Category: Random

  • My Books of 2021

    Fiction I fell in love with the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie this year. Half of a Yellow Sun was probably the best fiction book I read all year. GreatHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichiePurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline MillerThe […]

  • My Books of 2017

    I managed to get through 38 books this year. Book of the Year was Bertrand Russell’s mammoth History of Western Philosophy, written by one of the few people who could write about Aristotle as a peer. Most inspiring were the Theodore Roosevelt biographies by Edmund Morris, while most absorbing fiction was Michael Shaara’s Killer Angels. […]

  • Looking Back: Seven Years at Chartbeat

    I broke the news over on the Chartbeat blog today that recently I resigned as CEO from the company that has dominated my every waking thought for the last seven years. I feel like it’s time to get my hands dirty again in the mess of building a new company. I was able to do […]

  • What we break when we fix for Ad Blocking

    I’ve been doing an informal poll of journalists, media executives, ad tech people and VPs of sales over the last few weeks. Each of these people owe their livelihood to digital advertising and yet the overwhelming majority confessed to using ad blockers. At my own company whose mission is to ensure the future of sustainable […]

  • A correction around the death of the mobile web

    David Pakman of Venrock recently wrote a good piece on where we spend our attention. He’s absolutely right that attention is the true currency of the media business and drops a lot of knowledge. However. He also repeats a common error. Specifically, Pakman says: “First, we spend 86% of mobile time in-app. The idea that the mobile […]

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser: selected notes

    These are some of the highlights for me from Zinsser’s book. RIP.  – But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb, every […]

  • My Books of 2013

    I missed my goal by four and read 56 books in 2013. Some I had to struggle through for a month (I’m looking at you Advertising Media Planning) and others left me speechless at their brilliance. I’ve put an asterisk next to the books I particularly recommend and given short notes about those and a […]

  • My Books of 2012

    Here are the books that devoured my weekends and early mornings this year. Fiction I loved Tom Robbins and Gillian Flynn this year, but didn’t see the fuss about Hilary Mantel and Wolf Hall. I relished every perfect morsel of Saki’s short stories for the sheer craft that they displayed. Old favourites such as Wilt […]

  • The Problem of Prediction

    Here’s a talk I gave at the Mashable Media Summit recently where I attempt to argue that everything you need to know about the real-time web you can learn from a Japanese automotive engineer who was born in 1912 and never saw a web page. [youtube][/youtube]

  • Four things I learned on a round-the-world yacht race

    11 years ago this month, I stepped aboard a 72-foot racing cutter affectionately called The Good Ship Logica and began a 10-month round the world yacht race, the only one to go around the world against the currents and prevailing winds. Below deck, I was the geek, making sure the satellite could broadcast despite 90ft […]

  • Why I listen to Country

    There’s no reason on earth why I should listen to country music. I’m British, grew up in London and live in New York. I dislike music that panders to god or shallow patriotism and country music often does that in the same sentence. It frustrates me when people make a virtue of ignorance (‘a little […]

  • On manhood, rain and umbrellas

    One of the few consistently thought-provoking and enjoyable reads I have each week is Kortina’s weekly newsletter. This week he remarked on the English contingent of our office’s habit of not using umbrellas. In Betaworks, it serves as a clear demarcation between American men who find it incomprehensible to venture into the rain without protection […]

  • In the beginning: the Logos and the Church

    When stuck in a conversation with a fundamentalist who believes in the literal truth of the bible, it can occasionally be instructional to point out that there are actually more disputed versions of the bible than there are words in the bible. This is hardly unsurprising, given the multitude of different often conflicting sources that […]

  • How Streams might be killing our culture and Haiti might save it

    In ‘Amusing ourselves to Death’ Neil Postman wrote one of the great books necessary to understand the internet. All the more impressive a feat because he wrote it in 1985. His work foreshadows emergent problems as the web begins to define its language and our culture for the first time, and just possibly points to […]

  • Observing the tech sabbath and running manhattan: my 2010 resolutions

    After reading Kortina’s great list of his resolutions, I was challenged to do my own. I’ve never really been serious about resolutions before, they were always spouted half-heartedly and swiftly discarded. This year I wanted to start to really set out some major goals for myself. The intent in this is as much to exclude […]

  • The American rebellion by Rudyard Kipling

    Twas not while England’s sword unsheathed Put half a world to flight, Nor while their new-built cities breathed Secure behind her might Not while she poured from Pole to Line Treasure and ships and men – These worshippers at Freedom’s shrine, They did not quit her then! Not till their foes were driven forth By […]

  • Ironman John

    Last year I wrote about my friend John Lake, who battled his way past brain tumours, depression, suicide bids and time in mental institutions to run the London Marathon and in some way find his purpose again. John took something from that day and, to abuse a pun, he ran with it. On September 7th at […]

  • Two Poles

    The last six years of my life have been so singlemindedly focused on the poles, so caught up with snow, cold and ice that I sometimes manage to forget that there is a polar opposite to this world. Recently I was lucky enough to head briefly down to Naples, Florida where i met some incredible […]

  • Talent in context

    There is always a question for me as to how we perceive talent when it is something that is difficult to measure mathematically. With a sprinter we can measure his time, but it becomes progressively more difficult with more abstract things such as musical talent that rely on perception. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he […]

  • Paralysis

    There’s a certain blog paralysis that creeps in after a certain amount of time has passed that makes going back to the blog yet more difficult. The urge to precis events is suffocated beneath yet more events, none of which necessarily make for a particularly coherent story. On reflection, I have decided to provide some […]

  • Riding our luck

    Yesterday, our flight experience consisted of getting upgraded, blagging our way through fast-track with cheeky smiles and not being blown up. This was a good start to the day. Heathrow apparently shut up shop shortly after we left because of a massive terrorist attack attempt that would have either cancelled or massively delayed our flight. […]

  • Closer to Greenland

    We got the all clear this morning for a flight into Greenland at midday. It’s hard to say how I am feeling at this point so I will let John Masefield have a go for me. “I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and […]

  • Greenland

    Life has taken a turn for the hectic here as I once again get into expedition mode. Ben and I are off to Greenland for a month for our final test and training phase before we go SOUTH and I am juggling phonecalls, kit orders and eccentric email servers. In mid May we are taking a […]

  • Rachel Corrie

      This week I went back to Gaza. I sat watching a young American woman on a barely-lit stage exploding old memories with each name she uttered against a background of bullet-ridden concrete. My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play based on the writing of a young American observer killed by an IDF bulldozer in […]

  • The little blue passport

    Let me start with a disclaimer: Bribery is bad, really bad. In fact, it should only ever be used with small children. The trouble is, when you sometimes operate in areas that have a morally ambiguous  business environment combined with a weaponised bureaucracy, the requests can get pretty persistent and persuasive. Having had to get […]