“Every coffee place looks the same,” Schwarzmann says. The new cafe resembles all the other coffee shops Foursquare suggests, whether in Odessa, Beijing, Los Angeles, or Seoul: the same raw wood tables, exposed brick, and hanging Edison bulbs.
It’s not that these generic cafes are part of global chains like Starbucks or Costa Coffee, with designs that spring from the same corporate cookie cutter. Rather, they have all independently decided to adopt the same faux-artisanal aesthetic. Digital platforms like #Foursquare are producing “a harmonization of tastes” across the world
#Airbnb is a prominent example. Even as it markets unique places as consumable goods, it helps its users travel without actually having to change their environment, or leave the warm embrace of AirSpace.
In April of this year, another [Airbnb] spot parodied tourist behavior — selfie sticks, Segway tours — and set it against the “authentic” activities — falling asleep on the couch reading a book or watching your child build a pillow fort — enabled by a stay with one of the platform’s hosts. It offered a vision of possessiveness, in which visitors consume recognizable symbols rather than encountering unfamiliar ones: “The local coffee shop is yours, too.”