Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

My new cafe… and bank

I’m spending the morning at Cafe Zoë, writing to a lot of people. I never expected, when I started working as a futurist, that I would have to calculate what time it was in Beijing and Budapest, and make sure to get some e-mails out while people are still in their offices or awake. But that’s my life these days.


I’ve been coming to this cafe for a couple years now (actually, a quick check of my external memory– aka the blog archive– reveals its been four years and one month), and this morning I discovered a new function. I got to the counter, realized I didn’t have any money, and apologized and told them I’d be back.

“It’s okay,” the owner said. “You can owe us. It’s not the first time you’re here.” She pulled out a book with IOU on the front– I guess there are plenty of people who come here a little absent-minded– and wrote down my order.

It makes perfect sense. Unless I want to never come back here, I’m good for the $3.60. And they want to keep me as a regular customer, so it’s a reasonable risk for them.

Fortunately they seem to be doing pretty well, despite the downturn: there are a core group of us who are here regularly, and they seem now to have multiple clienteles at different times of day: stroller jogger moms in the morning, people coming in for lunch, freelancers or people who aren’t working and home and don’t want to work in the office (hello!), and people from nearby businesses, popping in for a cup of coffee. It’s a real slice of the neighborhood, and very nice to see.


  1. Anything named Zoë has to be highly functional.

  2. So true!

    Alex (sent via iPhone)

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