Unravelling of the press

Apologies: a couple of things on weblogging and the liberalisation of publishing.

Rushkoff thinks that the “real threat of blogs” (sounds like an advert for pesticide: ‘protect your crops from the real threat of blogs’) is that they represent unpaid cultural production:

“I believe the greatest power of the blog is not just its ability to distribute alternative information – a great power, indeed – but its power to demonstrate a mode of engagement that is not based on the profit principle.”

Food for thought from 3QuarksDaily:

“Can we just reinforce what we believe by reading only those blogs and web press that agree with us, up to the point where our beliefs cascade away from any doubts and are reinforced. Long ago, Jack Snyder and Karen Ballentine argued that pathological politics (in their paper, an agreessive nationalism) was enabled by a segmented media market and poor or absent norms in the press.

Historically and today, from the French Revolution to Rwanda, sudden liberalizations of press freedom have been associated with bloody outbursts of popular nationalism. The most dangerous situation is precisely when the government’s press monopoly begins to break down.(4) During incipient democratization, when civil society is burgeoning but democratic institutions are not fully entrenched, the state and other elites are forced to engage in public debate in order to compete for mass allies in the struggle for power.(5) Under those circumstances, governments and their opponents often have the motive and the opportunity to play the nationalist card.”

Best blog blurb evah?

My favourite group blog, 3 Quarks Daily got a ‘blurb’ from Stephen Pinker!

“I couldn’t tear myself away [from 3 Quarks Daily], to the point of neglecting my work. I’ve already bookmarked it for times when I don’t want to work. Congratulations on this superb site. Best wishes.”

—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, and The Language Instinct.”



This week marks four years of this weblog. I started in June 2000, while working still at Sapient’s London office, using blogger. The longest I have been in a job has been around 2 years, my architectural education was 5 years; so this weblog is one of the things I have stuck at the longest.

It’s been useful, it’s been fun, it’s given me opportunities and problems (sometimes at the same time) and for not much effort. It’s a testament to the tools that make such a rewarding format so low effort: I’ve progressed over the 4 years from Blogger, Greymatter, Moveabletype to Typepad.

While I’ve had a procession of tools, in review, I’ve come full circle from posting links and effectively establishing a commonplace for notes and bookmarks using Blogger, through writing more and more discursive and long-form stuff about design for technology, to publishing experiments like warchalking and back again now to mainly links, notes and social bookmark hoarding using del.icio.us.

It seems that the “outboard brain” model is the one I’m most comfortable with, and get most utility from, and now this memory prosthesis is becoming more mobile and less textual. I’ve been trialling Nokia Lifeblog for the last month or so, and along with del.icio.us I’m finding that it’s filling many of the roles of memory prosthesis that this blog used to.

So, the question is what to do here other than to write more self-indulgent bitkipple about design and social technology and comics and science and cities and games and most importantly, magic for another four years?

Wait a minute. I like doing that…

Hume truths

Two from Tom Hume:

On how creativity is often shaped by ones tools:

“When I first moved my weblog over to MovableType from Radio Userland, I wondered what difference a new tool would make. Nearly 6 months on, I think I know.”

And a great post on mobile application design:

“Interaction design for mobiles is IMHO more like appliance design than web, or even application, design. Focus on core tasks, simplicity, and elegance… try to avoid forcing the end-user to think more about interfaces than getting the job done.”