Category: Uncategorized

Finding the unfamiliar

Entering a corporate building you’ve never been in is always slightly odd. Every component of the place – from the size of the name space in the sign-in book, to the direction of the door handles – seems significant. Small procurement decisions seem to form a pattern of accidental iceberg-tips that you’re sure, given enough […]

Relative economies of scale II

Without people telling me, I know what they want. The only problem is, when they go away without telling me. Sue Kirk runs the shop on Eigg – a small island in the inner hebrides. It has a great selection of local beers, alongside what seems to be a disproportionately vast array of “ambient groceries” (things […]

Forget it Jake, its Chinatown

Thinking about Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, again. This time in preparation for a talk I’m giving in at SDNC in Cardiff next week on ‘transformation’. In the film, ‘The Chinese’, like desert water forced into a pipe, are a euphemism for carefully controlled chaos in LA – omnipotent, unpredictable, uncontrollable forces at work somewhere ‘below’ the […]

Relative economies of scale

Last month I spent a week on Eigg, a small island in the inner Hebrides (as part of the latest Devfort). The island has between 90-100 inhabitants, depending on the season. Its not isolated – theres a ferry to the mainland twice a day – but it is remote. Because of this, the island has […]

Elective order

  Diversity was created in the history of New York because none of these areas of activity had enough power to control its own limits as a community. None of them was rich and centralised enough to wall its self off, and so each suffered the intrusion of the other by necessity. Richard Sennett, The […]

What we talk about when we talk about Things

Our hypertext is not the same as Engelbart’s hypertext, because it does not serve the same purpose. Our video conferencing is not the same as Engelbart’s video conferencing, because it does not serve the same purpose. They may look similar superficially, but they have different meanings. They are homophones, if you will. Bret Victor The […]


The disposal of personalisation often feels personal in a way that is out of proportion with the object that is being disposed of. Like the remains of a house made of paper and stone, a name and a cup have different rates of decay, losing form and structure by abstraction at different speeds.

A modular, tea drinking ecosystem

No one person designed this. It happened over the course of a day at Chelsea flower show, as tea drinker after tea drinker swirled their tea, ditching the bag and stick. I doubt either that these two objects were designed with this use in mind – that just happened too – a strange by-product of […]


A couple of weeks back I spent a few days in Saas Almagell, Switzerland. The brightest, most expensive place on earth. Winters are harsh but bring predictably huge amounts of dry tourist-baiting snow to every surface. With the addition of vast quantities of tiny, mouldable snowflakes – and some careful raking – roads are transformed […]

Use and non-use

Spending a long overdue weekend wandering aimlessly in the New Forest. Like everywhere else in the UK, it’s landscape never seems far away from human curation. A place where things that are un-planned are put to good use – and anything that cant be, is signposted. In places like this, natural and un-natural are just […]