Nostalgia cascade

Some of my business cards carry the title, ‘Time Lord’. While I don’t own a tardis and only possess one heart, I do travel through space and time, to help people to solve problems. Cultural problems, that they need to resolve in order to succeed in their vocation. And then they pay me, which is important when you’re not actually from Galifrey.

I’m able to be a Time Lord because I’m a historian. However, my vocation is made both more meaningful and more possible by the dramatic shift in the very fabric of cultural history over the past couple of decades. Part of this transformation in the place-time continuum is characterised by the nostalgia cascade. Continue reading

Adventures of Metal Girl

You know you’re an adult when you start searching YouTube for music videos from your youth, briefly sinking into nostalgia for the ‘simple days’ before you remember that your teen years were mostly spent ignoring homophobic abuse and desperately pursuing misguided love interests. Now that I’m officially an adult, it’s interesting to look back and find the media fragments that snuck into my head like larvae, and grew together into colonies of thoughts about identity. Metal girl was one of them. Continue reading


The V&A’s postmodernism exhibition (curated by my teachers – you can tell I don’t get out much) closed this week. Some belated musings…

Following the ascendancy of Lady Gaga, and the opening years of our achingly familiar economic apocalypse, the exhibition was well timed. We are struggling on as the world we grew up with collapses around us, and we’ve turned once again to quotation as the building blocks for our sterile, virtual spaces of distraction. In fact, in the social media age, quotation isn’t just a creative strategy, but a behaviour in which we all engage through ‘social sharing’ and retweeting.

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Wired disconnection

Arduino and LEDs showing results of an internet search

This is a quick write-up of an Arduino art consulting job I always intended to find photographs of, to no avail. Given the lack of lovely graphics to encourage your eye down the page, I’ll keep it brief.

The internet is growing, but as it grows, it is falling apart. This was the message of a communication designer, who came to me asking for an Arduino script and circuit that would fit inside a modem case, and flash LEDs upon receiving an output from other programs, which I didn’t write. The other program was set to search the internet for dead links and other signs of network degradation. It kicked out a file containing the number discovered of each of four types of errors. My component would flash a different light for each type, each time a new fault was discovered in the web.

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Selling to social selves

Facebook has become more panoptic. In doing so, it is leading the trend towards greater sharing online, a loss of anonymity, and the growth of a huge market in making cyberspace social. Google, threatened by the transformation of the online economy from links to likes, is trying to follow suit, holding services that people have come to depend upon ransom to its real names policy. Facebook’s policy change is, as always, motivated by the desire to increase advertising revenue, by making it easier for advertisers to target users who are most likely to buy particular products and services. This post is about advertising. It’s illustrated with beautiful Shiseido ads that, I suspect, speak not to the social self, but to something that Facebook can’t touch in its current state. Continue reading

Cornbread with sundried tomatoes and olives

Cornbread has become a major part of my life. Easy to make, easy to vary the flavour, and easy to incorporate in lots of different dishes, baking a large corn bread is a great way of having tasty food at hand to be eaten at any time of day. When it’s fresh it’s great on its own as a breakfast or snack, then as it gets firmer it’s great with a vegetable sauce, and towards the end of its life it makes the most delicious croutons for a really satisfying salad. Continue reading