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Opinion / Andrew Tuck

It’s a two-speed life

Analogue or digital? Old or new media? For years we would end up at events or in conversation with other businesses (especially media ones) where supposedly clever people would sweepingly divide the world into two camps. Monocle loves print so they would try and shove us into the analogue group – but then we would point out that Monocle 24 is a digital radio station and works with podcast platforms such as iTunes. Next they would quiz us about why we don’t do Snapchat and wonder if we were trying to be some new version of old media. It all got a bit maddening and confusing.And don’t think that you escaped being ushered into one team or the other. They were equally binary when it came to you: the reader, the consumer. Media owners would tell us how the future would be “digital first” and serve the sort of folk who needed everything super fast. If you were not part of this group then they would shove you into in the smaller, diehard analogue gang, along with lots of other losers who wanted to return to the technology of the 1980s and wear dadcore shoes.But when I get to talk to people about Monocle and who you – our readers, listeners and viewers – are, one of the things I always come back to is that you are interesting and complex. Indeed you deserve a book about your fascinating traits. Perhaps I’ll write it; I think it could be a bestseller. It can have one of those over-explanatory business-book titles: “Go Fast, Go Slow – And Find Success”; “It’s a Two-Speed World: Understanding the New Economy”; or “Why the Hare and the Tortoise are Good Friends”. OK, perhaps we’ll come back to the title.My epiphany came while waiting in line for coffee. In the long queue in front of me, most people were young and dressed coolly. Let’s use a simple piece of shorthand: they were a bit hipster. While they waited they were scrolling through Instagram, reading the news and checking emails on their phones. All could be categorised as impatient digital natives. So how come they were waiting in line for 10 minutes to get a drink that can be made in an instant? Why were they asking for drip-filter coffee, a drink whose very name invokes slowness? My moment of clarity (they do still happen) was that interesting consumers cannot be pushed into simple tribes; that people know how to go from fast to slow, from digital to analogue, and back again; and that the only labels we should be comfortable with are the ones in our knickers.Just look at the collapse of bricks-and-mortar retail in many European and US cities. We are told that it’s because young people only shop online and don’t have the time or patience for anything else. Really? So how come when I walk past the likes of skate-brand shops Palace and Supreme, those web-obsessed kids are waiting in line for hours to get inside? Or how about the people who listen to music on their phones but also buy records and go to concerts? Or those who listen to books on, say, Audible but then buy other books in print? Then there are the ones who use a food app to get dinner on a Friday night, then wait in line for an hour on Saturday morning to get into their favourite breakfast joint. All of these people are skilled at being both hare and tortoise.This week we had a reader event in Geneva at a very nice new restaurant called Bombar. Tyler and I gave a speech about our journey and how we try to keep you informed and engaged – and on our side. And, yes, we explained our belief that you can champion print but also send an email to people on a Saturday that stays true to everything you believe in. And also how it all kind of works. We even got a round of applause.So, this morning as you go about your two-speed lives, I want to say thank you. You may be complicated, you may be hard to define but we love you for it. Although we will fall out if you steal my book idea.

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