I’m a fan of the poet/novelist Nick Laird’s sometime contributions to the Guardian’s Saturday Review, and last weekend – after a holiday in Italy where he was exposed to the Slow Food Movement – he wrote about how to read poetry now was to be part of a Slow Language Movement‘. A smart sub-editor pulled the phrase into the headline, and although one of the joys of ‘slow’ as an adjective is how easily it can be used to form new movements (there are Slow Towns as well), it seems – on the basis of a quick web search – that Nick Laird’s article may represent the first sighting of an emerging issue.
It may not seem completely appropriate to make the link, but there’s a connection which runs from the McLaren fiasco in the Australian Grand Prix, through the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, to the death last week during the G20 demonstration of Ian Tomlinson. The connection is about information, how much of it there is, how it flows, and who has access to it under what circumstances.
I’ve written in the past about the future of hard-format music, but re-reading some of Bill Drummond‘s writings and interviews during the summer has brought me back to it. The manager-turned-musician-turned-cultural commentator, best known for his time with KLF, is a sort of one-person emerging issue for the music business. Reading about his latest project in conjunction with reviews of Travis Elborough’s recent book The Long-player Goodbye gave a sharp insight into the future of the industry. The rise of the long-format music artefact may have been a fifty-year blip.
What to make of the BBC Brand/Ross blow-out? It could show the power of traditional media to use digital media to whip up a firestorm, with all the political and cultural volatility implied, or it could indicate a shift in social attitudes and expectations in the wake of the credit crunch.
Concerns that success in this month’s Olympics will go to athletes who are using undetected drugs seems to be increasingly widespread as the opening ceremony approaches. I think they can learn something from professional cycling.
Since I posted on sustainable suburbs a couple of months ago, I’ve been alerted to the Forum for the Future’s seminar on the same subject. The main themes were about density and connectivity. The seminar report is a little bald; James Goodman’s blog post gives a more rounded flavour.
I contributed last week to an event in London which was designed to imagine how the notion of the museum might change. The current model, which is about 150 years old, basically consists of a building with some stuff in it, arranged according to some organising principle. It is changing already in the face of challenges from technology and shifting ideas about authority and hierarchy.
The ‘grand problematique’ is a phrase sometimes used in futures works to describe that coming collision of population increase, food supply issues, energy shortage, and climate change impact – which, it’s said, could be making our lives hell by 2030. (Colin Mason called it the ‘2030 Spike‘). There has been a wave of related reports and news stories on this recently, so I thought it would be worth running a quick score. I’m planning a series of posts covering off the stories I’ve noticed – starting with population.
The serious impact of noise on health outcomes is an emerging issue. I blogged last year about a World Health Organisation study on noise impact in Europe which suggested – among other things – that as many people died in the UK because of the effects of persistent traffic noise as in collisions. Now a similar study commissioned by the European sustainability group Transport and Environment has found that transport noise (car and rail) is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year in Europe and has external costs of €40bln a year (90% from traffic).
I blogged a few months ago about Sao Paulo’s decision to ban billboards, in the context of the Culture Jammers’ campaign against what it calls the “mental pollution” of advertising. But it’s one thing to read about a different future, and another to see it. Now Advertising Lab has pointed me towards two videos – one fact, one fiction.