Back To Earth
November 2020

Diverse signals reveal an organic response to a quantified, digitized, and structured world. We see this most obviously in our troubled relationship with technology, but also in our evolving relationships with bureaucracies and organizations.


"Have a good evening, everyone!"

Julie closed her Microsoft Teams meeting and removed her headphones. The time was 2:30pm in Vancouver, BC - midday for her, but the end of the day for most of her colleagues on the East coast. As a software developer on contract with a SaaS startup based out of Boston, she had a great deal of freedom to set her own schedule, aside from team meetings.

Some of those meetings happened at 9am EST / 6am PST, but Julie didn't mind the occasional opportunity to enjoy the sunrise with a cup of coffee. Nobody she knew was up at that time, so it was easy to set her phone aside and find time to just "be".

Julie stood up from her desk and wandered into her living room, which was filled, almost floor-to-ceiling, with houseplants of different sizes. Despite the obvious diversity of foliage present in the room, she knew all their names - snake plant, monstera, majesty palm, pothos... her friends jokingly refer to her as a "plant mom", a title she proudly accepts.

Although house plants are usually appreciated for their aesthetic appeal, the upkeep and care they require takes some technical acumen: the soil must be just right, the water too. Plus, every plant is different. Julie set about checking the moisture level in different pots with her index finger, making a note of which plants required some water. She would attend to them, but only after eating a late lunch...

“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.”

― Paul Hawken

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

― Albert Einstein

Living the jungle life:

The houseplant market is growing quickly, partially because of younger generations who feel trapped in their condos and apartments.

Millennials, many of whom are achieving life milestones at a later age, are becoming "plant parents" and cultivating "indoor jungles". This suggests a desire to return to nature.


“Correlational studies generally show curvilinear relationships with measures of anxiety and depression, meaning that light to moderate use of social media is not associated with bad outcomes, but heavy use is.”

Being a 24/7 brand is exhausting:

Whether you're posting selfies, sharing your recent art project, advocating for a cause or promoting your startup, social media has made everyone into their own brand.

Consider that most organizations have at least one person working full-time in the marketing department: it should be unsurprising that social media has created a lot of invisible work for its users.

Rejecting technology:

Ever since the United States' presidential election in 2016, the negative effects of technology have been front-and-center in the public's mind. It's difficult to predict exactly what this will mean in the future, but it's definitely a trend.

  • Twitter is losing millions of users (link)
  • Gen Z doesn't pay attention to Facebook (link)
  • Flip-phones and "dumb" phones aren't as dead as you think (link, link)

Organic ways of organizing:

New ways of working are on the horizon, and they go far beyond simple “work-from-home” arrangements. Innovative companies are beginning to utilize more horizontal and team-based hierarchies. The early data suggests that these types of organizations are more efficient and enjoy higher employee engagement.

Of course, the internet is the most organic form of media we have. Forms of internet media that facilitate communication and organization of niche groups (Reddit, Facebook, forums, 4chan) may begin to have more of a dominant influence in the media ecosystem.

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