Wise Fool Weekly Digest: Test Drive version

For years, I’ve wanted to do a weekly digest to share interesting news articles, overlooked innovations, good ideas and examples of how to put a Local Economy Revolution in action in the places that you care about. A Local Economy Revolution touches every aspect of our communities, so I’m constantly coming across great examples and great information — from business to poetry, technology to tax policy. But I could never quite find the right way to do it – or justify spending time on it, given that sharing information doesn’t do much to pay the bills. As so often happens, I just had to wait a bit for technology to catch up!

I’m now using Substack to manage my centralized blog — and that platform gives me an extra special opportunity to create value through this tsunami of information I end up inhaling.

The two sections below are part of what I included in this week’s Wise Fool Digest. If a short, digestible and occasionally fun rundown like this looks like something you’d like to see in your in box, you can subscribe for less than the cost of one cappucino per month. And in addition to the weekly Digest, you’ll get other benefits, too, like a monthly Ask Me Anything session and the new AccelerateUS journal. Learn more and sign up here.

And don’t forget to get 50% off of the new book, The Local Economy Revolution Has Arrived in print or digital: https://gum.co/ZfCIA


When “innovation” doesn’t create the things we actually need

from MIT Technology Review

Five years ago, criticizing the Silicon Valley world of innovation got you dis-invited from a lot of places. Interestingly, some of the tech world’s biggest voices are now engaging in a rather pointed critique of themselves — and one that proves more clearly than in a long time that much of what gets touted as innovation doesn’t provide enough benefit to people, communities or economies to merit investing time or money in.

Editor at Large David Rotman says it particularly well:

Silicon Valley and big tech in general have been lame in responding to the crisis. Sure, they have given us Zoom to keep the fortunate among us working and Netflix to keep us sane; Amazon is a savior these days for those avoiding stores; iPads are in hot demand and Instacart is helping to keep many self-isolating people fed. But the pandemic has also revealed the limitations and impotence of the world’s richest companies (and, we have been told, the most innovative place on earth) in the face of the public health crisis.

Big tech doesn’t build anything. It’s not likely to give us vaccines or diagnostic tests. We don’t even seem to know how to make a cotton swab. Those hoping the US could turn its dominant tech industry into a dynamo of innovation against the pandemic will be disappointed.

Rotman then draws out an insightful history of critique of the Silicon Valley tech model, including links to some fascinating work on innovation policy.

I’d call this one a must-read for anyone trying to make sense of the current moment, where our innovation capabilities are, and how we can regain the ability to create the innovations we actually need.

Read the article here

Prepared for Anything: Retail, 2021 per Shopify

For those of you who work with brick and mortar retailers, the last year has been… yeah. I’m sorry. I’ll pretend not to see all those clumps of hair you have pulled out over the last 12 months.

Shopify has just released a white paper based on its analysis of the transactions from its million plus merchants worldwide. As you might expect, the study documents the impact of the pandemic on in person vs. retail purchasing, but it also includes some surprising highlights.

One finding that’s good to see is that the majority of customers surveyed are placing a priority on buying from independent and small businesses — not just in the U.S.A., but in most of the largest national markets. After years of “Buy Local” as a fringe issue, it appears that awareness of the impact of our shopping choices is making a substantial impact on where we choose to put our money. It’s worth noting, however, that the majority of these customers also want to be able to buy online from independent businesses conveniently, a challenge that we’re still trying to crack.

Get the report here

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