Seven things I learnt from the British Library’s Magna Carta show

The British Library has a terrific, totally absorbing show about Magna Carta – which is the cornerstone of world democracy or a sort of baronial shopping list weirdly granted in a field by a King who didn’t mean it – depending on your perspective. It includes two original 1215 manuscripts and dozens of other beautiful… Continue reading Seven things I learnt from the British Library’s Magna Carta show

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

Seven things it’s worth remembering about Wikileaks

Before its inglorious founder takes it down with him or before it’s chased off the Internet by enraged governments, it’s worth remembering what Wikileaks was before it became a cause celebre: It used to be a wiki. It stopped being a wiki in 2010. It was an anonymous drop-box. Whistleblowers could deposit documents without fear… Continue reading Seven things it’s worth remembering about Wikileaks

NTK: “exactly the same thing, 15 years late”

Fifteen years ago, when it was all fields round here, Danny O’Brien and Dave Green – who were well-known in underground gaming/comedy/tech/confectionery circles – began to publish an email newsletter for and about the British tech community. It was a joy from the beginning – authentic, funny, playful, insightful… Geek storytelling that is probably already… Continue reading NTK: “exactly the same thing, 15 years late”

Igor Stravinsky, Tupac Shakur and the uncanny

The Player Piano was the Tupac Hologram of its day. The most thrilling of our inventions are the ones that return to us a person we’ve lost or that recall a scene from the past that we couldn’t have experienced or a place we couldn’t have known. There’s a rush, a kind of zipwire effect.… Continue reading Igor Stravinsky, Tupac Shakur and the uncanny

You know, actual curation

Everyone’s going on about curation these days. We’re all curators now. But yesterday I witnessed some of the old-fashioned variety, the kind they do in art galleries, and I was blown away. I took two of my kids to Tate Britain (four different modes of transport: train, tube, boat and bus – I suspect that’s… Continue reading You know, actual curation

The second-best book about twentieth century music

Everybody knows the best book about Twentieth Century music is Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise but there’s another brilliant book set in the same period – Wilfrid Sheed’s The House That George Built, a history of the golden age of American popular music. It’s about the generations of American songwriters, starting at the turn… Continue reading The second-best book about twentieth century music