Amy Orben on tech panics of the past

In 1941 Mary Preston published “Children’s Reactions to Movie Horrors and Radio Crime” in The Journal of Pediatrics … The American paediatrician had studied hundreds of six to sixteen-year-old children and concluded that over half were severely addicted to radio and movie crime dramas, having given themselves “over to a habit-forming practice very difficult to overcome, no matter how the aftereffects are…

Recommendation: Econtalk with Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works

I highly recommend this episode of Econtalk with Matt Ridley talking about how innovation makes inventions useful by making them available, affordable and reliable. The Academy of Ideas podcast is a good overview of the book’s key points about how innovation works and made me feel that I probably didn’t need to read it. This excellent interview with Russ Roberts…

Incremental innovation: coffee cups from Ikea

It’s a small thing, but it’s very thoughtful of them. Ikea (they probably got the idea from someone else) added drainage slots to the bases of their coffee cups so that they dry better. This is particularly good news for users of dishwashers: there are few things more annoying than sprinkling brackish dishwasher juice from the base of a mug…

Educated (2): How to learn to learn

As the pace of technological change accelerates, we will spend most of our lives as – in Kevin Kelly’s words – perpetual newbies. Even so-called “digital natives” will find themselves out of their comfort zones in a few short years, jealous of how the next generation seems to find the newest technology so easy. In this context, the ability to…

Recommendation: Kevin Kelly on the future of…

Kevin Kelly is reliably insightful and thought-provoking and often fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever read or listened to something of his that hasn’t made me see the world (particularly technology) in a new way, and with my curiosity piqued to find out more. Today’s recommendation is for a new series of 36 short lectures he’s sharing on YouTube about…

Not long ago, or Little by little (4): Dolly Parton on the scar on her toes

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… Somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains c1950… Jad Abumrad: She told me one story about how one day, when she was about seven or eight, she…

Matt Ridley: 15 principles of innovation from “How Innovation Works”

I think it [Innovation] is the most important thing that happens in history, bar none. It’s what explains all the trends that happen in the world, it’s what explains the prosperity, but it’s also what explains all the other cultural trends – it explains how social media has gone crazy and things like that. Innovation is at the heart of…

Recommendation: The Cool Tools Show

I suppose this is a meta-recommendation: the tool is the Cool Tools podcast, featuring Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly. If you’re into or interested in one or more of… Technology and internet stuff DIY and craftiness Electronics / makerism Gardening Books, publishing and design Conversations with interesting people Tools! … then you are likely to enjoy this podcast. It’s shortish…

Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…

Not long ago, or Little by little (2): Indoor plumbing

[Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s the Chinese city of Kunming in 1980: Li Kunwa and Phillipe Ôtié’s A Chinese Life is an amazing memoir – a lens into sixty years of struggle and upheaval…