Protecting and Nurturing Culture - The Asset of the Information Age
August 29, 1998
I just finished talking to my sister again. She described a new tapas restaurant that had pool tables, all of the cool new tapas dishes, an industrial look and everything just right to become really "hip" and successful. She said it had all of the right designs, but lacked the authenticity of the original and was too "franchise" looking. Franchises are taking over local areas in San Francisco and people are trying to ban franchises in certain areas. my sister calls this the commodification of culture and thinks we need to try to stop it.
At Kokuryo-san's ecommerce study group meeting on August 26, 1998 we heard a presentation by someone from World, an apparel company. They are using POS data to speed up the turn around time to respond to trends. They can now react to POS data by having a new design in the shops in 2 weeks. They have a brand that is very successful at this. My observation and concern is that they are probably consuming trends from culture and speeding up the depreciation of new trends. I think that the fragility of trends and the lack of substantive culture or diversity in middle America is a direct result of neglecting the culture and using economic incentives as the primary source of direction for the content.
Takemura-san of the Kyoto University of Art and Design talks about the artisans who specialize in color in Kyoto. They communicate regularly with representatives from famous European brands. The Europeans take Kyoto color culture and use it to as an element in their decision about their designs for the Haut Couture. From there, brands around the world pick up their trends, and so the culture is distributed throughout the world. The colors in Kyoto allow the designers to continue to set new trends, albeit a cyclic one.
I think that an argument similar to the argument ecologists use for the cost of pollution in the air can be made about the commodification and depreciation of culture. If a rigorous economic and organizational model could be designed to describe cultural capital, the exchange of value within such a capital system and its relationship to the economy, maybe would could design a structure to help preserve culture. In turn, this may have the effect of stabilizing markets and trends which have become chaotic. Culture could be the most important stabilizer for the information economy.
(It's all kind of like Nukamiso ;-P )