Traditional Westernized Japanese Breakfast

Stop Chasing Other People's Idea of Perfection

Kristoffer Tjalve
Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

The first we heard when I pressed the bell was a barking dog. Usually I wouldn’t bother using the door phone when a place is closed. I would just notice that no one is inside and continue onwards with the day. But this time was different, I really wanted to have a Traditional Westernized Japanese Breakfast.

The place was an excuse of itself. Hidden away on a small side-street the storefront was hardly two meters wide. The windows were mostly covered and the yellow, sun-matured sign looked liked something that rather belonged to a car mechanic than a coffee shop. On Google Maps the place had one review, in Mandarin or Japanese, with a sad one star rating.

“Hai?”, said the door phone in the voice of an old lady. I know hardly any Japanese, but I understood what I had to say next: “Open?”. “Yes,” answered the door phone.

It took many long seconds for anyone to appear. We were standing on the street in front of the seemingly closed coffee shop waiting to see if the old lady really would show up. The persistent barking of what sounded like the tiniest dog kept us waiting. And after all, Google Maps said the place should be open now.

This is not the story where I’ll now tell you that the friendly old lady and her butterfly hair-bowed dog served us the best coffee we have ever had. By all means the coffee was mediocre, dark roasted and bitter. Nor was the pastry she warmed in a cute old toaster anything worth asking the recipe for, probably because it looked like any other plastic wrapped pastry from the shelves of the local supermarket.

Yet, of all the coffees I drank during the two weeks in Japan, this is the one that left the strongest impression. Her little coffee shop with its dull-house sized furniture was a time-capsule of another century where people were born in smaller sizes and where there was still only one wave of coffee.

We only discovered the place because we passed by it when we were searching for an Izakaya place we had been recommended. When I the previous morning had searched Google Maps for coffee places in Uno the place didn’t show up, not even on the extended list. It was as if the place was erased from reality, punished by the poor rating.

Last week when I was adding The Emissary to the Book Club section of the newsletter I hesitated for a moment when I noticed that the book only had a 3.5 rating on Goodreads. I was fully immersed when I read the story one sleepless night and yet the mediocre rating made me pause and think twice before including it in the newsletter.

There is something beautiful about democratizing the power of discovery by letting everyone rate everything. But when was the last time you went to a coffee shop that didn’t look like just another coffee shop?

I increasingly wonder if our rating and upvote intoxicated culture are stripping off all signifiers, leaving us alone with only streamlined airport terminals. None-places where time and geography doesn’t matter. It is true that all our days are numbered, but when we live them like that by only pursuing the safe bets, we surely do miss out on what life has to offer.

The Internet Black Hole

  • Away CEO Resigns
    I mentioned the terrible work conditions at Away in last week’s newsletter. Surprisingly the company went ahead and acted on the criticism by replacing the CEO with a new senior manager from Lululemon. It is positive to see hyped startups take responsibility, but it is unfortunate to read about the bad work culture the new hire apparently brings with him from Lululemon.

  • Apple’s Logo
    Douglas Rushkoff wrote a much shared Medium post asking if humanity was ready for technology. The post itself isn’t too surprising, but I was perplexed to learn the reference of Apple’s logo. For my entire life I did not manage to make the connection from the apple to the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.

  • You Are Working For Amazon
    Another story I mentioned last week was the terrible work conditions at the Amazon factories. It has made me think twice before placing another order at Amazon and its affiliated sites. What I did not think of was how Amazon makes the user pay for the 8,724 pages of code that track and personalize user behavior and experience. Make sure to scroll Joana Moll’s excellent project showing the energy cost of visiting Amazon.

  • “So, So Very Sorry”
    Those were the words of the founder of a venture backed scooter startup that spent all its money on Facebook ads, delivering zero of the 350 orders and is shutting down with no refunds. Did I mention that the startup was called Unicorn?

Book Club

  • Priya Parker - The Art of Gathering
    One of the activities I do for earning money is to design and facilitate workshops. It was with those eyes that I read Priya’s handbook for creating better experiences when people meet. It keeps a steady level throughout the book and the peaks make up for the occasionally monotone language. I recommend the book if you are involved in organizing events and meetings, also if you already have experience.

Reader’s Corner

Louis asked me if I wanted an invite to Superhuman, the much hyped email client. Unfortunately I still feel to embedded in the Google system to make any changes. However, Louis agreed to extend the invitation to one of you. So if you are interested, just hit reply and I’ll make the connection.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

The mystery subscriber revealed herself. She is called Ida Marie, studies philosophy and studies how technology erodes our existential decisions. Sounds like a dream project and I even found some of her other writings on trust, privacy and ethics.

As always a big thanks to the eleven Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajAntal, SørenDriesMikkelTina, Aydo, Lukas, Hans, Ida Marie & Angela!



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