Alex Tighe

Spare a thought for the other existential crises. Remember climate change? Wealth inequality? The rising tide of fascism? Then there’s our newest apocalypse: bad technology. When we look back, the three years from late 2016 to early 2020 will go down as the time the scales fell from our eyes. Maybe the devices we have insinuated into nearly every moment of our lives had their own aims for us all along – our time, our attention, our outrage. In 2018, the runner-up for the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year was ‘techlash’: ‘A strong and widespread negative reaction to the growing power and influence of large technology companies, particularly those based in Silicon Valley.’

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If you’ve somehow avoided listening to podcasts, you will have missed out on the recent explosion of long-form audio storytelling – and I mean it, you’ve really missed out. The show which pioneered the form, This American Life (TAL), pulls a cool four to five million listeners each week ...

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‘A book about waiting’ was perhaps a hard sell for Jason Farman to make to his publisher. Waiting, so the consensus goes, sucks. It is the elephant graveyard of time, the dead zone between something and something else. Who would want to spend more time on waiting? It helps to clarify that Delayed Response is not ...

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You probably own a smartphone. Chances are it’s in your pocket right now, or at least within arm’s reach – don’t pick it up. Fight the habit. Besides, you’ve probably checked it in the last fifteen minutes. If you are an average user, intentionally or not, you will spend three to four hours looking at its screen today. If you did check your phone after the second sentence, then well done for making it back to this piece, although (according to some research) it probably took you about twenty-five minutes to refocus.

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What is tinkering? As Katherine Wilson makes clear in Tinkering: Australians reinvent DIY culture, there is an easy answer to that question – but also several complex ones. At the physical level, tinkering is what the protagonists in Wilson’s book do: they convert cars to run on vegetable oil ...

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