Author Archives: Simon

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 Nowness.com

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

Imagination

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

Mountains and Minds

I’m reading Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind. A terrific books from which I could quote any number of passages. Here’s one nice passage: “Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are … Continue reading

Big data, asymmetry and business

[This post is a little longer than initially planned - it's about a 15 minutes read] It was of little surprise that big data figured as a major presence at EPIC 2013 in London last week. In a session devoted … Continue reading

The ageing process

A staggering 5 minute time lapse video of the ageing process showing the imperceptible transition from school child to old age, via The Verge, where you can learn more about how this was made.

Avatars of the political process

“Drones are avatars of the the political process: they are instantiations of a set of ideologies and beliefs, made visible by their reification in electromechanical systems. When we talk about drones, we are really talking about the politics that demand, … Continue reading

On numbers

“To depend on statistics is to asphyxiate the dynamic heart of the business.” Simon Marks, co-founder of the UK retail giant, Marks and Spencer, 1956.

Possessive companies

Typically sharp and incisive piece by Benedict Evans on the tendency for companies to think, and talk, about owning their customers. He relates this specifically to Google Glass but the point relates to all and every business that slips into … Continue reading

The said and the unsaid

When the FT Magazine did a special issue on visual design anthropologist Gillian Tett opted to highlight the influential thinking of Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of doxa as a way of showing how what is left unsaid is a … Continue reading

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