Manufacturing the future

The New Industrial Revolution: consumers, globalization and the end of mass production by Peter Marsh; Yale UP, 2012. 320 pp Reviewed by Martin Earnshaw | 7 March 2013 Even the ghosts of England’s past oppose HS2 it seems. On 10th February 2013 the Observer ran a bizarre story about how HS2 might go through a historic battle site from the War of the Roses. The fact that the actual location of the battle is unknown is beside the point...

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The Great Stagnation

‘The Great Stagnation’ by Tyler Cowen; Dutton Books, 2011. 109pp Reviewed by Stephen Nash | 23 November 2012 With its sizeable subtitle – ‘How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better’ – this slim volume has made a big splash since its initial appearance in ebook format at the start of 2011. On the dust jacket, Ryan Avent, economics correspondent at the Economist,...

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FROM THE FUTURE CITIES ARCHIVE

Lost in Space’ by Greg Klerkx: A review by Martin Earnshaw Neil Armstrong, who died last month, encapsulated humanity’s desire for exploration and discovery, and is believed to have been dismayed at NASA’s diminished ambitions. Here Martin Earnshaw assesses Klerkx’s claim that NASA is the main barrier to realising a human future in space.  ‘Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age’...

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The Energy Report

The Energy Report by WWF, Ecofys and AMO; January 2011, 253pp Reviewed by Austin Williams | February 2011 If you enjoy reading end of year accounts, or poring over corporate brochures, you will love The Energy Report – the eco-equivalent of a BP audit statement. Written by a huge number of people from WWF, together with some from Ecofys (a Dutch renewable energy consultancy), it has been designed by AMO, the consulting arm of...

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Driving the world to destruction?

‘Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability’ by Daniel Spurling and Deborah Gordon, Oxford University Press, 2010. 322pp Reviewed by Austin Williams | 10 April 2010 Musing about Easter Island, Jared Diamond famously asked “what were they thinking when they chopped down the last tree?” Diamond’s polemical book “Collapse”, written five years ago (but based on a 1995 article), argues against the unthinking exploitation...

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Two Cases for the (Floods) Defence

‘Atlas of the New Dutch Water Defence Line’ (010 Publishers) & ‘Facing up to rising sea levels (Building Futures, RIBA) Reviewed by Austin Williams | February 2010 Contrary to the implication in its title, the Atlas of the New Dutch Water Defence Line has nothing to do with global warming and flood management. The book is a historical assessment of the network of watercourses known as the Nieuwe Hollandse...

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Powerful Connections

Martyn Perks | 20 October 2009 The Times restaurant critic Giles Coren recently experimented with Twitter—the phenomenally successful online social networking tool. He used it to review London’s Criterion restaurant using his mobile phone. With Twitter, you can send individual messages or ‘tweets’ up to a maximum of 140 characters each. Starter, main course and dessert all followed. By the end of the meal Coren had sent 19 separate...

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Dan Dare or Dan Daren’t

Austin Williams | 3 October 2008 Whatever happened to the jet-pack; the monorail; the personalised Lear jet; Maglev taxis; automated highways; long-haul flights by space shuttle? All of these strange and wonderful transport ideas were commonplace Utopian ambitions for the future as seen by the Sixties’ generation. Most of them were even technologically possible back then. Today, if there is ever mention of anything so fanciful, it...

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Taking a shortcut around the digital divide

Martyn Perks | 1 March 2007 Sunderland City Council has just won the Digital Challenge competition and been awarded £3.5m by government. While digital inclusion has become a major focus for funding and social renewal, it is questionable whether IT is actually being used for the right reasons. While this funding package is obviously good news for the local authority’s accountants, what does it really mean to those who have been...

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Technology and Obsolescence

‘Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America’ by Giles Slade; Harvard University Press, 2007. 336pp Reviewed by Austin Williams | 30 November 2007 I wasn’t looking forward to this book. The title seemed to sum up two popular contemporary pastimes, a despondency about societal progress and a condescension towards American (over)consumption. With its dust-jacket displaying a mountain of discarded computer...

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