Confessions of a location scout: why the New York beloved of the movies doesn’t exist any more

Take alleyways, for example. From the movies, you’d think Manhattan to be riddled with dank, dangerous, trash-strewn back-alleys, complete with rusting fire escapes and crumbling, graffiti-covered brick walls. So it often comes as a total shock to most directors when we tell them that Manhattan actually has only three or four of these types of […]

Syrian Journey: why the BBC is right to make a game about the refugee crisis

“The idea that in the future, news will be played rather than read is quite hard for some people to think about,” she says. “If you look at the history of journalism, whenever a new platform comes online, whether that’s been radio, television or the internet, you’ve had people saying that news could never migrate. […]

Digerati, heal thyself: Blaming our shortcomings on our devices

More often than not, when you’re ignoring your friends at the table, you’re doing it to connect to someone else. Is that always good? Maybe not, but the ability to connect to people who aren’t near us is just as important as being able to connect to those around us. It’s one of the fricking […]

To mourn a robotic dog is to be truly human

When a Japanese pet is ceremonially cremated, the owners return after the ashes have cooled to sift through them with special chopsticks, picking out the bones one by one and transferring them to their final resting urn. This was the strangest thing I knew about Japanese funeral rites until I discovered that Buddhist priests there […]

A quick guide to speaking Franglais

Of course, this is not to say it is a linguistic one-way street – English has in fact historically adopted many words from the French language. Today, however, French speakers seem to use the nifty formula of adding ‘ing’ to an English word for coining terms for many new concepts and products. “Le brushing” for […]

Buses, canteens, parking – is cash on the way out?

With buses in London no longer accepting cash, work canteens and vending machines moving rapidly towards being card-only, and even schools looking for parent payments for special events to be made online, it could well seem that the days of British coinage are numbered. There is even an unemployed man who reportedly begs in Mayfair […]

Dead Drops: what to do if you see a USB stick sticking out of a wall

In the early days of espionage, spies needed a way to exchange sensitive material in public without meeting: a system of “dead drops” was developed (distinct from a “live drop”, when spies met). A small hollow behind a loose brick in an alleyway wall or under a flagstone on a towpath were perfect for stashing […]