Emoji diversity: how ‘silly little faces’ can make a big difference

When Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge sent his fiancee to the wrong side of London for dinner, he sent an apologetic text message. He received an emoji-less reply: “It’s fine.” “We all know that’s not what it means at all. That means ‘it’s not fine’,” he said, pointing out that emoji have infiltrated language so deeply […]

Click plate: how Instagram is changing the way we eat

The annual Waitrose food and drink report, released on Wednesday, focuses on the way in which food has become social currency thanks to how we share and discuss it online. It is impossible to wade through the quagmire of social media without segueing into virtual treasure troves of #foodporn, #instafood and proudly #delicious content. According […]

Machine logic: our lives are ruled by big tech’s ‘decisions by data’

  Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. “We’re trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the ‘evil platforms’, whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can’t. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are […]

A massive disconnect: Hang on to those smartphones

Have the people who write this “old man yells at cloud” material ever actually used a smartphone? Sure, they can often be used to play pointless games like Flappy Bird or Crossy Road or Shooty Skies or LinkedIn, but they can also be used to — are you sitting down? — connect to people. Yes, […]

Conversation in the Post-iPhone World

I have seen this resilience during my own research at a device-free summer camp. At a nightly cabin chat, a group of 14-year-old boys spoke about a recent three-day wilderness hike. Not that many years ago, the most exciting aspect of that hike might have been the idea of roughing it or the beauty of […]

Metroland, 100 years on: what’s become of England’s original vision of suburbia?

Planners, architects and builders are not the only ones who create cities. The suburban landscape of north-west London owes its existence, largely, to the imagination of the Metropolitan Railway’s marketing department. One hundred years ago, in the summer of 1915, the railway’s publicity people devised the term “Metroland” to describe the catchment area of villages […]

The future of brands in a post-human world

Much of our communication is now computerised. So many of our services that we enjoy for free and with spontaneity are served to us via an algorithm. By 2020, it’s predicted that the internet of things will be present in about 30bn devices and there will be more machine-to-machine communication taking place than human-to-machine communication. […]

Blinded by technology: has our belief in Silicon Valley led the world astray?

When Microsoft programmer Kentaro Toyama was sent by his employers to India in 2004, charged with using technology to improve education, he expected to swoop in armed with gadgets and effect whizzy social change. It didn’t quite pan out like that. Toyama had some early successes at Microsoft Research India, including the invention of a […]

The mistake we all make… and the simple experiment that reveals it

Easterners tend to have a holistic perspective on the world. They see objects (including people) in their contexts, they’re inclined to attribute behaviour to situational factors, and they attend closely to relationships between people and between objects. Westerners have a more analytic perspective. They attend to the object, notice its attributes, categorise the object on […]