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Weekend read: What kind of king will Charles III be?

I’m sure I’ve read in the past that the Prince of Wales plans to use the title King George VII on accession to the throne… but that’s not hugely relevant to my recommended read for this weekend, which is a long piece by Robert Booth published in The Guardian this week. Booth explores the likely manner of Charles as monarch.

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Of course, this being a Guardian article, it’s more than a little critical of Charles and tinged with more than a hint of republicanism. But, while the heavy-handedness grates from time to time, it’s an enjoyable article with some interesting observations which is well worth a read this weekend.



The image in this post is a Creative Commons licensed photo shared by Victoria Johnson on Flickr.

This 2,285th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , .

Weekend read: Supermarkets aren’t dying

My recommended read for this weekend is by food critic Jay Rayner, and was published a couple of weeks ago in The Guardian. I think they would have been better holding it back until this week: as Tesco’s profits drop precipitously, too many commentators have said ridiculous things about the future of supermarkets in general, and Rayner’s article provides a nice counterbalance.

Buying food

With my public health hat on, I would’ve liked Rayner to include some commentary in his article on the hygiene standards supermarkets have introduced to the supply chain, and the way that this has improved food safety to a level never previously achieved in the history of humanity. But he makes a good case without it, and it is refreshing to see The Guardian, of all the newspapers, celebrating the achievements of supermarkets for once.

This 2,279th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , .

Weekend read: Why tablets are killing PCs

My recommended read for this weekend is an article from the back end of last year by Charles Arthur of The Guardian, in which he posits that tablets are killing off the PC business.

Young man / student using tablet computer in cafe

While sales of computers are slowing and tablets are rising (though by no means as quickly as they once were), it’s clear to anyone that there are roles for both. The journalistic technique of dichotomising technologies and claiming that one is “killing” another might be good for getting clicks and hits, but it is rarely true. Indeed, when Arthur himself wrote in 2009 that “laptops are taking over computing, especially with the rise of netbooks”, he was evidently wrong.

But, sniping aside, the insights in Arthur’s article make it worth reading. For instance:

The 2012 Greek bailout – the biggest in history, requiring the renegotiation of €146bn of bonds among 135 principal bond owners in just 30 days – was completed using iPads.

Over the past twelve months or so, I’ve seen a real shift in how people use tablets in my line of work. A couple of years ago, when I went to meetings, most people would be taking notes using paper, and a couple would be using laptops. Then there seemed to be a period where some people switched paper for tablets. And then, within months, it seemed that laptops and paper had been almost completely usurped by tablets.

I now sit in meetings relatively frequently where I’m the only person handwriting notes – even I tend to view papers on my tablet, but prefer the flexibility of handwritten notes which I usually then scan in and store electronically with the papers.

Anyway, I digress – enjoy Arthur’s article.

This 2,277th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , .

Weekend read: I was swallowed by a hippo

I’ve an extraordinary recommendation for this weekend: Paul Templer tells The Guardian‘s Chris Broughton about the time he was swallowed by a hippo. Yes, really. It’s just over a year old, but still well worth a read!



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This 2,250th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , , .

Weekend read: The Guardian’s strategy

The Guardian dosen’t make much money from me any more. It’s a long time since I last bought a copy. I used to have it delivered, but when I moved house in 2007, I couldn’t find a local newsagent who delivered, and so I stopped. My main newspaper reading time was over breakfast, so picking up a copy later in the day didn’t really work for me. I used to pay The Guardian for an ad-free version of their website, but they stopped offering that service some years ago now. I paid for their tablet app for a while, but didn’t really get on with it, much preferring The Times app.

I carried on reading The Guardian via the website for a long time after I stopped buying it. But, over time, almost all of the writers I cared to read retired, took redundancy, or moved into management roles in which they rarely write. At the same time, they started giving writers of amusing features by-lines on actual news stories which they seemed woefully under-qualified to cover. They also reduced the pagination by cutting sections I enjoyed, and churned out ever-more frustratingly ill-informed comment pieces. And so, these days, I rarely even read The Guardian.

Oh, and they also pissed me off by cancelling a Guardian Masterclass at the last minute, after I’d paid for non-refundable travel to London. I know these things happen sometimes, but it was frustrating, and I was sorely disappointed at the lack of understanding and compassion on the part of the company.

Despite my frustration with it, and the fact that I rarely even engage with it, I still care for The Guardian, and would still very much like to see it find a profitable and successful place in the world. As a result, I was interested to read Ken Doctor’s discussion of The Guardian‘s new “known” business strategy, published in February over at Newsonomics. It’s a fairly unique approach in the newspaper industry, and I wonder to what extent it can succeed.

This 2,245th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , , .

Weekend read: News is bad for you

Weekend Read

My recommended read for this weekend comes from The Guardian, which makes its content all the more surprising. In an extract from his book, Rolf Dobelli argues that people should stop reading, listening to, and watching the news. He says it’s bad for you. He issues a very telling challenge:

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you.

I think he might have a point; but I see that as reflecting the lamentable state of the news media, rather than a criticism of news itself. Either way, it’s an interesting read.

This 2,184th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , .

2D: Apple (again)

Published a fortnight ago, my last 2D post offered two articles about technology giant Apple. With an originality rarely surpassed by this blog, today’s 2D post is about… Apple.

Having come across two more brilliant articles about the company in the last couple of weeks, I didn’t want to deny you the pleasure of reading them simply because I’ve done something similar recently.

My first selection today is this recent Guardian article by their technology editor Charles Arthur. He makes the point that while the Apple Maps app is often a source of ridicule, within the US at least it appears to be winning the long-game, with Google Maps losing millions of users to Apple’s version. It’s one of those interesting articles that explains why the cultural narrative around a certain story borders on counter-factual.

My second selection is this article from The New York Times published last month, and written by Fred Vogelstein. It’s been pretty widely shared, but I only got round to reading it last week. It’s a remarkable account of the development of the iPhone, and – perhaps most interestingly – the development of the iPhone’s launch announcement, and how buggy the iPhone was at the point it was announced. It’s a remarkable tale.

Next time round, I promise you something that’s not Apple…!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,084th post was filed under: 2D, , , , , .

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