Charlotte Street Partners



From Antarctica to TikTok

Written by Malcolm Robertson, founding partner
4 July 2020

Good morning,

It’s difficult to know where to begin with this week’s reading list. We range from the uplifting research that finds marked change in Canadian birdsong to the perils of WhatsApp, Idris Elba’s impassioned plea to support the independent cinema, Europe (remember that?) and the Irish dancing phenomenon sweeping TikTok. It’s quite a mix. 

However, we start this week with some powerful images from Antarctica, courtesy of The Atlantic. I was supposed to be walking to the South Pole next year, not only to satisfy a desire to do something crazy before I turn 50, but to raise money for the brilliant Polar Academy. That adventure has been put back a year for understandable reasons, but the old car tyre I will haul around the Scottish hills in preparation will soon be put back to good use.  

The Polar Academy is a Scottish charity that inspires secondary school children through the power of exploration, in its case in Arctic Greenland, redefining their mental and physical limits and building self-esteem and resilience. The importance of an organisation like that seems more important than ever (see ‘the lost generation of Covid’ below) and if you don’t know the academy, you should look it up and wonder how you can help. 

Whatever you’re doing, please enjoy our eclectic reading list and have a restful weekend. 

Scenes from Antarctica 

Here’s a bit of escapism to start your weekend. These recent photographs of the Antarctic landscape, wildlife, and research facilities are sure to have you immersed in snowy, lost scenes. Prepare for an icy expedition from your sofa. 

See on The Atlantic 

Canadian birdsong

As a company, difference is one of our values and it even forms our tagline: “from a different place”. In a world of some cultural monochrome, this story from the New Scientist delighted us. It tells us that for sparrows, difference, local accents and innovation in their song is, well, okay. At least in Canada. 

Read on New Scientist 

“I want my Europe back

As quarantine restrictions begin to lift in the UK, this article had us dreaming of our next foray overseas. But as Kuper reminds us; the right to sip espresso on an Italian piazza, or take the train from the Atlantic to the Adriatic, has been hard won, and is only made more precious in the age of Covid or Brexit. Cross-border exchange is Europe’s biggest selling point and it’s a dream worth protecting.

Read on Financial Times

What’s wrong with WhatsApp 

The popularity of WhatsApp has risen more sharply than other online media during the lockdown. Amidst the chaos and fake news perpetuating Twitter and Facebook, many found comfort in the privacy of the WhatsApp group chat. However, this article presents us with a different perspective: that there are in fact many things wrong with the app. 

Read on The Guardian 

Idris Elba on the survival of independent cinemas 

Luther actor Idris Elba makes a much-needed plea for government funding to save independent cinemas. His thoughts on on-screen diversity are timely and important. “Our cultural recovery is as important as our economic recovery: they are completely intertwined.” A wonderful piece, well worth your time. 

Read on The Times

The lost generation of Covid 

We’ve recently subscribed to Tortoise and we’re discovering some of their journalistic gems. This is one of them. Young people are disproportionately affected by the current economic crisis: “a tsunami of job losses” awaits them. Young people entering the job market are becoming drowned in existential angst. Who will fight for them? 

Read on Tortoise 

Irish dancing finding new life on Tik Tok 

Many will know that the video-sharing app Tik Tok has been the social media queen of quarantine. The likes of Lizzo, the Kardashians, and even Judi Dench have made an appearance on the platform. However, one unexpected star of the show has been Irish dancing, which has gained unprecedented popularity on Tik Tok. The spectacular intricate footwork à la Riverdance has found a new stage and attracted many new dancers. 

Read on New Statesman

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