Monday, 17 September 2018


Last week the amazingly wealthy Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said of time well-spent he needed to sleep at least eight hours a day as he had to live in the future making crucial decisions. Living in the future, especially if it’s a faster moving version of today, would make me tired.

Time is strange stuff. How fast it seems to move is nothing to do with clocks it’s to do with how we feel. Our obsession with marginal time-saving which HS2 provides or which the fast food/dating/reading crowd pursue seems a bit futile to me.  Taking time to relish what’s happening seems a lot smarter. Taking your time though is hard if you’re surrounded by bustle, fast-talkers and deadlines. That’s the trouble with capital cities yet what, at the same time, makes them so exciting. (And please don’t tell me you find New York boring.)

However attitudes to place are changing. The ability to hold a Board Meeting in the south of France wearing a linen jacket and crisp white shirt on Skype and a swimming costume down below is not only possible, it’s happening.

So where you are doesn’t matter then? Well … actually it does. Hence the Dick Whittington urge for that streets-paved-with-gold-London-urge. The ambitious gravitate to share space with like-minded, ambitious souls.

That’s why I found the story about Naples I heard recently so fascinating. In the past Naples hasn’t had a great reputation. Handback snatching, Mafia, poverty, with 50% unemployment amongst the young … not a fantastic place to live.  Until 2016. That was when Apple set up its Apple Development Academy there. It’s in a glass, shiny-steel building and has big working spaces with sofas and round tables. There’ve been 600 graduates so far, 70% from the Calabria region.

Terrific news. But it’s been the knock-on effect which has been even more extraordinary. Big companies like Cisco, and Deloitte Digital have followed Apple and Naples is now the second region in Italy after Milan for young start-ups (18 – 32 year olds). People are coming home from Brighton, Berlin and other tech centres. One described Naples, his home town as “the most beautiful place in the world where I want to be with family and friends; where I want my children to grow up and work too.” Naples derives from “Neapolis” – new city. At last this seems an appropriate name.

We can’t just live on Skype (although Skype’s got its place). We need to meet people, see them and decode their body language. We also need to be based in a place with a community of creative and disruptive spirits shaping the future in the sure knowledge that the future isn’t going to be an 8 – 6 office in a skyscraper. We need the place, the human contact and the time to think and create stuff be it apps, plays, stories or things that make life nicer and better for humanity.

See Naples at work and you’ll believe in a new future.

No comments: