Dear readers of RollingAlpha.com
Today is the 1st of January, 2015.
I am actually writing this to you from two weeks in the past, whilst sitting in an airport lounge and waiting to catch a flight to Durban. So from the Jayson-of-two-weeks-ago, Happy New Year and rich blessings for the year ahead.
The reason that you are hearing from the ghost of Jayson past: I am currently on holiday. So I did my yearly reflections in advance, and prepped a series of blog posts to keep you (hopefully) entertained for the next almost-three weeks.
So let me give you some context for the upcoming series of short blog posts. For me, 2014 was the year of two things:
- First off, it was the Year of the Podcast. If anyone is yet to listen to Serial, then you don’t know what you’re missing. I think that the world will one day look back on the past year as the one in which podcasts became properly mainstream.
- Secondly, and more importantly, it was the Year of Contemporary Art Investment. You just had to cast a casual eye at the auction space and the Miami Basel Art Fair to see that the next port of call for all that QE money is alternative assets.
I’ll get back to the podcasts in a moment, but let me start with the art.
So I too have dared to dip my toe into the alternative asset classes. And here is my most recent and most delighting purchase*:
*forgive me if I sound like I’m gloating – I’m really just pleased to share it. But also to gloat. Mea culpa.
It’s called “A Geological Map of the Foot” by a South African artist called Gerhard Marx. What he has done is take an old map (of the Free State, by the look of it), dice it up, and then reconstruct it – using the contour lines, rivers and land boundaries to form the outline and bone structure of a foot.
And you might think that I came upon it by accident – but this is not true. I have coveted one of the Marx map creations. Because it seems that I have a map fetish. And that fetish began with a series of podcasts (I’m back to the podcasts!) arranged by the Undercover Economist, Tim Harford.
Here are download links for those podcasts:
The thing about maps is that I think we underestimate them. Or, rather, their impact. Just think of how arbitrary the line is between this country and that one next door. It’s put in place by geographers and politicians. But because of that hypothetical boundary line, we have to apply for work permits and passports and not always successful.
But maps also communicate and distill. They take land and re-scape it to illustrate inequality, water distress, penis size, brand loyalty, and so on.
Maps shape the way we perceive the world. And that’s what makes them interesting.
So for the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting a map a day. For two reasons:
- Because they really are interesting; and
- Because the alternative involves writing ±15,000 words of blog posts.
Enjoy, and Happy 2015.