One of my favourite and most well-worn analogies comes from G. K. Chesterton, writing in the 1920s about social reform. He talks about the enthusiasm that many reformers have, that drives them to wade in and change and remove things that they don’t fully understand – leading to unintended consequences. That’s the subject of this week’s article.
This week’s article
G. K. Chesterton wrote about the mistaken urge that reformers often have: to remove things without fully understanding why they were originally put in place. It’s a lesson that’s of enduring usefulness.
This week’s three interesting links
One churned up by the YouTube algorithms: a soothing and illuminating film of the wonderful and eloquent Mark Knopfler just talking about guitars. Few things can beat a master of their craft, who happens to be a lovely person, being given time to talk. #
A fascinating oral history of Processing, a programming language designed for artists:
“Cooper and Maeda established a long lineage of designers and artists who were interested in pushing the boundaries of what code could create. Among them were Ben Fry and Casey Reas, two research assistants in Maeda’s group. During their time at MIT, Fry and Reas began to question how programming was taught to visually minded students. They wondered: How could they make programming more accessible to designers and artists? And what would it look like for code to become both a creative medium and part of the creative process itself?”
Scott Galloway takes on “buy now, pay later” schemes (like Klarna) that have taken over ecommerce in recent years.
These services have proliferated partly by capitalising on young people’s fear of debt and presenting themselves as being somehow different:
“Their attraction to BNPL coincides with an aversion to banks and the credit they offer. This is a generation that came of age just before or in the wake of the Great Recession, a global economic crisis precipitated by… way too much credit. Young people love BNPL because, according to the former director of Afterpay, the vast majority of them ‘don’t want to be on credit.’”
But whichever way you cut it, these services are debt – and they’re driving young people to spend money they don’t have and to get into a cycle of incurring punitive late fees. #