The lights are on but nobody’s home



This makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve been writing Future Files 2 from my home office for the last few months and things are going well. I can pick tomatoes from the greenhouse on the way to work and the office is full of natural light. Contrast this with the situation six months ago when the office was dark and I couldn’t seem to get anything done.

I read today that a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine says that working in a windowless, or dark, office can result in disturbed sleep patterns. Workers who sit close to a window, or other source of natural light, have better moods and more focus.

Prolonged lack of natural light can result in poor sleep, which is itself linked to obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Interestingly, positive effects are only achieved with exposure to daylight, which contains what’s known as blue light, and not with exposure to general office or household lighting, which does not.

Overall, my home office (the other one is on a ship in the Thames) is great for six months of the year (when it’s warm and light), but even then there’s something important that’s missing. It’s people. I think this is what the whole telecommuter, flexi-working, work anywhere you want thing misses and why it’s so hard to get a seat to drink your coffee in Starbucks – because the place is full of people working.

There are times when a lack of people is a really good thing. There are times when peace and quiet reign supreme. But at other times we need to interact with people, even if all we do is sit alongside someone and say nothing.



Posted in Offices | 8 Comments

A Generation on Fire

“The American Psychological Association released a report in 2013 that found the millennial generation – those aged 18-34 – had a higher rate of stress (5.4 out of 10) than the U.S. population as a whole (4.9). Moreover, nearly 40 percent of young Americans said their stress levels had increased in the past year, while 52 percent admitted that anxiety keeps them awake at night. Stress and anxiety are manifested as themes in modern youth entertainment.
In our 2012 probe A Generation on Fire, we noted the immense popularity of teen dystopian fiction and film series. The Hunger Games was highly symbolic of the chasm between youth and the ruling generation, which evolves into a David versus Goliath narrative. In this case, the young prevented from participating fully in a system tilted by the old for those growing old at the expanse of the young.This generational theme is observable and throughout the culture. Entertainment provides the clearest window into the dynamic. Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is the next dystopian tale to hit the big screen. Teens are forced into a form of academic testing that determines their place in the world for life. The symbolism is straightforward. Standardized college tests – SAT and ACT – are stress producing in part because they are separators. The fact the tests can be gamed by the rich – high-priced test preparation classes, private tutors, and financial ability to take multiple tests is a source for even deeper anxiety, even among the rich. Divergent’s main character “fails” her test. She vows to subvert “the system,” and eventually helps to create a classless society.

Aside from dystopian fiction, we have observed the rise of a decidedly realistic genre of young adult fiction dubbed “sick-lit,” which has quietly replaced stories of werewolves and vampires on best-seller lists. This genre employs themes of illness, particularly cancer, bullying, and self- harm. Several of the genre’s novels have millions of copies in print, have been optioned for film, are in production, or have already been released.
Three of the most popular are:
• By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead – A bullied girl contemplates suicide and is befriended by a boy with cancer.
• Thirteen Reasons Why – A teen girl commits suicide, but leaves a trail of reasons that remind others of the harm that can be caused by their callous actions.
• The Fault in Our Stars – Tells the story of two cancer-stricken teens who fall in love in a cancer support group.
The depth of anxiety in young people is anomalous. So too is the way this anxiety is being satiated: via narratives based on particularly grisly forms of actual, psychological death. The depth of connection within these themes is striking. The top nine books on Amazon’s bestsellers list include: Dark Souls II – the guide to a video game “that is darker” than ever and “this time death is certain”- (No. 1); The Fault in our Stars (No 2); Divergent (No. 4); Divergent 3-book Series (No. 6); Divergent – second title in the series (No. 8); The Book Thief – a young girl’s life is narrated by “Death” (No. 9). Another title in the Divergent series ranks No. 12.
The mind requires harmony between the inner and outer world. Significant and fundamental change is in motion.”

Taken (with permission) from Williams Inference A Generation on Fire (2012)

Posted in 2014 Trends, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Idea of the month (folk in a box)

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 18.00.28







I’m in love this this idea. Live music in a box. One musician. I audience member. Britain’s smallest live music venue. Apparently some people have come out of it crying due to the intimate nature of the experience. Huge respect to Emily and Dom who came up with the idea and did it. Read more here. If you need something innovative for a party or event throw your money at this. BTW, how about poetry in a box? Or love in a box (blind dates).

Australian version at the Sydney Festival here.

Posted in Ideas | Leave a comment


Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 14.09.21










I do like this (well I don’t, but you probably know what I mean). Might sit nicely against ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ as an iconic image of the early part of the 21st Century.

Source: Unknown.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stat of the week

Around 24,000 suicide attempts are made in the UK every year by 10-19 year-olds.

Posted in Stats | Leave a comment

New issue of What’s Next

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 20.28.53


What’s Next issue 35 has just gone live. A perfect holiday read. Link right here.

Posted in What's Next | Leave a comment


Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.13.02


Surely this isn’t good?

Posted in Digital culture | Leave a comment


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Hell is other people” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Screen shot 2014-07-24 at 09.31.15













I was going to save this for my Web Sight (sic) of the month in my brainmail newsletter, but it’s just too (LOL) good to wait. Sent in by Matt Doyle in Robertson, Australia. I think we can all assume this will feature in my next book too. Link here. Explanation below.

“Sometimes, everybody needs a break from everybody. Enter Avoid Humans—a web-based app that combs data from Foursquare and Instagram check-ins, giving you the nearest places in your area with the least amount of humans. The app is divided into four categories-nightlife, food, coffee and refuge—and each location is color coded to indicate the current level of human presence.”

Posted in Digital culture, Switching off | Leave a comment

The Future of Holidays

Screen shot 2014-07-22 at 12.46.34

If you’re lying on a beach, or around a pool, in the northern hemisphere, here’s some holiday reading – a report on the future of holidays and travel. Click on this link.

Posted in Travel & Tourism | Leave a comment