The rapid rise of Slow TV

Another Scandinavian TV revolution will sweep across British screens this week. Only this time there will be no grisly murders, imploding families or detectives in woolly jumpers. This time not much will happen at all.

Instead, BBC Four will broadcast a two-hour canal journey in real time. No soundtrack, no host or voiceover, no fancy camerawork; just a serene, unedited pootle through the British countryside.

To many viewers that may sound like a one-way ticket to Planet Boring. Cue jokes about watching paint dry. But the BBC’s first foray into the world of “Slow TV” is actually a wise and welcome move.

Why? Because so much television nowadays is too fast for its own good. Desperate to hold our attention, broadcasters bombard us with crashing scores, breathless voiceovers, hyperactive hosts, split screens and dizzying edits. My pet peeve: announcers yelling about what’s Coming Up Next as soon as the final credits start rolling. It’s frantic, shallow and dispiriting.

Slow TV is an antidote to all that. It is not a return to the television of the 1950s. Who wants that? On the contrary, it’s a glimpse into the future, a marker for how technology can help us stop and stare.

Slow TV is a Zen experience, like doing yoga on a deserted beach or slipping into a hot bath. By serving up an unfiltered, real-time, high-definition window on the world, it encourages us to notice and savour the details, texture and fine grain of what’s around us. Take that canal trip. From the comfort of your own sofa, you can revel in the gentle joys and modest pleasures of the British countryside: spotting wildlife, commenting on the weather and ignoring fellow ramblers.

Slow TV can even spur deeper reflection. Because there is no narrative it is up to the viewer to search for meaning in the images and sounds on the screen. Slow TV becomes a backdrop or a canvas upon which to weave our own stories.

Norway invented Slow TV, and the BBC version is small beer by comparison. The first show featured the view from a train travelling seven hours from Bergen to Oslo. Then came 12 hours of knitting. Slow TV finally hit the jackpot with a five-day boat journey. More than half the Norwegian population tuned in and the trip sparked a carnival of audience participation, with viewers lining the fjords and hundreds of private boats chugging along in its wake. Even Queen Sonja of Norway put in a cameo by waving regally from her yacht.

Slow TV is unlikely to make the same waves here. But it does open a new chapter in British television. The relentless pace of modern life takes a heavy toll on everything from our health and happiness to our relationships and communities to our ability to work and think. That’s why a Slow Movement is on the rise. Think Slow Food, Slow Sex, Slow Education, Slow Exercise, Slow Management, Slow Medicine, Slow Travel and so on.

Because “Slow” is not a Luddite throwback, its forward-looking adherents are also seeking ways to harness technology. Just look at the boom in meditation or mindfulness apps. Slow TV is the next step – and it’s spreading fast. A US version is now in the pipeline.

So let’s thank BBC Four for this feast of slowness. If the canal trip doesn’t float your boat, you can always watch artisans crafting a wooden chair or a steel knife, or take a leisurely tour through the National Gallery. As Mae West famously observed, “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.” And that includes TV.

(First published in Radio Times)

I walk, therefore I am

I went for a walk the other day.

Not just any old walk, mind you. I spent a day rambling along the coast with a man who is traveling the length of the Mediterranean Sea on foot.

One of our stops while walking the Costa Brava: Pals, Spain

One of our stops while walking the Costa Brava: Pals, Spain

Juraj Horniak calls his quixotic year-long odyssey the 8 Million Steps. His aim: to explore the tradition of slow living in southern Europe.

And what better way to do so than on foot? After all, walking can be a supreme act of slowness.

Nowadays, though, faster forms of transport, powered by engines, winged and wheeled, hold sway. When we do walk, it’s often with a very modern blend of impatience, distraction and hunger for achievement.

Witness the rise of speed walking and power walking. The boom in gadgets for counting steps. Or the wired hordes scuttling along with eyes glued to their smartphones. No wonder the World Health Organization described walking as a “forgotten art.”

It is an art worth preserving. Walking is the workout that Mother Nature designed for the human body. But it also does wonders for the mind and the soul.

When you walk without purpose or haste, with nothing more to do than put one foot in front of the other, you start to see the world afresh. You notice flowers and trees and birds, the shapes of clouds in the sky, hills on the horizon, architectural quirks and flourishes, the faces of passersby.

Quick selfie on the Slow walk on the Costa Brava.

Quick selfie on the Slow walk on the Costa Brava.

You also come to know yourself better, thanks to the internal monologue that is the soundtrack of every good walk.

By relaxing the mind, walking turns on the creative taps, too. Ernest Hemingway went for a stroll whenever he felt deflated by the blank page. “I would walk…when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out,” he wrote. “It was easier to think if I was walking.”

Nietzsche put it more succinctly: “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

A recent study by Stanford University showed that even walking on a treadmill gets the creative juices flowing.

Small wonder then that many thinkers have written about the power and the glory of a good stroll: Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, WG Sebald, Henry David Thoreau, Thomas De Quincey, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Bruce Chatwin.

As the speed of everything ramps up in the 21st century, a renaissance in walking could even be the first step to kicking the modern habit of hurry.

After all, everyone has their own natural walking speed, their own tempo giusto. You know when you’re doing it too quickly (or too slowly) because it just feels wrong.

The same goes for life in general. When you’re living too fast, you feel out of sorts. When you slow down to your own tempo, everything feels right.

Checking out the frescoes in one of the houses built in the 19th century by merchants spending fortunes amassed in Cuba back home in Begur, Spain.

Checking out the frescoes in one of the houses built in the 19th century by merchants spending fortunes amassed in Cuba back home in Begur, Spain.

 

Done properly, walking can reintroduce us to the idea of living at the tempo giusto. To enjoying what sociologist Franco Cassano described as “the sweet anarchy of inventing your own path, every single moment.”

That was how my walk with Juraj felt. We set off along Spain’s Costa Brava on a morning of blue skies and bright sunshine. Our path meandered up and down hills, through forests and small villages, past ancient stone walls, alongside steep, rocky cliffs rising up from quiet coves and inlets. Parts of the trail had been worn into the ground by shepherds tending their flocks over the centuries.

Stairway to heaven: One of the many inlets and small coves along the Costa Brava.

Stairway to heaven: One of the many inlets and small coves along the Costa Brava.

We paused to marvel at unusual rock formations  and a butterfly of such ethereal colouring that it must have floated in from a Gabriel García Márquez novel. We stopped to gaze at boats bobbing on the glistening, rippled surface of the Mediterranean. Or to inhale the sea air and bask in the simple joy of walking in a beautiful place.

Along the way, we chatted about food, travel, family, books, art, history, music and everything else. But there were also interludes of companionable silence, moments for arranging our own thoughts or just letting the mind wander.

At one point we took a wrong turn and got lost. But neither of us minded since hurry was not part of the excursion. Plus the unplanned detour served up a sweeping view of the coastline we would not have seen otherwise. Finding our way back to the path turned into a small adventure that had us giggling like schoolboys.

After the day’s walk, we spent the evening in a restaurant in Begur, drinking cold white wine and chomping through platter after platter of local seafood, including a “sklop,” a rare prehistoric crustacean that looked like an extra from Jurassic Park.

In one of those delicious twists of fate, the fisherman who had landed the ugly creature that morning was sitting at a nearby table. When he saw us tucking into his elusive quarry, he bought a round of drinks.

IMG_4950_2

Juraj holding up the sklop before handing it over to the chef….

 

I went to bed that night feeling full in every sense of the word. Stuffed from the meal, of course. But my mind, my heart and my spirit were also brimming over.

That is what walking can do for you.

It’s also what makes 8 Million Steps a wonderful undertaking, and Juraj a very lucky man….

The sign says it all, really….

Pit-stop on the Costa Brava

Pit-stop on the Costa Brava

The Slow University?

Not long ago I delivered a Slow sermon in Vienna.

Well, not exactly a sermon. More a secular keynote to a group of high-octane business folk.

But the venue itself could not have been more holy: a thousand-year-old crypt with gilded altarpieces, flickering candles and burning incense. With thick walls blocking out phone and WiFi signals, the silence felt almost spiritual.

After my talk on the virtues of slowing down, the church’s monsignor, who also attended the soirée, came up to me to make a confession.

“As I was listening to you, I suddenly realised how easy it is for all of us to get infected by the impatience of the modern world,” he said. “Lately, I must admit, I have been praying too fast.”

We both laughed at the irony of a man of the cloth behaving like a man in a suit, but his transgression underlined just how far the virus of hurry has spread.

These days, it’s not just high-octane business people living in fast forward. Even those who devote their lives to serene contemplation in thousand-year-old crypts can end up racing the clock.

My encounter with the fast-praying monsignor came to mind the other day in Durham, England.

I was up north attending a seminar entitled The Slow University? Its purpose: To explore whether higher-education could benefit from an injection of slowness.

Now, if you haven’t set foot on a campus for a while, your first response to that proposition might be: Isn’t university life already slow enough?

Surely it’s all about sandal-wearing professors leafing through dusty tomes and students rolling out of bed at noon to watch TV quiz shows. And think of all that vacation time!

Actually, that caricature bears scant resemblance to university life today.  The rising cost of tuition has helped to change the mood. But campus-dwellers also face the same forces that fuel the culture of speed everywhere else: the obsession with targets and measurable outcomes, competition, budget cuts, technology, social media, the cult of multitasking.

Like most institutions in this age of austerity, universities are under pressure to do more with less. Academics have to work longer hours and publish or perish; students feel compelled to rush through their degree with jam-packed schedules. Walk around any campus and you’ll find most of the denizens tethered to beeping tablets and vibrating iPhones.

The Durham University seminar was a wake-up call.

About 30 academics and postgraduates from a range of disciplines gathered in a cramped room to chew over what speed and slowness mean to college life. Their chief lament: the cult of speed is crowding out high-calibre thinking.

“You just don’t have enough time to mull things over, to let an idea simmer in the back of your mind, to build an argument slowly, ” said one professor. “It’s all about getting whatever thoughts you have right now out into the world, even if they’re only half-baked.”

This is a lamentable state of affairs.

Of course, thinking fast can be immensely useful. Sometimes an off-the-cuff tweet or a heat-of-the-moment blog is just what the doctor ordered. But not always.

Often it pays to think more slowly. When we are calm, unhurried and free from stress and distractions, the brain slips into a richer, more nuanced and more creative mode of thought. Some call this Slow Thinking, and the best minds have always understood its power.

Milan Kundera talked about “the wisdom of slowness.” Albert Einstein was famous for spending ages staring into space in his office at Princeton University. Charles Darwin called himself a “slow thinker.”

That slower, deeper thinking paves the way for the sort of ideas that turn the world upside down and win Nobel prizes. It cannot be measured, timetabled or accelerated. It cannot be switched on or off to meet someone else’s target. It simply happens. Or rather it happens when people are given the time, space and freedom to let the mind wander and play with ideas.

In our impatient, data-drenched, turbo-charged world, we need Slow Thinking more than ever. As Boris Pasternak said in 1917: “In an epoch of speed, one must think slowly.”

Perhaps universities, which first sprang up as havens for deep thinking and patient learning, could lead the charge.

Already, people on campuses around the world are rallying to the idea that slowing down would foster better thinking, learning and research. Just look at the movements for Slow Scholarship and Slow Science.

Or at the letter penned by the dean of Harvard’s undergraduate school urging students to shift into a lower gear. Its title: Slow Down: Getting More Out Of Harvard By Doing Less

The Durham seminar was just a starting point, with more questions than answers. The aim is to build a series of debates to thrash out whether our universities should reconnect with their inner tortoise and how to make that happen.

Where will it all lead? What would a Slow university actually look like?

At this point, no one really knows. But I’m praying (slowly, of course!) that something useful comes out of this….

Behind the Scenes on The Slow Coach (BBC)

Just finished a two-part programme for BBC Radio 4. It’s called The Slow Coach, and in it I try to help three people apply the principles of Slow in their own lives. More details down below.

It airs on 12th and 19th August 2013 at 11am, BBC Radio 4.

In the meantime, here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the recording:

Getting ready for a grilling by the redoubtable Liz Barclay

Getting ready for a grilling by the redoubtable Liz Barclay

 

Did I really say that?

Did I really say that?

 

Tackling skeptical Liz head-on...

Tackling skeptical Liz head-on…

 

All smiles by the end...

All smiles by the end…

 

The three participants have their say...

The three participants have their say…

 

So, how long have we been recording?

So, how long have we been recording?

 

Wow! Time flies...when you're slowing down

Wow! Time flies…when you’re slowing down

 

Here’s the blurb from Loftus, the production company:

 

Liz Barclay follows three busy people on a bold experiment to slow down their pace of life. Their ‘slow coach’ is Carl Honoré, once a speedy journalist, now spokesperson for a global ‘Slow Movement’. He argues that our increasing obsession with speed means we race through life instead of actually living it – by finding a better balance between fast and slow, we’ll increase our wellbeing, creativity and productivity. It’s a compelling theory, but does it work?

Three volunteers have agreed to put Carl’s theories to the test by following his advice over the course of one month – working mum Lizzie, business owner Steve and volunteer Scott. We follow their successes and struggles.

 

Slow Fixing the Environment

The other day a woman walked into a doctor’s surgery and issued a demand that summed up why the world is in such a mess.

“Look, I know I have a million things wrong with me, but I really don’t want a lecture,” she announced. “I just want a pill that will make it all go away.”

The doctor, an old friend of mine, waited for the woman to laugh at her own joke. But she didn’t. Because it wasn’t a joke.

Of course, her craving for a quick fix is nothing new. Two thousand years ago, Plutarch denounced the army of quacks peddling miracle cures to the citizens of Ancient Rome.

Today, however, the quick fix has become the default setting in every walk of life. Whenever a problem surfaces in business or politics, in science or society, in our health or relationships, we reach for the nearest just-add-water solution. And it’s taking a heavy toll.

Why? Because quick fixes seldom deliver on their seductive promise of maximum return for minimum effort. When it comes to the really hard problems in the world – turning around a failing company, combatting poverty, tackling disease, rebuilding a broken relationship –  there are no shortcuts or instant remedies.

This is especially true when dealing with Mother Nature. Everywhere you look, quick fixes are failing to solve environmental problems – and often just making things worse.

One example: To clean up the oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, BP pumped more than seven million liters of a dispersant called Corexit into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Such chemicals help make the oil less visible and prevent it reaching the shore.

A win-win fix, right? Wrong. Recent studies have shown that combining oil and Corexit yields a mixture that is up to 52 times more toxic than oil by itself. Which is seriously bad news for the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

The good news is there is now an alternative to our culture of the quick fix. It’s called, not surprisingly, the Slow Fix.

You may have heard of the Slow Movement, which challenges the canard that faster is always better. You don’t have to ditch your career, toss the iPhone or join a commune to take part. Living “Slow” just means doing everything at the right speed—quickly, slowly, or at whatever pace delivers the best results.

When it comes to solving problems, a speedy solution can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered. There are times when you have to channel MacGyver, reach for the duct tape and cobble together whatever fix works right now. The Heimlich manoeuvre saves many lives.

But for more complex problems, the best remedy is always a Slow Fix. That means taking the time to: admit and learn from mistakes; work out the root causes of the problem; sweat the small stuff; think long-term and join the dots to build holistic solutions; seek ideas from everywhere; work with others and share the credit; build up expertise while remaining skeptical of experts; think alone and together; tap emotions; enlist an inspiring leader; consult and even recruit those closest to the problem; turn the search for a fix into a game; have fun, follow hunches, adapt, use trial and error, and embrace uncertainty.

All these ingredients can be used to tackle problems afflicting the environment. Just imagine if BP had sweated the small stuff by testing Corexit more thoroughly for side effects.

Yet forging smarter solutions for environmental problems will never be enough on its own. Each win for Mother Nature must be anchored in a deeper, seismic shift that puts nurturing the planet’s ecology at the core of everything we do. Imagine a world where we did not feel compelled to run the risks that BP did hunting for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, we need a revolution in the way we live, work, travel, consume – and think.

Making that happen will be the biggest Slow Fix of all.

It will not be easy to achieve. In these times of economic hardship, many people are more worried about paying their bills than nurturing the environment. But there are reasons to be hopeful. A new generation is coming of age that sees the world through an environmental lens. Companies and governments are coming under increasing pressure from the public to act green. Last November, for the first time ever, China made “ecological progress” a pillar of its national development plan.

Putting the environment at the top of the agenda must go hand in hand with beating our addiction to the quick fix. In every walk of life, the time has come to resist the siren call of half-baked solutions and short-term palliatives, of band-aid cures and pills that “make it all go away,” and to start fixing things properly.

The time has come to learn the art of the Slow Fix.

 

Guest Blog: the power of Daydreaming

POST BY GUEST BLOGGER

This is a post from Del Shannon, a civil engineer who also writes books for children. His full bio is down below.

Here he muses on the joys and benefits of daydreaming, for grown-ups and kids.

Hope you enjoy it!

 

BY DEL SHANNON

My wife, when she’s not infuriated by the behavior, calmly points out to nearly everyone she meets that I disappear sometimes. I’ve tried to politely point out that this most often happens when she’s making a very important point about one of her sisters, but I’ve learned this isn’t a viable defense and so now I just keep my mouth shut.

Fascinating conversations about my wife’s sisters aside, I’ve been doing this – call it daydreaming, escaping, out-to-lunch, zoning out – all my life. When I first read the “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I thought James Thurber had somehow crawled inside my head, taken a few notes, and changed my name to Walter before writing his short story.

Even amongst the frustrations this causes to those around me I’ve never tried to seriously rein in this little quirk about my personality. Being able to let my mind wander to distant lands while someone raged for 15 minutes about the misuse of assigned parking spaces during a work meeting was a pretty handy little skill. Why would I mess with that?

While it is tempting to offer up this behavior as irresponsible or even immature, recent research is pointing to the very tangible benefits of daydreaming and exploring your imagination. A March 2012 study in the online journal Psychological Science found a direct correlation between the amount of daydreaming a person does and their working memory capacity. In general terms, the higher an individual’s working memory capacity the higher their reading comprehension, IQ score and other measures of intelligence.

It turns out we all get distracted, but the authors found that those with the highest working memory capacity were those who let their mind wander and daydream the most. On the surface, that can appear counterintuitive. The smartest people are also those who can’t stay focused on a single task? But when you dig into it a bit you start to see the logic. Levinson and Davidson found that your working memory also works to prioritize the most pressing problems from the also-rans. It’s as if the brain, all on its own, bypasses the boring parking space meeting and gets back to the real problems at hand.

Creatively solving these problems is also directly impacted by daydreaming. In a 2009 Psychology Today article about the benefits of daydreaming, Columbia University cognitive psychologist Malia Fox Mason reinforced this idea. “By allowing your mind the freedom to roam, the chances that you’re going to have an insight are much higher. It’s likely that you are going to recombine pieces of information in a novel way.”

All of this brings us to a paradox. I would argue that most of us want to better ourselves, our lives, our position in this world, and to do this we are often shown the template of working harder, learning more, cramming more into your day as the path to achieve these things. It would be folly to try and disagree that this path has led many to better financial lives.

But there might be another, less obvious path to consider as well. By slowing down and allowing more time to let our minds wander, daydream, and revel in the deliciousness of unscheduled hours, you may actually be accomplishing more than the person who schedules their day into 15 minute increments. Very few will argue with the physical benefits of slowing down your life, and now there appears to be tangible productive benefits as well to slowness. By slowing down, our minds are allowed more freedom to daydream, sort through the long list of priorities we all carry around, and approach problems from unique perspectives. Conversations with your spouse’s/partner’s/roommate’s/co-worker’s siblings is a highly recommended place to start.

The same holds for our children. From over-scheduling in the name of cramming as much knowledge as possible into their heads, to stifling their daydreaming by labeling it unproductive, many of our children have been boxed into unimaginative and monochromatic lives. Providing our kids the time and freedom to daydream, explore and imagine on their own is a vital part of their development and we should be encouraging they do more of it…preferably while wearing a cape and a mask.

 

Del Shannon is a civil engineer who designs and constructs (and sometimes even deconstucts) dams around the world. When not damming, he has written award-winning essays and children’s stories. His first children’s book was the serialized novella The Map, published in several newspapers. Captain Disaster is his second, a novel. Del lives with his family in Colorado and always seems to be daydreaming of Captain Disaster (which you can order here!).

Time for The Slow Fix

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?

 

Still hitting the gym every day? Eating more healthily? Putting your finances in order?

 

Thought so.

 

Most of us struggle to last a week on a new regime before sliding back into bad old habits. We lack the willpower to make deep and lasting changes in our lives. What we really want when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is a quick fix.

 

Shortcut solutions to life’s problems are not new. Two thousand years ago, Plutarch denounced the army of quacks peddling miracle cures to the citizens of Ancient Rome.

 

But in today’s on-demand, just-add-water culture, the quick fix has become our default setting in every walk of life. And that is taking a toll.

 

Why? Because quick fixes seldom deliver on their seductive promise of maximum return for minimum effort. Whether it’s mending a failing company, tackling poverty, treating an illness, or rebuilding a broken relationship, the hardest problems are too complex for band-aid cures.

 

Newsflash: there is no such thing as “One Tip to a Flat Stomach.”

 

The good news is there is now an alternative to the quick fix. It’s called, not surprisingly, the Slow Fix.

 

You may have heard of the Slow Movement, which challenges the canard that faster is always better. You don’t have to ditch your career, toss the iPhone, or join a commune to take part. Living “Slow” just means doing everything at the right speed—quickly, slowly, or at whatever pace delivers the best results.

 

In other words, fast fixes are sometimes just what the doctor ordered. For certain problems, you have to channel MacGyver, reach for the duct tape, and cobble together whatever solution works right now. Think patching up a wounded soldier on the battlefield or saving someone from choking on a morsel of food by administering the Heimlich manoeuvre.

 

But when faced with more complex problems, the best policy is usually to apply a Slow Fix.

 

That means taking the time to: admit and learn from mistakes; work out the root causes of the problem; sweat the small stuff; think long and connect the dots to build holistic solutions; seek ideas from everywhere; work with others and share the credit; build up expertise while remaining skeptical of experts; think alone and together; tap emotions; enlist an inspiring leader; consult and even recruit those closest to the problem; turn the search for a fix into a game; have fun, follow hunches, adapt, use trial and error, and embrace uncertainty.

 

All of this takes time, and in our impatient world that can seem like an indulgence or a luxury. But the Slow Fix is neither. It’s actually a smart and essential investment in the future. Put in the time, effort, and resources to start tackling a problem thoroughly today, and reap the benefits tomorrow.

 

Around the world, you see more and more examples of the Slow Fix in action: Couples rebooting damaged relationships. Families ending feuds. Children resolving playground conflicts. People finding lasting ways to lose weight and boost their health. By applying a Slow Fix, I am finally conquering a back problem that has bothered me for more than 20 years.

 

Slow Fixes are also making inroads on problems that go way beyond the personal sphere: Reformers rescuing a failing school in Los Angeles. Norway and Singapore slashing recidivism rates among criminals. Spain transforming its organ transplant system into the envy of the world. A project lifting children out of poverty in New York. Costa Rican coffee farmers freeing themselves from the vagaries of the international commodity market. Formula One engineers fine-tuning the fastest cars on the planet. Doctors making fewer mistakes. Companies boosting sales and productivity. Designers building better stuff. Scientists making surprising breakthroughs. Developing nations rolling back tropical diseases.

 

Everywhere you look, from the personal to the collective, the problems we face are more complex and more pressing than ever before. Quick fixes are not the answer.

 

The time has come to resist the siren call of half-baked solutions and short-term palliatives and start fixing things properly.

 

The time has come to learn the art of the Slow Fix.

 

 

 

 

 

Brands go Slow

These days, everyone is jumping on the Slow bandwagon – even some who don’t really belong there.

Many brands are now using the language of Slow to sell us stuff. Audi launched a sedan in Britain a few years ago under the slogan: The slowest car we’ve ever built. And they didn’t mean their new sedan would struggle to overtake a Lada on the highway. They mean we built this car with care and attention – when they say the “slowest” car we’ve ever built, they really mean the “best” car we’ve ever built.

The Orange telephone network ran a campaign saying “Good things happen when your phone is switched off.” Not an act of commercial suicide: they know we will always use our phones. But Orange wanted to link itself to the growing desire people have to unplug from technology so the can slow down, enjoy the moment and connect with other people in a way that is deeper and more meaningful than a text message.

The Kit Kat campaign to set up No Wi-Fi zones (see picture above) taps into the same vibe.

In a similar vein, Haagen Dazs recently launched a new line of ice creams in Spain. You have to take the ice cream out of the freezer and wait 12 minutes for the centre to soften and for the flavours to develop. And the advertising campaign made a virtue of slowing down and waiting for that perfect moment of pleasure.

In 2011 the Paris Fair (La Foire de Paris) chose “Slow Time” as its theme.

What does all this mean for the Slow revolution? It cuts both ways.

The danger is that companies and brands use “Slow” to sell products and services that have nothing to do with the Slow philosophy. This is inevitable. And some are already stretching the link with Slow to breaking point. One example: last year, the world’s first Slow Mall opened in downtown Santiago, Chile.

But I think people are intelligent enough to see through the dishonest use of the Slow creed. And on the positive side: the fact that so many brands are using Slow to market themselves, even if they are not Slow, shows just how far this cultural revolution has spread.

It also adds to the chorus in favour of deceleration. Advertising is the wallpaper of our lives, and it usually bombards us with the message that there is never enough time and we have to buy more and more things to help us to do everything faster and faster.

My hope is that introducing even just a few ads that sing the virtues of slowing down makes it easier for us to contemplate putting on the breaks.

What do you think?