A chance to rebuild the world for the better.
What if the Coronavirus crisis is our chance to rebuild the world for the better?
A selection of tools for creators, storytellers and newsrooms.
A compendium for publishers and media makers.
No ads, better UX, cross-device and with hundreds of websites available: Scroll wants to be the solution to get casual news readers enjoy an ad-free news experience, seamless and frictionless.
What does that mean for the European media in 2020?
Despite Netflix, Amazon, Apple+ and Disney+, European media makers can still play the OTT game successfully, if they move fast and boldly.
Why European news publishers must develop a real alternative to Google News and stop debating about the link taxes.
🎙️ For a long time, I used to underestimate podcasting. We live in times of content overabundance and limited attention span. I wondered how podcasts could compete to attract and...
A collection of key data and charts related to 2019-2020.
Visual, immersive, interactive, mobile-friendly, mixed-media: it´s been years since publishers of any genre, newsmedia and brands started creating new types of visually-driven...
The Guardian is the best and one of the few examples of quality news media that have committed not to build any paywalls.When breaking down the Guardian model to discover its...
What if the Coronavirus crisis is our chance to rebuild the world for the better?
It has been eight weeks since the world outside China knew about the new Coronavirus. In Europe, the daily reports of the very beginning have been replaced by hourly crisis bulletins with numbers, facts, opinions and sad statistics. Images induce panic, and economic outlooks induce pessimism.
We are, who less who more, in a state of cognitive distress. So, this is the right time to apply all the techniques you learned from the Navy Seals, the yoga teachers and the personal coaches. Stop, take a breath, and relax. Focus your mind; extend your attention. Look at the big picture.
Think about this. All the issues that exploded in the last years, from the climate crisis to the human displacement to the new virus have one thing in common. They are global. They touch all of us, and only a collective effort can solve them.
Sorry, Mr Trump. Sorry, Mr Johnson. It can sound odd to you, but what happens elsewhere matters. There is not “x-exit” strategy from this. There is no way to shut out the rest of the planet.
We, the homo sapiens, made it small. With our inventions, with our industriousness, with our drive to prosper and grow. In the last hundred of years, we have literally reshaped the world, moulded in our hands.
Knowledge, information and news, travel from one to the other corner of the world in almost real-time. People can circumnavigate the planet in 24 hours. So the virus. And the polluting emissions. So the good, the bad and the toxic, including the poisonous ideas of hate and suprematism.
We might seem powerful, but we are fragile. We cannot live without clean air, we cannot survive underwater, and a little virus can kill many more people than terrorism.
Globalisation has many facets, but two of them stand out today, so close to seem like the two sides of the same coin: the climate crisis and the health crisis. Somehow, they pose the same challenges and require shared solutions.
Let´s take the case of giant cruise ships. They are climate killers and, it turns out, can become floating sick bays. Maybe it´s time to retire large cruise ships.
The Covid-19 pandemic will be defeated; we can be 100% confident on that. It is just a matter of time. One year from now, the whole thing might be over.
Longer, and painful, will be the economic consequences worldwide. Today and for the next months, it will be a time for quiet resistance. And hopefully for productive thoughts.
Why not use this time to set the foundations for the biggest reengineering our times need? Why not use this time to fix what´s wrong, promote what´s good, and rebuild together the world for the better?
Let´s start from the learnings we can get from this crisis. Let´s picture the things that need to change. Follow me through this list. Take time. Add your views. This is the list that came to my mind. What´s on yours?
The future of work is mobile, remote, agile and flexible: we are constantly reminded of that by Think Tanks, the Academia, international bodies and experts. The benefits of remote working have been demonstrated and measured and include efficiency, quality, healthy family life and climate sustainability.
Yet, many of us must still commute every day to an office building. In the big companies’ complexes, canteens are a well-known receptacle for bacteria, virus and flu. Many “disruptive” startups pack people in open space for the sake of fostering collaboration, but more often for providing millennials leaders with a chance to exercise subtle command-and-control mechanics.
But some other startups and corporates nimbly learned new patterns. And show results. For many others, the Coronavirus has provided the decisive push to experiment with the benefits of remote working.
As the Twitter’s Head of Human Resources – entirely converted to smart working – told a few days ago to BuzzFeed News: “We’ll never probably be the same,” (…) “People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.”
Let’s make a chance out of this challenge: this can be the biggest experiment in smart working worldwide ever done. The more companies and the more diverse they are, the more evidence and best practices we can collect. We could use that body of knowledge to inform public policies, develop incentives, set targets for investments. Redesigning the way we work, and make it better. If not now, when?
We live in the age of video everywhere, blockchains and holograms. We invest in haptic technology and have installed at least three different real-time communication platforms on our notebooks. Do we still need to get packed like sardines in hangars to watch product demos and distribute paper business cards? Do you really miss the events and trade fairs that have been cancelled in the last days and weeks?
We know that most of these events are boring. And we have already experienced brilliant events that run 100% virtual. Nowadays, you can have deep dives, demos, fantastic presentations and smooth interactions over the Internet with Multicam, live transcripts, real-time polls and instant feedback. No FOMO syndrome, please.
Less paper, less time spent travelling, less carbon dioxide emissions, less bad food grabbed from a crowded kiosk. Fewer selfies posted on Linkedin to show that you have been there 😉. Don´t you see the positive here?
I know that conferences and trade fairs are also a tool to promote touristic regions in the offseason. But this should not be the purpose. And, taking into account the immediate economic benefits versus the environmental footprint, the result is often negative.
That brings to the next matter where a transformative approach is needed: travel and tourism.
Mass tourism has been a blessing for millions of people worldwide. And it has given a chance to many people to discover other cultures, be curious and make life experiences. And – why not – to take a break from the boredom of our daily life.
However, and despite all the efforts done to promote more responsible tourism, the fact is that the current system of mass international tourism is utterly unsustainable. Already in 2013, the Guardian described the industry as “a high-speed train, crammed with passengers with cheap tickets, racing toward a cliff edge”.
Not all tourism is the same, of course. I mentioned before the giant cruise ships. But what about those tourists that go to Antarctica to see its original environment before it disappears? And what about the Galapagos Islands, visited by more than 300.000 people in 2019?
What’s the purpose of leaving polluted cities to go polluting other corners of the world with carbon emissions, food waste and plastic? You might discover that some of the most loved mass destinations are more toxic than the quiet surroundings of your city – the mountains, the forests, the parks and the small villages -.
The Friday for Future movement helped us to frame the question on how to rethink travelling. The Covid-19, unfortunately, will do more: it will impose a disruptive change in our habits, with severe – although temporary – consequences on jobs and countries for which tourism is a crucial industry.
The best thing we can do now is to use this time to rethink the whole industry with experts, governments and stakeholders. But we must start with our individual behaviours. For more inspiration, read this piece by the Financial Times: “Will coronavirus change the way we live?”
As a recent article by The New Yorker says, “this might also be the moment when we decide to fully embrace the idea that science, you know, works”.
Science works because it has no borders. It shows the power of knowledge sharing and collaboration. Thanks to open-source sharing, scientists can track the changes in the virus genome, trace its evolution and learn which cases are most closely related. For the first time, we are following a virus evolution and spread in so much detail, and almost in real-time.
But we also see how important it is to understand, interpret and communicate data, and how little we are still good at it: journalists, public officers, communicators and citizens. Understanding this Coronavirus is a lot about data. Same it is for the understanding of the climate crisis.
Part of our cognitive distress comes from the difficulty to deal with uncertain and probabilistic data: fatality rate, transmission probability, reproductive number “R”, and so on. There is a fantastic piece on “The Coronavirus, by the numbers” published by The New York Times. Read it, when you have time.
We can complain about public communication, but we also need to work on educating everybody – from all walks of life – on how to read and understand data. It will be an investment beneficial for our democracies as a whole, not only for the employability of our workforce. There is more to do than to solve the skill mismatch we have in Europe.
We do not need only more people studying STEM disciplines. We need to equip all our citizens with basic data literacy at school and beyond school. Data understanding can fight anxiety better than Xanax.
And, of course, welcome distance learning! Welcome, virtual classrooms and remote life-long learning. It is high time consider this as the investment priority number one everywhere. Europe, we can do more!
In 2019, shortages of medicines had regularly made the headlines in Germany and not only. Since the last ten years, similar situations have been denounced by patients, consumers and healthcare professional across the European Union. No measures succeeded in slowing down the exponential increase of the phenomenon.
Surprise surprise, that is happening again, this time with awkward proportions: protective equipment, tools, medicines, but also components used in almost all industries. The most affected sectors – automotive, electronics – are not surprisingly the ones that delocalized the most.
Do not waste time complaining about India, Bangladesh, Vietnam or China “stealing” our industries and our jobs. They are not the enemy. We should complain about the greed of corporations, enterprises, and consulting companies promoting optimisation strategies, instead. But they are not the enemy too.
Here in Europe, the enemy has been the lack of commitment in implementing common rules to regulate delocalisation. Time to come back to the visible hand, not for enforcing a state-controlled economy, but for applying the best practice we learn from nature: the most resilient systems are the distributed ones, where the collapse of one node does not determine the collapse of the system.
We must work to develop a resilient productive system based on regionally decentralised industry spots, possibly involving the WTO to coordinate regional strategies in order to avoid commercial wars. Commercial wars are risky: when you start them, you never know how they will end.
The Black Monday of 9 March 2020 is just the beginning.
Someone call the current events our “black swan”, but they are wrong: what is happening now was NOT unpredictable. Since 2003 (SARS), we know it could have happened. Researches have produced hundreds of simulations on the impact of a new highly contagious illness. We ignored all warnings because we didn’t want to cope with the human, social and political consequences.
The draconian measures taken to stop the virus will have dramatic social costs.
What about the poor people with no access to national health systems or health insurances? What about the elderly, alone at home and less able to use digital to fulfil their needs? What about the people that will lose their jobs? The ones that cannot work from home? What about families separated? What about the people living in countries without welfare? And the people only paid by the hours?
The answer cannot be a set of temporary measures to mitigate the social sufferance, in the hope to come back to “normality” in some months from now.
What you might call “normality” is a global economy that brought prosperity to billions of people, but has also become incredibly divisive, with a concentration of income and wealth in the top 1% and a growing disparity between them and the rest 99%.
This “normality” is also a degenerative, destructive and toxic system, that has already derailed. Do you remember the 2008 crisis? Stubborn and immensely greedy, we did not learn so much, apart from implementing a banking supervision mechanism in Europe and some looser financial regulations here and there.
Yet, we can still heal the system, if we think beyond the dispute between “growth at any costs” vs “happy degrowth”. We need a mind shift and a monumental effort to think and work collectively: many people already act like that, not only scientists.
In this insightful feature published by The New Yorker in February 2020, “Can we have prosperity without growth?”, the author mentions three books that highlight the weaknesses of the current economic system and offer alternative models.
#1 In “Good Economics for Hard Times,” two winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, point out that a larger GDP doesn’t necessarily mean a rise in human well-being—especially if it isn’t distributed equitably. The pursuit of it can sometimes be counterproductive. “Nothing in either our theory or the data proves the highest GDP per capita is generally desirable,”
# 2 In “Prosperity Without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow,” Tim Jackson, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey, UK, calls on Western countries to shift their economies from mass-market production to local services—such as nursing, teaching, and handicrafts—that could be less resource-intensive.
# 3 In 2017, Kate Raworth, an English economist, published “Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist,”. You can watch her ted Talk here, embedded on this page. Raworth suggests to replace the GDP with a dashboard of indicators, where a healthy economic performance only work if does fulfil the life’s essential all people deserve – energy, water, food, health, education, gender equality, social equity, political voice, income and work, peace and justice, housing, socialization – without overshooting the planetary boundaries from which our survival as humanity depends – pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change…
Thanks to those economists and many other thinkers, we are already equipped intellectually to cope with transformation. Now it takes political will and our collective voice to ask for and take part in it.
In a dazzling guest contribution published on Die Welt on the 3. March 2020, the philosopher Slavoj Žižek proposes a very radical, but optimistic view on how the world might change:
“But maybe another, much more blessed ideological virus will spread and hopefully also infect us: the virus, to think of an alternative society, a society beyond the nation-states, a society that is realized in global solidarity and cooperation.” (…) “Such a global threat creates global solidarity; our small differences become insignificant; we all work together to find a solution – and that is where we are today, in real life.”
I come from a media background. I am a news freak, and I love quality journalism, but I feel embarrassed for the way the pandemic is covered by some established media, here in Germany too.
It seems that the concern about the financial markets and the business is more important than the thousands of people died and the thousands more that will die, often the elderly and the weaker. Trade seems to be more important than the nurses and medical doctors that fought and died in the battle against Covid-19 in Wuhan, and now – when I am writing this article – are working like hell, exhausted, to save lives in Italy. Italy: for many of you, a beloved holiday destination. Now Italy is the battleground of Europe, where the medical staffs in the hospitals are fighting for you, too.
We are supposed to be social animals, that care about others and strive to stay together. But we have reduced social life to a utilitarian investment: shall I join that event or not? Is there enough business networking opportunity there? Or, we only care about our tribes and clans and forget the elderly living next to our doorstep. Many of them, in many parts of the world, suffer already under a epidemics of loneliness. Nothing like isolation makes older people so vulnerable. That is why widowers do not survive long to their wives.
Maybe there is something we can learn from “social distancing”: to appreciate human contact as a way to feel better and to make others feel better, not to promote “networking”. Enjoy the pure pleasure of smiling at strangers and saying hello, just for letting them feel that we are not strangers, but part of the same humanity.
“It used to be thought that the events that changed the world were things like big bombs, maniac politicians, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is a very old-fashioned view held by people totally out of touch with modern thought. The things that change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.” — from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – Quoted on the Farnam Street Blog.
We should see this crisis not as a black swan, but as a butterfly effect. Triggered by a bat. The butterfly effect starts tiny, grows and leads to a dramatic change. It happened already: my generation grew up under historic change primed by Tschernobyl.
It is up to us to steer the next change and make it a good one. We can start a global collective reengineering of the world. We have the intellectual power for it. And I believe that also the collective awareness is reaching a tipping point.