Blue jeans, plastic waste and 30 years of the web

Planet Business: Why the hot ticket of the future may be a seat on the Oceania Express

British synchronised swimming duet Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe attempt their routine in a pool filled with plastic. Photograph: Nigel Davies / PA

British synchronised swimming duet Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe attempt their routine in a pool filled with plastic. Photograph: Nigel Davies / PA

 

Image of the week: Green routine

It’s hard enough being a synchronised swimmer without having to attempt a full routine in a pool laden with plastic bottles, carrier bags, toiletries and other unwelcome items. But that is exactly what the British synchro duet Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe have done in order to raise awareness of the disastrous effect that the eight million tonnes of plastic dumped in the world’s oceans every year is having on marine life.

The pair twirled, kicked and somersaulted through a routine amid a “slick” of plastic as part of the Swimming In It campaign to highlight the unpleasantness of this vast waste as well as what young people can and are doing to help end plastic pollution. Yes, they did go underwater and luckily they did find a way to resurface.

In numbers: Deeper pockets

166 Number of years ago that German immigrant Levi Strauss founded his eponymous company in San Francisco. It later became the first to manufacture blue jeans.

$6.2 billion Valuation that the company will now seek on Wall Street as it goes public again after three decades of private ownership.

$587 million Sum that the company, which will sport the stock market ticker LEVI, hopes to raise through the listing so it can fund an expansion of its denim empire.

Getting to know: Alex Jacquot

Alex Jacquot, chief executive and co-founder of airline Oceania Express, would like to be taken seriously. He’s 10 years old, which is why he might worry about being dismissed or patronised. The exact flight schedule of Oceania Express doesn’t appear to be public information just yet, but Jacquot says he has hired a full executive team – information he shared in a letter to Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

The Sydney schoolboy thought maybe Joyce could advise him on starting an airline that does non-stop flights from New South Wales to London (which Qantas is working on). “Put safety front and centre” was the key recommendation in Joyce’s “CEO to CEO” response, merrily posted on the airline’s social media accounts. The good news for Alex Jacquot is that Joyce is willing to share his expertise with a potential rival face-to-face on this occasion. The bad news for him is that no one really takes you seriously until you’re 47.

The list: Web dreamer

Every year, Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the world wide web, writes an open letter on the good stuff the web has done but also how it could be better. Here are five things he had to say this year to mark the 30th anniversary of his proposal for an “information management” system.

1. Widening divide. With each new feature and new website, the gap between online and offline people is getting bigger, “making it all the more imperative to make the web available for everyone”.

2. Dysfunction abounds. Deliberate, malicious actions such as harassment, hacking and criminal scams, alongside commercial models that have encouraged clickbait and the spread of misinformation, require new laws and system redesigns.

3. Don’t blame the technology. “If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”

4. It’s not all Facebook’s fault. “You can’t just blame one government, one social network or the human spirit.” That’s a simplistic narrative.

5. Dream a little. A collectively developed “contract for the web” could serve as a “guiding star” on the world’s journey from digital adolescence to digital maturity: “If we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”

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