A few years later we had the smart-phone, easier to use tablets, integrated satellite navigation in our automobiles and a landscape filled with compelling social media. Grandparents started using their new devices to communicate with grandchildren, to read newspapers and watch TV. All the world was digital.

Then governments got involved. Short of cash they decided to save money by putting everything on line. Business followed suit. Everything from travel to health to banking is being transformed.

Such a move misses two points. First large parts of the world are ageing rapidly and cannot manage multiple complex passwords and all the difficulties of an Internet crowded out by crooks and scammers. Indeed, will we ever be able to make the Internet safe for the frail and elderly?

Second the value of many aspects of the digital life we are now living is unproven, and the very fact that the big Internet companies are looking at means to stop overuse and addiction evidences this.

Leather needs to be seen and handled

Leather can be bought and sold over the Internet, but not that simply, as it is not a commodity. At every stage it needs to be seen and handled. In fact, the very handling of some types of leather goods enhances and personalises the character of the leather. The best leather products are hand crafted, only some are suited to computerised stitching. Certainly, we have to move our industry into the digital age but it needs to be done with intelligence. It is a mistake to rush into degrading our product to make it fit. The future world will not thank us for that.

At the airport today for an intercontinental flight I could not complete my check-in online as I had transposed the day and month on my passport, and was not allowed to correct it. I was directed to a regular check-in desk where I was promptly and courteously sorted out with connecting flight boarding passes and all the help I needed. I came away delighted and feeling good about the upcoming journey and the airline. Somehow business and government must work out how to retain human service in many of these areas.

For a better society they say we need exercise, socialising and friendship. They are key to mental and physical development and health. We need less screen time and more of these three elements.

Leather helps us retain that link to the physical world, to humanise an over technical one. And on my flight I will sit comfortably on a leather seat, talk to the person beside me and enjoy reading a physical book.

Dr Mike Redwood

August 14, 2018


Follow Dr Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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