I like a good em dash, me.
Monday, January 15th, 2018
Sunday, August 6th, 2017
Jon’s been drawing a lunch note for his daughter every day since she was four years old. They are somewhat puntastic.
Sunday, April 16th, 2017
Domains registered with punycode names (and then given TLS certificates) are worryingly indistinguishable from their ASCII counterparts.
Can you spot the difference between the URLs https://adactio.com and https://аdаctіо.com?
Sunday, January 1st, 2017
Glenn Fleishman on the war of attrition between primes and quotation marks on the web.
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
Thursday, January 28th, 2016
A great piece of near-future sci-fi from James.
I enforce from orbit, making sure all the mainframes that used to track and store every detail of our lives are turned off, and stay off. And as the sun comes up over Gloucestershire this morning, there they are, resplendent in the mist-piercing light of RITTER’s multispectral sensors: terabytes of storage laid out around the scalped doughnut of the former GCHQ building. Enough quantum storage to hold decades of the world’s pillow talk. Drums of redundant ethernet cable stacked stories-high. Everything dismantled, disconnected, unshielded. Everything damp with morning dew.
Sunday, May 24th, 2015
100 words 063
We travelled out to Lewes yesterday evening to partake in Jamie’s birthday celebrations. There followed a night of dancing to a wonderfully fun punk covers band, complete with guest vocal appearances from the extended Freeman family: Jamie doing Elvis Costello, his brother Tim doing The Sex Pistols, his other brother Martin doing The Jam, and his cousin Ben doing The Stranglers.
Ah, so much nostalgia and revisited youth!
Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
(Initially it required jQuery but I tweaked it to avoid those dependencies and Yuri very kindly merged my pull request—such a lovely warm feeling when that happens.)
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Connections: Weak Signals
There was a great turn-out. Normally I’d expect a fairly significant no-show rate for a free event (they’re often oversubscribed to account for this very reason), but I was amazed how many people braved the dreadful weather to come along. We greeted them all with free beer, courtesy of Clearleft.
Honor made plentiful use of sound during her presentation. Or rather, plentiful use of electromagnetic signals converted into sound: asteroseismology from the sun; transient luminous events in the Earth’s upper atmosphere; the hailstorm as Cassini pirouettes through Saturn’s rings; subatomic particle collisions sonified. They all combined to eerie effect.
Justin’s talk was more down to Earth, despite sounding like a near-future science-fiction scenario: individuals and communities harnessing the power of the photovoltaic solar panel to achieve energy-independence.
There was a beer break between the talks and we had a joint discussion afterwards, with questions from the audience. I was leading the discussion, and to a certain extent, I played devil’s advocate to Justin’s ideas, countering his solar energy enthusiasm with nuclear energy enthusiasm—I’m on Team Thorium. (Actually, I wasn’t really playing devil’s advocate. I genuinely believe that nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest source of energy available to us and that an anti-nuclear environmentalist is a contradiction in terms—but that’s a discussion for another day.)
There was a bittersweet tinge to the evening. The first Connections event was also Honor’s last public speaking engagement in Brighton for a while. She is bidding farewell to Lighthouse Arts and winging her way to a new life in Singapore. We wish her well. We will miss her.
The evening finished with a facetious rhetorical question from the audience for Honor. It was related to the sonification of particle collisions like the ones that produced evidence for “the God particle”, the Higgs boson. “Given that the music produced is so unmusical”, went the question, “does that mean it’s proof that God doesn’t exist?”
We all had a laugh and then we all went to the pub. But I’ve been thinking about that question, and while I don’t have an answer, I do have a connection to make between both of the talks and algorithmically-generated music. Here goes…
Justin talked about the photovoltaic work done at Bell Labs. An uncle of Ray Kurzweil worked at Bell Labs and taught the young Kurzweil the basics of computer science. Soon after, Ray Kurzweil wrote his first computer program, one that analysed works of classical music and then generated its own music. Here it is.
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Jason provides some instruction in using the correct quotation marks online.
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Perhaps we are fetishising physical things because our digital creations are social media junk food:
It’s easy to fetishize Brutalist buildings when you don’t have to live in them. On the other hand, when the same Brutalist style is translated into the digital spaces we daily inhabit, it becomes a source of endless whinging. Facebook, for example, is Brutalist social media. It reproduces much the same relationship with its users as the Riis Houses and their ilk do with their residents: focusing on control and integration into the high-level planning scheme rather than individual life and the “ballet of a good blog comment thread”, to paraphrase Jane Jacobs.
Monday, April 1st, 2013
The story of one site’s disgraceful handling of acquisition and shutdown (Punchfork, acquired by Pinterest) and how its owner actively tried to block efforts to preserve user’s data.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Jessica’s handy guide to writing the right quotes and accents on a Mac keyboard.
Friday, July 15th, 2011
Fnar, fnar, and indeed, fnar.
Why not become a lifetime member of the Muff Diving Club? Makes a perfect gift as you will get a Muff Diving Club membership card posted out to proove that you’re an official Muff diver.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
James Bridle is my favourite Blogpunk author.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
The secret life of punctuation.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Bruce Sterling on Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and the unintended consequences of cypherpunk.
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
A personal ode to cyberpunk.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
I’ve always thought that Brighton has a lot of steampunk appeal. Quite apart from the potential for criminal mastermind lairs within the the Victorian sewers, there are a whole slew of wonderful inventions from the mind of Magnus Volk.
The Volk’s Electric Railway is still in use today. The Daddy Long-Legs, alas, is not. And while the Jubilee clock tower still stands in the centre of town, its moving parts have been disabled (due to noise complaints and damage to the structural integrity):
The hydraulically operated copper sphere moved up and down a 16-foot (4.9 m) metal mast every hour, based on electrical signals transmitted from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
But even with all this steampunk history, I was still surprised to read the story of Alpha the robot on Paleo-Future:
During the autumn of 1932 a group of curious onlookers assembled in Brighton, England to see inventor Harry May’s latest invention, Alpha the robot. The mechanical man was controlled by verbal commands and sat in a chair silently while May carefully placed a gun in Alpha’s hand.
It all goes horribly awry according to contemporary reports, doubtless exaggerated. I, for one, welcome our new metal overlords.
When commanded, the robot lowered its arm, raised the other, lowered it, turned its head from side to side, opened and closed its prognathous jaw, sat down. Then Impresario May asked Alpha a question:
“How old are you?”
From the robot’s interior a cavernous Cockney voice responded:
May: What do you weigh?
Alpha: One ton.
A dozen other questions and answers followed, some elaborately facetious. When May inquired what the automaton liked to eat, it responded with a minute-long discourse on the virtues of toast made with Macy’s automatic electric toaster.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010