Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland

Magazine article The Spectator

The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland

Article excerpt

I never got beyond page 20 in Fifty Shades of Grey . No one got shot in the first chapter, and there were more than four characters, so I rapidly found the plot confusing. In any case, I am averse to physical pain in any form (if I were to engage in BDSM activities, my secret codeword would be 'ouch') so it wasn't really my thing. But the book does leave us with one literary Everest still to be conquered: if someone can write a pornographic novel for women, is there a similar fortune to be made writing a sex-and-shopping book for men?

So that's my plan for retirement. To write a novel for blokes where graphic scenes of deviant sexual activity are interspersed with practical, time-saving trips to Argos and B&Q. The handy thing about this is that, rather than having to construct painstaking descriptions of square-jawed characters negotiating to buy large diamonds in the cobbled streets of Antwerp, you can simply cut and paste most of it:

After he woke up, he showered and went online to reserve a Stanley FatMax FME811K Angle Grinder. £49.95. A powerful and durable angle grinder that is perfect for cutting paving slabs or other jobs requiring rapid stock removal, the Stanley FatMax Angle Grinder sports a rubber cable to prevent snapping in cold conditions and is built to an industrial standard for increased strength and durability. 850w. Disk size 115mm (disk not supplied).

Like sexual behaviour, shopping behaviour is unbelievably strange. It runs the gamut from the perfunctory to the highly theatrical. And while retailers now have a huge amount of data about who buys what, they have little clue about the underlying motivations behind it. Even economists have nothing to say about the origins of human preference. (Economics simply assumes people know perfectly what they want, and then takes it as a given that their expenditure must somehow optimally satisfy those desires. …

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