Speciality Coffee Cafes and Beer Bars

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My not so guilty pleasure is grabbing a coffee and a cake at a cosy café. Luckily, Glasgow provides me with a lot of specialty coffee bars. I fit perfectly into the group that by academia is named as creative or cognitive cultural class: highly educated and occupied with a creative or managerial job. They are – or I am – part of a wider process of gentrification: the upgrading of neighbourhoods in value and amenities through regeneration. Since I am exploring urban life, I recently developed an internal conflict. Inevitably I am more or less part of the ‘gentrifiers’, but I am also aware of the negative effects of this process. In this column, I will elaborate on this internal conflict.

 

Wherever you go in whatever city, you will find clues that lead you to areas that are showcases of the creative culture. Some cities try explicitly to attract people that are part of this development. If you believe Richard Florida, the creative class will lead the pack to a flourishing urban economy. Explaining this theory is beyond the scope of this column, so I will give a few examples of how the hipster culture can be recognised in Glasgow, and elaborate on its implications.

 

The creative class wants to distinguish itself. A lot of studies and theories around the concept of distinction exist, for example by Bourdieu. The most obvious ways in which distinction can be achieved, is in behaviour in general and in consumption patterns in particular. The places of consumption where this group in society likes to drink coffee or sip their beer can often be labelled with A-words: authentic, artisanal and artistic.

 

How do we distinguish the creative café from the ordinary bar? Often craftsmanship is highly valued in these places: the beer cafes have their own beer brand, and the coffee shops have a range of choices in coffee beans and specials. Your coffee is often finished with a nice figure in your milk foam, such as a leaf or a heart or even more complicated ones. Glasgow houses a lot of these kinds of places of consumption. On many occasions, to enjoy a coffee or a beer in those establishments is more about the spot than about a person’s knowledge about the products.

 

A city is obviously not hipster proof if it doesn’t host a specialty coffee festival. And that is what Glasgow has had over the last few years. The Glasgow Coffee Festival is dedicated to the celebration of the growing vibrant Scottish specialty coffee scene. The amount of adverbs is often a clue to creativity. The venue where this festival took place is indicative for the authentic component that is part of the hipster culture: the old Glasgow fish market. Bars and cafes readily adopt an industrial feel to their businesses, to add some authenticity to their brand. This sometimes clashes with the individuality that these establishments are trying to achieve, because in the end they all seem to look alike.

 

The problematic part of it all is the fact that cities and their governing bodies see the attraction of a creative class as a problem solving mechanism for a lot of societal problems. But it seems to deny the fact that society exists of a lot more groups than the creative, who deserve equal attention and amenities in every area. Amsterdam for example is so successful in attracting an affluent creative or middle class, that the inner city is becoming more and more expensive to live in for the average citizen. And London has also had an uprising against a ‘hipster café’. A process of displacement that leads towards a homogeneous population in certain neighbourhoods is taking place. And that is dangerous in a way, because some parts of the city are not perceived as accessible for every resident. Although I love my coffee, and Glasgow isn’t and may never end up the way Amsterdam has, it is good to be aware of your behavioural choices and how they influence urban life. Societal balance must not get lost.

 

By Rosa de Jong

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How the idleness of the government of China led to economic boom

 

Pavel Kaloferov
The Chinese economy is the fastest growing and the largest in the world. The reasons for this outcome, however, often remain misunderstood by the majority of observers. A common misconception is that Chinese government intervention in the markets has facilitated the steady growth the Chinese economy has experienced in the past few decades. In reality, it all started at the Labour Conference in 1978. Deng Xiaoping delivered a speech presenting his idea of socialist economy with Chinese characteristics with a ten-year action plan. In particular, the rules created by Mr Xiaoping’s government broke from the approval of Chinese control authorities.

 

 

The decisive turning point in shaping the Chinese economy was at the beginning of the leadership of Deng. After his speech, his policies failed. Chinese citizens stopped complying and started resisting the personal and legal norms set by the regime. This was crucial for China to become an economic miracle. Disobedience began in the villages where production communes disbanded and were transferred to independent family entities, which were farming the land. However, this does not happen with the consent of the government. On the contrary, the collapse of collective farms was strictly prohibited. The authorities in charge of compliance with the law and order in the State realized the emerging potential for development. Hence, they deliberately ignored the policies of the headquarters in Beijing. The government’s instructions were disobeyed by local authorities that instead took steps more in keeping with a liberalized market system. The rule breaking of the countryside gradually spread to private industries in the cities. Many organizations continued to act on behalf of the government but their management was taken over by private companies. This change began in the agricultural sector and was anything but accidental.

 

 

Deng Xiaoping has always stressed the leading role of the Communist Party. Although China’s the relaxation of China’s economy has often been attributed to the CCP’s reforms, the real reason for the deployment of the free economy is largely coincidence. Since 1978, when the unexpected market liberalization began, China has been enjoying economic prosperity. The country succeeded only because people did not obey Deng’s policies.

 

 

Today, the Chinese government aims to revitalize the state’s role and increase market intervention. In other words, it is taking an approach contrary to that which has been delivering prosperity for decades. Forbidding private enterprises access to credit as well as placing restrictions and prohibitions on international companies is the main obstacle to foreign investors and local entrepreneurs trying to enter into the modern Chinese market.

 

 

Only time will tell whether the political leaders of Beijing are going to continue on the current path or realize their mistake and continue the Chinese economic miracle.

 

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Can BlackBerry win back its market shares?

 

Qingyi Xu

 

Can the Passport, the new BlackBerry product, bring the once declining company back into sight? The share price of BlackBerry has increased more than 45% since last year. However, this improvement in share price is largely due to severe redundancies and the company’s revenue is still stagnant.

 

BlackBerry position the Passport as a portable and stylish phone, which can keep up with the busy life of a businessperson: getting multiple things done at once. The executive of BlackBerry, John Chen, is positive. He said that the Passport sold out in-store while Amazon shipped more than 200,000 orders. However, when compared to the ten million iPhone 6 units sold in its first week of release, things may not be that positive. Reviews are often negative: the two-hand typing is awkward and the application of apps is far from what iOS or Android provide. The saturation of the software market makes it too difficult and too late for BlackBerry to enter a demanding consumer market.

 

In the face of formidable competition from Apple, BlackBerry struggled but finally decided to target business users instead of the whole market. This seems wise because focusing on the professional market should help BlackBerry to earn quickly and seek more market power. As a result, the Passport is designed with business users in mind. It retains the physical keyboard and high battery life, its 4.5 inch square screen is perfect for spreadsheets and documents, and it has a Siri-beating assistant through which users can instruct the phone to locate their work diaries. These are strong designs for professionals, but will these core features make a difference? Look back to better times, when BlackBerry accounted for one in five smartphone sales in 2008. The crucial difference was BlackBerry’s unique messaging services and secure software.

 

Blackberry’s failure cannot only be attributed to Apple, but also to their rejection of the trend: smartphone entertainments. Now, traditional BlackBerry is losing market power, iPhones and Android use a more advanced messaging network. Historically, the service fees accounted for most of BlackBerry’s profits, however the service fees were costly to many corporations so alternatives were found; for example, American corporations encourage staff to bring their own devices to work. Now profit from service fees is declining 15% each quarter. If BlackBerry wants to focus on the business market, they need to rethink their consumer needs.

John Chen did a lot to revive BlackBerry and the results are beginning to take shape. A simpler organization with a clear market position and smarter finances construct the basis of a bright future. Review the success of Apple and Samsung, stay in tune with the market and always be creative. These are the golden rules for BlackBerry to emulate.

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Glasgow Business students create Eventhred

Glasgow University boasts a diverse range of talented and proactive students, and two entrepreneurial Business & Management students are definitely at the forefront of the cavalcade. Renata Pilikinaite and ­­­­Tadas Labudis have created a website which aims to collect information about upcoming events and present them with coherence and clarity.

The website, eventhread.com, gathers information from events scattered across the Internet and congregates them into one coherent, slick, and easy to use website, an online directory of where-to-go and what-to-see. The Alpha version is already live and is well into the swing of streamlining all the goings-on across the UK’s major cities, and the Beta version and iPhone App look ready to be available by mid-January. What Eventhread does is it provides all the necessary information for upcoming events, including directions through a map, links for purchasing tickets, and the option for refining searches according to event type, price, location, and date. This ability for personalized, individual searches of events is definitely rooted in the notions of no-nonsense, quick and easy web browsing, and it won’t only benefit the person browsing the site but also could lead to better exposure for events, particularly if a Facebook invitation somehow has eluded you.

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