Author Archives: Rufus Pollock

Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt

An exceptional book, articulating and echoing long-held sentiments and provoking new ones. Summary Out of the disasters of 1914-1945 arose key attitudes: Scepticism of unregulated market and willingness to intervene Commitment to social supports and a universalism in their provision Relative equality These then broke down between mid 1970s and early 90s Why did it […]

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A Single Government Website is Hard To Do

Examples of the steps … President [Clinton] directed agencies to take include [in December 1999 memo]: Create One-Stop Access for Existing Government Information. The President directed the Administrator of the General Services Administration, in conjunction with other government entities, to create a portal for government information, based “not by agency, but by the type of […]

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NEF Confusion over Creative Commons Non-Commercial License Being Open

Clear example of an organisation applying a non-open Creative Commons license but thinking it is open: Illustrates the potential for confusion from the use of general Creative Commons branding (people talk about the brand rather than a given license and imagine that all CC license are “open”). For more see: Creative Commons and the Commons […]

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Only the educated are free – Epicetus

Only the educated are free — Epictetus. An excellent aphorism for the value of open knowledge.

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La Grande Bellezza

Score: 9/10 I have now watched Paolo Sorrentino’s extraordinary film three times. It is one of the most striking, beautiful and poignant films I have seen in a very long time and a truly worthy successor to the greatness of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita — which it both references and echoes. It is hard to […]

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Intellectual Myths: ARPA Created Internet to Have Communication System to Resist Nuclear Attack

From John Naughton, a Brief History of the Future, p.85: Years later the myth spread that what drove ARPA to build the world’s first computer network was the desire to provide a communications system that could survive a nuclear attack on the United States. The record suggests otherwise: Bob Taylor simply wanted to make the […]

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Ogilvy’s How to Write Memo

David Ogilvy’s 1981 memo to staff at Ogilvy & Mather. I have read and re-read this several times over the years and found it useful — though I emphasize that is not the same as thinking it completely correct, for example, there are clear counter-examples to the claim that “People who think well, write well”. […]

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Great Video: Data Sharing and Management Snafu in 3 Short Acts

A funny, clever and simple video intro into what can go wrong when you actually want to reuse someone else’s data in research:

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Patents and Access to Medicines for HIV – a looming crisis

Patents and access to medicines from a 2013 report on AIDS by Medicins Sans Frontieres: Because millions of people need to be initiated and sustained on treatment regimens for life, it is as critical as ever to ensure ARVs [anti-retro-virals] are affordable. Competition among generic producers was instrumental in bringing down the price of the […]

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I read War and Peace – and subsequently Anna Karenina – many years ago now. It is one of the greatest and most extraordinary I had – and have – ever read. He is the Beethoven of literature. Here I’m excerpting pieces. “And by old habit he asked himself the question: “Well, and what then? […]

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