| Another post — this one very long — from my book, which is also available as The Art of Enterprise at scribd.com.
Go to any big record store. (Oops, I’m giving away my membership in the aging baby boom generation. Let me rephrase that.) Go to any store that sells CD’s. In the bins, you will find a large selection of European classical music. You will find acres of rock. You will find R&B, grunge, movie soundtracks, easy listening, new age, hip-hop, country and western. You will find a jazz section that is now (in early 2001) stronger than ever thanks to the skills of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. You may even find a gospel section and a section of lounge music.
Now wander around the corner, and you will find “world music.” And within that section, you will find maybe two bins of Brazilian music – about the same as half the “M’s” in rock and roll. Go further down the row and maybe you will find Indian music, a fraction of the size of Brazilian, and further down maybe Chinese music–perhaps a dozen CD’s if you are lucky. That’s about it.
This exercise offers an education in cultural wealth and our inability to see it. In cultural terms, China has a history twenty times as long as America, and India perhaps more. The complexity and richness of Brazilian music is every bit as deep and full of nuances as American and European music. From our distant vantage point, we put the world into bins, and small ones at that, while fully recognizing the depth, breadth, and richness of our own culture. Only by realizing that there is a lot more out there – an awful lot – can we begin to see the world as it really is.
And everything I say about music is just as true about food, clothing, literature, philosophy, architecture, drama, and art. And everything I say about India, Brazil, and China is equally true of Sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia, Egypt and Japan.
As time moves onward, as the world shrinks, as we learn more and trade more, the cultures of the world will combine and sometimes collide, just like the giant tectonic plates on which our continents ride. Absolutely nothing that you or I can do, or that Sony or BMG Music or AOL Time Warner can do, will stop the ultimate rise and confluence of the cultures of the world.
Today, when most of us think about models of female beauty, we think about Marilyn Monroe or Pamela Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Michelle Pfeiffer. Our grandchildren will think of beautiful actresses and models from Brazil, India, and China. When we hum a tune, it comes from England or the States. Our grandchildren will hum the tunes of Bali, of South Africa, of Chile, of Tibet.
As you picture this huge and rising force, the cultures of the world, also realize that there is another huge force, and that is the power of the global brands. Everyone can see the spread of McDonald’s, the pervasiveness of Coca-Cola, the presence of Western/American culture from Mickey Mouse to the World Wrestling Federation. Behind these first movers, we know that Wal-Mart and Home Depot will follow, and a thousand others.
Book after book is written about the cultural destructiveness of globalization. The story is often depicted in terms of a struggle by the poor little local cultures to preserve themselves in the face of a global onslaught. But it must be obvious by now that I do not see it this way. I believe that the cultural wealth of the world, the richness of our complexity, is every bit as powerful as the machinery of Sony and McDonald’s. In fact, I believe that applying that powerful and flexible distributive machinery to our cultural richness is how such wealth will be preserved and expanded.
Mixing up the Popular Arts
Step back twenty or thirty years. We had a handful of big record companies with names like Capitol, Columbia, and Decca. There were also a few upstarts like Geffen, Elektra, and Atlantic. The new artists, the most exciting and original young performers, joined the creative, entrepreneurial upstarts. In time, the upstarts got acquired by the giants, which needed new blood. Did the artists die off when they went corporate? No, they just got their records (now CD’s) placed in more stores in more places. Come forward another ten years or so and you have Virgin and Island, then Interscope.
The process repeats itself over and over. Sometimes the entrepreneurs and upstarts go off and join together. That’s how the movie industry gave birth to United Artists (founded by the rebellious talents of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith) and – seventy years later – SKG Dreamworks. Sometimes yesterday’s giants evolve into new forms. Remember RCA Records and CBS Records, now parts of BMG and Sony? Even the geographic focus changes – most of the old record companies were US, with one Dutch giant (Polygram) and one British giant (EMI). Today the giants are US, German (BMG), Japanese (Sony), and French (Vivendi). Things change in multiple dimensions, but they preserve the vitality and creativity of the artists. All these remarks also apply to the other cultural industries – book publishing, magazines, cable, satellite broadcasting.
Take that model, that understanding of the world, and apply it to the cultures of the world. Apply it to Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse, but also to the moviemakers of India (the “Bollywood” of Bombay, now called Mumbai), the young rock bands of Moscow, the innovative choreographers of Korea, the woodworking artisans of Cairo.
To help you along, let me paint some pictures, all speculative, but all possibilities that I believe are more like the world of the future than we might think. Imagine:
¨ A giant record company based in Shanghai that sells millions of copies of the best North Indian music
¨ Disney integrating Hindu and Buddhist legends into its repertoire of animated feature films
¨ McDonald’s selling Guarana soft drinks from Brazil in the Sudan
¨ Teenagers in Milan partying to the drums of Morocco on an album from a Seattle company
¨ A large operator of amusement parks that comes from Malaysia and offers a real alternative to Disney and Universal
¨ Books printed on Egyptian papyrus – expensive first editions by Argentine authors
Think of these things, and more like them, and you will be thinking of the world of our children. A world more likely to be the actual one than a world fed only by Starbucks and McDonald’s or a world shod by Nike alone. I think it’s an exciting vision.
In order to help this world come along, in order to accelerate this natural evolution, what needs to be done? How do you and I and our enterprises fit in? There are three major concepts to focus on here: branding, cultural preservation, and specialization.
The rise of global brands is one of the most important developments of the last twenty years. While companies like Coca-Cola have been exporting their brands for over a century, the real global presence of brands is a much more recent development. This trend is good, it is unstoppable, and it will become more complex and more open.
First, it is good because it gives everyone on earth more options, more choices. I am sitting here writing this in my hotel room in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). A few blocks away, there is a McDonald’s serving Maharaja Macs, along with a full vegetarian menu customized for the Indian market. As I travel the world and occasionally long for a taste of home, it is great that I can find a Maharaja Mac here. Equally importantly, an Indian in my hometown of Austin can find Indian restaurants to choose from.
McDonald’s has done a remarkable job of insuring product consistency all over the globe, something that most consumers are willing to pay for. Sony and Panasonic make sure we can get great electronics everywhere, Mercedes delivers reliable transportation, Procter & Gamble gives us better shampoos, and Citibank makes sure we have 24-hour access to our cash with that rarest commodity, the working ATM.
The possibility of global branding also serves newcomers and outsiders well. Forty years ago, many thought that American companies would run roughshod over all competitors. Fifteen years later, the fear was that no one could compete with the Japanese. Most business observers considered France a non-participant, unable to develop world-class competitors. All the predictions were wrong. Today L’Oreal, a French company, is the world’s most successful cosmetics company. Some would say, “Well, cosmetics is different, we always knew the French were good at that.” But what about tires? My father was a great believer in “Buy American,” but by his later years he refused to ride on anything but Michelins. Who would have guessed that France could be a world-beater in such an industrial product? No one except the people running Michelin.
In the new world of global branding, access to the world market is easier, not harder. Cable networks and advertising agencies girdle the globe. Consumers everywhere are accustomed to buying the best products no matter where they originate. Now the Internet is facilitating the global spread of ideas, information, and brands.
I recently met with entrepreneurs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They lamented that only one Malaysian brand – Royal Selangor Pewter – had achieved any significant degree of recognition outside of Malaysia. I assured them that Malaysia could create many more global brands in the next twenty years, but that it was up to them. Every nation, every company, has the opportunity to be a player in the global game.
This trend is unstoppable–the genie is out of the bottle. The people of Russia and Zimbabwe alike want the opportunity to buy a Whopper, Air Jordans, and even a bottle of Head and Shoulders.
This trend is also becoming more complex, in the form of creative alignments and alliances. The most visible example is the airline industry, where major companies around the globe are forming such near-merger alliances as One World and Star Alliance. The groundwork was first successfully laid by the partnership between Northwest and KLM. Integrating their reservations and frequent flyer programs, linking their flights, the airlines increasingly appear seamless to the customer.
Other industries are following suit. One of the most successful companies in India is Hindustan Lever, a locally-run joint venture of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever empire. As global retailers like Carrefour and Wal-Mart expand around the world, they are experimenting with new forms of licensing and local partnerships. These newly emerging, more-creative forms of the global corporation will become increasingly common. The Internet and other new communications technologies will facilitate and accelerate this process. The net result will be the opening of more opportunities to play the global game for enterprises of all sizes in all nations, including yours.
The spread of global commerce takes place not just in branding and marketing activities. New jobs are created in new places. Dell, Amazon, and Lufthansa are doing more of their service and support work in India, and Microsoft and others are outsourcing programming there. In fact, without Japanese- and German-owned car factories, the US would today be the second largest maker of autos, rather than staying in first place.
Cultural Wealth and Cultural Preservation
We Americans love our hot dogs and our bagels, our Norman Rockwell and Frank Sinatra, we love our baseball and our blues. As English speakers, we study Chaucer and Byron, Kennedy and Churchill, Dickens and Hemingway. Likewise, each culture, each language, has its own depth and texture. Each has its own arts and sports and heroes. Each is worthy of a lifetime of exploration and contemplation. And preservation.
Sometimes when we think of our cultural wealth and traditions, we think only of Hopi Indians, of Amish quilts and Shaker furniture. We look only to those artifacts that predate our own generation. We disregard the things we made ten and twenty years ago. When our great movie theater chains built the grand movie palaces of the 20s, they did not think they were part of our culture, they were just trying to make a buck. When we tore down most of those palaces in the 50s, we still did not see that these artifacts had any meaning. But our culture is just as much jazz as war bonnets, just as much neon as pottery, just as much horns honking in New York as the silent meditation of Taos. Soon we’ll appreciate that MTV and South Park deserve a place alongside Masterpiece Theatre and Citizen Kane; that Eminem, Bjork, and Matchbox 20 speak for their generation just as Crosby and Sinatra spoke for theirs, Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson for theirs. We are creating and expanding our culture here, now, today – it is a never-ending process.
As we move through the 21st century, the continuing development and preservation of humanity’s cultural wealth will become one of our most important tasks. I believe we must understand the role of three participants in this process: consumers, enterprises and their leaders, and government.
The role of the consumer
I was recently talking to a friend from Europe and he lamented how the local bistros in the villages of France were closing up as McDonald’s spread around the countryside. If this is true, there is only one cause of this problem, only one group to blame: the people who live in those villages. For it is the responsibility of each of us to do our share to preserve our own local heritage, if it is to live on for future generations.
In the US, if we want to preserve our remaining roadside diners, if we want to foster traditional regional products like Dr. Pepper (in the South) or Moxie (in New England), then we must give them a share of our business. Maybe not all our business, but a share of it. Drink that Dr. Pepper (ironically now owned by the British), drink that Lucozade, Orangina, Calpis, Antarctica Guarana, and Pocari Sweat. If you want to have strong local merchants around to answer your questions, to inventory what you want, to support the local high school, to provide jobs, then buy your books and cameras and electronics from them, at least some of the time. Give them a chance to earn your business. If they deserve it, give it to them.
If the traditional Gamelan music of Indonesia is to survive alongside Madonna and the Backstreet Boys, then the parents of Indonesia need to work hard to get their children interested in Gamelan music. They must go out of their way to insure that the education of their children includes an understanding of their heritage, of the nuances of their own culture. No one has to work very hard to make sure their kids understand rock music or hip hop – MTV will take care of that part of the education.
Consumers who want to help preserve our world cultures will take the time to look around them, look for independent and locally owned stores and producers, and allocate a portion of our consumption to the locals. We will support our museums and festivals, we will keep traditions alive. Nothing that anyone else does will be more important.
The role of enterprises
Note that I said, “Nothing will be more important” than the efforts of consumers to preserve local cultures. But there is one group that is just as important: the leaders of local enterprises. Preservation of our cultural wealth depends on the entrepreneurial spirit of the people entrusted with our traditions.
I love to drive around the United States. As I do, I seek out the best of home cooking, those roadside diners, cafes, taverns, and hamburger joints on which America was built. In many cities, I find them boarded up. The usual epitaph: “Killed by the chains.” Alongside the nation’s highways, KFC, Burger King, and McDonalds dominate. And in truth, when the food produced by a restaurant chain is outstanding (as exemplified by the Cracker Barrel chain in the US), they can be very hard to beat.
But last year I drove into a town called Staunton, Virginia (pronounced “Stanton”). As I got off the freeway, I saw the familiar Cracker Barrel sign. But I also saw an equally big sign that said “Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant – since 1947.” The parking lot was full, so I figured this place was okay. I grabbed a table and read the menu with great interest. It devoted paragraph after paragraph to the heritage of Mrs. Rowe’s, describing how Mrs. Mildred Rowe, born 86 years before, had turned management over to her children but still cared about the food. While delighted at the story, I cynically doubted its accuracy. I figured Mrs. Rowe ad long ago retired to a condo in Florida.
Thirty minutes later, while finishing up my excellent pork chop, I felt a touch on my shoulder and heard a voice asking, “And how about you – is your meal okay?” I said, “Yes, it’s great,” but then I looked up to see an older lady and thought, “She’s pretty old to be working – that’s kind of sad.” You’ve guessed the ending, of course. When I got to the cash register, the cashier turned to the old lady and said, “How are you tonight, Mrs. Rowe?”
I tell this story to illustrate one key thing: local enterprises can compete with the global giants only if they care about their business and treat it with respect and self-confidence. If Mrs. Rowe’s children do indeed care about the food as much as she does, if they care about the business and its customers with her passion and vigor, then Cracker Barrel will be no match for them – at least not in Staunton, Virginia.
I’ve seen this phenomenon at work from the opposite side of the coin. As our chain BOOKSTOP opened in city after city, we saw independent booksellers run in fear. Often, they began by cutting advertising, then cutting inventory, then staffing, then hours, then finally closing up. Then we would be blamed for their failure. Among our bookstore competitors, we found only a handful of managers and owners who had the self-confidence to respond to our market entry appropriately – with more aggressive pricing, hours, service, and selection. One store, Book People in our headquarters city of Austin, even invested in a new multimillion-dollar store across the street from us, which went on to achieve unprecedented market share levels.
I’d estimate that only about 20% of all the owners of independent mom-and-pop businesses in the US are emotionally, mentally, and professionally prepared to compete with well-organized and disciplined larger organizations. Yet the local enterprise has many natural advantages – knowing the customer, the local market, and local traditions and events. Smaller enterprises can turn on the proverbial dime while their giant competitors go through months of committee meetings. But if the local operator is not willing to study the best business methods, is not prepared to be curious about the customer or to learn from the big competitors, or is more eager to get to the golf course Friday afternoon than to stay late and think harder, he or she will not be able to compete.
I have seen so many people operating a bookshop or a restaurant as a hobby, as something to do in their spare time. When real competition arrives, the results are very sad. Restaurants are not a hobby to the people at McDonald’s or Brinker International (Chili’s); bookstores are not a hobby to the Riggio brothers of Barnes & Noble. These pursuits are deadly-serious occupations to these people, and the small competitor must be just as serious.
As a particular student of the restaurant business, I would mention the example of relating to young customers. As I travel around the world and drop in on McDonald’s, I see that their greatest strength may be their Happy Meal, in all its local variations. Often, it is not groups of adults that keep their cash registers ringing, but adults dragged through the door by the tug of little hands. By contrast, in my many visits to mom-and-pop restaurants (which I patronize more often than I go to McDonald’s), rarely do I see any effort to attract the little ones. Perhaps the owners would protest, “But McDonald’s has Ronald McDonald and expensive tie-ins with the latest hot movie or TV show.” True. But the reality is that a real clown, or free kazoos or balloons, or birthday parties or playgrounds, or any slightest sign of caring about the kids and recognizing them, could pay off. Sometimes we spend too much time fighting the competition (or complaining about them) rather than learning from them.
Perhaps the most powerful weapon for local preservation in the face of giant competitors is a successful alliance among independents. Three enterprises come to mind: Ace and True Value in hardware stores, and Best Western in lodging. Each of these organizations is very successful, even in the face of the toughest and largest competitors. They combine national or global branding and advertising with the local touch that can be so powerful. Based in Phoenix, Best Western has grown into one of the largest lodging brands in the world. They have more than twenty locations in Paris alone. Each is operated by a caring local owner, but they all benefit from an international reservations and advertising system.
The best way not to preserve your local edge is by taking purely defensive measures. When local merchants get together to lobby local officials in an efforts to prevent Wal-Mart from coming to town, no matter what claims of civic concern they proffer, they are sending an extremely strong, clear statement to the local consumers: “If you had your choice, you would flock to the big store, so the only way we can compete is by banning it. We know that the big store is better than us and that we cannot compete with them if you have the choice of shopping where you want.”
Furthermore, such efforts are almost always futile. If all the restaurants in town get together and keep McDonald’s out, the only result will be that McDonald’s will build somewhere down the road or come in later, and the customers will drive a little further or wait a little longer. Ultimately, “the big guys” have more money, more lawyers, and more ambition, and they will show up in your marketplace. They also have the consumer as their ally in such battles. It is far better to focus our entrepreneurial energies on competing with the Big Macs, the Wal-Marts, the Home Depots, and the Staples rather than trying to ban them. Let’s face it, if you (or I) ran one of these giants, we’d probably aim to dominate the market as well. Luckily for all, competition rarely permits such a one-sided outcome.
Another way in which entrepreneurs play a key role in the preservation of our cultural wealth is by promoting and expanding that wealth. A fellow named Dan Storper owned a New York shop called Putumayo, which sold folk clothing from Latin America. As he traveled abroad, he found local music he liked and began selling that in his store. Today, the Putumayo label sells over one million CDs and cassettes a year, and has just scratched the surface of this opportunity.
Our local diner, the local soft drink maker, the performers of Gamelan music in Indonesia, and the manufacturers of beautiful native garments in India all need strong enterprises and strong leadership to promote them and earn their rightful place on the business stage. Entrepreneurs need to take pride in their localities. Sometimes I land at an airport and want a book about the city, or a video on its history, and can find nothing but T-shirts promoting the local pro sports team. Why have publishers produced an encyclopedia on the history of Indianapolis and one on Tennessee, but none on Chicago, whose history is at least as deep and fascinating?
When NAFTA came along, many Mexican enterprises were concerned about their future in the face of high-quality American competition. There were no global Mexican companies. But now that Mexican companies have learned that they can indeed compete, we see their huge baker Bimbo expanding into the US, their glassmaker Vitro going global, and entrepreneur Carlos Slim Helu taking over the US’s number-one retail computer chain, CompUSA. The global stage on which we play is larger than anyone can imagine. When the doors open, they open for all.
Leaders of enterprises of all types, including governments and nonprofits, need to always remember that there is plenty of room for well-run organizations in all categories in all places. If McDonald’s reaches all their ambitious goals, maybe someday they will sell ten percent of all the meals on the planet. That still leaves ninety percent for their competitors, big and small. There is always room for excellence, whether from Tom’s Diner or Citibank. But there is little room for the weak, the timid, the poor quality, the overpriced, or the badly marketed. You don’t have to be an Amazon.com or an e-wizard to succeed in the twenty-first century, you just have to care about your customers and your product and pay attention to the details.
The role of the government
There’s one more story from the restaurant industry that bears on how we can best preserve our cultural heritage. In the US, we used to have big roadside billboards along our highways, available to any advertiser willing to pay the price. Then, in efforts to “beautify” our highways, many states and counties passed laws forbidding the construction of new billboards, and in some cases pulling down the old ones. One of the results was that independent restaurants could no longer appeal to the nation’s travelers.
To answer this challenge, the roadside beautifiers developed a signing scheme that placed small, neat roadside signs of uniform size and color near the freeway exits. Each sign indicated, “Dining this exit” and had room for the logos of the restaurants, but no advertising message. So the traveler would be informed that, at the next exit, they could find McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, and “Tom’s Diner.” While Tom would do his best to come up with a nice logo to fit in the little space, his message was limited. I saw a defender of this scheme in a TV interview saying, “Now the locals will be on an equal footing with the national chains.”
But the fact is that these measures demolished the locals. McDonald’s has invested enough in building the awareness and image of their golden arches that those arches say it all. A small sign can be very powerful for them. But without a large sign saying, “Tom’s Diner – best breakfast biscuits in Hodley County and friendliest waitresses on earth,” Tom is dead. His name means nothing and his brand has no value to the traveler without some explanation, explanation that is not required by McDonald’s.
If you travel around the US and talk to the people who operate the cafes on the town squares, they will often tell you that the federal government built the interstate highways to move traffic away from them, then banned billboards to make sure no one heard about them. Of course, as you have surmised, I still find Tom’s and go there and discover the biscuits and the waitresses, but I really have to work at it. Most travelers don’t bother.
I understand the desire to beautify our highways. But the unintended consequence has been to deplete our cultural wealth. I would argue that, if we allowed ten percent of the mileage of our freeways to be opened to billboards, our nation would be much stronger for it.
More important than this one example is the overall principle: cultural wealth requires a certain messiness that may be uncomfortable for regulators and bureaucrats.
As I travel the world, I see the glory in human diversity. But in the more “advanced” and regulated societies I see smaller signs, less color, and more sterile environments. As I walk the streets of any Mexican city, I cannot help but wonder, “As Mexico becomes wealthier, will this society lose its color? Will they ban the street vendors? Will everyone start to dress in black and earth tones? Will vibrant signs be banned, and walls everywhere covered with the statement ‘Post no bills?’”
I hope not. I hope that as Mexico gets wealthier, it will continue to look like Mexico, with wild colors everywhere and buildings decorated with hubcaps, not like the antiseptic and manicured sterility of Menlo Park, California, or Plano, Texas. I hope that Japan maintains its giant electronic signs, that India keeps her street vendors, that you will still be able to buy a freshly-cut coconut on the streets of Rio. Without these things, we will all be poorer indeed. We are at risk of zoning away the clutter that is human culture, of planning and banning life itself. The cacophony of commerce must be left free to be scrambled, to be diverse, to be colorful and joyful and self-promotional.
This concern of mine isn’t a new one. As long ago as 1822, the famous American author and world traveler Washington Irving wrote in his journal, “Nations are fast losing their nationality. The great and increasing intercourse, the exchange of fashions and uniformity of opinions by the diffusion of literature are fast destroying those peculiarities that formerly prevailed. We shall in time grow to be very much one people, unless a return to barbarism throws us again into chaos.” It hasn’t happened yet, and I hope it won’t.
Specialization: Niches for nations and other places
Every nation, every region, even every city and village on earth has a personality. When I drove through Brownwood, Texas and saw that the feed and grain store had a sign offering “Free Cadillac with Million-Dollar Purchase,” I knew that the people in Brownwood had a sense of humor.
Thailand is an outstanding example of a nation with a highly distinctive “personality.” Famous as the one people in Southeast Asia who were never colonized, the Thais have a long history of doing business with everyone, letting foreigners trade in their country without ever yielding their sovereignty. I met a GM executive who had just opened a joint venture plant in Thailand. He told me his local partner has informed him at the beginning of the negotiation, “You know, we are also building a joint venture plant with Japanese.” The American executive respected the Thais for their upfront honesty, but he also knew that he was not playing with amateurs here. Having a Japanese competitor up the street would keep him honest.
The Netherlands is a small nation with few people, little land, scanty natural resources, and almost no domestic market (by world standards). But by trading with everyone, developing some of the world’s greatest ports, and seeking out opportunities around the globe, this little country has given us Shell, Unilever, and Philips.
Poor Switzerland does not even have a port, and sits high up in the mountains. Working from this disadvantageous starting point, the Swiss people have developed one of the wealthiest nations on earth (and enjoy some of the longest lifespans). Their hallmarks have been independence, political neutrality, a commitment to international peace, and world-class skills in financial services, pharmaceuticals, and timekeeping. In the future, other “small” nations, like Malaysia and Singapore, will create positions for themselves on the global stage which will give their people wealth just as the Netherlands and Switzerland have done.
Each nation, each state, each city, no matter how small or how large, has a personality – defining attributes that can be turned into competitive advantages. We have always had room in our global marketplace for Cuban cigars, Italian shoes, Parisian perfume, and Swiss watches. Now it is time to realize that there is a lot more out there – Austrian maps, Caribbean music, Japanese pencils, Indonesian woodcarvings, and Malaysian semiconductors.
Leaders of communities, nations, and enterprises should study their strengths, their distinctive characteristics, and make the most of them. Success is more likely to come from going long with our strengths rather than selling short our weaknesses.
If consumers, business leaders, and the government do the right things to protect and enhance our cultural diversity, maybe we can hold Washington Irving’s prediction at bay for another couple of centuries.
Further Readings about Local and Diverse Culture
In Praise of Commercial Culture by Tyler Cowen shows how increased art and music flow from capitalism. Ray Oldenburg talks about an important but often-overlooked concept in The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. Jane and Michael Stern, in the wonderfully titled Eat Your Way Across the USA, focus on the very best local eateries across the USA – I wouldn’t travel without it! To learn all about the local music of the world, you can’t beat World Music: The Rough Guide edited by Mark Ellingham and others – a wonderful two-volume comprehensive set covers the local music of the whole world, including the US.