Jesse Onslow Norton is a copywriter, editor and communications consultant, focusing on an intersection of macroeconomic trends, global markets, technology and finance. He is a director of the award-winning communication consultancy Flibl, based in Norwich, UK.
What path has your career taken?
After graduating from university with a politics degree I made the obvious transition into freelance web development. For a few years I built and managed e-commerce websites before having the opportunity to work with a small American company called Google on some dull mapping software. They didn’t think much of my ability to code, but liked my moxie enough to reassign me to a content editing position rather than just fire me.
As an editor responsible for a team of freelance writers it slowly dawned on me that I might not be too shabby at this writing nonsense, so I figured I’d see if anybody else would pay me for words. Turns out words are in quite short supply.
Now I meander around Asia and Europe looking for unique businesses, quirky characters and doomed communities to write about. Some of these oddities end up in fancy newspapers like The Guardian.
What brings you to Amsterdam?
All my connecting flights seem to go through Schiphol, but most of all it is the people that draw me back. Eccentric designers with artisanal bread side-hustles, hopeless hipsters with investment banking portfolios, and New Age business consultants who evangelise about tofu. Only these contradictory characters can make sense of Europe’s most picturesque city.
How often have you stayed at Zoku?
More times than I can remember. It all blurs into one after a while. It’s a crazy experiment in the future of living that somehow maintains an aura of stoic familiarity in the face ever-shifting personal circumstances, escalating geopolitical tensions and growingly insidious technological advances.
What’s a life-changing book, song, film or event you’d like to recommend to others?
When I was 14 I picked up a book called TechGnosis by a Californian deadhead called Erik Davis. It traced the roots of the early internet to pagan rituals and shamanic vision quests. It grounded me in the perspective that technology may be new and accelerating, but how it is experienced is fundamentally grounded in the same god delusions, arcane trickery and apocalyptic ideation that has shaped human experience since the dawn of time. And there’s something comforting about that, right?
Which book have you gifted the most, and why?
Douglas Coupland – The Age of Earthquakes. Canadian novelist and coiner of the term “Generation X” attempts to adapt Marshall McLuhan seminal media theory text The Medium is the Massage for the internet era. It’s short enough to read in one sitting and has lots of peculiar pictures. There are lots of distractions these days and I don’t want to encroach too much on their time with a silly gift.
What does home mean to you?
Home is an Airbnb investment where I can stash my book collection.