Since the draft of the Communications Bill came out a few weeks ago, I’ve been worrying (here and elsewhere – see my letter to The Guardian) about the net’s mysterious (but total) omission: not one mention in over 300 wide-ranging pages. In 1992 I’d have expected such a gap, in 1997 I guess I might not have been surprised. In 2002 it’s a lacuna worthy of the X Files. Still I was torn. Don’t we net folk – ballsy frontier types after all – relish our ‘invisible man’ status? Shouldn’t we count ourselves lucky? The answer, at least for me, is ‘no’. The net’s absence (explicit and deliberate) from the bill’s provisions is like being air-brushed out of the Politburo May Day photo. It seems to suggest impending exile (if not actual assassination). It makes me paranoid.
Ofcom’s scope should be extended to accommodate the net. I don’t suggest this casually. Regulating a global network capable of an effectively infinite range of expression from a single, National perspective is probably impossible. In looking for an appropriate regulatory ‘footprint’ I settle on a much-needed redefinition of public service provision for the networked era, the nearest to a ‘natural’ target for regulation that the net offers.
I wrote up my worries in more detail for the FT.
What do you think?
“Don’t put full cup in backpack for later”
Quirky POS graphic at West Hampstead station cappuccino stand. The stand (part of a new chain, or at least new to me) is covered in whacky urban irony, all done in one of those fucked-up-beat-poet ALL-CAPS manuscript typefaces you get from Emigre or somewhere. This one made me laugh and laugh. Is it the same crowd whose coffee cups say “I think I’m it”?
The BBC’s admirable web site sets the standard for the rest of the UK media. In adding a web search feature and pitching it as an improvement on the commercial search engines, has the beeb gone too far ‘off-charter’?
The unlikely persistence of the PC
Draft Communications Bill notwithstanding, the digital action is still resolutely – and against all the odds – on your PC. With the doughty exception of Sky TV, digital telly in the UK is a basket case. 3G is looming but more as an existential threat to the operators than a new wave of fun and interactivity in your pocket.
Meanwhile, more than a decade of firm predictions of the PC’s demise have come to nothing. Given new life by the net, the PC – as a platform and as a way of life – is now home-base to an entire generation of wired young people – a generation with none of their parents’ neuroses about technology. They just jump in and get on with it and in so doing they’ve secured for the PC at least another decade of productive life. Here’s a story I wrote about this for The Guardian on 9th May:
In the distant past I helped some friends with a blog (only that’s not what they were called then) called tired.co.uk. It parodied the ‘wired’ generation and it got its start in the wake of the failure of the UK edition of Wired Magazine. We ripped off the prototypical blog style of Suck.com (also no longer with us). A linear, unpaginated splurge with inline links and images. This was when? 96? 97? Anyway, that’s my credentials sorted out. Not first but ages ago!. Here, courtesy of blogger, I’ll put the things I write occasionally for The Guardian and The FT and, naturally, also the things they won’t print, otherwise it wouldn’t be a blog… Elsewhere at bowbrick.com you’ll find pictures of my family, my biog and little of consequence.