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
Notes for my TEDxLeeds presentation, "The Makers of Leeds". The Prezi version is here. It starts with the amazing view from the top of the TEDxLeeds venue, the Mint, which looks out over Leeds on all sides. The American architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen said: "When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations … Continue reading The Makers of Leeds
I think there's a coherent narrative to be woven between all of the following, but for now, I offer them to you as a puzzle of jumbled bullet points. Fuller posts on some of them may follow. 1. It's been a few weeks since my colleagues and I at Orange moved offices from Holbeck to … Continue reading Around the city, joining the dots
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And so I'm loving the safari around the world's largest city and capital of the British Empire, afforded by Chris Heathcote's inventive Newspaper Club debut As It Is To-Day. Chris has been feeding Newspaper Club's editing software Arthr on a diet of old London … Continue reading As It Is To-Day
In December I blogged about the perilous state of Leeds' Temple Works. Neglected for several years, this Grade I-listed building had suffered a partial collapse, blocking the road outside with shattered masonry and opening up a gaping hole in the roof where sheep once grazed on a covering of grass. Six months on, I'm pleased to report … Continue reading Temple Works 3.0 Alpha
"I have got the Drawing for Your Arms in the Pediment done to a quarter of the size, shall order it to be such next week" - Robert Adam in letter to Sir Rowland Winn, owner of Nostell Priory, 1774 Now that's what I call unfinished.
I loved this post pointing out that "You can't move in London without someone giving you the news". It struck a chord with me - first because of my own interest in how the way we get the news has changed, yet stayed the same, but also because this seems to be a particularly London … Continue reading Can’t turn off the telescreen
Love it or loathe it, Richard Rogers' Dome was the architectural icon of of Britain's new millennium. The hubristic creation of Michael Heseltine and Peter Mandelson, it was meant to symbolise our country's post-Thatcher renaissance, all Britpop and Cool Britannia. It didn't work out quite like that. Along with millions of other Britons, we didn't … Continue reading O₂MG, what have they done to the Dome?
On holiday in Cornwall this summer we visited Polperro, a Cornish fishing village so archetypal that it featured in Ptolemy Dean's BBC programme The Perfect Village. As the programme synopsis says: On the surface, Polperro looks as if it hasn’t changed for centuries, but in fact it exemplifies a delicate balance between the tourist village … Continue reading Polperro