Vodafone reboots brand for ‘Future Optimism’

The gist of a 5th October 2017 press release from Vodaphone….

Vodafone has rebranded itself with a new logo, strapline and campaign to be pushed out to all 36 countries in which it operates. […] “we are repositioning the Vodafone brand on the theme of future optimism.” The brand’s new strapline will read: “The future is exciting. Ready?”

Vodafone commissioned an opinion study with YouGov to determine how people felt about the future. The study surveyed 13,000 people across 14 countries […] Most pessimistic was the UK, where only 32% think things will get better while 39% think things will get worse. In India, an overwhelming 78% are confident things will get better versus 14% who think things will get worse.

32% is actually better than might have been expected, for the UK. I would have expected maybe 25% on even the most vague question about the future of the UK. A YouGov 2016 survey found only 4% for a question on the world as-a-whole, for instance. It would be interesting to have a commitment from Vodaphone to run the same survey each year, in order to measure the trend.


New Matt Ridley interview

A new short Matt Ridley interview, “Collective Intelligence Is the Root of Human Progress”

“I think it’s worth remembering that good news tends to be gradual, and bad news tends to be sudden. Hence, the good stuff is rarely going to make the news. It’s happening in an inexorable way, as a result of ordinary people exchanging, specializing, collaborating, and innovating, and it’s surprisingly hard to stop it.”

Deliciate that holon!

Positive Lexicography, an “evolving index of ‘untranslatable’ words related to well-being from across the world’s languages.” India’s The Hindu newspaper has a short readable profile of the project. However, on drilling down to the English words included in Lexicography, the notion suddenly appears a bit more gobble-de-gooky…

Erm…. “I deliciate in a selcouth eucastrophe that evokes the holon.” ?

It’s interesting that there’s this new Lexicography. But I can’t help thinking that in English we already have house-trained words for the gist of such things. A possible translation of the above…

“I enjoy that rare moment when a difficult situation happily and harmoniously resolves itself into a new whole.”

And that can be translated.

Positive Japan

Leading Japanese sci-fi/thriller novelist Taiyo Fujii, also chairman of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan association, visits Malaysia for that nation’s main think-fest (theme this year: ‘the Future’). The local press there reports, in “The future is bright” that…

Fujii hopes that those who have read his [novels] Orbital Cloud or Gene Mapper gain a more optimistic view of the future like him. The author said: “”I love Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and James P. Hogan. All of them write of a positive future. I’ll be telling the audience how I view the future world with optimism, whereas many literary works tend to focus on a dystopian world.”

Available in good English translations, and Kindle ereader format, though as yet no audiobooks.

I also recently had cause to notice Arthur C. Clarke’s mid-career novel Imperial Earth (1975), which apparently has a very positive tour of its main setting: the high-tech USA of the year 2276 as seen through the eyes of a visitor from the colony on Titan. Clarke was at that time in a similar situation personally: living in the British Commonwealth protectorate of Ceylon, watching his home in the UK try to shape “the white heat of technology” into a sustainable form, and touring America as it lived through the early 1970s. I’d no doubt read the novel in the 1980s, along with most other hard science-fiction, but had forgotten it in the meantime. Apparently it was also an important breakthrough novel, for its time, in its approaches to sexuality.

New book – Arkwright

Allen Steele, Arkwright and the art of keeping the ‘golden’ spirit of sci-fi alive

I personally thoroughly enjoyed Arkwright – a novel about a science fiction writer, containing science fiction history from an age gone past, that tries to remind us what science fiction is capable of and can do as a genre. Arkwright is a book that wears its optimism on its sleeve. In an age when dystopias are ‘in’, this is required, I feel… a book that evokes a sense of wonder and hope.

The author Allen Steele grants the journalist a very short interview…

“I had a certain sense of purpose in writing Arkwright in that I’m tired of dystopian SF, particularly the sort that poses no solutions but just turns the demise of human civilization into a form of entertainment. If the end of the world comes, I promise you that it won’t be just like a movie or a game.”

For some reason the Kindle ereader version of this book does not appear via search on Amazon USA or UK. But going in through Google Search reveals the missing Kindle edition for the USA and UK (unavailable).

Going into Amazon.com with a USA VPN turned on (a free feature in the Opera browser) reveals that the title is available to USA readers as a Kindle ebook, so presumably the lack of a Kindle edition in the UK is not as as result of the author being an Amazon-hater. My guess is then that, since the novel is about an author, it probably quotes snippets of pulp sci-fi texts which are public-domain in the USA but which are still caught up in the foul nets of copyright in the UK and Europe. Amazon’s Kindle platform is hyper-sensitive to that.

Update, August: looks like they just released an audiobook version!

Spiked interviews Matt Ridley

Spiked has a fair-minded interview with Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist), June 2017: “Why you should be optimistic”

“People are not pessimistic about their own abilities as individuals to solve the problems that face them. As individuals, people are perfectly capable of being sufficiently optimistic and ambitious, sometimes unrealistically optimistic and ambitious about what they can achieve. But for humanity as a whole, it’s quite different. The bigger the canvas, the more pessimistic people are.”