Haven't done anything on here in ages, been buried deep in my dissertation. I'm currently sitting by the phone waiting for a call to go and pick it up from the printers. I'll update the website too with some new stuff once I have the time.

Foyles and Teaching

Foyles has posted a thin sliver of my dissertation on the blog. Link here.

I'll also be starting teaching at the London College of Communication from 7th October on the Interactive Design course. It's going to be great to feed back on to the course that I enjoyed so much and hopefully I'll make it as rewarding and entertaining as it was made for me.

Girls Making Gun Sounds

I really cannot recommend 'Girls Making Gun Sounds' YouTube channel enough. As far as irreverent archiving (which is essentially all the bits of the Internet that aren't pornography or kittens) goes, it's tops.

Popular Arbitration

I seem to have been purely coincidentally coming across articles pointing out humorous reviews on popular arbitration sites (Amazon an theBay in this case) I think some divine force wants me to share them on.

One Star Amazon reviews of great novels and 10 Best Amazon Reviews Ever!

Cornell Boxes

Cornell box. A graphical Turing test designed to assess the abilities of rendering realistic but difficult environments. The basic environment consists of:
  • One light source in the center of a white ceiling 
  • A green right wall 
  • A red left wall 
  • A white back wall 
  • A white floor

Etymological World Map


In the seventies, Japanese conceptual artist and writer Akasegawa Genpei and his buddies discovered "hyperart," unintentional art created by the city itself. Everywhere they saw urban objects and structures that had had a use in the past, but were now useless ... yet someone was still maintaining them, not removing them. Akasegawa named these objects "Thomassons" after American baseball hitter Gary Thomasson, who was recruited to a Japanese team and paid a mint to look pretty, but whose bat almost never connected with the ball. Akasegawa wrote about these objects in a regular column in a Japanese photo magazine, and soon readers were submitting photos of Thomassons they had found to be evaluated. The book HYPERART: THOMASSON collected these humorous and profound columns into a manifesto of sorts ...and it was a cult hit in 1980's Japan.

Everything And Nothing

The BBC have popped out another cracking sprog of a program about the 'quest' (it's always a quest) to discover what the universe really looks like. Catch it here before they obscure licensing laws that we pay for means they have to take it down again.

Infinite Adventure

Much like my Oulipo project of some time ago, David Benque, a DI grad has had a crack at a way of mathematically constructing stories. It's not a new idea (well the particular method is) but I really like the way he used technology as one of the key elements of the project. Where we would normally fill in the insinuations of an author, the author here is the program and we are left to fill in the insinuations or even the shortcomings of the program and the way it's executed.


The startlingly addictive They Rule, was created by DI grads back in 2001 and has grown ever since, it's a concise, entirely interactive map of the most power-wielding individuals in the US. Absolutely incredible stuff.

Psychology Issues

I'm having psychological problems. Not personally, but in trying to apply psychological or neurological reasoning and interpretation as absolute on to anything I find or anything that I conclude could be dangerous. For one, the fields advance so rapidly that it's impossible for them to be entirely subjective, with different perspectives on similar ideas being very common. Secondly, they themselves are inobjective, as any analysis is already presented from a certain mindset, itself part of another machine.
This is the tragedy of so much “child psychology”: its findings are
correct and important, but do not benefit the child. Psychological
discoveries aid the adult in comprehending the child from within an
adult’s frame of reference. But such adult understanding of the machinations
of a child’s mind often increases the gap between them—the
two seem to look at the same phenomenon from such different points
of view that each sees something quite different. If the adult insists
that the way he sees things is correct—as it may well be, seen objectively
and with adult knowledge—this gives the child a hopeless feeling
that there is no use in trying to arrive at a common understanding.
Knowing who holds the power, the child, to avoid trouble and have
his peace, says that he agrees with the adult, and is then forced to go
it alone.

-Bruno Bettelheim in The Uses of Enchantment
The other large problem I have with it, is that it quantifies. The 'feelies' of Brave New World would today rely on neurological data or psychological data to quantify an individual and thus find the way to make them best respond to the stimulus on offer? Is it hypocritical to consider one as a potential evil of technology used to subdue and the other as beneficial to myself when they are, in essence, the same thing?

Recent Photos: Yota edition.

Yota Kitagawa, my best friend and flatmate has said these foggy shores to return to his own country permanently. He's lived here 12 years, i've known him 5 and lived with him 3. Sad to see him go but glad that he'll get on with things finally.

Yota's last meal

Japanese BBQ

Big hug.

I've only just realised what an incredible set of faces he has.

photos on flickr.

Pondering Dick

Although Phillip K Dick's masterful Man In The High Castle features narrative fiction, in particular one fiction; The Grasshopper Lies Heavy as it's titular key plot element, I'm unsure as to whether to include it as part of my dissertation. For one, it differs in the particularities of the style of dystopia. High Castle can't really be called a dystopia in the sense that the others are, it is in alternate present where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan win WWII, dividing America between them. Although we may experience the same alien uncomfotability with this context, the very fact that the context is so specific sets it apart from Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and so on in that they are vague, faceless, potential futures. Although High Castle quite possibly provides a link with Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, set in a very plausible future New York.

The most important difference may be the method of sedation. In Brave New World, 451 and Super Sad, the state uses the same method to surpress the population; to sate citizen's desires with meaningless consumption or entertainment. In Brave New World, sex and the 'feelies' provide quantified stimulation. In 451, the 'televisors' and drugs give us a simulated feeling of belonging to a wider society, satisfying our desires for human contact and emotion. The near-future debt-ridden America of Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story tries to save it's economy from China as well as subdue it's people with out-and-out, voracious consumerism and social networking activity.

Man In The High Castle takes a different tack. The suppression on the part of the state is done in the normal way - martial law, brutality and reluctant respect for the victors but the deception lies in the meta-nature of the plot; that neither the world inhabited by Dick's characters, nor our own is real.

The 'big reveal' that is key to dystopias - the moment when the hero realises something is systematically wrong with the world around him, caused by a state deceiving it's people, realised through technology and revealed through the reflectivity of narrative only happens when the story itself (The Grasshopper Lies Heavy) confesses to be a truth against which the entire world of Man In The High Castle is a fallacy.

Does this qualify it as a technological dystopia? And if it isn't, is it still relevant? The characters in the book are driven by a sense of unease with their world, much like the other lead characters, but since my work focuses on comparing these classic dystopias with current fears and theories about how technology and narrative interact it could end up veering slightly off the topic if dwelled on for too long, although it should be included as an important example of narrative providing, in this case quite a literal, looking glass into reality.