Information and communication


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From Piers Plowman (1427) by William Langdon. Bodleian Library MS. Douce 104. Courtesy the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Essay/
Language and linguistics
On gibberish

Babies babble, medieval rustics sing ‘trolly-lolly’, and jazz exults in bebop. What does all this wordplay mean for language?

Jenni Nuttall

William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody (third from left) alongside the author’s great-great uncle Sheriff Plunkett (right) at Deadwood in 1906. From Deadwood: 1876-1976 (2005) by Beverly Pechan and Bill Groethe/Arcadia Publishing

Idea/
Love and friendship
Friendship is about loyalty, not laws. Should it be policed?

Leah Plunkett

Moved by fictions: Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina (1935). Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of language
Making up stuff

A novel, by definition, tells a fictional story – but does that make its author a liar? On the space between stories and lies

Emar Maier

Threadneedle Street, London, 2012. Photo by Trent Parke/Magnum

Essay/
Cities
City on mute

When you stare at your phone or use Uber to navigate your neighbourhood, you flatten the rich texture of urban life

Kathleen Vandenberg

Lloyds Coffee House, which eventually became Lloyds of London. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
Information and communication
Reddit, with wigs and ink

The first newspapers contained not high-minded journalism but hundreds of readers’ letters exchanging news with one another

Rachael Scarborough King

Orson Welles recording in the radio studio. Courtesy University of Indiana Libraries

Essay/
Stories and literature
What War of the Worlds did

The uncanny realism of Orson Welles’s radio play crystallised a fear of communication technology that haunts us today

Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Artist Anish Kapoor’s installation Descent in to Limbo at the Serralves Foundation, Portugal. Kapoor has exclusive artistic licence to use Vantablack, the blackest of black pigments developed by UK-based NanoSystems. Photo courtesy Filipe Braga © Fundação de Serralves

Essay/
Human rights and justice
End intellectual property

Copyrights, patents and trademarks are all important, but the term ‘intellectual property’ is nonsensical and pernicious

Samir Chopra