Earlier this week, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz launched his new book, Onward: How Crisis and Conviction Transformed Starbucks, in true 21st century style with a global live feed via ustream – you have to scroll to about 01:08:00 before the anything interesting starts to happen.

I’m a Starbucks person. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a slave to their coffee, their houses, and their design – though I am finding it hard to come to terms with their new logo’s rejection of typography – most of all, I am a slave to the environment they create; the Third Place.

I stumbled upon this subject around this time last year, and it intrigued me. So much so that I wrote my dissertation on it! A labour of love that took me nine months to finish. By the time I handed in my final draft, I felt I had a pretty firm grasp on the Third Place and how our culture relied on it. Outside of work and home, we need somewhere to be free from our regular stresses and the usual faces in order to interact in ways, and with people, we wouldn’t normally. The Third Place allows us to become part of something bigger than our usual sphere of existence.

This brings me back to my initial point of Schultz’ online book launch. Schultz has always strived to make Starbucks a universal living room, and a readily available third place. But during the interview he mentioned something that might make my nine months of struggle pretty much pointless – or even more valid, thinking back to my conclusion. The Fourth Place…

From what I gather, the Forth Place is the online and working nature of the coffee house, how it can become a workspace as well as somewhere to relax. Richard Florida wrote an article on this subject a while ago on The Daily Beast. According to him, the office is an out-dated and restrictive environment for working. The Fourth Place allows the public to use everyday environments as their work places.

I concluded in my dissertation that the Third Place wasn’t dead, just changing shape. It only makes sense that it’s changing into the Fourth Place. Hopefully this won’t effect my grade :s

Actually, shouldn’t I get bonus points for being a geek and writing this?…