22/7: The frontpages commemorating last year's twin terror attacks on Oslo and Utøya
Food for thought: networked individuality, Wikipedia, doctors of doom and roadblocks

The modern newsagent

Modern newsagents are diversifying as quickly as they can it seems. I just came across this fascinating photo I snapped last year because I was stunned by how many different services and goods this London newsagent sold. Is there a parallel here to the media industry? Should there be more of a parallel than there is? In either case, I find it a fascinating photo to contemplate:  



Okay, that _is_ astonishing. It's a pity you didn't have time to get the backstory. How did it come about? Were they making money? (And, I s'pose, are they still there, a year on?)

"Corner shops" always did a bit of "photocoying" on the side, so I suppose it's a natural outgrowth of that - maybe a son who's "good" with computers?

But Newsagents are gonna be another casualty in the decline in print. Papers are one of the few products where a little shop can match Tesco. Take them away, and all my local one has is a poor selection of overpriced, low quality goods. Yes, it takes a couple of minutes longer to walk to Tescos; but Tescos is worth the walk. (The corner shop used to have a Post Office counter, but the *#*"& at the Royal Mail withdrew it.)

And even if print survives, how long before one of Google's self-driving cars catapults your paper onto your front door? (Or maybe it'll be UAVs dropping it down the chimney... Geronimo!)

Well, I guess i forgot to mention one key detail: I snapped this photo in Bayswater, not too far from Bayswater tube station. And in that area this newsagent may be doing exactly the right thing: Serving all the tourists staying in hotels and B&Bs around there with all sorts of practical services/goods they may need. Though I still find it very fascinating. You're right that newsagents will be likely to end up as casualties of the death of print, but I don't suppose all the other local services this newsagent has taken over are facing the same threats of extinction? In Norway, small local dry cleaners are almost unheard of - they all seem to be situated on the same premises as supermarkets or in shopping malls. Not sure bout Google or UAVs, but how about the internet of things? A friend likes to remind me that she talked about the self-ordering, self-supplying refrigerator as early as 2002. As for print, many newspapers think they have showed us the way to the digital future by publishing an iPad-version of their newspaper every day ;-) Some even do that in Pdf which gives it a very print-like feeling ;-)

Nerr, I can't see any of those services being necessary in ten years time. They're barely necessary now. Maybe repairs, but computers are becoming less repairable. Maybe ink refilling, but portable computing should erode the need for printing (the paperless office might never arrive, but that doesn't stop us approaching it asymptotically).

That said, www.collectplus.co.uk will deliver your parcels (including those from Amazon) to a local cornershop. So instead of popping in to a newsagents for 'a paper _and_...' perhaps people will pop in cornershop for 'my parcel, _and_...' And maybe there are other services that will come on line, too. (3D printing?) Maybe there will always be things that are bit too expensive or technical for one person to do, but make economic sense when shared out over a suburb. (And maybe incompatible phone standards will mean tourists always need internet...)

I'm not sure about the internet of things: I stand inline at the cash machine outside of Tescos so I can take out money to pay for the stuff I buy inside Tescos--rather than use my card--so it's going to be a long time before I let my fridge order for me. Besides, that's what the milkman is for.

But Google really do have a fleet of self driving cars, licensed for use in Nervada. (They're always accompanied by a human driver. Cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car ) I imagine it will be--*rolls dice*--ten years before we starting seeing them regularly on our roads, and thirty before we all have one. But once we trust them to drive themselves, and all the shops are self service (and my library--my library!--has just gone self service) how will drivers and checkout staff earn a living? Again and again technology is eating away at low end jobs. I guess that was what I was trying to get at: how we're squeezing people out.

Anyway, I hope the move went well.

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