Five Stars

Why 3.9 Is The New 5.0 And Why The World Is Increasingly Boring

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

This morning I woke up in a hotel best described as an over-the-top art deco place. From floor to ceiling the walls were covered in brown-patterned tapestry. The bedside lamps were half-naked women stretching themselves upwards carrying the round glass lamp. The hotel is any possible way a time machine back to places that otherwise do not exist today.

Most violently ugly, yet extremely satisfying was how they managed to place the hotel TV. Hidden in the corner, the interior designers have made a dedicated box for the TV so nothing but the actual screen is visible. Gone is the classic black plastic frame and the Samsung logo.

I always found it ridiculous that hotel rooms always have TVs. Back when I was 10 years old my grandparents took me on my first skiing trip to the Austrian Alps. Every day we would return completely tired from a whole day of skiing. After drinking a coke, eating a schnitzel, sipping a hot chocolate and playing cards, there was not one single drop of energy in my body, so I would never get to switch on the room TV.

That made me ask the hotel owner why they bothered to buy TVs for all the rooms and pay for the TV package. This guesthouse after all seemed like a place where people had a good meal and deep sleep after having enjoyed the outside, not a place where people locked themselves up into their bedrooms watching TV.

The guy told me that they had to put in TVs in all the rooms in order to gain a certain amount of stars. Without a TV the room, the guesthouse would simply not qualify for stars. This would then lead to less visitors because the guidebooks would not recommend them and tour organizers would not work with them - irrespectively of the quality of the stay.

Back then how we discover places was broken. The TV in the room had nothing to do with the hospitality of the space, but it was a requirement for the business to thrive. The absurdity became total when the owner told me that in most rooms the TVs had never been plugged in, it was merely a required sculpture for being admitted into certain books.

What makes me sad about this story is how nothing has changed. If anything the flaws have been amplified. My current hotel has a rating of 3.9 on Google Maps. It is in the low end and had I not been recommended it by a friend in the hospitality industry I would never even have considered it. By being extremely true to its own style, it does not fit with the mass market and will never achieve a 5.0 rating or anywhere nearby.

To get a certain rating you have to commit to the zeitgeist style to such an extent that everything ends up looking just the same. Every speciality coffee store with its cute wooden furniture, half-industrial look and a couple of potted plants. I can’t only be me who find this extremely boring. And to make things worse, because we all flock to the popular (high rated) places we end crowding them to an extend ruining the experience for us and everyone else (while the place next door looking the same is completely empty).

Discovery is broken. Do you wanna talk about how we could do it differently? It matters because it is how our physical places look like and the main factor in who will become the voices of tomorrow (e.g. what accounts are promoted in our social feeds). If so, please hit reply and see what we can find out.

Modest Internet Black Hole

I did not do enough digging to call it highlights this week. Therefore I bring to you the modest selection of random stuff from the Internet black hole.

  • Back When We Could Forget
    Edward Snowden is out with his memoir. It is called Permanent Record and we should all order it. The US government has already sued him and wants to gain the profit from the book sales. Asked in an interview what Snowden regrets the most, he replied that he deeply regret be part of creating a world where we can no longer forget. Everything is recorded and stored. It is insanely sad, but let us learn from Snowden and remember that there are no heroes, only heroic actions.

  • Instagram Is Forever
    To prove Snowden’s point read how Buzzfeed found a way to share other people’s private Instagram posts and stories with your friends. The trick works because posts aren’t exactly private, what is private is the access to the URL of the content. However, the content itself is freely available given that you are able to guess the link. Ps. cynics will say that there is nothing new, and indeed Gizmodo ran a similar story three years ago. What a time to be alive…

  • Uh, There Is No Tech Backlash
    To source stories for this newsletter I have a Twitter bot that each day sends me the five most shared links among 320 different people who I find admire. For a few days in a row, the top link was an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that there is currently no tech backlash. The author adds valid points, including a constant growing amount of social media user accounts, yet I generally feel the whole story is an example of saying something just to say the opposite.

  • Few Drones Destroys Global Economy
    My favourite moment this week was learning that the reason why the global oil prices increased with 15% Monday morning was because of a drone terror attack on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. I think we often forget how vulnerable our systems are. Imagine in a few years when drones will be ten times more affordable and ten times more durable. Then it won’t just be the oil industry struggling. Do you also remember the drones in Heathrow? Wouldn’t this be the perfect climate rebellion action?

Naive Weekly

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

This week is text heavy. It sucks and I am sorry not to bring you some visual stimulation and quirky links from the other side of the internet. Back in Copenhagen the season is changing from summer to fall and it seems to influence me more than I would admit. Hibernation is not scheduled in a weekly newsletter, so I have to achieve it else how.

And as always a big thanks to the (now!) nine Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajAntal, SørenDriesMikkelTina, Aydo, LukasAngela!