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When the populists inspire the ad men

I came across this extract on loc 1342-1360 of Frenemies, Ken Auletta’s new book about the declining fortunes of the advertising industry, detailing an intervention made by thought leader extraordinaire Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist at  Publicis groupe. It was in the context of a meeting between executives from a range of agencies […]

The Face in the Crowd

I saw a wonderful exhibition this weekend, collecting work by Alex Prager combining photography and film in intricately staged hyper-real scenes. The collection that has been playing on mind since seeing it is Face In The Crowd. If you click on the screenshot below, it will take you to the website […]

The epochal tetchiness of Anglo-American centrists

In his wonderful October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville uses the phrase ‘epochal tetchiness’ to describe the political contribution of Russian liberals prior to 1917. Their angry, disjointed responses to events failed to influence the changes which provoked their outrage, leaving them acting frantically without consequence as […]

Accelerating into the singularity 

The singularity is a speculative notion referring to the point at which exponential innovation generates a fundamental transformation of human civilisation. As Murray Shanahan puts it in on loc 78 of his book The Technological Singularity: In physics, a singularity is a point in space or time, such as the […]

Carrying a book around inside your head

As any regular reader of this blog will know, I’ve been working on The Distracted People of Digital Capitalism for over three years. I’ve made little progress in that time and my reliable line “I’m working on a book about distraction but I keep getting distracted” has begun to be depressing. But […]

The consolation of kitsch

I’ve never completely understood my attraction to kitsch. As much as part of me would like to suggest otherwise, it’s not a knowing embrace of excessive sentimentality and contrived garishness, as much as these things genuinely appealing to me in a way that can prompt knowingness when I reflect upon […]

The original sin of the digital utopians

There’s a fascinating mea culpa in Jaron Lanier’s new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. On loc 411 he describes how early design decisions, inspired by the libertarian ethos taking hold within the tech community, created the openings for the global monopolies we now see emerging: […]