The electro-mechanical sublime

I visited the quite amazing Museum of Pinball in Paris last weekend. It was a revelation. The pinball machine (‘Flipper’ in France) represents some kind of high point in pre-digital coffee bar thrills. The genius of cramming so much potential ecstasy/kinetic joy into a case the size of a kitchen table. A crazy-noisy-beautiful thing. A… Continue reading The electro-mechanical sublime

Uber’s bubble

So it turns out that Uber isn’t just a neoliberal bulldozer, dismantling restrictive practices, labour codes, tax regimes and all that – according to this article at ValleyWag, it’s also a subprime bubble waiting to happen. Uber’s problem: hiring new drivers isn’t fast enough, especially drivers with fancy cars – and that $17B valuation won’t… Continue reading Uber’s bubble

Hashtags are dead

The use of hashtags by brands and organisations is dead, is what I mean. We now know how trivially easy they are to weaponise. They’re big, slow-moving targets for propagandists and terrorists. Clouds of branded chaff, too easily turned bad. And brand countermeasures – closing accounts, removing content – are so ineffective, so after-the-fact, as… Continue reading Hashtags are dead

Feminism and me

As a young man, I got my feminism from three sources: first, mum and dad. Not radicals, not even feminists. Working class trade unionists who lived the struggle. Second, the academic stuff I soaked up at college: bracing, mind-altering stuff from Laura Mulvey, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous; teachers and artists like Marie Yates, Mitra Tabrizian,… Continue reading Feminism and me

Tim Berners-Lee’s most important decision

Of the dozens of design decisions that TBL made during 1989, all of which continue to shape the way we build and use the web twenty-five years later, the most important was not requiring permission to link. Seems obvious now – a non-feature in fact – but it’s the reason you’re not reading this on… Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee’s most important decision

School governors. Representative or professional. Choose one.

Last week I spent a few hours floor-walking at a Fair Field parents’ evening, drumming up interest in our parent governor vacancies (I’m chair of govs and a parent myself). I love this bit of the job. You learn a huge amount and there are always surprises and insights. Thinking about it afterwards, the parents… Continue reading School governors. Representative or professional. Choose one.

Ian McMillan’s eight favourite podcasts

Radio 3’s Ian McMillan was on a special edition of the Radio Today podcast all about the station the other day. Turns out he’s a connoisseur of the podcast form. He gave Trevor Dann a list of his favourites: the various Monocle podcasts, especially Tyler Brûlé’s books and magazines podcast The Stack, The Urbanist and… Continue reading Ian McMillan’s eight favourite podcasts

Seven gems from Radio 3’s ‘Sound of Cinema’ season

It’s over. The ‘Sound of Cinema‘ season finshed last week. Most of the music has expired but there’s a ton of stuff that’s still available: 1. These really gripping Sound of Cinema downloads from Neil Brand (learn things, like just how badly Visconti carved up Mahler’s Adagietto for Death in Venice). 2. This glorious film… Continue reading Seven gems from Radio 3’s ‘Sound of Cinema’ season

What should really modern music radio sound like?

You hope it’ll be seamlessly social: a nice, natural flow from online to on-air and back again, with social features that are as confidently crafted as the on-air stuff. Not endless shout-outs and retweets, no ‘in the next hour’ or ‘how was your weekend?’ updates. No blather, no cheesy vanity activity from presenters. You probably… Continue reading What should really modern music radio sound like?