On data, power, and radioactivity…

[…] technology gets its power through control of data. Data at the micro-personal level gives technology unprecedented power to influence. Data is not the new oil – it’s the new plutonium. Amazingly powerful, dangerous when it spreads, difficult to clean up and with serious consequences when improperly used. Data deployed through next generation 5G networks is transforming passive infrastructure into veritable digital nervous systems.

Jim Balsillie

Cybermind offline.

Cybermind Computer House in Sim Lim Square is now permanently closed, but will Google Maps memorialise it permanently?

A doyen among the PC component retailers in Sim Lim Square, Cybermind has closed shop. Reading the news made me feel a little sad and also got me wondering…

How English clubs conquered Europe.

Trevor Francis scores the winning goal during the European Cup Final between Nottingham Forest and Malmö FF in 1979 (Copyright: The Economist)

I’ve always liked reading Jonathan Wilson’s footy writing. They are thoughtful, well-researched pieces with good insight which always make me feel smart.

His book on the history of football tactics, Inverting The Pyramid, is a challenging but fulfilling classic. It now has an American-ised edition with ‘soccer’ blindly replacing ‘football’ in the text. Total Soccer sounds like a farcical end result of a rushed publisher’s simplistic find & replace job.

On social-media, motherhood, and mood boards…

Part of me admires anyone who can turn pregnancy into yet another product of our consumerist and patriarchal society, endorsing the idea that being 38-weeks pregnant is no reason not to be photogenic and high-achieving. But a much, much bigger part of me believes the kindest thing you can do for women is tell them the unfiltered truth. Nothing reveals the gap between social-media fantasy and reality more strikingly than pregnancy, so Amy Schumer has been an overdue antidote to all of the above.

I’m off to have a baby, and I’m taking no tips from the new pregnancy influencers

Everything and more.

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (Reissue Edition)

Neal Stephenson’s introduction in the re-issued edition of the late David Foster Wallace’s Everything and More is a lengthy screamer, a small portion of which goes like this → To begin with, David Foster Wallace was arguably a science fiction writer (Infinite Jest), although he probably would not have classified himself as such. Of course Everything and More is not SF, or even F, at all, pace some of its detractors, but the mere fact of David Foster Wallace’s having been an SF kind of guy muddies the taxonomic waters before we have even gotten started. Novelists—who almost by definition hold motley and informal credentials, when they are credentialed at all—make for an uneasy fit with the academic world, where credentials are everything. And writers who produce books on technical subjects aimed at non-technical readers are doomed to get cranky reviews from both sides: anything short of a fully peer-reviewed monograph is simply wrong and subject to censure from people whose job it is to get it right, and any material that requires unusual effort to read undercuts the work’s claim to be accessible to a general audience. So in writing a book such as Everything and More, David Foster Wallace reminds us of the soldier who earns a medal by calling in an artillery strike on his own position, with the possible elaboration that in this case he’s out in the middle of no-man’s land calling in strikes from both directions.