Posts in Thinking

The end of TINA

Yesterday, I experienced something entirely new. I finally learnt what it felt like to celebrate an election result. To be honest, I’d given up hope of ever having this experience. I thought my politics were simply too far to the left, and I would never find a candidate to cheer. I could certainly never muster any enthusiasm for Tony Blair’s… Read More

On the violence of borders

I recently visited Ceuta, a piece of the north African coast that belongs to Spain and is hence part of “Europe”. It was a very strange and disturbing experience to cross that border so easily just by showing my British passport, when many people with different-coloured passports die trying to do the same thing. Here’s a photo I took of the… Read More

The Things I Care About

What do you really care about? I asked myself that question recently, and I was surprised by the results. Firstly, it seems that I care about quite a lot of things. And secondly, although I care about these things, they’re generally not the things that I spend most of my time talking about, writing about, reading about, and taking action on. So it was a… Read More

The Future of Books: Reactive?

How would you like to read a book that reacted to your emotions, and changed its storyline to give you exactly what you wanted? It sounds bizarre, impossible and faintly terrifying, but according to this article in NewScientist magazine, it’s coming soon, not just to books, but to movies, TV and other formats. Welcome to the world of “reactive media.”… Read More

Interactive apps for books: Q&A with author Vince Kamp

Personally, I like reading traditional, app-free books. I like to immerse myself in a story, taking a break from all the pictures and links and interactivity. But I also recognise that things are changing, and that people have different reading styles. The digital world offers so many new possibilities, from ‘enhanced’ ebooks to interactive apps. It’s important to keep up… Read More

The limits of automatic recommendation systems

I was reading an article in NewScientist the other day about a system devised by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, which “could form the basis of a recommendation system that makes suggestions based solely on an automatic assessment of the text.” Unlike Amazon’s recommendations, which look at sales, and those on sites like Goodreads, which look at reader… Read More

What is privilege?

When people hear about my background, they immediately think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I went to Oxford, you see, and before that to a pretty exclusive private school (pictured), and even before that to a private primary school. Add in some high-flying jobs and a master’s from an Ivy League university in the US,… Read More

Zen and the art of genius

Have you ever been in the state of “flow”? Everything seems easy and effortless. Problems that would usually stump you for hours you can now solve in minutes. I’ve had those states sometimes in my writing. The words pour out of me, and I can tell they’re good. When I was writing my second novel, A Virtual Love, I wrote… Read More