The Wall Street Journal interviewed Rupert Murdoch earlier this month (in the middle of News International’s takeover campaign for the WSJ parent Dow Jones). It’s long, and more interesting for his views on newspapers than online, but he”s clearly convinced that Google is going to destroy the newspaper advertising base, and doesn’t seem so sure about his expensive acquisition (which cost $800m in 2005) of MySpace anymore. But the apparent shift towards Facebook is a more complex social issue, as a recent essay suggests.
There are interesting articles in the Welsh political and cultural magazine Planet on the recent Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections. In Wales, John Osmond writes that Labour’s position as the largest party is now on a knife edge – the long-term trend in their vote appears to be downwards and they hold nine of the ten most marginal seats. From a Scottish perspective, the historian Christopher Harvie, newly elected as a nationalist MSP, observes that Labour’s strongholds have been reduced through PR to Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Between them, these hold clues to electoral change in England.
There’s a short article in the current print edition of Resurgence magazine on how the Scottish ‘ecovillage’ of Findhorn comes to have the lowest ecological footprint ever recorded a community in the affluent ‘North’. Three factors explain this: the way the community shares goods and services; the way its food is managed; and short travel to work distances.
Weak signals are trends which are tiny, hiding in small subcultures or social groups, which on the face of it seem downright odd when first explained. (But then again, there’s a famous futures quote from James Dator which says that “”Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous.”) Is there a signal about the future hiding in the concept of word free food?
The co-founder of Intel, Andy Grove, has a saying that when you think about a technology, you shouldn’t think about what it can do today. You should think about what it would be like if it was ten times cheaper or ten times faster. I couldn’t help but think of this when reading about predictions made this week at the lanuch of the Wellcome Collection in London that DNA sequencing would be used routinely in health treatment in ten years time.
I’d better start by declaring a prejudice: I have been a natural born sceptic about the $100 lap top project, now known as ‘One Laptop Per Child [OLPC]’, ever since I first heard Nicholas Negroponte proselytise about it. There are lots of good reasons, which I’ll own up to later in this post. So: imagine my surprise when I learnt from Russell Southwood’s unique mailing list about African digital media that pilots are about to start happening.
A selection of the most pressing political questions of the moment might include the following: should women wear headscarves? May we buy and sell our bodily organs? How can we control the weather? [My emphasis]