It’s wisdom from an unlikely source but there is a lot of truth to the idea of “known knowns”, “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. There were a lot of unknown unknowns in this experiment. Thankfully, the area we were most unsure about was the one where we got the most wonderful surprises: collaborators and contributors. We were amazed at the enthusiasm with which people jumped in to collaborate—that was a welcomed and much appreciated surprise. Our hope is that we’ve dealt with other types of unknowns well enough to strengthen the magazine and to help give it shape and texture.
Not to say it was easy. The image that kept popping up was the madman/genius plastering his walls with fragments of pictures and texts—making links between them by tying pieces of red string all throughout the room. We didn’t use strings (though perhaps that madman was onto something...) but by the end we had lights going off in our minds every time a keyword popped up in daily conversation with a friend. Each one sent us into a new world of exploration and tied more things together. It’s been a very enlightening experience, pulling on the threads of stories and ideas that span industries and (sub)cultures.
To add to this, LJ and I have two distinctly different profiles. He’s got a background in law, marketing, strategy and in figuring out the psychology at work within businesses. I’ve got a background of making stuff on the Internet, of figuring out how it works, and in recent years, of branching out to try and understand all that the Net touches. In the process of discovering and researching topics, our different viewpoints regularly revealed new connections, signals and patterns coming together in unexpected ways. Each new idea shared suddenly lead us to an entirely different area we needed to start exploring. We’ve both weaved in our own interests and perspectives into the fabric of the alpine review. Some common threads that have been woven into the blend are:
Disruption. One of my favourite quotes of the year is by Cabel Sasser, co-founder of Panic, the makers of Mac and iOS software, and he said this: “Kickstarter. Steam. App Store. Food carts. Netflix. Square. I like this trend. DISRUPT ALL THE THINGS.” The list of industries being disrupted is growing and, on the whole, it’s a very good thing, many middlemen need a shakeup, many hierarchies need pruning.
Open. A close relative to, and often cause of, disruptions is openness. Open software, open hardware, open data, open standards, open innovation, transparent government, etc. We haven’t tackled that directly this time around but it’s an integral part of many topics that have been included.
Bottom-Up. Non-centralized organizations, self-organization, crowds, starfish organizations, movements, collaboration. Bottom-up structures are everywhere these days, as are leaderless movements and uprisings. They play a large role in this recombination of the world we want to talk about here.
Connectedness. We now live in the beginnings of an everted world, a post-digital world, one where the Internet has gone from being a destination to actively colonizing the physical world. In such a state, so many things and people are connected and energized by the presence of the network without necessarily thinking about it or even realizing the implications.
Making, craft, proximity and authenticity. One can come at this from different viewpoints—and some will pooh-pooh certain aspects—but there is an inarguable resurgence of people making things; specifically in small batches, often by hand, with a huge focus on quality and authenticity. In some cases, it’s about proximity: feeling closer to where a garment, food or tool comes from. There is an interest in knowing more about the conditions and materials involved in the course of production. Authenticity has been rather maligned but the core values remain. Fewer empty shells, more value and caring please.
Design. In the full spread of what it means, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” ( Jobs). Design is everywhere and part of more and more successful products, services and even the spreading of ideas. People don’t always recognize it but they perceive it and it’s essential.
Environment. Nature and climate, two key areas one must always have in mind when considering the future and the decisions made today. We don’t often speak of it in No.1 but it’s always there, influencing our picks as to what has value and meaning for the long run.
In the course of completing this first issue, a theme embroidered itself in the form of our article on Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragility. After a first reading, I proposed it as the theme to LJ—the author of the piece—and of course he already had it in mind and was just hoping I’d come to the same conclusion. It simply made sense and we’ve learned that using it as a framework lets us look into a large swatch of our topics from a solid perspective. We’ve been using it time and again since then.
So the mad wall of connections grows: collecting examples of shifts, edges, misfits, resilience, post-normal, new normal, collapse and emergence. The list of new subjects and directions continues to grow, joined daily by many more things not yet covered or even discovered. We look forward to the journey; we hope you’ll join us and even pitch in with opinions and ideas.