Two things have led to this post, which might be the last for a while (Baby literally due today). One is that I have discovered the joy of podcasts (I have a lot of time to kill at the moment) and in particular the joy of podcasts from RadioLab. This is just the right kind of programme for me - sciency but not geeky. They approach science as a mystery which it would be fun to find out more about - right up my street.
The second factor is that I have by necessity been thinking a lot about how things come about and appear and become what they are. Having a baby is a time when you start to think a lot about your life and what you have done up to now and how you have got to where you are now -without in my case any value judgements, rather just a review of all the steps along the way.
And emergence is more literally something that I have of course been thinking about - as I want this baby to emerge very soon.
But now what is emergence? Try this for size. Basically it is a theory about how complex systems or organisms produce the results they do without any overarching guiding entity. It explains how our brain works and how ants can be so clever as a group and so stupid on their own.
In particular I like the theory of emergence when applied to cities. It finally explains to me why in the best cities you will have an area which specialises in say food or antiques or clothes. It all has to do with the swerve!
The swerve is what shop owners want. They want you to swerve from what you were doing and come and look at their shop. The more shops of one type in an area the more likely you are to swerve (if you are in the market for an antique chair that is). Of course too many shops of one type could mean you avoid the area. But then another area will spring up with the same function but slightly different somewhere else.
This in a way explains gentrification but above all it gives me a great phrase to apply to marketing and brands: Make them swerve! That is the aim of the game
PS: Haven't read this yet but have it on order and am really looking forward to it.