Meet me at the Multispace for a chai, flash book club and a quick staff meeting.

We used to go to the kind of space where we could sample, think about, consume and purchase media. That space might have been a bookstore, a record store, a library, a news stand, the video rental store or the public library.

But as our media has gone digital, physical browsing spaces have been disappearing. Video rentals are a thing of the past. Bookstores and record stores are declining rapidly. News stands shrink as magazines fail. Libraries are under financial pressure and have cut back hours.

And yet that urge to discuss, review and connect persists; what shall replace the space to do that in?

As goes the record store, so goes the office

There is another trend that may relate to this: the disaggregation of the office. With more people working from home, or working for themselves, there is a need for a place to plug in and drink an uplifting beverage. The sight of people tapping at their laptop, sucking on the wifi, while sipping at a latte is a familiar one.

Coffee shops have dabbled in media, and media stores have dabbled in coffee. Perhaps there could be a new kind of space that encourages and combines these activities and more. Larger than a simple coffee shop, with different pods for different activities: games, music, video, books, working, meeting and beverages.

Maybe it’s like a mall, after all

True, having a space large enough for so many uses would require more overhead than a single business would want to cover. So let’s say that there are lots of businesses, smallish ones, that are embedded in the space. The digital ones might be consumed through screens; there might be clever algorithms based on aggregate user preferences derived from the libraries in visitors’ devices. Come on in and meet with fellow fans, learn new stuff from other people in a comfortable digitally enhanced environment, with the beverage or snack of your choice.

There might be small/local food and drinks kiosks. Immersive game playing rooms. Business meeting rooms. Quiet reading rooms. Quiet working rooms. Assemblies of crafts people, or game rooms. Small businesses might come and go on an hourly basis. Make an appointment and set up your storefront, or showroom or flash gallery. And then take it down.

To me this sounds like a mall, or it might be retrofitted to a declining mall. It sounds flexible and fun. Someplace you can go for an hour or two, sample some music, sit in on a flash book club, play a video game, purchase something, make a call, get a little work done. It’s a fluid community enabled by the technologies that are working against community.

It might even be profitable.

I Don’t Want to Join You – I Only Want to Give You Money

I’m amazed at some of the dumb practices I see in online stores.

Imagine walking into Target and trying to buy a pair of socks. “Sure!” says the cashier, “just fill out this membership application, and we’ll take your money and give you socks.”

“Can’t I just buy the socks?”

“Sorry, no. It’s important to us to really know who you are. Just pick out your special in-store name, no not that one someone else has it. Not that one either, someone else has it too – here you can use this one and we’ll just randomly attach a number – don’t forget it now?”

“Can I buy the socks now?”

“Almost – just pick out a password so you can get back into the store next time you need socks.”

“Can’t I just come back when I need socks?”

“As a service to you we want to remind you when you need socks, so we *need* this relationship with before we an sell you these socks.”

“Finewhatever, here’s my password.”

“No, that one’s too short. Not that one, it’s too simple. Keep guessing, you’re getting warm! Just add a special character – no, not that special. Good.”

“Can I buy the socks?”

“Absolutely!, what color?”

Why does my phone keep asking me who I am?

My phone is one of the smartest devices I ever met.

It beats me at games. It understands me when I talk to it. I can ask it questions, and some of the time it gives me the right answer. It knows where I am; it knows where I’ve been. It guesses what the next thing is I’m going to type and corrects my grammar.

So why does it keep asking me who I am? Doesn’t it know?

Why does it keep asking for alphanumeric codes from my meat brain, as if I’m supposed to remember? As if my fat fingers are going to hit all the numbers. Sometimes it even makes other computers text me with other random codes to type in! Where does it end?

It’s with me all the time, yet I’ll be there in my own house and it asks me again who I am. Why doesn’t it know? It has a camera, and it can even recognize other people; why not me? I can take a picture of a receipt and get reimbursed, why can’t it take a thumbprint, or retinal print, or analyze my DNA?

I want my phone to know who I am, and negotiate with all the other digital entities for me.

Here’s a brand I would buy: Least

I’m sure I read this on the internetworks somewhere: use less laundry detergent. Lots less; less than half, even. And here’s how you can tell. Wash a fluffy hand towel using the regular amount of detergent. Put the towel in the sink and get it really wet and squish it around. You’ll get soap foam, a lot of it. Why? Because you’re using way too much laundry detergent!

And all that stuff goes down the drain, for millions of us.

Now I’m no hippy dippy never washes his clothes or hair type of character, but on the other hand waste for profit sake is just annoying and – wasteful. I think there’s a lot of products like this. You’re instructed to use too much of it. There’s too much packaging. It’s¬†unnecessary.

So here’s a brand I would buy: LEAST. A range of products pledged to the idea of being the least amount of product possible. Less packaging. Minimum portions. No advertising. No added smells. Refillable. Easily recyclable, or better yet compostable.

And LEAST would have a whole range of products they just don’t sell. Scented air fresheners. Fabric softener. Avocado slicers. But they should have little tags in the aisle where those things would go: “Least doesn’t make one of these because you don’t need it.”