Essays, reviews and longer pieces

Frank Kermode Remembered: My personal tribute to a great scholar and a good friend Observer August 22, 2010.

An exchange with James Gleick: A conversation with James Gleick about his book, The Information. Observer April 10, 2011.

Steve Jobs’s Commencement Address: My annotated version of Steve Jobs’s famous Stanford Commencement Address, Observer October 9, 2011.

Steve Pinker and the decline of violence: A conversation with Stephen Pinker about his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity Observer October 15, 2011.

John Brockman: A conversation with John Brockman, the literary agent who made science writing into a big deal and founded one of the world’s most thought-provoking websites, Observer January 8, 2012.

Present at the Creation: A conversation with George Dyson about Turing’s Cathedral, his account of the origins of computing, Observer February 26, 2012.

Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science: An essay marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn’s great book about how science works, Observer August 19, 2012.

Are We Getting Smarter? A review of James Flynn’s book, Guardian September 28, 2012.

An exchange with Jaron Lanier: A conversation with Jaron Lanier about his book Who Owns The Future?, Observer March 17, 2013.

The New Digital Age: My review of The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. Observer April 29, 2013.

The lure of Silicon Fen: An essay on the evolution of the innovation ecosystem surrounding the city and University of Cambridge. Observer December 1, 2013.

The Importance of Being Edward: An essay on the significance of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA (and corporate) surveillance. Observer December 29, 2013.

Facebook@10: A piece about the social networking service’s first decade. Observer February 2, 2014.

25 things you might not know about the Web A piece to mark the Web’s 25th birthday. In the Observer March 9, 2014.

Flash Boys and the Politics of Expertise Some reflections on Michael Lewis’s account of High Frequency Traders. In the Observer April 6, 2014.

The People’s Platform My review of Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform: And Other Digital Delusions In the Observer April 20, 2014.

Big Data: the Rorschach Blot of our times An essay on Big Data. In the Observer June 8, 2014.

Virtual Cash My review of Edward Castronova’s book, Wildcat Currency Observer June 22, 2014.

Leica and Me An essay to mark the centenary of the Leica camera Observer August 24, 2014.

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo My review of Nicholas Carlson’s book about Yahoo’s CEO, *Observer, January 4, 2015.

The Concierge Economy My essay on Uber, Observer December 28, 2014.

The Internet is not the Answer My review of Andrew Keen’s book of that title, Observer February 1, 2015.

You can’t always get what you want A lecture delivered at Trinity College, Dublin, April 29, 2015. Video here but quality not great. I recommend the text instead.

Where there’s geeks, there’s brass My review of Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold, Observer May 31, 2015.

Run, Larry, Run My OpEd piece about Larry Lessig’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Observer, September 6, 2015.

Whither Twitter My OpEd piece, Observer, February 14, 2016.

The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken My review, Observer, August 14, 2016.

Forget ideology, liberal democracy’s newest threats come from technology and bioscience My essay on Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Observer, August 28, 2016.

The Long History of ‘Cyber’ My review of Thomas Rid’s The Rise of the Machines: the Lost History of Cybernetics, Observer, September 11, 2016.

Russian hacking of the US election is the most extreme case of how the internet is changing our politics My longish piece on how the Internet was shaping US politics, Observer, September 18, 2016.

Has the Internet become a failed state? An essay on how to think about the future of our networked world, Observer November 27, 2016.

Tim Wu: ‘The internet is like the classic story of the party that went sour’ My review of Tim Wu’s *The Attention Merchants plus an email exchange with the author, Observer, January 8, 2017.

Move Fast and Break Society My review of Jonathan Taplin’s Move fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Have Cornered Culture and What It Means For All Of Us, Observer, April 16, 2017.

My review of Garry Kasparov’s book, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins, Observer, June 4, 2017.

“Challenges to Silicon Valley won’t come just from Brussels” Longish comment piece on the context of the European Commission’s €2.4B fine on Google, Observer 3 July, 2017. Link

Why we need a 21st-century Martin Luther to challenge the church of tech My Introduction to my 95 Theses about Technology project. Observer, 29 October, 2017.