Art of Shopping

History shows us that certainty and predictable stability often precedes great change but just because I can buy apples and mushrooms all year round, does it mean that the world of retailing is in for a major overhaul?


Follow a very interesting Chat Café at Thomas Shop

THE ART OF SHOPPING should be an art mastered by the consumer but this is seldom the situation. Today, it’s the architects, designers, and people in branding and marketing, with an interest in selling, that have combined their skills to become masters of the art of shopping.

Simply put. those who capture our attention and orchestrate our spending habits, get the trade they design. You.

Is this trade fair?

Individually, we believe we all review our own buying habits and can easily judge whether we are following the sellers path or our own. But as a group, sellers will always be able to spend more time working out how to sell to us however hard we try to be ever more skilled at buying. What is needed is a School of Buying, or better schooling in wise buying.

I have heard that the filmmaker, Harun Farocki, shot a film to show how architects, financiers and retail specialists come together to create these successful environments designed to make us all consume more – the total ART of SELLING – but I have yet to hear of any films that are designed to help the consumer consume more wisely. (Update: Thanks Tom for link to

In some places, like the U.K., money borrowing, usually via a credit card, is heavily promoted so as a result, people shop a lot. Many shop till they drop into serious debt. For them, stomaching their pay-back time is very hard and too many people wise-up only after their spending times.

There is a short term benefit to shareholders, banks and finance institutions who all encourage this spiralling party of spending but there’s the long term problem, one which back-fires across society.

The phrase “Buyer Beware” has never been more appropriate, but when society takes the hit, the concept of “Seller Beware” needs to be examined more closely. This applies as much to an individual or family as it does to an entire nation negotiating international trade deals.

Will some social economist rise up to challenge the systems which promote boom to bust economics? I doubt it.

My hope is that the art of maintaining the larder of balance, needed for this World whilst it remains dominated by the human species, is achieved through keeping all other aspects of the World on an even keel and in tune with itself.

Civilisations grow through the perpetual development and exchange of fresh creative thinkings and doings. Civilisations shrink when they focus too highly on regulating margins of profit, whether these go to individuals or groups.

To keep alive the evolution of growth, the creativity of all needs to be magnified so an endless stream of variety is produced.

If you are a ruler, your day will be easier if you make rules which standardize, but if this places restrictions on the very insights required to keep both you and those over which you wish to rule, afloat, then somehow you miss the boat.  If your rules limit the freedom of the market, you will end up with a regulated high street. And when the high street doesn’t go as planned, those not on the high street need to rise, and with foresight, because the last thing that this civilisation wants is to witness its fall following such a wonderful rise,

Take care out there.

Lets’s make waves together.

Our Digital Nanny – News update

Mattel Pulls Aristotle Children’s Device After Privacy Concerns

Original Blog

I was sent an email about Mattel’s new ‘digital nanny’ called Aristotle, and in brief, this is a description of the product:

A “digital nanny” by toy-maker Mattel. An internet-connected device, which includes a microphone and camera, designed to live in a child’s bedroom from birth and be a constant companion as he/she grows up. Mattel boasts Aristotle can “soothe” crying baby, help toddlers learn to speak, and facilitate learning in older children.

The email asked “What is the impact on a child’s development when you replace a caregiver with a robot?” It was such a good question that I forwarded it to the most state-of-the-art techy dad I know, Bharat. Although he’s always busy, I’m delighted that he replied (thank you Bharat) and his thoughts are worth sharing with new parents who may be thinking about buying an ‘Aristotle by Mattel’ for their newborn/s.

From Bharat Karavadra


I started writing a reply but realised it would be quite huge, and to keep it brief…
Based on the information sent, it seems that Mattel is planning to release this toy with internet connectivity connecting the child, their behaviour, ‘their data’ to potentially any other company or individual that Mattel has such relationship with. This connectivity and transfer of data then seem to feedback to the child from ways such a change of behaviour of the toy, to other potential influence on the child such as other suggested toys or information sent to the parent.
However, it also seems from the information, that Mattell have forgotten the one quite important relationship that should be connected, and that is of the parent. The simplest observation is that there seems to be no way for the parent to change the behaviour of the toy, or receive the data for themselves to use it as they see appropriate.
So based on those observations, I would not, not for long anyway, put such a toy in front of my child or any other child.
There are however always exceptions such as if, with the toy and its ‘abilities’, a child could be provided with experiences to help them grow and which their parents could not otherwise provide.
Also, if the toy had the ability, it could also monitor the parent’s behaviour towards the child and take over or report a takeover of the child’s development, especially if the parents were destructive to that development.
These are however sensitive issues on the realms of education, responsibility, choice, decision, provision, etc for the child, and, if not the parents, it is subjective as to who should be making those decisions for the child in any given scenario.
Yes, the parent should be first in such choices and decisions but the toy does not seem to provide the parent to modify the toys behaviour and use the data it collects, but that Mattel and it’s relationships can.
The toy seems to be synonymous with giving a child a modern phone with camera, retina scanning ability, visual, audio, haptic feedback, etc connected to the internet, and for others to monitor the behaviour of the child and change the behaviour and output of the device depending on the child’s behaviour without allowing the parents to have any input in that process. On that basis and my perception, this toy is a not appropriate to leave alone with a child.
I hope that helps.

Thank you,