What we've been reading: flights, poverty, microcopy and UBI

What we've been reading
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Now that it's officially spring, it has become increasingly difficult to be grumpy. Mostly because when the weather's lovely, who the hell wants to be a curmudgeon? 

But, unfortunately, there are journalists in this world and we'll always try and put a downer on everything: travel, basic income, aesthetics - you name it and we've penned a scathing  j'accuse! 

It's important, though, to digest things that aren't always happy-clappy. And that's reflected in this week's What we've reading (although, the one is all about delighting customers, so it's not all bad!).

Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains

If you want the best flight and hotel deals, it might be time to <gasp> speak to real life people again!

That might sound like a bizarre, retrograde step in a world where your fridge is connected to wifi but online aggregators just aren't cutting the mustard anymore.

The sheer ubiquity of these online players has crowded out the deals that were once commonplace. "In the early days of online booking," writes Doug Garr, "sites like Kayak and Orbitz were able to cut deals with hotel chains and airlines by asking for blocks of empty hotel rooms or airline seats that normally went unsold... But as more aggregators popped up the business model was shaken; there were suddenly layers of players, all looking for a piece of your booking."

The Troubling Trendiness Of Poverty Appropriation

One of the most biting pieces of satire in Zoolander is when the villain Mugatu announces Derelicte, his new fashion range inspired by the homeless.

It's an incredibly prescient comment on the 'poverty aesthetic'. To channel Mugatu once again: poverty is so hot right now. Restaurants cover themselves in grime and poverty signifiers, minimalism preaches ascetic simplicity, the tiny homes movement glamourises living 'a simple life'.

But what's the subtext? It's nice you enjoy the classist undertones - and it's also nice you have a choice. Many people don't. "In major cities, people who come from high-income backgrounds flock to bars and restaurants that both appropriate, and mock, low-income communities."

The magic of micro-copy

"When I think about the products I love," writes John Saito, Dropbox's content designer, "they all have one thing in common: delightful little details."

This piece by Saito is an exploration of the microscopic elements that factor into success. And again illustrates the power of words. 

Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream

Automation and AI have inspired a weird new political era. We're in a sci-fi movie it seems. If you ask Elon Musk, we're careening towards extinction. 

But doomsday predictions aside, one of the most popular prescriptions for dealing with our new, soon-to-be jobless era is Universal Basic Income.

The idea is somewhat of a political unicorn: its popularity extends from far-left to far-right. But just hold on a second, maybe it's time to look at some of the downsides.

About Francois Badenhorst


Francois is the deputy editor of BusinessZone and UK Business Forums.


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