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Titles matter. I stumbled across an interesting web site with advice about titling your talks. The advice also applies to headings for essays, articles, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. Olivier Mitchell writes that in order to create a title “that gets people flocking to your session,” it ought to do at least one of the following (1) … Continue reading

Troll farming

When did the Internet lose its innocence? In 1993 pioneering advocate for life online Howard Rheingold wrote in The Virtual Community: “People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and … Continue reading

Web of nature

Networks are everywhere. “Always think of the universe as one living organism,” said Marcus Aurelius the Stoic philosopher (and Roman Emperor — one of the good ones), “Remark the intricacy of the skein, the complexity of the web” (73). I’ve referenced this before. The sentiment is simple: if you only realised how interconnected your circumstances were to … Continue reading

Born of the Earth

Androids are made not born. “Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction,” wrote Donna Haraway. Automata are not the only beings denied parentage. Remember, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Fast forward 4 minutes into the recent video installation by Bill Viola in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, to see man rising from the dust of … Continue reading

Why cartoons have animals 2

Watching pet owners coach their pets to talk provides one of the more amusing diversions on YouTube. Apparently you can train a dog to say “hello” as a kind of vocalised yawn, or to growl out something like “sausages.” In a post in May 2012 I outlined 9 reasons why cartoons feature animals. Here’s a 10th reason: getting animals to talk. It’s obvious: animals (non-human) … Continue reading

Feeling free in flight

As India’s Mangalyaan rocket sets its course for Mars, it’s worth reflecting on those deep seated reasons for aiming so high, and at such a cost. Not much further down the list from national pride, international competition, hothousing engineering and scientific talent and the slim probability of distant economic rewards come the symbolic and psychological associations of … Continue reading

What’s wrong with posthumanism

One of the benefits of strange encounters is that they cause us to reflect, to see the familiar as peculiar. When I’m in reflective mode, films about parasitic alien life forms and rogue humanoid robots help me ponder the human condition: my frailty and finitude, or that my life is much better than it could … Continue reading

Brand me

Social media encourages, and even requires, personal branding. According to a leading self-help book on brand and image, your personal brand is “what people say about you when you are out of the room.” So I guess my brand is, “When is he going to get back with those coffees!” Mark Globé identifies the prominence … Continue reading

The one and the many

Plato (c. 428-427 BCE) promoted the idea of a unity, a world of perfect being, somewhere beyond our grasp, but to which we aspire, and of which we bear a kind of primordial memory. The imperfect, sensible world we happen to inhabit now is of multiplicity and variation, a world of flux and becoming.[1] But … Continue reading

Wired-Up Words

An A–Z of Awkward Ideas for a Wired World (DRAFT in process, Admin) Introduction: Networks and Word Play The public platform of the Word Wide Web (sic) is populated with neologisms, portmanteau terms, the alleged language of the street, and bad puns — not to mention spelling mistakes. Writers for the web now have license to … Continue reading

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