“Doux Commerce”

PLUS: Deepfake Zoom call pilfers $26M
February 9, 2024
Pictured: Phillip on the DTC SHOOOOOW with Jess Bachman and Rabah Rahil

Welcome to Friday, futurists. 

This week, I had the pleasure of doing a breakdown on the commercial impacts of the new Apple Vision Pro on Jess Bachman and Rabah Rahil’s web show, The DTC SHOOOOW. Check that out right over here.

Check it out; it’s a blast, and I had a few brilliant points to make (if I do say so myself).

“Doux Commerce” — the positive cultural impacts of commerce on the culture

“Commerce is culture” has been my catchphrase for nearly a year. This came from my ever-evolving thesis that the world around us is filled with, to the brim, in fact, commerce. We’ve given some pet names to some of these observations over the years, including C.A.R.L.Y. (Can't Afford Real Life Yet), the New Dadaists, and most recently, The Multiplayer Brand.

This impact—that commerce has a net-positive effect on culture and, therefore, on society—is not a new idea. It has roots in the Enlightenment and the political sciences of early republics like Rome and Greece.

When Hamilton and Jefferson were busy arguing about the future of commerce (circa 1778), they saw two clear paths forward: a largely agrarian economy with colonial aspirations like ancient Rome and an army of farmer-soldiers at the ready to extend the reach of the new empire beyond its early colonial borders. Or, eventually, the future that Hamilton championed: we finance a new democratic republic by protecting trade at all costs.

In 1790, Hamilton’s advocacy led to the establishment of the Revenue Cutter Service (later becoming the Coast Guard), which made the protection of commerce and trade the highest priority for a new nation.  His overarching philosophy: a nation that grows in wealth, prosperity, security, and even luxury, is one that becomes more civilized over time. 

You heard it here first ladies, that Goyard tote is vital to our civilization.

This was the product of the Enlightenment movement, which began brewing in Europe in the 1770s. Hamilton, a well-read student of the economic philosophies of Adam Smith, was equally influenced by other Enlightenment authors of the time. One such author, French philosopher Montesquieu, coined a term for this cultural impact of commerce, which he called doux commerce.

Doux Commerce, literally translated as ‘soft commerce’ or ‘gentle commerce’, speaks to the impact that the possession of goods coincides with the fear of losing them. Montesquieu posited that the “gentle hand of commerce” could soften social mores and lead to more harmonious societies (this is where we sing kumbaya). The argument: mutual dependencies are created as individuals engage in trade and commerce. This creates a level of trust, respect, and understanding, not just for the sake of profit but for the continuity of peaceful coexistence.

This theory has evolved over time, finding a home in various economic and social theories highlighting the “positive externalities” (economist-speak for a benefit we all share because of one good actor) of commerce on society's moral and ethical frameworks. The world wide web is the greatest of positive externalities that we all share. Others include the worldwide GPS system or open-source software like React or Apache.

Doux commerce is observable between corporate entities, too. Tesla open-sourcing of its patents is a clear example. We can see doux commerce at work throughout the eCommerce ecosystem, of course: both Amazon and Shopify allow their payments solutions to live outside of their owned ecosystems. Why? The mutual benefit of growing eCommerce, and enriching themselves and the lives of their merchant class. The MACH Alliance is another clear example of partnership for creating a more vibrant and self-sustaining ecosystem.

One thing is certain, however. Commerce is culture. Even from his vantage point as a philosopher and leader in the Enlightenment movement, Montesquieu could never have imagined a lightspeed global network of commerce and trade that spanned continents. Likewise, we cannot imagine a future that exceeds the limitations of our technology and media as it stands today.

— Phillip

Analysis of the Shopify Plus Price Increase. Friend of the pod Aaron Sheehan took to LinkedIn this week to pen a rebuttal of the discourse surrounding the Shopify Plus pricing increase (more info on that right here). The question to ask, according to Aaron, is how you view commerce technology in 2024—is it plumbing and infrastructure, or a vital part of customer experience?

Out of home connoisseur Brian Rappaport captured a candid OOH campaign in Las Vegas, featuring men’s buttwipe brand, Dude Wipes. They ask the most important question of our times: are your deuces wild?

Image Credit: “Bergdorf Goodman” by ajay_suresh is licensed under CC BY 2.0

That’s Farfetched. Online retailer Farfetch is on a losing streak. One of the few wins of 2022 was its announcement that it would be providing eCom solutions for a small part of Neiman Marcus’ catalog, including Bergdorff-Goodman. Now, following a minority stake ownership by Coupang, that deal has been called-off, calling Farfetch’s future into question. At the time of this writing, Farfetch is trading down 99.95% in public markets (L365).

Galentine’s Day? Make Way for ‘Mistress Day’. Thanks to the polyamory discourse in popular culture, we now have a third group to account-for in our greeting-card-holidays. Mistress Day, a reportedly ‘observable phenomenon’, takes place on February 13, when men trial-run their big night out with their sidepiece.

“This is pirating human beings.” A new service, Agent Gold, has trained a LLM on the corpus of data available in Youtube transcripts, which allows you to have a “chat” with any Youtuber, sans permission. Despite being a violation of Youtube’s Terms of Service, it also raises questions about the ethical dilemma of a future where fans seek out parasocial relationships with creators.

Deepfake Scams Target CEOs. Hong Kong police are seeking the arrest of a scammer who reportedly deepfaked the CFO of a corporation, tricking team members into performing a total of twelve wire transfers into bank accounts outside the control of the business. The $26M caper is the largest deepfake scam to date, but would also make this the most productive and profitable Zoom call of all time.

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