Regular readers will know that I have a slow hunch about the value of stories in the place where they happened. So when I saw the brief for the latest BBC Connected Studio, focused on Knowledge and Learning, I packed my personal hobbyhorse and jumped on the train to Salford. It was an ace day. … Continue reading After BBC Connected Studio – gazing through a moving window
If you live in, work in, or occasionally visit a city, any city, but especially one in England's North, please set aside half an hour or so some time soon to watch and read two powerful critiques of the prevailing techno-determinist vision of the so-called "smart city". All 11,000 words of Dan Hill's post on … Continue reading Make mine a messy city: Riot Sim and the City that Didn’t Riot
For the past four years a story has accreted on this blog. It's a meta-narrative, a story about stories. Looking back, I believe the arc began with the partial collapse of Leeds' Temple Works. That's what led me to encounter the people who made this city, and then to talk about them in pixels, in … Continue reading How’s it going to end?
One summer morning a jetplane flew south over central London, gear down, seatbelts on, devices off. Thousands of feet below, traffic flowed around Russell Square. An open top bus turned into Bedford Way, plunging its passengers into the shade of the tall university buildings. Thanks to the aristocrats whose names the streets wear, this part … Continue reading View – History – Flatten layers: Part 1. The Russell Square Aeroplane
This is my youngest son, Pascal, when he was two years old. He's looking sheepish because he's just picked an apple. It's an apple from the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, the orchard where Isaac Newton first conceived of gravity. We were drawn to this beautiful, remote farmhouse for a tea break on a long … Continue reading “The bit where the screen went black and you said ‘look up'”: on the irresistible pull of a story in the place where it happened
An Anecdote, related by Citizen Thelwall, at the Capel Court Society, during the discussion of a question, relative to the comparative Influence of the Love of Life, of Liberty, and of the Fair Sex, on the Actions of Mankind. You must know then, that I used, together with a variety of youthful attachments, to be … Continue reading King Chaunticlere; or, the Fate of Tyranny
There's a patch of wasteland near my work that some people say could be a city park. I'm not sure if this is even the right place for a park. As Jane Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities: "Parks are volatile places. They tend to run to extremes of popularilty … Continue reading A park in your imagination