GOOD

Feast Your Eyes: The Coffeehouse App

Eighteenth-century coffeehouses were a hotbed of debate and entrepreneurial ideas. This illustrated app pitch aims to recreate that vibe today.


Talking with Sean Bonner about his new Coffee Common project reminded me of this recent illustrated proposal for a new app, called Coffeehouse Commons.

The pitch goes like this:


In the eighteenth-century English-speaking world, coffee houses were "the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself," according to historian T. B. Macauley. In addition to supplying an exotic stimulant—caffeine—coffee houses formed the central nodes in urban information networks. They were among the first public gathering spaces where news, ideas, and goods could be debated, produced, and exchanged. [...]

For the past decade, with the advent of Wi-Fi, the explosion of blogs and online news forums, and traditional media’s increasing reliance on freelancers, independent coffee shops have again become places where ideas are generated, news is consumed, and comment is free.

\n



Despite the similar range of intellectual activity, the atmosphere is a little different in today's coffeehouses.

Gesticulating men in wigs passing pamphlets hand-to-hand have been replaced by Mac-dependent hipsters with bad posture and permanently attached headphones. Today’s coffee shop exchanges take place online, invisible to the other occupants of the physical space in which they are produced. Meanwhile, several coffee shop owners have declared war on their freelancing clientele, complaining that they hog tables, make a single coffee last for hours and create an anti-social, library-like atmosphere.

\n


But wait! What if there was an app that tracked all that invisible opinion, exchange, and cultural production, and somehow transformed it into a visible, connected whole?

Using the “Coffeehouse Commons”™ web or mobile interface, journalists and bloggers can check in to submit links to their content, while readers and commenters also log in to provide URLs for their in-house activity. The app's home page provides a constantly updated timeline of activity across all coffee shops, but by checking into a particular coffee shop, users can explore the range of information and ideas that were produced, discussed, and consumed within that space.


What do you think? Would this app help recreate the sort of dialogue and cross-pollination that made 18th-century coffeehouses into such powerful social, political, media, and business incubators? And, more importantly, would you download it if it really existed?

Original illustrations by Nikki Hiatt; pitch originally published in the New City Reader Food Issue.

Articles
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
Culture

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading