More crafted pieces of writing.

Scotland, you were right, the UK is broken…

Posted by on 16 Sep, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

…We’re sorry we didn’t notice. But please, let’s fix it together.



I can understand why a lot of you who live in Scotland are cynical. You’ve been talking about independence since the ’70s, and about the referendum for more than 2 years. And suddenly, a couple of weeks before the referendum, in an apparent panic, people all over England start pleading you not to leave, sending politicians from Westminster on desperate missions of persuasion offering all kinds of promises. Where were they, you wonder?

The truth is, we’ve been blind to something you realized a long time ago – that the “country of countries” model [excellent primer for international readers here] that the United Kingdom operates on, no longer works. That it is impossible to simultaneously live within a country called Scotland and a country called the UK without having democratic imbalance and conflict between the two. And that for a quite a few years now, the balance has been very off, with Scotland having little say in which government rules the land or what policies affect your daily lives.

I hope in this post to help explain why we English have reacted the way we have, and I hope to convince you that now that we have entered into this public debate, and Westminster are finally listening, that you do not need to leave the UK to get the democratic representation you desperately need and deserve. I hope to convince you that it is the current structure and distribution of power within the UK that needs to change – not the make-up of the UK itself. I hope also to persuade other English readers why we should not resent Yes-inclined Scots for feeling the way they do, and that they are not against us, they just see a Yes as the only way to achieve democratic change.

I know I only realized just how broken the UK is,

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Why intelligent agents could free us from information overload

Posted by on 7 Nov, 2011 in Articles, Technology & Society | 2 comments

Texters on the street

The launch of the iPhone 4S with Siri, the first large-scale consumer “intelligent agent” technology marks the beginning of a new form of computer interface – computers we can talk to, and ask what we want. Of course, there is a long way to go, but it is clear this is a new paradigm.

I’ll be writing more about Siri and its potential in future posts, but this seems a good time to publish the following essay, which I wrote a year ago for the forthcoming e-book “The future we deserve” being curated by Vinay Gupta. All the short essays for the book explain a point of view about what we (humanity) deserve in order to build a better future for ourselves.

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Review of Hanna (2011) – spoiler-free

Posted by on 15 Apr, 2011 in Articles | 0 comments



Normally when I like a movie, the first thing I do when I get home from the cinema is to jump online and see what other people have said, gauge opinions, validate theories, and dig deeper into the director, writer, actors etc. But this film made such an impact I’m going to be bold and review it purely on my own impressions. It was, quite simply, outstanding. It was the best film I’ve seen all year, even better than Inception and Source Code, the only two other mainstream releases that have really wowed me this year. (I’m not counting Tron Legacy; that one certainly wowed me, but on reflection I realized it was all style and no substance).


The good news is that Hanna has style and substance in bucketloads. The plot is intricate enough and the characters deep enough to keep you glued to your seat, and you never quite know what will happen next – but unlike most Hollywood fare, there are no quick fixes or predictable moments.. at every turn it always takes the road less travelled.


The style is fantastic, but down-to-earth. Real life locations are given a fresh twist with unusual but believable lighting effects, and what would be ordinary scenes of conversation or exposition feel fresh and engaging thanks to original camera angles and beautiful composition. The locations are deliciously original too. You can tell that every scene has been carefully designed for cinematic impact, but yet the film always feels natural, flowing and not at all forced.
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Interesting, my Twitter hiatus made no difference at all to my follower count

Posted by on 21 Dec, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments


I guess that makes sense, if you're not tweeting, people don't see you. They're more likely to unfollow you for tweets they don't like than for not tweeting. It's useful to know, because I sometimes feel "Oh I haven't tweeted something for a while, I really should, so as not to let my followers down". The stats seem to suggest followers will not abandon you if you don't tweet, which is reassuring…

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The November Project: Observations from a month away from Facebook and Twitter

Posted by on 6 Dec, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments

Well, it’s December now, and that means it must be time for me to jump back onto Facebook and Twitter. But before I do, I wanted to gather my thoughts about the experience and share what I have learnt from it. I thought I’d do this in a form of a Q & A with myself.


What was it like?
Well for one thing, it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. I used a variety of techniques to physically block myself from Twitter and Facebook – but it turned out these were not necessary, willpower was sufficient. The closest I got was when other websites or apps tried to embed Facebook boxes or twitter feeds and I almost got tricked into clicking through. I suppose one telling thing is that now it’s the 5th of December and I haven’t rushed back on Facebook and Twitter yet, even though I could have five days ago. My main reason was I wanted to get this blog post written first, before I am “polluted” by going back on – but even so, I haven’t been in a great hurry. Another thing I noticed was several times when out and about and I had the urge to tweet or post to Facebook, it felt a little odd not to share that moment – but it wasn’t a big deal and the feeling soon subsided. Overall, the experience wasn’t hard at all.


Was it more relaxing being away from social media?
Definitely. The most amazing thing is I actually feel like time slowed down. That’s a pretty profound thing to say, but when I think back to the beginning of November, it seems like months ago.
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Is the #turnred (RED) "AIDS-free generation by 2015" campaign lacking something?

Posted by on 3 Dec, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments

As you may know, it was World AIDS Day yesterday, raising awareness of the global fight to eradicate the HIV/AIDS disease. I missed the day itself but was greeted by this popup today inviting me to “join RED” and help make the AIDS-free generation by 2015 a reality. 


In case you’re not familiar, RED is an initiative whereby you buy a particular variant of your product in red with a special (RED) brand – everything from iPods to shoes, clothing, coffee and books – and the manufacturer donates a portion (typically about 20%) to the global fight against AIDS (and possibly other causes as well, I’m not sure). Which is great, and they are having huge successes, having raised $160 million in 5 years.


I wholeheartedly support the goal of eradicating AIDS, and I love the idea of making such a bold statement that “We can have the first AIDS-free generation by 2015”. But a number of things bugged me about this campaign.
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