Hi, I'm Rob, a digital content strategist based in London. This is where I log stuff that interests me and keep track of personal projects.

Consumed the week of 8 January, 2018

And we’re back..

Above, a beautiful compilation of drone photography shot in Romania by Bogdan Teodorescu as part of his Up and Above series.

This Vanity fair article about Elliot Ness’ memoir The Untouchables is a great read, and contains this memorable quote about Ness: “[he] was like Alexander the Great. He ran out of worlds to conquer too early in life.”

Improving Ourselves To Death is an examination from The New Yorker of self-help and anti-self-help literature. TL:DR: “Put away your self-help guides, and read a novel instead”.

Also from Vanity Fair this past week, the icky but essential “Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side (warning: you may need a shower after reading).

Watched this week: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Nina enjoyed this a little more than I did. What Kermode called the “rejection of clear-cut moral certainties” made me a little queasy. Still an impressive film though.

Finished reading: The hugely enjoyable Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows (The Cthulhu Casebooks #1) by James Lovegrove and the equally enjoyable and insightful The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Anthony Warner.

Consumed in December

Not posted for a while because I went on a much-needed holiday. But I’m back for one more 2017 post. Here we go…

Image above from Dangerous Minds, more information on it over there.

I’ve been trying to decide whether I can justify spending £50 on The Thing boardgame. Gets a great review from AV Club.

Talking of the AV Club, here’s their list of the best TV shows of 2017.

And talking of board games, Matthew Baldwin’s board game gift guide over at The Morning News is always great,

And talking of The Morning News, their Tournament of Books longlist is out.

There’s a new Errol Morris documentary on Netflix about the CIA dosing a man with LSD, who later committed suicide.

In the latest issue of Vogue, Mimi O’Donnell reflects on the death of her husband, Philip Seymour Hoffman, his addiction, and their family.

Here’s the 25 most read New Yorker articles of the year (no prizes for guessing no. 1).

Every Frame a Painting has come to an end, but even the post-mortem is great.

Consumed the week of 6 November, 2017

Something is wrong on the internet – James Bridle doing what he does best and opening everyone’s eyes to some messed up internet shit.

The Story Behind the Chicago Newspaper That Bought a Bar is a great story and needs to be made into a movie (or a David Simon TV series).

Humans Hate Being Spun: How to Practice Radical Honesty — from the Woman Who Defined Netflix’s Culture. Common sense stuff that is incredibly hard to put into practice.

Against Productivity reminds me very much of the best thing I’ve read all year.

John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’: The Story of an SF Horror Game-Changer just in time for the release of this boardgame.

Joren Cull talks through his animated history of Radiohead for Pitchfork. And here is that animated history:

Consumed the week of 30 October, 2017

Been a busy week this week…

Inside the Mind of Thru-Hiking’s Most Devious Con Man is just one of those con-man articles I’m slightly addicted to.

I Forgot my PIN: An epic tale of losing $30,000 in Bitcoin is Mark ‘Boing Boing’ Frauenfelder’s cautionary tale of not writing down you PIN and your recovery words on the same bit of paper.

Constable-Frozen, the Internet’s Most Famous Frozen Fan, Denies That His Frozen Tumblr Is Secretly a Fetish Blog. As bonkers as it sounds.

The Art of the Dinner Party is a beautiful and better-than-it sounds interactive feature from the NY Times.

When Artists Turn to Craigslist, the Results Are Intimate, Disquieting, and Surprisingly Profound. Yes, yes they are.

The Strange History of Design Legend Cipe Pineles’ Illustrated Cookbook is a brilliant story of turning an extraordinary find into a one-of-a-kind cookbook.

Watched this week: The Florida Project (incredible):

And Jungle (decent Saturday-night-on-the-sofa movie):

Consumed the week of 23 October, 2017

I spent most of this week at the Impakt festival in Utrecht listening to some brilliant people discuss the festival’s themes of Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems. Highlights included…

Warren Ellis’ keynote:

The Post Truth & Soft Power panel (especially Navine G. Khan-Dossos work):

Royce Ng’s amazing Kishi The Vampire (you won’t get the whole effect on YouTube but it’s better than nothing):

The Smart Objects panel (especially Peter Moosgaard’s stuff):

Consumed the week of 16 October, 2017

“Petscop,” the Creepy YouTube Series That Confounded Gamers on Reddit (a trip down the kind of murky internet rabbit hole I cannot resist).

Farewell to Halt and Catch Fire, the best show that nobody watched (yes, it’s over, and it finished incredibly well).

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare (who knew the mattress review world was so interesting).

The world of Black Hammer expands in this Sherlock Frankenstein #1 exclusive (This, from the AV club, put me on to the Black Hammer comics which I devoured in one Saturday afternoon sitting).

The LA Metro has the best etiquette videos…

Read the week of 25 September, 2017

Michelle Dean Uncovers Some Truths About Snopes

Stephen King on Movies Gerald’s Game, 1922, It, The Stand

Kevin Smith’s Second Act

Saying goodbye to white collar thinking

A Novel on the Rise: Robin Sloan and Kevin Nguyen Talk “Sourdough”

I read Robin Sloan’s brilliant, charming and slightly bonkers Sourdough this weekend. Highly recommended. Here’s his EYOE talk from earlier this year if you’re interested:

Eyeo 2017 – Robin Sloan from Eyeo Festival // INSTINT on Vimeo.

The web of beige

I wrote a work thing for Venture Beat. It’s about our efforts to personalise digital experiences and how that might be having the opposite effect. 

“In our attempt to engage everyone individually we are unwittingly creating a beige web, a homogenous echo chamber that is aesthetically and tonally normalized. And so we have to ask ourselves the question: when did personalization become so important? Who asked us for an individual experience? When did this become our mission?”

“Without memories we kind of disappear”

There were some absolutely fantastic talks at yesterday’s Interesting conference (I hesitate to call it a conference really, but I can’t think of a suitable synonym), but the one that really resonated with me for all sorts of reasons was Kim Plowright’s, called “try and explain what it feels like to preserve memories and talk about dementia and death on social media, whilst still occasionally making people laugh (and how her Mum would’ve had her guts for garters if she’d realised what she was up to)”.

One thing that Kim said during the five or ten minutes she was on stage was “Without memories we kind of disappear”. As much as she was talking about how dementia robs us of so much of what we call our ‘real selves’, she was also talking about why she felt the need to record the last few years of her parents’ lives in a series of very candid photos.

I’ve always struggled a bit with my motives for doing what I’m doing right now: writing down tiny chunks of my life, and yet I’ve found myself doing it again and again for about a decade and a half. Even with the opportunity that social media gives us to ‘over share’ today, I still want something that is somehow mine, something that’s not part of a larger network and feels cohesive and has some meat to it.

I want to have a bit of control over my memories.

(Strangely as I’m writing this I’m listening to Adam Buxton interview Michael Palin about his diaries, proving there is nothing new in the world.)

What’s scarier than real ghosts?

An article from (shiver) the Telegraph’s property section about London’s ‘ghost signs’ and Sam Roberts, the man who ‘hunts for them’:

With a background in advertising, working at big firms and on accounts such as Tesco, Roberts became interested in the history of advertising outdoors, and the ethical issues it raises. Big billboards, he says, “trespass on people’s field of vision… Now takes on commissions from advertising agencies and interior designers, many of whom ask him to recreate the weathered, old designs and create “faux” ghost signs, using the illusion of historical authenticity for marketing purposes.

Fair enough, it sounds like Sam himself discourages the creation of artificial ghost signs, but the very fact that there’s agencies out there who think this that ‘the illusion of historical authenticity’ is a good thing, is a little terrifying.