59 Productions to produce City of Glass for the stage

This multi-layered book is perfect for the 59 productions treatment

This week 59 Productions (the radical design and production company than I had a hand in setting up) announced their latest project.  Its an adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass by Duncan Macmillian, the acclaimed writer of People Places Things.  The show is directed by my friend Leo Warner and is a co-production with Home and the Lyric Hammersmith.

City of Glass (part of Auster’s New York Triology) is an intriguing post-modern detective story that plays with ideas of reality, identity and imagination.  I think its a perfect fit for the kind of art that Warner and the remarkable 59 Productions team create.  In a recent interview with the Financial Times, he outlines their approach. Continue reading “59 Productions to produce City of Glass for the stage”

Fashionista Philip: The Sartorial Choices of Mr May

Our constant call-outs of sexism in the media are slowly having an effect

Societal progress moves at a glacial pace. Sexism didn’t go away when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister and it’s still with us even though Teresa May now occupies Number 10 Downing Street.

Still, it’s interesting (to me, at least) to watch our societal attitudes change, even at the quantum level.  In fact, I think it is particularly worthwhile to note the most granular changes in our discourse: in this case, how we talk about women and men.

Many people have shared this article by Nicole Morely in the Metro: ‘Theresa May’s husband steals the show in sexy navy suit as he starts new life as First Man‘.

Continue reading “Fashionista Philip: The Sartorial Choices of Mr May”

The Typography of Labour Resignation Letters

Apparently, Tweeting a copy of one’s resignation letter is now A Thing.

This tweet of mine garnered a few fav-hearts and re-tweets, which suggests that this is the sort of thing people are interested in.

Of course, the content of the letters is the really important part, so far as the authors are concerned. But design and presentation is incredibly important, despite being 99% Invisible when done right. We can gather some insights into the thoughts of the authors by how their resignation letter is laid out.

I compiled a Storify of a couple of dozen Labour Shadow Cabinet resignation letters, and added comments about their design.  Continue reading “The Typography of Labour Resignation Letters”

In Praise of The Room Three

We are challenged by an island’s worth of puzzles as the player is transported to the gothic mansion of Grey Holm and the hostile hospitality of The Craftsman

For the past few weeks I’ve been playing The Room series, a set of three games for mobile devices by Fireproof Games.  This week I completed The Room Three, and thought I’d write a quick review.

The premise of all three games is simple.  The player is presented with an ornate contraption, and the task is to unlock the secrets contained within.  Do you pull this lever, or press that button? What combination of switches must you flick in order to open the door? How do I make that panel slide back? Where is the key that fits that lock? Continue reading “In Praise of The Room Three”

The Internet urgently needs a new ‘personal opinions’ icon

Nevertheless, willfull ignorance and social media illiteracy are with us and it would be nice to have some tools to ease the burden that such antagonism places on our discussions.

I posted this on Medium last week to almost deathly silence.  I thought it would be something people might share but clearly I’ve not built up enough of a network.


One aspect of the Internet that makes me a little melancholy is the fact that so many people have to put the same phrase on their social media bios: “These are my own views and not that of my employer” or variations of that theme.

It’s sad because the Internet was supposed to be a place where people have the freedom to explore new ideas, identities and friendships. Instead, our online discourse is polluted by the anxieties and the obtuse reasoning of the corporate world.

The all-to-common “personal opinions” disclaimer reminds us how our freedom of thought and of personality is curtailed. My heart sinks whenever I read such words, because I know that the person who is writing them is on their guard, insuring themselves against some future misunderstanding or invasion of their work life into their personal space.

And yet we need such disclaimers, because on the Internet there are a remarkable number of people who are happy to conflate the views of an individual with that of the organisations they work for. Continue reading “The Internet urgently needs a new ‘personal opinions’ icon”

The New Social Media, All About Images, Less About The Search

Which of course got loads of re-tweets, because the Internet does like a bit of meta.

I’ve noticed that instead of sharing a concise and searchable 140 character message, people have taken to sharing an image of a person with a longer quote on it.  Is this how social media works now?

Its a trend that’s taken off because both Twitter and Facebook have made the process of embedding and displaying images in their respective timelines much easier.

For example: Continue reading “The New Social Media, All About Images, Less About The Search”

Notes on design trends for long-form and creative writing

I thought I would note the links in one place: first, merely to note the trend; and second because it will aid discussions with colleagues over how to present our own literary content on the fantastic PEN Atlas.

My virtual meeting with Sam has prompted a meandering journey through a few websites dedicated to the stylish presentation of text. I thought I would note the links in one place: first, merely to note the trend; and second because it will aid discussions with colleagues over how to present our own literary content on the fantastic PEN Atlas.

First: Medium is a relatively new site created by Twitter founder Evan Williams. Writers can create beautiful looking stories and essays very quickly. The site has the clean and spacious aesthetic that has become fashionable recently. Design led by the need for readbility and usability on tablets, mobile phones, while also providing a reading experience on desktop and laptop monitors that is easy on the eye. I was delighted that my request for an early-bird account was granted by Medium’s Director of Content, Kate Lee, and I have just uploaded a story to the site to try out the composition features.

You can read ‘Northern Line Lovers‘ on Medium (and if you like the story, please hit the ‘recommend’ button below the text). I think I will post my other ‘Ficciones‘ there at some point. Continue reading “Notes on design trends for long-form and creative writing”

Overthinking Facebook and Instagram

Do we owe it to our future selves to provide an uncensored visual archive, the ugly memories as well as the beautiful ones?

Instagram Photobomb
An Instagrammable photobomb, by theycallmemouse on Flickr.

I have become an avid listener of the Overthinking It podcast. It is a few guys, chatting via Skype from disparate locations in the USA, shooting the breeze about popular culture.

A recent episode (an atypical two-hander between Matthew Wrather and Peter Fenzel) is called ‘Schroedinger’s Instagram’, and discusses in depth the pop-cultural implications of the recent purchase of Instagram by Facebook. In doing so, they cruise by many of the obsessions and diversions of this blog.

Wrather and Fenzel talk a little about party photos and holiday snaps. The way in which people ‘pose’ for ostensibly candid photos has always fascinated me. I know people who make a peace ‘V’ with their fingers, or open their mouths as if the excitement of the moment has overcome them… but then they lapse into a rather glum repose once the flash has fired. They are consciously creating an inaccurate facade for Facebook.
Continue reading “Overthinking Facebook and Instagram”

Get Yourself A Cheap #Leveson Report

There is a cheaper option to get a printed version of the report.

Leveson Report
Leveson Report, printed via Lulu.com. The pretty spectrum of blue hues is an intentional difference from the official version.

The Leveson Report is over two thousand pages long, and is published in four volumes. You can download the forty-two page Executive Summary and the four large PDFs that make up the full report from the National Archives (at the grandly named official-documents.gov.uk doman).

If you want a hard copy of the report, The Stationery Office will charge a whopping £250.

However, there is a cheaper option to get a printed version of the report. I have taken the four PDFs and uploaded them to Lulu.com, the print-on-demand website. Each document (I, II, III, IV) costs around £12, and so (with delivery included) one may obtain the entire report for under £60.

Is this legal? Yes. The Leveson Report carries an Open Government Licence (a variation on a Creative Commons Licence) which states that anyone is free to “copy, publish, distribute and transmit the Information”. There is no creator mark-up on the documents (i.e. I do not make any money), so ordering them in this way is analagous to clicking ‘print’ on the PDFs and feeding two-thousand sheets of paper into your office printer!

Why is there such a disparity in price? The answer is colour. The design of the report available via The Stationery Office is printed with a blue spot colour, used in various tints throughout the report. In the cheaper Lulu versions, the content is simply black-and-white.

The Birth of the Shard

I have found that the damp and foggy days when the building emerges from midst are when the Shard looks most interesting. The giant looms on the horizon, and one’s sense of scale is confused and compressed.

If you take a stroll down Farringdon Road, from Exmouth Market towards Clerkenwell Green, you will come upon a magnificent sight-line into the City of London. It is not until you reach the Betsey Trotwood and the Free Word Centre that St Paul’s Cathedral emerges on the skyline, but from further up the road, a new landmark is emerging – Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’ Shard of Glass, currently under construction.

Since I work at the Free Word Centre, I regularly happen across this view.  I often take a quick snap with the camera on my phone. Below is an example that has been filtered through Instagr.am.

Birth of the Shard, by Yrstruly on InstagramA better attempt with an SLR and telephoto lense is on Flickr:

Birth of the Shard
Birth of the Shard by yrstrly on Flickr

I have found that the damp and foggy days when the building emerges from midst are when the Shard looks most interesting. The giant looms on the horizon, and one’s sense of scale is confused and compressed, which reminds me of the famous photograph by the Liverpudlian photographer E. Chambré Hardman, ‘The Birth of the Ark Royal’, taken in 1950.

Birth of the Ark royal
Photograph of the HMS Ark Royal, taken from the top of Holt Hill in Birkenhead, by Chambré Hardman.

See also the weathered early photographs of Tower Bridge and the Eiffel Tower under construction.  Watching The Shard rise, I have a strong sense of being embedded in history. I know that it will become a symbol of London, like Gherkin and Millenium Wheel, or the pointy Transamerica Pyramid in San Fransisco.  Watching it grow makes me feel like I am sat inside an iconic, historical image.