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 9 April, 2018

I read two very convincing and optimistic article about the potential second coming of RSS this week. This one from Wired, and this one from TechCrunch.

Design Observer is not the place you’d expect to find a moving article about OCD and anxiety. But it’s great and makes you think about the disease in a different way.

Of Stephen King’s list of his ten favourite novels, there’s five I haven’t read. So they’re going on my ‘to read’ list.

Another great article about Donald Glover and Atlanta and ‘the invisibility of black genius’. Loved this quote:

There is another noticeable element that Glover subtly infuses into the show that might make it immune to white applause:

Atlanta doesn’t give a fuck.

When Sartre and Beauvoir Started a Magazine is a great long read (from longreads.com) that is catnip to anyone interested in publishing and the existentialists (i.e. me).

Also this week:

Saw the brilliant Maxine Peake interviewed as part of the Working Class Heroes weekend at the BFI.

Read the short but very memorable So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell.

And also devoured one of those ‘thrillers everyone is talking about’: The Dry by Jane Harper.

And went to the cinema to see the inrcedibly entertaining (and almost unbearably tense) A Quiet Place.

Consumed the week of 26 March, 2018

Above: This look behind the scenes of Spike Jonze’s Apple ad is almost good as the ad itself. From the Skype audition to the levers that move the apartment walls and tables. Genius.

How London’s Oldest Family-Run Café Beat Gentrification is a great read from Esquire about E Pellicci over in Bethnal Green.

The Guardian interviews Fran Lebowitz about Trump, Australia and gun ownership. Love that woman.

Why Aren’t You Laughing? is David Sedaris’ latest for The New Yorker.

Also from the Guardian is a long read by someone who interned for Monocle, about why they’re suing the magazine for unpaid wages.

Finished reading this week: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – brilliant (and terrifying) true crime by Michelle McNamara.

Also: You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat). One of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in a long time.

Watched this week: The Disaster Artist. A lot of fun.

Consumed the week of 19 March, 2018

Above: this weird but beautiful Bafta-nominated animation by Will Anderson, tells the struggle of a looping, animated GIF.

Talking of weird and beautiful, this is a rather nice appreciation of David Lynch by Michael Chabon, in the Paris Review.

Suede’s eponymous debut album holds a massive place in my heart. It’s definitely one of my personal desert island discs and it’s 25 years old this year (!). Over at The Quietus, Jeremy Allen does great job of explaining why it’s such a great record.

Putting users first is not the answer to everything is a Medium article which could have been provocative for provocation’s sake, but is actually a succinct and smart querying of some accepted digital design wisdom.

You’re doing your weekend wrong over at Quartz, breaks down why binging on booze and boxsets is not necessarily the best way to relax. Instead, it’s all about socialising, hobbies, altruism, and play.

The NY Times has a fierce (and well-deserved) evisceration of Jordan Peterson and his odious brand of ‘fascist mysticism’.

And talking of odious: Lionel Shriver on the housing crisis and immigration in The Spectator, should be read but only in a ‘know thy enemy’ way.

On a lighter note: Yes, I am definitely the kind of person who will read an entire article about the history of blue cheese-stuffed olives as a Martini garnish… and enjoy every word.

Finished reading this week: The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time #3) – still on track to read all twelve by the end of the year.

Watched this week: The Death of Stalin. Not as great as I’d been hoping, but still good.

Last up: the trailer for Under The Silver Lake, the new one from David Robert ‘It Follows’ Mitchell. Looks bonkers, in a good way.

Consumed the week of 12 March, 2018

Above, a teaser for the new Gary ‘Helvetica’ Hustwit film about Dieter Rams.

Best read this week: Mr. Plow at 25: How the ‘Simpsons’ Classic Pushed New Boundaries and Helped Cement the Show’s Legacy. Who knew it contained a nod to William Friedkin?

I don’t live in Chicago (or New York), but articles like this one, which argues the case for the exact location of the brilliant Howard Hawks film His Girl Friday make me happy for all sorts of reasons.

The Morning News’ Tournament of Books is back for another year, and is better than ever. Support the ToB and TMN by becoming a member here (and buying some awesome notebooks).

This NY Times article about Google’s anti-competition tactics is enlightening and scary. I still own a Pixel phone but I use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. For more alternatives to ‘big tech’ tools check our Mark Hurst’s blogpost.

Then, of course, there’s the whole Cambridge Analytica mess. My Facebook account is currently ‘deactivated’. Hopefully it will be deleted entirely by next month.

“In a city that lends itself to instances of amnesia, having places that are repositories of memory seems hugely precious.”

That quote (about libraries) is from The Creative Independent‘s interview with the great Adam Gopnik. I read Gopnik’s book At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York earlier this year, and can heartily recommend it.

Finally this week: an oral history of Kids in the Hall made me feel all nostalgic for sitting in the dining room of my parents’ house as young teenager (while they watched Wogan or something similar in the front room) watching this subversive, surreal sketch show from Canada.

“I’m crushing your head!”

Consumed the week of 5 March, 2018

Above, the exquisite new Apple ad by Spike Jonze. Makes me want to dig out my The Work Of Director Spike Jonze DVD.

“…if technology is a place where we live, a place that we carry around with us, shouldn’t we choose to be in lively and nourishing digital environments? This reasoning should be enough to encourage you to leave the optional digital places that you don’t enjoy.”

That quote is from this essay by the excellent Frank Chimero. It’s called The Good Room and it’s another addition to the ever-growing list of clarion calls to make the Internet a better, more nourishing place. Required reading. (It also links off to Simon Collison’s Internet of Natural Things newsletter which I can also highly recommend).

A brilliant long read from The Huffington Post about Jerry and Marge, the retired couple who worked out how to game the lottery.

Even something as simple as what’s called time affluence, which is just simply feeling like you have time to do stuff. We often think of wealth affluence and think that will make us happy. And sometimes we sacrifice our time to become wealthier but the data suggests [you should] stop. You’re better off keeping time and foregoing financial wealth.

That quote from this interview with Dr. Laurie Santos on ‘how to be happy’ (not as new-agey as it sounds) really struck a chord with me.

“Scale is secondary to grace..”

A beautiful way of framing passion from Craig Mod’s interview with Offscreen magazine. He goes on: “Understanding your scale — the scale that moves you — is critical to understanding with whom and how you should work, how you should live.”

Finished reading this week: A Buyer’s Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)

Consumed the week of 26 February, 2018

Image above from Francis Lee’s remarkable ‘males in the Dales’ film God’s Own Country. Beautiful.

Talking of film, this short article on what Netflix’s world domination plans means for the world of cinema is a little frightening.

Staying with movies (kind of), the article everyone seems to have read this week: What Ever Happened to Brendan Fraser?

My favourite longread of the week by far is from The New Yorker: Donald Glover Can’t Save You.

And finally, it’s the ‘The Internet is bad for you’ article of the week: The Tyranny of Convenience.

Consumed the week of 19 February, 2018

Image above from the production of Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre. Took my mum and dad to see it this past week and we all loved it. Get to it if you can.

Following the IA post from last week, this interview with Jason Kottke serves as another rallying call for a new wave of bloggers.

This article by Gayle Brandeis tells the tale of two trips to Las Vegas with her mother — one taken while her mother is seriously delusional.

Worst Roommate Ever is a look at the scheming and sinister “Craigslist nightmare” Jamison Bachman.

In their Age of Heroes series The AV Club picks “the most important superhero movie of every year”. This article on 1990’s Darkman reminded why I love Sam Raimi’s antihero so damn much.

Finished reading this week: Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, and A Question of Upbringing (the first instalment of a Dance to the Music of Time) by Anthony Powell.

Watched this week: Molly’s Game. I like poker films and I like Aaron Sorkin. And I liked this film. Three stars.

Consumed the week of 12 February, 2018

Image above taken from this article about a recently discovered treasure trove of 1960s photos of London’s East End. They’re being exhibited at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives until 5 May.

This blog post from iA Writer (the app I’m using to write this very blog post) says an awful lot of things that I’ve been feeling for the past 18 months or so. For example,

…in practice, the Internet is as far from a distributed, diverse network of independent publishers as Radio and in its main streams, as far from intelligent communication as TV. It is possible to do your thing, but it requires muscle. It is possible to find a thinking audience, but it will be small. The Internet has imploded into Facebook, Amazon, Google, some local players and a mirror Web of twin players dominating the Chinese Market. For new stars to be born we need to get ourselves out of these black holes. How? Why? And do we have a chance?

The article that everyone has read this week is Ronan Farrow’s Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity from The New Yorker.

A short but moving article about one of my favourite albums: Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey In Satchidananda’.

The tragic story of journalist Kim Wall, who died at the hands of Peter Madsen onboard his submarine, The Nautilus.

Watched this week:

American Made (Tom Cruise and Doug Liman team up again to tell the story of Barry Seal who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel in the 1980s).

Thor: Ragnarok (Daft but passable Marvel fair).

Consumed the week of 5 February, 2018

Atlanta season 2!

Articles read this week:

36 Things We Learned from David Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’ Commentary’. I haven’t bought a DVD in year, but hopefully I can download the commentary version of my favourite film of last year.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The answer doesn’t even seem to be in dispute. This article is nothing short of terrifying.

That Quincy Jones interview from Vulture is as amazing as everyone is telling you it is.

Will Self writes a little too much about himself in this article In Praise of Difficult Novels, but it’s still good (“No one ever got smart by reading… Dan Brown”).

As someone who has incredibly fond memories of watching Manhattan as a young teenager, this article from the NY Times on ‘the Woody Allen problem’ makes me sad and angry and confused.

Started reading Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor.

Consumed the week of 29 January, 2018

Read this week:

Send the Barbarian in First is a rather beautifully written tribute to Dungeons and Dragons (and its power to bring generations together) by George Murray. As someone who played D&D through his early teens (normally in a vacant geography classroom, at lunchtimes) it made me very nostalgic indeed.

The rest of the week has been spent reading A Question of Upbringing, the first volume of A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell. I’ve agreed to try and read one volume a month for the whole year (there are twelve volumes, duh), inspired by Andy Miller of the Backlisted podcast (and my friend John who is a Backlisted devotee and who is embarking on the same challenge).

In the middle of reading that, I devoured Andy Miller’s own book, The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life. I devoured it over a day and a half. It’s brilliant.

Watched this week:

Went to see The Post and, as predicted, I loved it. It’s definitely flawed, but not very. And the fact that it seems to have been made specifically for me (a self-confessed Ben Bradlee nerd) helps a lot. If you have seen and enjoyed The Post, then you should seek out the HBO documentary The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee (that’s the trailer above).

I also watched Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, the story of Dr. William Marston, the Harvard psychologist who helped invent the lie detector test and created Wonder Woman and his polyamorous relationship with his wife and their student. This is more flawed than The Post, mainly because it tries to cram an awful lot in to a 100 minutes and has to skip over a lot to tell the story it wants to tell. But what is there is nicely shot and it’s just great to see a love story like this told in a Hollywood move (and, my god, Rebecca Hall is magnificent).