Showing all posts tagged: trends
28 June 2023
One point two one billion smartphones were shipped in 2022, according to market intelligence firm IDC, the lowest figure since 2013. The decline in demand has been attributed to increased inflation and economic uncertainty. Purely anecdotal, but a few people I’ve spoken to have said they’re hanging onto their existing devices for the time being.
Apparently eighty-six percent of the global population have a smartphone, so I imagine the market is nearing saturation point. This despite the fact devices need to be upgraded periodically, and there are some people who feel compelled to go out and buy the latest models when they’re released, regardless of the condition of their existing device.
27 June 2023
What do social media influencers, through with influencing, wanting to try something new, do? They find a nine-to-five corporate job, and act as a consultant for other influencers likewise wishing to exit the industry, of course. That’s the story of former — sort of — American wellness influencer Lee Tilghman. But in 2019, with the role no longer fun, Tilghman decided she wanted out. And what’s the point in staying in something you don’t like, especially when there are other options?
But Tilghman’s story is an intriguing one, given the number of people who would give their right arm, to be in her former position. Who wouldn’t want to be self-employed, on a high income, in return for making a few (sponsored) Instagram posts a day? But that’s simplifying matters somewhat. The posts appearing on an influencer’s social media feed or blog, are the tip of the iceberg. Most the work of an online content producer, even those with assistants, takes place behind the scenes.
In a profile written for the New York Times by Mattie Khan, Tilghman speaks of the delight nine-to-five work is presently bringing her. But is the grass really greener on the other side? One of Tilghman’s new corporate colleagues was mortified when he learned she had given up her role as an influencer. How could she possibly want to be “shackled” by a nine-to-five job? But Tilghman replied by saying “when you’re an influencer, then you have chains on.”
The chains binding influencers are numerous. There’s the need to toe the line — or at least convey that impression — of the brands you represent. While you might be happy to take a brand’s money, for a time anyway, your values may not always align with theirs. There’s also pressure to post frequently to keep followers engaged, lest they drift away. Being in the spotlight constantly can also take a toll over time, to say nothing of the criticism some influencers are subject to.
Today Tilghman counts the relatively low profile nature of nine-to-five work as a bonus, citing the absence of a “comments section at an office job.” That may be so, but how about things like office politics, and KPIs, at a corporate job? There’s a comment section surely as fearsome as any other. But I wonder, once an influencer, always an influencer? Despite having turned her back on the profession, Tilghman still has a profile that would make many a newbie green with envy.
At last count, Tilghman had some two-hundred and forty thousand Instagram followers, a following she’s partly leveraging for her side-hustle, online workshops assisting retiring influencers transition to a new career. And despite the desire for a “boring job”, Tilghman admits to occasionally missing her old work. But is influencing really work? It’s hardly what I am, I call it being a content producer, or a blogger. But it’s not a job, it’s more of a way of life, and one that’s hard to turn away from.
7 May 2023
When people started working from home during the COVID pandemic, large numbers of office buildings fell vacant, and many remain that way. So why not convert these once commercial spaces into residential accommodation, and put a roof over the head of homeless people?
Proponents argue that increasing housing in urban centres through office-to-residential conversions also supports the 15-minute city model, where many of your daily needs are just a short walk or bike ride from home. The model promotes community-building and healthy living, boosts local economies and reduces transport emissions, helping ensure there is cleaner air and a more sustainable planet.
Problems abound though. Repurposing office blocks into housing comes at cost, and some buildings are not always suitable for conversion into residential accommodation. It’s an unfortunate dilemma. On one hand, buildings sit empty, while on the other, there are people without a place to call home.
4 May 2023
Generation Z has an identity crisis. People aged between about ten and twenty-six say they struggle to define who they are. Other demographics, I dare say, would have no such trouble. But, according to recent research carried out by in Australia by Snapchat, zoomers, as Generation Z members are also known, are pretty clear on other things.
When it comes to the identity of others around them though, Gen Z dislike binary definitions, and not just those applied to gender:
More than half (56%) of Australian Gen Z have said they don’t like binary definitions based on sex, gender, ability or culture, and prefer to just be defined as themselves.
Many zoomers also see themselves as intersectional, being people who embrace a number of identities. Gen Z may not have been the first demographic to realise just about everyone is really intersectional, but they may be the first to consider being intersectional as part of who they are.
Gen Z also takes a different view to work and careers. They’re keen to avoid burnout, and what they call the nine to five hustle:
That’s not to say that Gen Z are shunning work however. The vast majority (87%) have said they’re actively seeking new ways to earn money outside of a traditional job, with side gigs and passive incomes (e.g. selling handmade goods, investing in the stock market and cryptocurrency, or becoming a blogger or influencer).
Eighty percent of zoomers say they would prefer to work on a freelance basis, or be self-employed. About sixty percent of survey respondents say they’ve taken courses (from “traditional learning institutions”) to skill themselves for this sort of work.
3 May 2023
Image courtesy of SanderSmit.
I was pleased to see the back of my (admittedly modest) collection of vinyl records a decade or two ago. I was not a fan of the format. The records (and their covers) needed to be handled with great care, the vinyl seemed to scratch all too easily, and, like a large number of paper books, were an imposition when it came to moving house.
Such concerns are of little importance to others though. Last year, sales of vinyl records surged by twenty percent, compared to the year before. 2022 was indeed a good year for vinyl, with sales at their highest since 1988. Despite the resurgence vinyl records are enjoying though, sales today remain a shadow of what they were during the 1970’s.
But here’s the thing, even though sales of vinyl are skyrocketing, fifty percent of buyers do not have a turntable, or a record player. This according to research conducted by Luminate, a company analysing music sales data, says Abby Jones, writing for Consequence:
Luminate’s “Top Entertainment Trends for 2023” report found that of the 3,900 US-based respondents surveyed, “50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months own a record player, compared to 15% among music listeners overall.” So — feel free to double-check our math here — that would indicate that 50% of vinyl buyers over the past year have no way to play those records at home.
So what goes here then? Record players are still available. So why not buy one to enjoy the music you’ve bought? Are some buyers of vinyl treating the format like a tradable commodity, and attempting to speculate on their value?
24 April 2023
Image courtesy of Enrique Meseguer.
Too Long; Didn’t Read: Glitchcore is a type of electronic music that features noisy digital artefacts including distortion, static, crackle, interference, and other warning sounds that means something’s not right. But there’s nothing wrong with the music itself. Read on for more of the story…
Twenty five years ago — give or take — a web design trend called “TV lines” was all the rage. Like all fads, it was short lived, but if you were a web designer who was anyone, the graphics on your website had to feature TV lines. The effect would have looked a little like the image above, created by Enrique Meseguer, and conveyed the impression your image was a screen-grab from a TV show.
Although images with TV lines have largely disappeared from the web, it can be argued their influence lingers, albeit non-visually, in the form of Glitchcore music. As the name suggests, Glitchcore is a genre that blends what are considered to be inharmonious noises, caused by errors of some sort, into the mix. These anomalies include distortion, static, crackle, interference, and other noisy artefacts. But Glitchcore is more than an amalgamation of discordant sounds, it’s also a blend of other genres, according to volt.fm:
Glitchcore is a genre of electronic music that combines elements of glitch, IDM, and breakcore. It is characterized by its chaotic and unpredictable sound, often featuring heavily distorted and chopped up samples, rapid-fire drum patterns, and complex, syncopated rhythms.
Yeech, syncopated rhythms. I sucked at syncopated strumming during my guitar playing days. But back to Glitchcore, which actually owes little to mellow, mostly unobtrusive, TV lines, than it does to boldly coloured, garish online memes, and Glitch art. Like Glitchcore music, Glitch artists make use of visual digital defects, in their artworks. And while Glitch art sounds like a contemporary movement, it isn’t. Instances of the form can be traced back to 1935, when experimental New Zealand filmmaker Len Lye incorporated analogue flaws into his short film, A Colour Box.
But Glitch art became more prominent in the early twenty-first century, when digital artists began to embrace errors and unwanted visual artefacts, spewed out by digital technologies, and crafted artworks from them. A Glitchcore musician then might look at a work of glitch art — refer again to Meseguer’s image above — and wonder how it could be rendered as a musical piece.
Musically, Glitchcore is seen as subgenre of Glitch music. Or Hyperpop, depending on who you ask. Glitch music became popular in the 1990s, but its origins can be traced back to the second decade of the twentieth century. In 1913, Luigi Russolo, an Italian artist and composer, produced The Art of Noises (L’arte dei rumori), a Futurist manifesto, which was considered by some to be the basis of noise music. Here, anything, particularly machinery, that made noise, could, somehow, be used in a musical composition.
Hyperpop (think of the music of Charli XCX), meanwhile, emerged about ten years ago, even though the term was first used in 1988 by a music writer named Don Shewey, when describing the Cocteau Twins, an erstwhile Scottish act. Wikipedia defines Hyperpop thusly:
Hyperpop reflects an exaggerated, eclectic, and self-referential approach to pop music and typically employs elements such as brash synth melodies, Auto-Tuned “earworm” vocals, and excessive compression and distortion, as well as surrealist or nostalgic references to 2000s Internet culture and the Web 2.0 era.
Glitchcore become more widely heard in 2020. And like Hyperpop, the name also seems to have preceded the music, if this excerpt from the March 2001 edition of SPIN magazine (and might they be referring to Matthew Herbert here?) is anything to go by:
Herbert is a former piano prodigy and Exeter drama student who went from touring with UK big bands to freaking clubbers with samplers and kitchen utensils, and his cozy records merge glitchcore buzz and tech-house heat.
So, there, at last we have it, an explanation of Glitchcore. Assuming the genre, subgenre, in fact exists, something Cat Zhang, writing for Pitchfork, says is debatable. And given its smorgasbord of genre ingredients, I can see where the doubters are coming from. Spotify, however, has no such misgivings. It’s a verified genre to them, as people perusing their annual Spotify Wrapped music listening reports would have noticed.
In case Glitchcore is new to you, as it was to me, here’s a small selection of the music to check out: Money Machine by 100 gecs, Ethanol by Madge, and This World is Sick by IC3PEAK. I should say a language warning may apply to some of these tracks.
And on the off chance the existence of Glitchcore is blowing your mind, and you think there’s too many music genres, and subgenres already, bear in mind some one hundred and twenty three thousand new songs are released daily across the world. That’s daily with a D. If that’s the case, there’s going be a whole lot more music genres coming to Spotify Wrapped in the future.
21 April 2023
Libraries are more than somewhere to go to merely read, or borrow, a book. They’re often places were people study, work, and, to a degree, socialise. In short, libraries are community hubs.
But the idea that libraries could be expanded upon — subject to certain caveats — to offer affordable housing, is compelling. It is however a proposal the Boston Public Library has been considering, says library president David Leonard:
These three libraries will serve as a model to expand alternative affordable housing options. But Leonard said adding affordable housing may not be right for every neighborhood. Programming studies of the Field’s Corner branch revealed the space was too tight to deliver affordable construction; in Egleston Square, the community valued the existing greenspace over an expanded library/housing footprint.
On paper it’s an intriguing idea. People who need affordable housing would have somewhere to live, and potentially a community to tap into, downstairs in the library itself.
18 April 2023
Paper, or physical, books are by no means relics of a bygone era, if sales thereof in the UK last year are anything to go by. Six hundred and sixty nine million books were purchased in 2022. Against a population of sixty seven million people, that equates to about ten books per person.
A Year in Publishing, a look at the state of the book market by trade body the Publishers Association, found that sales were up 4% from 2021 in 2022, 669m physical books were sold in the UK, the highest overall level ever recorded.
UK book exports also increased by eight percent, with Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman, topping the list of books sent out of the country. To date, there are now five books in the Heartstopper series — which has spawned a Netflix TV show — with a sixth, and final, title on the way.
Meanwhile in Australia, nearly seventy one millions books were purchased in 2022, an increase of about eight percent on 2021, according to Nielsen BookData figures. I’m not sure what quantity of books sold were physical, but it seems bookshops had a good year, so I’m guessing a lot were paper.
It’s to be hoped bookshops in Australia (and elsewhere, of course) are doing well again, after a difficult few years. While it’s purely anecdotal, I saw that Dymocks, a large Australian bookseller, is opening a brand new store in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction in June. Saying re-opening a bookshop is probably more accurate, as the company did have a shop there, which closed several years ago. While opening one bookshop does not a trend make, the move can only be a good sign.
4 April 2023
By some estimates, one hundred and twenty three thousand new songs are released across the globe every day. That’s surely more music than any person could listen to in a lifetime. In a seemingly arts saturated world though, American jazz critic and music historian, Ted Gioia, contends the problem isn’t necessarily with supply, but rather demand. This means creating more demand driven initiatives, in other words, finding new ways of putting this new music in front of audiences.
Yet almost every arts-related institution in the world is focused on the supply side, almost to an obsessive degree. This feels good — we love giving money to artists. But even from a purely financial standpoint, these programs don’t do half as much good as genuine audience expansion. If you offered a musician the choice between a hundred dollars and a hundred new fans, they absolutely benefit more from the latter. It’s a no-brainer. In fact, musicians probably make more from just one loyal fan.
This is something we see with fiction publishing in Australia, and likely worldwide. As I’ve written before, a first-time writer of a literary fiction novel in Australia might expect to see a maximum of two thousand sales of that book. Australia doesn’t have the biggest of populations, but surely there’d be more interest in a book than that. In a somewhat supply saturated market, granted. As Gioia says, it is demand driven initiatives that are needed.
19 March 2023
Generation Z, being people born between 1997 and 2015, prefer to read paper books rather than electronic ones, according to World Economic Forum data. A break from eye-straining smartphone screens, a desire to support local bricks and mortar book stores, and the smell of newly published paper books, are among reasons they cite for the preference.
Book sales in the US and the UK have boomed in the past two years, the management consultancy McKinsey found. Sales in the US hit a record of more than 843 million units in 2021, while last year had the second-highest number sales, at almost 789 million. This increasing popularity was partly because of Gen Z and its social-media trends, including the hashtag #BookTok on TikTok, McKinsey said.