Ban everything. All of it

The Huffington Post published a gross advertorial an article by Cris Rowan last week, in which she argues for a ban on all handheld devices for children under 12. Rowan blames touchscreens for a dizzying list of societal ills – aggression, addiction, obesity, mental illness – but is conspicuously silent on whether they can teach children to critically evaluate attention-seeking hogwash dressed up as academic rigour.

David Kleeman quickly responded with this rebuttal of Rowan’s conclusions. Melinda Wenner Moyer jumped in too, asserting that Rowan makes “vast generalizations and extrapolations that are anything but scientific.” The tl/dr summary of these responses: correlation is not causation; please stop trolling for hate-clicks.

So should we be satisfied with this as an example of the internet’s ability to correct shrill scaremongering with the healing power of nuance? As I write this, Rowan’s original piece has a staggering 1.1m Facebook likes, whereas Kleeman’s rebuttal has just 3,900. When you talk to parents about this story, it’s always the former they know about. We like to read scary things that seem to confirm our own anxieties about the world. We’re not quite so fascinated by boring old follow-ups that challenge the alarming headlines.

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Check out the brand new trailer for our Lonely Beast ABC app, put together by the very lovely Dave Chapman. It’s a little over 2 years after its release, but better late than never, right?

We wanted to give people a better idea of what to expect when they buy the app – screenshots are great but they only say so much. We hope you like it.

Offset 2014 - cooking the books

Offset is Ireland’s most consistently interesting explosion of design, illustration, photography and the sort of fashionable eyewear that would get its owner beaten to a pulp in any other context. They’ve got an incredible line-up as usual, spoiled only slightly by the recent addition of me. 

I’ll be moderating a panel on book cover design in Ireland and elsewhere with smart people Conor & David, Niall McCormack and Max Phillips. It’s on Friday on Le Cool’s Yellow Stage (schedule) and you should come along and heckle. 

The image at the top is a detail from the cover of The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus, designed by Peter Mendelsund. He gives some insight into the design process here

Apple just launched a new series of iPhone 5c micro-ads on Tumblr, and they’re lovely little things. I particularly like the burst of Serge Gainsbourg’s Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas on the pink one.

The best long reads of 2013

image ere are 21 of my favourite long-form pieces from last year, in no particular order. I’m still in awe of the fact that so much great writing is so easily accessible and available to us, a lowly order of word-hungry parasites, for free. So if you get a kick out of anything you read on this list, support the authors and publications whatever way you can, whether that’s giving them a high-five on Twitter, buying a subscription, clicking manically on their sidebar ads, or signing them up for a seven-figure publishing deal. Especially that last one.

There are 21 of them because my team of high-powered internet attorneys have advised me that even-numbered lists are now illegal. 

“As you read, you slowly grow aware that the book’s real object of fascination isn’t the various sicknesses described in its pages, but the sickness inherent in their arrangement.”

Book of Lamentations by Sam Kriss

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“It’s only weird because we humans are weird, and because the reasons for our comforts and pleasures are so often obscure to us.” 

The Soft Bulletins by Mark O’Connell

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We’ve got a brand new counting app launching today – check out our launch trailer above and find out more at our Lonely Beast 123 page.

Pilcrow + Le Cool present Spiel at The Summit Jimmy Maymann / Baratunde Thurston / Harper Reed / Cindy Gallop


Can’t make it to The Summit? We’re borrowing a handful of the best speakers for a surprise series of public Q&As in Dublin on October 31st. 
1.30pm Jimmy Maymann, CEO The Huffington Post – Library Project, Temple Bar. [TICKETS]
2.15pm Baratunde Thurston, former Director of Digital at The Onion – Library Project, Temple Bar. [TICKETS]
6pm Harper Reed, CTO Obama 2012 Campaign – The Stag’s Head, 1 Dame Court. [TICKETS]
6.45pm Cindy Gallop, Founder MakeLoveNotPorn – The Stag’s Head, 1 Dame Court [TICKETS] 
Donations of €5 per talk; all proceeds go to Movember
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Pilcrow + Le Cool present Spiel at The Summit 
Jimmy Maymann / Baratunde Thurston / Harper Reed / Cindy Gallop

Can’t make it to The Summit? We’re borrowing a handful of the best speakers for a surprise series of public Q&As in Dublin on October 31st. 

1.30pm Jimmy Maymann, CEO The Huffington Post – Library Project, Temple Bar. [TICKETS]

2.15pm Baratunde Thurston, former Director of Digital at The Onion – Library Project, Temple Bar. [TICKETS]

6pm Harper Reed, CTO Obama 2012 Campaign – The Stag’s Head, 1 Dame Court. [TICKETS]

6.45pm Cindy Gallop, Founder MakeLoveNotPorn – The Stag’s Head, 1 Dame Court [TICKETS] 

Donations of €5 per talk; all proceeds go to Movember

Non-Stop All-Superlative Exclusive Twitter GiveawayDo you have an iPhone? Or an iPad? Do you like the alphabet, or are you offended by the overuse of question marks? Then you might like a free download of our app The Lonely Beast ABC – we’re giving away five copies today because it’s nice and sunny out. We’ll be posting fresh codes at various points during the day, so keep checking back and you might get lucky.
Without further ado, here’s the first code: http://tokn.co/rwt8ktx2
… and the second: http://tokn.co/wdck5zg9
… here’s code number 3: http://tokn.co/jhx7aesv
… and the fourth: http://tokn.co/mnwasacp
… and the fifth (and final) code: http://tokn.co/8j26csyk
P.S. If you don’t manage to get your hands on a promo code, we won’t be offended in the slightest if you buy the app instead. 

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Non-Stop All-Superlative Exclusive Twitter Giveaway
Do you have an iPhone? Or an iPad? Do you like the alphabet, or are you offended by the overuse of question marks? Then you might like a free download of our app The Lonely Beast ABC – we’re giving away five copies today because it’s nice and sunny out. We’ll be posting fresh codes at various points during the day, so keep checking back and you might get lucky.

Without further ado, here’s the first code: http://tokn.co/rwt8ktx2

… and the second: http://tokn.co/wdck5zg9

… here’s code number 3: http://tokn.co/jhx7aesv

… and the fourth: http://tokn.co/mnwasacp

… and the fifth (and final) code: http://tokn.co/8j26csyk

P.S. If you don’t manage to get your hands on a promo code, we won’t be offended in the slightest if you buy the app instead. 

Buy The Lonely Beast ABC for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch in the App Store