Where’s Watson?

If you are Brisbane based I’m at the Avid Reader bookstore (193 Boundary St) tonight 6.30-8.00pm. I’m then back at the Sydney Writers’ Festival Thursday & Friday for a couple more events (9.30pm Thursday late night salon conversation with Yanis Varoufakis and Starlee Kline and then 11.30am Friday panel session with T.L. Uglow and PJ Voght called ‘Should we delete the internet?’). Friday night I’m out on the town if any Sydney based readers fancy a beer (probably the bar at Alpha in Castlereigh St from about 8pm).

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What happens to learning when your teacher is an app?

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 14.55.27Nice book extract (on education) in the Australian Financial Review.

About a ten-minute read. Click here for article.

Here’s how it starts…

It has never been easier to give the illusion of intelligence. If you know the right people to follow, or the right publications to plunder, you can cut and paste your way to instant academic credibility. I’m doing it right now. This idea isn’t mine, but comes instead from a 2014 New York Times article called “Faking Cultural Literacy”.

The article argues, correctly in my view, that we live in an era where our opinions are increasingly based on very little knowledge.What matters is not knowledge itself, but knowledge of the fact that a thing exists or is happening. Who needs to take time learning about something when we can just skim Twitter? We’re all busy people, after all.

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Lines for a life online

We rate and rank and tag and post,
We swipe and tweet and troll and toast (lol!),
We check and watch and Like and bray,
And do it all again next day.”

‘When We’re Not Sleeping’, Antony Funnell

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Brains Vs. Computers

Quote of the week

“If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” Emerson M. Pugh

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Science and Fiction

Infinity loop - Final 2Couple of public events people may be interested in. The first is Hackstock this Friday. It’s at The Trampery, 239 Old Street in London and it’s part of the London Sci-Fi Festival. I’m in conversation with science fiction author Lavie Tidhar. The second event is on May 7 and it’s a panel death about what’s next in science and fiction. If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi you really should come along. I’m moderating.

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Digital Vs. Human (Reviews)

So the first review is in for Digital Vs. Human: How we’ll live, love and think in the future. It gets 9/10 and “Watson comes out fighting” from the Herald newspaper, which I’m more than happy to live with in the future.

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Screens vs. Paper


I’ve just been going through a pile of paper torn out of various magazines over the past year. In the pile I found a single page torn from the New York Review of Books. I’m afraid I’m not 100 % certain who wrote this, but it’s likely to be from the Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen.

“Computers keep total records, but not of effort, and the pages inked out by their printers leave none. Screens preserve no blemishes or failures. Screens preserve nothing human. Save in the fossiliferous prints left behind by touch. But a page – only a page can register the sorrows of the crossings, bad word choice, good word choice gone bad, the gradual dulling of pencil lead…A notebook is the only place you can write about shit like this and not give a shit, like this. Cheap and tattered, a forgiving space, dizzyingly spiral bound, coiled helical. ”

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How Digital Vs. Human was written


If anyone is wondering how a book gets put together here’s how I did it. Firstly, I didn’t start with a title. In fact for the first 6-months this book was simply called ‘FF2’ (Future Files 2) and later More or Less Human. Eventually a number of key themes started to emerge, notably screens, the internet, phones, automation, robots and AI and eventually the final title (Digital v Human).


As you can see I had an A4 yellow notebook that held all my ideas (not backed up!!!) and eventually I had the key thoughts for each of the chapters once the chapter list was sorted out. The chapter names took forever, but I think they work really well.


So that’s it really. It started in September 2014 and was done by January 2016.


Free chapter downloads and online ordering links here.

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Books and Bookshops


Digital Vs. Human launches today in the UK. Free downloads and more here.

Meanwhile, here’s a little something I wrote on the future of bookshops for the Bookseller called Do bookshops have a shelf life?

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The Rise of AI

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 14.44.21

Very good 9-minute film from PBS. Made in 2013. Link here.

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