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William Davies

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We-think, I-think ... and Groupthink

Column I recently discovered something truly startling from a student. We were discussing the age-old problem of how to make sure an essay answers the question, and the value of concluding an argument by adopting a particular position. It was then that she confided in me something I'd never heard before. She agreed that while it would …
William Davies, 01 Apr 2008
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The 'Funky Business' consultants want to poke you

Column Recently, we've seen a spate of reports of employers blocking the use of social networking sites at work. With one estimate suggesting that sites such as Facebook cost UK employers over £130m a day in lost productivity, this is perhaps unsurprising. But the response from unions and technology commentators has been less …
William Davies, 08 Jan 2008
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Where does Web 2.0 leave the BBC?

Beeb Week The BBC is in a bind. The changing media landscape means that news and information must increasingly be presented in a provocative or visually stimulating fashion. Very often the easiest way of doing this is to offer it via the perspective of a celebrity reporter. Next time you’re watching BBC television news, note how little …
William Davies, 21 Nov 2007
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Long lunching Luddites show world how to do IT

Column Last week, a report emerged with one of the most unlikely conclusions in the short history of digital policy. The report was built around yet another ranking of the technological performance of different countries around the world. Its main finding was this: "France, which spends a substantial one per cent of GDP on government …
William Davies, 26 Oct 2007
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Maddy: TV torture for the ADD generation

Column Following the first Gulf War of 1991, the French social theorist Jean Baudrillard made the famous statement that "the Gulf War did not take place". It was seized on by academics, journalists, and pub intellectuals in the English-speaking world as a prime example of the absurdity and irresponsibility of French philosophy. When he …
William Davies, 19 Sep 2007
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TV's iPod moment?

Column Last month, the British television industry belatedly joined in a ritual that has been performed by a variety of industries over the past decade. Pointing manically at the rising tide of digital technology, it shook itself awake, and demanded a little more panic. The occasion was the annual Edinburgh International Television …
William Davies, 06 Sep 2007
homeless man with sign

The cold, cold heart of Web 2.0

Column Imagine a world in which parents read to their children in the evening, not because it was a pleasurable and meaningful activity, but as an investment in the child's future earning potential. Or consider a close-knit neighbourhood in which people clubbed together on social events not so as to enjoy a sense of community, but so …
William Davies, 31 Jul 2007
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Hasselhoff, paedophiles, and a digital Animal Farm

Column David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, last week recommended that online "e-petitions" should be given formal recognition within Britain's constitution. The Prime Minister's controversial e-petitions website, which forms part of the 10 Downing Street official website, allows users to start campaigns on specific topics …
William Davies, 12 Jun 2007
Warning: roundabout

Ask.com's bogus Information Revolution

Column Over the past couple of months, the British public have been subject to a widespread poster campaign, imploring them to join the "Information Revolution". Posters have appeared in train carriages, buses, and restrooms, plastered in self-consciously militant leftist graphics, demanding freedom of expression and choice. Initially …
William Davies, 29 May 2007
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Circling the wagons: the net politics of exclusion

Election 2004 Here's a fable. In summer 2004, a vacancy comes up in a London office, and the manager sets about recruiting. He interviews a blue man and a green man. The blue man has impeccable qualifications and very good experience. The green man’s qualifications are weak, and he is under-experienced - but he's witty and he gets on well …
William Davies, 08 Nov 2004