I joke that capitalism’s weakness might be that if unchecked, it can work so well that it will make human beings obsolete.
remember the old coffee shop? you used to be able to have a conversation with even your worst enemy about an idea. you didn’t have to know the person much less agree with anything they were saying. for the most part, people could express their ideas or thoughts and have a conversation. it didn’t appear odd then with people reading a newspaper as a signal to be left alone – it didn’t give the same vibe that people staring into their mobiles today do. I used to lament why coffee shops simply don’t have one chair per table anymore, it won’t be long when I won’t even bother going anymore. in some senses, it saddens me, as the coffee shop used to be the brainstorm place. it was watching people that triggered many ideas.
perhaps it is seeing all the people doing the exact same thing and staring into their mobiles seemingly are oblivious to any other human around them and the reality that soon automation is going to hit the labor force has me think the coffee shop is on its death knell. some might call all of this progress, I think it is more like taking a business and sucking the life out of it. while the physical sales and product sales might increase, the increasing lifeless sterility of the environment saddens me.
in some places, you are darned if you do, damned if you don’t. one time I had a conversation with a manager of the biggest chain in the country and asked him what was happening in simply taking orders from a customer. he replied it was a dual edged sword, as he was graded on speed and moving product, but also how the customer experience feels all the time.
“but if you have a line going out the door, isn’t that a good cue for the staff to speed up?”
maybe that is my old merchandising brain working where we had a finite time and had a limited monopoly in arenas to capture as much revenue as possible. we didn’t want to lose any opportunity costs. you trained your people to work at three times the speed of a normal person for these bursts of business.
what I see in the market today is each person might have six gears in their shifter but never get out of first…ever. it has me thinking about how we are automating everything we can these days because the actual worker for repetitive tasks isn’t going to be around much soon. a good example is McDonald's kiosks. while they just entered the USA market, they have been in the rest of the world for years. I guess the cashless society will one day follow and while I hope it doesn’t, it will be the final step to completely envelope each human in a lovely digital box where I have to wager human behavior will repeat itself and use it for not so great purposes.
the last sentence makes me sad, yet, it is coming and it is too far out of the gates to stop it. for the majority of things, I think it is a great idea with the ability to provide comfort and convenience to human beings. the dark side will come with monetization of the idea and people wanting more. look at how the united states is a debtor nation and consumer market today and people think, “oh this is just how it is!” if you were to always carry around some weights or if you had to walk around in handcuffs that limited your mobility in movement, would you still think, “oh this is just how it is!” or would you say, “wow, how can we limit the bad uses of our tools and technologies without forgetting the humans?”
I guess it is simply a sign of the times and perhaps humans need a bit more time to adapt to new technologies and get to the place where we realize a lot of it is simply making us less humane to each other. it is great to find people just like yourself, but for the larger social collective, I don’t think it is making places better. I will have to call some friends in Japan and ask if they see the social construct, particularly with an aging nation changing from a community to a more selfish slant, or if they see the community for all becoming stronger?
as for me, I think it was last week I was pondering building out my own espresso machine? there is scant information of people who have made a larger commercial version. I am guessing when you put high temperature and high pressure into something, it limits the pool of people willing to play and make things. but I thought, even if I build something cool like this – opened the doors and put out a sign for people to come in, share a decent quality drink with others, it was free if you spent 30 minutes talking to the other people in the room. would people actually do that? or would I have a shop full of homeless folks drinking free espresso’s all day?
what is different today is that years ago, you had the rich, poor, educated, intelligent, dreamers, artists, craftsmen, and everything in between in the same space. it was that odd meeting space where the differences in the world could come together for a bit and get along.
I simply don’t see that meeting space happening in a coffee shop in the states - either you have the local coffee shop with cliques in it, you have the shops full of folks sitting there and no one actually drinking coffee, or you have everyone staring into their mobile – oblivious that there are other humans right next to them.
a portion of these thoughts might simply be I am older and have the plan for the ultimate brainstorm/lab/coffee space now. it is all in one space and you waste no time with the commute or much of life’s other concerns by developing a place where you can use all six of the gears in your gearbox. it is a choice how fast or slow you wish to go. maybe my neutral was to have the tea/matcha meets full café crème/espresso/cappuccino/latte space. I enjoy making them as much as I like drinking them.
but today, you don't’ really make much in the states. it appears you push a button. last week I went for coffee with butch and offered to pull the shots for his coffee and the lady looked at me funny, “you know how to do that?”
“Yeah, if I have an interest in something, I tend to go learn how to do it. the trouble is most things don’t hold my attention span long once I get decent at it.”
perhaps that is why where we are now with the work in creating places for people and plants to grow in the optimal conditions had enough work to keep me occupied till the day I die.
speaking of which, I need some coffee. I confess the last few days I got lazy in just spooning out the grind versus weighing it. I don’t need perfect coffee, just good coffee. have a great day.