Feb 27, 2014

Don't be taken in by Amazon's friendly face

When corporate types gather to schmooze at expensive watering holes they talk about competition as an unalloyed public good. It’s seen in Darwinian terms: companies engaged in a ceaseless battle for survival, with only the fittest emerging triumphant. But generally the discussion is couched ...

Feb 20, 2014

Cracking the code of computer education

Last week, my inbox began to fill up with angry emails. Had I seen the dreadful/unbelievable/disgraceful/hilarious (delete as appropriate) “Newsnight” interview with Lottie Dexter? I hadn’t, and as I’d never heard of Ms. Dexter, I wasn’t unduly bothered. After all, life is too short ...

Feb 13, 2014

The trouble with books that change over time

A few weeks ago, I bought a copy of “The Second Machine Age” by two MIT researchers, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who are among the most insightful commentators currently writing about the likely impact on employment of advanced robotics, machine learning and big-data ...

Should we be scared by the rise of Zuck?

Feb 2, 2014

Should we be scared by the rise of Zuck?

On Tuesday, Facebook will turn 10 years old. It has 1.23 billion users. Ponder those two facts for a moment. A company that did not exist 10 years ago now has as many users as India has people. If you wanted a case study ...

Jan 23, 2014

Kid-friendly app cat gets its claws into your iWallet

It’s 4.30 on a gloomy winter’s afternoon. I’m sitting with my grandson having one of those conversations in which grandsons explain complicated stuff to their grandads. He is 4 years old, omniscient in the way that 4-year-olds are, and tolerant of my ignorance of ...

Jan 16, 2014

Google brats are ruining Frisco for the locals

Just under a year ago, Rebecca Solnit, a writer living in San Francisco, wrote a sobering piece in the London Review of Books about the Google Bus, which she viewed as a proxy for the technology industry in nearby Palo Alto, Mountain View and ...