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Dear <<First Name>>,

It is about to be a literary weekend here in DC as the big American Library Association conference comes to town. I'll be doing a book signing there and the whole Ideapress team will be there hosting a booth and promoting books. If you're planning to be there, let me know! In the stories this week, you'll read about the resurgence of events like the ALA conference, what you can do to solve the e-waste crisis, a better way to teach history, and why we need government to take more risks. Enjoy!

The One Big Reason We Need Convention Centers and Big Events

Convention centers can be beautiful energizing places. They can also be sad lonely reminders of why business travel sometimes sucks. I have spent many hours inside convention centers as a speaker before they became one of the first big casualties of the pandemic. A Businessweek feature this week focused on the collective efforts of architects, city officials and event planners to imagine a richer future for these forgotten convention spaces. The events industry right now is filled with hope, which is fueling multi-million dollar investments. The irony is that hope is also the one thing that these events themselves can bring us.

Gathering the smartest minds in a profession together face to face for future-shifting conversations inspires hope. It is undeniably important. Every time I am invited to an event, I experience this hope. It's what makes the travel delays, time away from family and long hours worth it. And like the magic of a wonderfully planned and executed convention, hope is one of those things that is really hard to recreate over Zoom. 

Bringing Old Phones Back To Life

This week I was confronted by ads to upgrade my phone to the Samsung S21. I currently have the nearly identical S20 phone, so upgrading would yield minimal benefits ... yet I can't help wanting the new phone. We have been conditioned to think this way. Put aside the laughable reality that a phone released just a dozen years ago is already on version 21. (In comparison, Microsoft Windows has been around since 1985 and has only made it up to version 11 so far). The pace of change has been so fast, that it feels like a year is a reasonable amount of time for a $1000+ device to be obsolete. It isn't.

Thankfully, there is a global movement to help recycle "old" devices that have been replaced with a shinier new pretty-much-the-same device. Unfortunately, recycling will never be enough. If we keep incentivizing device manufacturers to launch a new model of phone every year to replace the last one, this treadmill of waste will continue indefinitely. So how do we solve this? One place to start may be to hold on to your device for longer. Another would be to make sure that when you do trade in your phone, that it will be resold or reused instead of thrown away. The solution to e-waste starts with caring more about what happens to your phone after you abandon it for something better.

The Science Is In. Wearing Your Shoes In the House Is Disgusting.

If there is one sign that someone comes from an Asian family or has spent time living in Asia, it's their custom of taking off their shoes upon entering someone's home. It turns out this cultural habit has some solid science behind it too. Multiple research studies have found that wearing shoes inside the home can bring many toxins and bacteria into your living space. Health aside, the less obvious benefit of having guests remove their shoes is the signal it offers that you're part of our family. Despite these arguments, there are still some die-hard shoe wearers who insist foot protection from dust or the errant Lego mean the shoes should stay on in the home. Those arguments seem forced or just plain lazy. Honestly, removing shoes doesn't really seem like that much to ask.

Reliving History Through Photos of Long Abandoned Things

It seems like almost every week amidst the many stories I read to bring you this newsletter, there is another gallery of images of long forgotten things like this vending machine from 1980s Tokyo. Each time I see one, I can't help imagining what these things or places were like in their time. What if we taught history this way? The fact that kids often find history boring baffles me, but it makes sense. When you reduce something that should be told through stories and images into facts and data, it is predictable that no one cares. 

Netflix's Latest Reality Show Concept Featured Spoiled "Snowflake" Gen-Zers

"Kiddults" is a word that describes a group of adults who refuse to grow up and engage in childlike pastimes and behaviors. Apparently they are common enough that Netflix has commissioned an entire reality show featuring them. Snowflake Mountain will bring together a group of spoiled entitled 20-somethings who struggle with things they shouldn't and predictably get "a much-needed crash course in adulthood, led by a former army combat engineer and Navy explosive ordinance disposal officer."

Do I think this show will be worth watching? Nope. But I'm sharing the story because maybe reading about the "vegan who loves admiring her own reflection in the mirror" or the "24-year-old who still lives at home with her parents, refuses to help around the house, and has been fired from every job" might just do what great reality TV does sadistically well: remind us that no matter how hard life gets, there's always someone we can look at and be glad that we aren't.  

Even More Non-Obvious Stories ...

Every week I always curate more stories than I'm able to explore in detail. Instead of skipping those stories, I started to share them in this section so you can skim the headlines and click on any that spark your interest:
How are these stories curated?
Every week I spend hours going through hundreds of stories in order to curate this email. Want to discuss how I could bring my best thinking to your next event as a keynote speaker or facilitator? Watch my new 2022 speaking reel on YouTube >>
Want to share? Here's the newsletter link:
https://mailchi.mp/nonobvious/326?e=[UNIQID]
This Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter is curated by Rohit Bhargava. | View in browser
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