Author Archives: Simon


As J.B. Priestley noted – “The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – a thought captured elegantly in this series of photos documenting our obsession with mobile phones by Benjamin McMahon

Stripe Partners

Earlier in the week we pressed the button on a new company website. The business is called Stripe Partners – and although the founding partners have been working together for a short while on initial client engagements we’d not previously … Continue reading

Ageing numbers

Picture cred   The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in November pumped out another batch of data relating to the ageing of the UK – here are some of the highlights: The number of state pensioners will increase by around … Continue reading

‘That full complement of riches’

For those who attended the “Why the world needs anthropologists” symposium in Amsterdam yesterday here are the slides. For those that didn’t attend I hope the notes with the slides help provide a bit of context to the more visual … Continue reading

The state of digital

A long but comprehensive ‘state of digital world’ presentation from Business Insider. The future of digital from Useful Ideas

Culture and utility

Re-reading a chapter in Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason, Le Penseé Bourgoisie today I could have cited multiple chunks of though-provoking writing. Instead, here’s a simple passage outlining, in brief, the argument of the book.

Feeding the City

Next time you stand in front of the refrigerated fixture at Pret a Manger pondering the choice of Ham & Gruyere or Line Caught Tuna baguettes, feel a little envious for those who, in Mumbai, get to consume home made … Continue reading

Mating rituals

This is what happens when a David Attenborough commentary on the natural world is overlaid on the ‘mating’ rituals of humans. Feels like a rich seam that could be mined here covering all aspects of human behaviour…

Markets and Public Institutions

The final paragraph of a long piece in the October 24th issue of the London Review of Books by Stefan Collini on the thorough-going marketisation of the British higher education system absolutely nails the massive paradox at the heart of … Continue reading

Colour tinted glaciers

Restored footage of the ill-fated 1924 British expedition to reach the summit of Everest, this clip being of ice formations at East Rongbuk Glacier in Tibet. The Epic of Everest on

Thinking differently? Really?

As a follow up to last night’s session at @unrulymedia which I really enjoyed, here’s a short but penetrating piece by Thomas Frank, author of  “Pity the Billionaire.” and “One Market Under God“. It’s a stylishly coruscating attack on the genre … Continue reading

Giving ideas away

I’ve giving a talk – well 5 minutes of comments which will likely be off the cuff etc and probably not not worth posting here – at the first Unrulyversity session of the 2013/14 academic year. The session is titled “Where Do … Continue reading

Dance of the algorithms

“…our lives are influenced by technologies not simply as objects but invisible systems that surround us, and whose architecture shapes the patterns of our lives. To live inside these invisible systems, whether they be insurance forms, loan requests, job applications … Continue reading

Why the world needs anthropologists.

I’m looking forward to speaking at this event in Amsterdam this autumn. The outline of my talk is below. ‘That full complement of riches’: the future role of anthropology in business and society ‘That full complement of riches’ is a phrase coined by … Continue reading

Anatomy of Distraction

Anyone who has a Smartphone or who lives with or mixes with people who own Smartphone – which is basically everyone in the Western world – will be able to relate to this nicely observed little film. An age old … Continue reading

Writing as a kind of observation

This is a piece of writing about writing. The original aim was simply to explore the thought that writing diaries, writing anthropological fieldnotes and maintaining blogs are  activities that share some important characteristics. My interest in all three genres, if … Continue reading

The Audience has an Audience

Interesting video by Kevin Slavin and Kenyatta Cheese

The Universal Machine

“It can be anything you want it to be. This is the nearest we have got to seeing what I would call a universal machine.” David Hockney, in a 2010 interview


From the 2012 Jefferson Lecture by Wendell E Barry  “The term “imagination” in what I take to be its truest sense refers to a mental faculty that some people have used and thought about with the utmost seriousness. The sense … Continue reading

Unaccustomed earth

“Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes … Continue reading

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