Meatspace Shopping and Web 2.0

May 28, 2008

My Moleskine Notebook is one of my few Savage Indulgences*. Despite the fact that I have readily available at my desk my iPhone, my BlackBerry, notepad.exe,, PowerPoint, and countless other technologically advanced offerings that could easily supplant my Moleskine, I still like to have this clunky oilskin notebook with my horribly unintelligible scrawl to refer to in meetings and to keep track of my progress on various ongoing projects. However, due to a poorly thought out partitioning scheme several months ago, my current Moleskine is going EOL, and I have to replace it. Naturally, savagery begets savagery, so I am being forced to leave the air conditioned confines of my office and I must venture into meatspace to do some shopping. However, that doesn’t mean I have to be completely unarmed for such a task…


I’m combinng my moleskine shopping with some other tasks. I need to buy some new pens and highlighters as well, and some sticky tabs for the moleskine. I’m also continuing my search for the Holy Grail of wallets (id window, space for bills, slim); a friend tipped me off to the Bosca Small ID Wallet which looks like it might be The One, and I notice that Saks Fifth carries Bosca. I’m planning to do this all in a half hour lunch break from work, so I’m also going to pick up lunch from one of my favorite food carts, Kwik Meal.

I start out with a tool that Esther just noted on Google Reader earlier today: Text 2 Mind Map. Basically I put my shopping list in a simple text format like this:
Shopping List
Fine-tipped pens
Office Depot
4x6 Scotch Pads
Sticky Labels
Barnes and Noble
Moleskine Reporter Notebook
Saks Fifth Avenue
Bosca Slim ID Wallet
Kwik Meal
Lamb and Chicken Rice

and I end up with this:

It’s pretty but it’s not quite what I’m looking for. I wonder if there were any google mashups that would do something like this, and lo-and-behold, it turns out this functionality is already built into google maps, in a fashion.

Some quick searches and tags later and I end up with this:

View Larger Map

OK, ready to roll.

So it’s a beautiful day out in Manhattan, so it’s starting to look like this whole meatspace shopping might not be so bad after all BUT on my very first stop, I find that the Google Maps search for the Kinokuniya is outdated, and the space is now some kind of horrible tourist trap related to Rockefeller Plaza. While I could blame this on google not updating soon enough, I’m going to be fickle and use this as an example why meatspace shopping is vastly inferior to online shopping.
Internet 1, Meatspace 0.

My second stop (using the Dijkstra’s algorithm shortist path!) is Saks Fifth Avenue. I wait forever for the elevator to go to the 6th Floor, and I look at their selection of Bosca Wallets and I’m horribly disappointed to find that they don’t carry the one I’m looking for. The only id window wallet they have is a bulky brown monster, and isn’t what I’m looking for at all.
Internet 2, Meatspace 0.

I’m on my way to my third stop, Barnes and Noble when I run into a pleasant surprise. While I had been planning to buy my sticky labels at the Office Depot on 43rd Street, I ran into a Staples 2 blocks farther north, which cuts my trip down a little bit. This is an unintended benefit of meatspace, so I am grudgingly giving them a point (However, they almost lost the point for playing a horrible muzak cover of Heart’s Alone). I buy my sticky labels and some Pentel Flair Pens (not the cool japanese pens I was hoping to buy at Kinokuniya, but oh well).
Internet 2, Meatspace 1.

Barnes and Noble is next. While they sell Moleskines at MSRP which is such a ripoff, I still just buy it. Pretty quick.
Internet 2, Meatspace 2.

Any good venture into Meatspace should end with actual meat, and today is no exception. I stop at the aforementioned Kwik Meal, and the line is surprisingly short. It’s lamb and chicken marinated with papaya, coriander, and whatever unearthly spicy goodness that makes this the best cart in midtown during the day.
Internet 2, Meatspace 3.

All in all, it looks like Meatspace is about to win, when suddenly I round the corner on 5th avenue and am treated to Hello Kitty in a coconut bra:

Meatspace forfeits all points and does not pass go!
Internet 2, Meatspace negative a billion.

My collection of Savage Indulgences includes but is not limited to: comic books, the non-digital SLR that I never use, the fact that I sometimes order from restaurants that aren’t on SeamlessWeb, my love of index cards.

Written by Will who lives and works in New York. You should follow him on Twitter.