Before we get to my bottoms - just a quick aside about this blog. Many of you asked why I’m not posting as often. Have I quit writing, what’s going on?
I haven't quit writing, in fact I write more than ever. I've been fortunate enough to work on a long-term project with some amazing people and am focusing my creative juices on that. Some exciting things are on the horizon.
But I will adjourn the silence today because I need to talk about something that holds the potential to disrupt an entire industry in the coming years. Nope, it’s not internet or telecom related. Rather it has to do with footwear. Footwear is experiencing a transformation, the scope of which is not obvious to most of us.
Many go as far as blame our shoes for bad posture, chronic, degenerative back pain and a whole host of other avoidable ailments.
So we've all seen the recent "trend" for minimal footwear. Vivobarefoot, Vibram, New Balance—most labels have jumped on the bandwagon, doing away with bulky heels and introducing much flatter, simpler designs. Sneaker makers are just as happy selling diminutive incarnations of their products, at the same price, for as long as fashion dictates. Business as usual, right?
Not so fast
What if we're still missing something? What if the better way to walk is in full and immediate contact with the earth? No soles whatsoever.
There is an increasing number of totally barefoot advocates out there (I've seen some of them doing the rounds at Hyde Park). The question is, why are they imposing this inconvenience upon themselves? What is it about barefooting that is so great? Other that saving a bunch on extortionately expensive shoes that don't last.
It's so damn healthy
Okay, here goes. There are more nerve endings in our feet than anywhere else on our body. Direct contact activates all those nerves, which then assist the brain with negotiating various surfaces, while maintaining a steady balance and straight posture. By muting those signals with plastic pudding, our foot has to strike harder before it can sense the ground. Guess where all this impact travels to. Yep, the knees.
Also, according to a substantial body of (mainly) experiential data, touching the ground allows for latent electricity to channel into the Earth, and that carries significant benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing.
I could go on. The list of purported rewards is endless. Barefooting carries benefits that are not well-understood or appreciated yet. And given there is no commercial incentive, I don't see how any mainstream manufacturer will invest to figure those things out.
Those bare bottoms are mine
My fascination with going bare started as part of an obsessive effort to get rid of clutter and simplify my life. Shoes are bulky and expensive; they take up space and only last for six months (in the case of sneakers).
I experimented with barefoot walking last summer, and I was dumbfounded by how well it made me feel. Every morning I would get excited; in the same way one does when they're just about to enjoy a delicious meal.
It occurred to me that my feet were hungry. They starved for stimuli: the wet, muddy texture of grass and soil, the coarseness of the asphalt, the softness of leaves—an entire new dimension of sensations was now available.
The hardest part? People
What? Well, yes. I was never comfortable with entering establishments, shops et cetera. I almost wished there was a way to hide my naked feet.
To many, I looked like an outcast, a vagabond, a nutcase. Some passers-by crossed the street to get away from me. Others made remarks:
“Mind your feet, mate.” Or my favourite: “Mum! No shoes!”
The answer came from faraway Canada, and this small, industrious outfit called Barebottom Shoes.
What their shoes do is cover the top part of the foot so as to disguise the lack of an under-sole. Any onlookers can now see that something is there. There is this "thing" playing the role of the "shoe", so they can process it and move on with their day.
Shoe as a bridge
Compared to wearing nothing, the Barebottom shoes have no ergonomic benefit—but that’s the whole point.
The design oriented folk might see this as a form of skeuomorphic design. A new generation of products that only looks like the products they replace. Their design is meant to make the transition easier.
Think of the iPhone. Have you noticed how the screen became flat last year? It could've been like this from the very start; but users were not ready.
Extra shadows around icons had to be added to make pixels look like physical switches, so that users could intuitively know how to use them.
Now, the footwear industry moves in a glacial pace compared to the breakneck world of tech. Still the ultimate goal of the Barebottom shoes is the very disappearance of shoes.
Think about it. The Zen element of using something until we're able to need nothing.
So how do the Barebottom shoes feel? In a word, liberating. They come in various designs and materials. My pair was neoprene grey and black. Their colour depends on which side I wear them. I can also adjust how much of my foot is exposed to the ground, which helps when you're starting out.
I use them everywhere now. And for those occasions that call for something more conventional, I pop them off and put them in my pocket, before I wear my normal shoes.
If you're curious about Barebottoms and their inventor Sue Kenney, visit this link.
As some of you know, I've given up on restaurants.
Even the most celebrated (and expensive) ones are in the business of cooking for strangers. Think of yourself as a restaurant owner. Would you use the healthiest ingredients if they made no difference to your product's taste?
Would you cook with coconut oil for example? Would you sprinkle chia seeds, add organic broccoli, cold-pressed olive oil? Probably not. You can't afford to, since the extra costs will go unnoticed.
So the customer loses out on food quality. Either this or the business loses out on profits. Nothing against restaurants or businesses, by the way. I'm just stating the obvious.
Home-made food is superior, but it takes effort. An effort no one else can do for you. Shop for ingredients, cook, serve, clean up. It's all on you. What we are left with is a tricky dilemma faced on a daily basis. Trade health for convenience or vice versa?
Thousands of health-conscious, busy Londoners scrape time away from other priorities in order to feed themselves and their families. What a bummer, right? And what a great opportunity too! For the industrious fellas at Cookisto that is.
Their premise is simple. You cook for yourself and prepare a few extra portions. You post them on Cookisto and deliver to whoever wants it (many of them close by). Oh, and get paid. That's it.
Launched by two Greek blokes in Athens, Cookisto recently expanded to more locations, including London. I couldn't wait to give them a go.
My Italian vegan pasta was delivered at the appointed time by the cook herself. The portion was generous, and it was cooked a quarter of an hour before reaching me. It was deliciously full of flavour, it was home-made and I didn't have to mess with my kitchen. Great!
If you live in London, give them a try (use FEEDMEMAX to get £4 off your first order). And let me know what you think.
Vic Gundotra was in London last week and I had the opportunity to get front row seats for his talk in the Google Campus. The quickest ninety minutes I can remember.
Gundotra is a bit of an unsung hero in my view. He is the creator of the entire Android project at Google, and many other moonshots. He was recruited from Bill Gates a couple of decades ago and was pivotal in the creation of Windows 95. Around 2005 he left Microsoft for Google and the rest is history.
First off, he described his experience in a self-driving car. Yes, he has used it many times, and now trusts it more than a man-driven one. He described a day when he was worried if his car could see a lorry speeding in from what would be a blind-spot. Worried as he was, he decided to check. He examined the log and, to his surprise, the car was not only aware of the lorry but also another dozen of cars behind it. It was intelligent enough to calculate ahead and time its navigation in a safe and fuel-efficient way.
Then he talked about Google Glass. He mentioned how he walks down a street and the system is smart enough to know what might be relevant and interesting to him right then and there. It then vibrates gently behind his ear giving him a choice. He can either ignore it, or move his head upwards, and the notification shows up. He says the Glass will eventually be intelligent enough to know not only where you are, but also what your goals are, and interact with you accordingly.
Finally, he answered a question about privacy. Google's products rely on user trust he said. None of their future offerings will work if users don't trust that Google will guard their privacy.
He then breezed off to the airport.
The last few weeks have been educational and empowering.
I sat back and absorbed. It was the british sun (what a dark horse), the new knowledge I'm lapping up from great books, a new daily routine I'm currently establishing myself into, the writing project I've embarked on, and other experiences that—while stirring—are not mature enough for me to write about. Some of them may never will.
As a blogger there is a fine line between maintaining reader engagement versus saying too much. I'd argue this applies to all aspects of life.
When I have something of value to say, you'll be the first to hear. Promise.