What I Read This Week - 3rd March

- John Lanchester Rides The London Underground (John Lanchester at the Guardian)

But Londoners do act out versions of themselves in public, and wear uniforms, and signal that they belong to particular tribes. Not all of this activity is conscious, but quite a lot of it is, and even when it isn't, a lot of it is easily legible. You can stand in a queue at a Starbucks and see in the line in front of you a City boy, a Sloane who has a job doing something arty, a guy working on a screenplay, a mother just back from the gym, three tourists and two policemen (mind you, they're the easy ones to spot, since they're literally wearing uniform). Everybody stays in character. The city spaces are performative spaces: people are acting out versions of themselves.

It isn't like that on the underground. Londoners treat the underground not as a stage set, a place where we're on display, but as a neutral space, one in which we don't overtly direct our attention at each other. People sneak glances at each other, of course they do, but the operative word is "sneak". They don't look openly, in the way they would elsewhere. The main focus of people's attention is inward. They go into themselves. Or they go into the world of whatever entertainment they're carrying.

- How Augmented-Reality Content Might Actually Work (Caterina Fake interviewed by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic)

I think we are gaining a new appreciation for the here and now, for the place we live, for the people in our neighborhood, for groundedness. [...] You see the early indications of a return to the local.

The computers people have are no longer on their desks, but in their hands, and that is probably the transformative feature of the technology. These computers are with you, in the world. So your location is known. It used to be that you would search for a florist in Bellingham, Washington, and get the most popular florist in the world. But now the computer knows where you are; it even knows what block you're on.

- Wes Anderson's Worlds (Michael Chabon at the New York Review of Books)

The box, to Cornell, is a gesture—it draws a boundary around the things it contains, and forces them into a defined relationship, not merely with one another, but with everything outside the box. The box sets out the scale of a ratio; it mediates the halves of a metaphor. It makes explicit, in plain, handcrafted wood and glass, the yearning of a model-maker to analogize the world, and at the same time it frankly emphasizes the limitations, the confines, of his or her ability to do so.

- Thom Yorke profiled by Tim Adams at The Observer

Sum up the music industry in five words:

"Hungry dog chasing its tail."