The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 19 August 2016

Image: Caitlin Mogridge

Mighty good (green) man

If you go down to the woods today you’ll be in for a mighty fine musical enterprise: Belle and Sebastian, Laura Marling, James Blake and Kamasi Washington playing hits, offering sly asides to the crowd and getting used to wearing a cagoule for three days in a row. The UK’s finest festival, Green Man, kicked off today in the Brecon Beacons, a place so chocolate-box pretty you’ll break Instagram (actually you won’t: this beauty spot’s 3G-free). Festivals are no longer about lager headaches and having your stash stolen, nor are they about models in floral dresses and wellies; instead they’re about being snappy, surprising, small and perfectly formed. This family-run charmer in the hills stars 100 beers and ciders sourced from within a stone’s throw of the site and, naturally, a Green Man of wood and leaves that, come Sunday night, will be set alight as merrymakers dance around it.

Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/PA Images

Hear with her

Not all that long ago podcasts were a niche medium with only a small number of canny listeners. Now it seems the humble but mighty podcast has gone mainstream. Even Hillary Clinton has launched her own official presidential-campaign podcast With Her. Each episode – though there has only been one so far – aims to share day-to-day life on Clinton’s campaign trail as the Democratic nominee counts down to November. While some US media watchers have applauded Clinton’s adoption of the form, others were quick to criticise the move as a cynical tactic from a press-shy politician. Podcast purists in particular have taken umbrage that the medium, which has been typically used for entertainment and journalistic programming, is now being used for “propaganda”. Yet this criticism doesn’t quite work: politicians have long embraced all forms of popular media for their own gains. The podcast is now having its moment.

Image: CityBridge

Streets ahead?

New York has made a large investment in turning its old phone booths – of which there are 7,500 – into LinkNYC kiosks. These futuristic towers designed by Antenna supply a tablet for internet browsing, speedy wi-fi and charging ports. The changeover is costing more than $200m (€180m) – paid for through advertisements – and thus far 350 are up and running. The programme, though, hasn’t immediately taken hold so the city has sent out wi-fi ambassadors to lure passers-by to try the kiosks and then gather feedback. The wi-fi function should prove useful considering that 26 per cent of households in the city lack internet access at home; a divide that’s growing according to a 2015 NYC report. Currently in its beta version, the 12-year franchise will be adding apps and further functions over the coming years.

Image: Simon Sees

Mile-high club

While Singapore Airlines (SIA) remains an aviation stalwart in Southeast Asia, its subsidiary Flyscoot is proving to be quite the cheeky upstart. This week the budget airline took a giant leap when it launched some of the lowest-cost flights ever from Australia to Europe. However, its rather naughty campaign raised eyebrows in its conservative homeland. In an online video featuring innuendo-laden interviews, Singaporeans allude to their “first time” before the pay-off: first-time flights to Europe. In the hugely competitive Asia Pacific, low-cost carrier market Flyscoot has quickly carved a name for itself by complementing SIA’s traditional values with a quirkier and more youthful approach. With SIA’s profits soaring this year, its formula is clearly paying off.

From Monocle 24

Image: Gatanass

Helsinki: using Flow Festival to promote urban wellbeing

How can festivals and other arts events lift the mood of a city? We report from Flow Festival, where city-planners, musicians and designers get together to conjure a utopian vision of urban culture – feeding off the notion of urban wellbeing and using it to provide inspiration for the rest of the year.

From Monocle Films

When in Rome

If you’re in the diplomatic game you could do worse than a posting in Rome, where you’ll probably be put up in a palazzo fit for a pope. Monocle pays a visit to the ambassadors of Brazil and France.

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