Camelopards and 3-Tiered Change

Have you ever seen a camelopard? I can tell you now that you have: it was just by a different name, Giraffe. I’ve just finished reading Zarafa, Michael Allin’s remarkable tale of a 19th Century Giraffe, sent from northern Sudan to the heart of Paris as a gift. The Parisians, having never seen such a thing, called it a ‘camelopard’ because it had a head like a camel and the spots of a leopard; whilst others mistook it for some kind of tall horse. A book which traces the cultural history of the giraffe is called ‘Tall Blondes‘, by Lynne Sherr, which looks at the cultural history of the giraffe as an object of public fascination. As a result, giraffes were sent around the world by African kings as gifts, and the tradition dates all the way back to 270 BC. Can you imagine seeing a giraffe if you had never seen such a thing before? It must have been amazing. giraffe.jpgI mention this of international gifts because today, standing in line at Mailboxes Etc. a woman in front of me was sending her nephew in Australia something from Baby Gap via FedEx. The thing is, the woman was American, and so was her sister, she had just married an Australian and moved there. Even more remarkably, she had the option of having it sent there tomorrow morning before 11 am.

Now pause for a moment here. 1000 years ago people were sending Giraffes around the world, and people were amazed. In today’s society we can send clothing to the antipodes in less than 24hrs, and we’ve come to expect it… and don’t find it all that amazing. But yet we don’t see Giraffes as all that special. What high standards we have! But at the same time, we must marvel at how unimaginative we can sometimes be. Especially in the wine industry, there can be a lot of pissing and moaning and scepticism about the internet, and whether the 3 tier system will ever change etc. etc. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan highlights this phenomenon all too well. His main thesis is that man has never been able to predict what will happen, and that every major discovery and event in history has caught us completely by surprise. From the discovery of penicillin, to Black Thursday, almost everything in history has astonished the experts and upped the ante of the unpredictable.

We’re a remarkable species purely because we adapt so well to change. Adaptability is vital to survival, and thus it remains a wonder to me how big distributorships fail to see this. The Black Swan is right there in front of them in the form of direct shipping, and yet they refuse to see it or acknowledge it, and even spend good money trying to crush it. History should have taught them better, the only thing that stays the same is change.

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Posted in Lifestyle, Stories, Wine | 4 Comments »

  • http://www.pinotage.org Peter May

    I don’t follow this argument. Adaptability in the US wine market is deliberately inhibited by law – 3 tier system, bans on direct shipping etc. Change can’t happen because it is artificially restricted. We can predict exactly what will happen in the US if the restrictions are removed.

    It’s not that they can’t see the black swan; it’s there on their dining table plucked, stuffed and roasted.

  • http://www.pinotage.org Peter May

    I don’t follow this argument. Adaptability in the US wine market is deliberately inhibited by law – 3 tier system, bans on direct shipping etc. Change can’t happen because it is artificially restricted. We can predict exactly what will happen in the US if the restrictions are removed.

    It’s not that they can’t see the black swan; it’s there on their dining table plucked, stuffed and roasted.

  • http://www.grapethinking.com Ruarri

    It’s not prohibited in all states. And in states where it isn’t distributors are fighting to make it so. The thing is – the consumers didn’t realise how much of an issue it was until the movie Sideways, when they tried to order some of the Pinot Noirs. The laws were like a glass ceiling – and Sideways was the catalyst that made people walk into it. Now that they know their limitations – they’re beginning to fight against them. It has been a Black Swan in that sense – something that’s always been there, but has only been taken into account since consumers stumbled upon it. The law hasn’t changed – but since the discovery of the Black Swan, consumer’s discovery of the law has caused them to take a stance against it.

    Thanks for all the comments. I’m in Athens connecting to Lesbos now – just had a great weak on a little beach called Assos, which is on the Ionian. Went to a neat little vineyard called Robolla, which you may enjoy. Wine is okay. I’ll have to blog about it as soon as I get the time!

    Cheerz Pete,

    R

  • http://www.grapethinking.com Ruarri

    It’s not prohibited in all states. And in states where it isn’t distributors are fighting to make it so. The thing is – the consumers didn’t realise how much of an issue it was until the movie Sideways, when they tried to order some of the Pinot Noirs. The laws were like a glass ceiling – and Sideways was the catalyst that made people walk into it. Now that they know their limitations – they’re beginning to fight against them. It has been a Black Swan in that sense – something that’s always been there, but has only been taken into account since consumers stumbled upon it. The law hasn’t changed – but since the discovery of the Black Swan, consumer’s discovery of the law has caused them to take a stance against it.

    Thanks for all the comments. I’m in Athens connecting to Lesbos now – just had a great weak on a little beach called Assos, which is on the Ionian. Went to a neat little vineyard called Robolla, which you may enjoy. Wine is okay. I’ll have to blog about it as soon as I get the time!

    Cheerz Pete,

    R

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