development of our era is increasingly being framed as a zero-sum game. Here’s Martin Wolf on why a blend of competition with co-operation is the right way forward.
- How China tariffs could make your sweaters and pants cost more
The Trump administration’s threat to impose new tariffs on nearly everything imported to the US from China has sent shock waves through American retail. Whether you’re buying or selling, costs could jump – here’s why.
[New York Times]
- A farewell for iTunes
The story of how a revolutionary product that transformed the music industry came to find itself on the technological scrapheap.
[New York Times]
- Who’s using your face? The ugly truth about facial recognition
Whether for security and surveillance by private companies such as retailers (e .g. identifying shopper buying intent), or Governments who increasingly use it to identify people for national and border security, facial recognition depends on real-world data-sets. These images are often scraped from social media and CCTV. This is a story of how our faces are helping create a new surveillance technology – benign and otherwise.
- Counter culture: what we lose when shops disappear
A lovingly-written piece by John Lloyd on his mother’s life as a shopkeeper in a small coastal resort town in Fife (Scotland), and the important social benefits shops bring to everyday life.
- The renaissance of Neapolitan pizza
The mouth-watering story of how this Neapolitan peasant food travelled, first around Italy and then much, much farther afield.
- The store where Philip Roth ate chopped herring
A tribute to Barney Greengrass, restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side, the home of smoked-fish, and a century-old bastion of Jewish culture.
[New York Times]
- How Sri Lanka’s arrack coconut spirit went upmarket
Distilled from the sap of the coconut flower, and a local favourite for centuries, this is the story of how its makers are trying to take the spirit go global.
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