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Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

Indonesia - Latin America Cooperation: Strike While The Iron's Hot

On Sui Generis

Many people said that one of the toughest issue to be managed by Indonesia’s future president relates with how our nation’s foreign policy shall be formulated. Some of them said that a major changes will be unlikely, because Indonesia’s next president will have to deal with plenty domestic issues such as poverty eradication, health insurance, managing risk on informal economic sector, and infrastructure establishment. In other articles, some said that in terms of regional cooperation, Indonesia will trying to maintain its influence among South East Asian countries under ASEAN’s platform. It is considered to be important that our nation embed its identity in this region in order to achieve a proper economic and security payoff in the future. But the question is, will there be a potential for us to expand our wing into another region? Will Latin America be exotic enough for Indonesia’s foreign policy destination?

The answer is: it depends. Let’s analyze the cost and benefit for Indonesia to build a more comprehensive partnership with Latin American countries.

The very first disadvantage is obviously geographical barriers. The westernmost point of Latin American region is Galapagos Island, Ecuador. It means that the closest international airport to Jakarta in Latin American region belongs in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. Divided by the Pacific Ocean between the two continents, by a direct plane it means that Indonesian delegates have to go through approximately 12.000 kilometers. Twelve times further compared to Jakarta – Singapore or Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur distance.

The distance barrier brings us to disadvantage number two: high transportantion expenses. Unfortunately, there is no direct flight from Jakarta to Quito. We still have to transit either in Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, or any other city depends on your flight. The fastest flight itself will get the delegates there for 32 hours long and cost them 16 million rupiah each. Imagine how much money our Ministry of Foregin Affairs have to spent to fund the transport itself. Not to mention the expense given for the accomodations and consumptions.

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