Monthly Archives: July 2010

Should Julian Assange have remained anonymous himself?

Image: Peter Erichsen for New Media Days / Some rights reserved

Julian Assange is a peculiar chap, isn’t he? Visually, there’s something of the Bond villain about him. His style is a little arrogant, too – laced with more than a hint of nerdy superiority. On the day the Afghanistan leaks broke, while speaking at the Frontline Club, he batted away a query from Channel 4′s Alex Thomson by saying “I don’t find that an interesting question. Next.” Before that, after spending a day with the WikiLeaks founder, the Guardian’s Stephen Moss noted that Assange “exudes self-confidence, immodesty even.” In short, he’s not immediately likeable.

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about WikiLeaks – and Assange – a lot. And there’s something I can’t quite work out: Should WikiLeaks have given itself a face? Or should it have remained anonymous, like the information it so brilliantly protects?
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London to Istanbul: Mapped

Who’s afraid of the big bad location?

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Image: dpstyles / some rights reserved

An article by Leo Hickman was on the cover of the Guardian’s G2 this morning, entitled “How I became a Foursquare stalker”. In it, the journalist outlines some of the potential problems with location sharing:

“[T]here are growing concerns that Foursquare is proving to be a “stalker’s dream”….The big worry, say critics, is who might get to make use of this information. Pick your paranoia. Someone with criminal intent, such as a burglar, identity thief or stalker? Governments, the security services or police? Terrorists? Or a corporation looking to target its products at you with incredible precision?”

Much of this potential risk, says the article, is because of “Foursquare’s default position on privacy is that users must “opt-out” if they don’t want any of their location-based details broadcast to friends and the wider world.”

Er, Ok. It’s true; when you join Foursquare, you must “opt-out” if you don’t want certain details shared with fellow users. However, you must opt-in to sign up to the service – and indeed any other location-based service – in the first place. If you are seriously worried about your location and privacy, don’t sign up.
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Recent work: NYT cover, Foursquare, World Cup blogs, TwiTrips, and very long train journeys

Yes, I know. Things have been a little lax around here recently. There’s a perfectly good explanation for this, I assure you. First, there was the World Cup. And then there’s something top secret I’m working on, more on which soon, hopefully. Anyway, here’s some things I’ve been up to:

• A video series for the Guardian, from London to Istanbul by train.

• A cover story for the NYT on Airbnb.com and other new social accommodation networks.

• A piece for the Guardian on why Foursquare is the traveller’s new best friend.

• A piece for the Guardian rounding up various World Cup-related blogs

• A piece for the Guardian, on how and where to ‘wild camp’ in Europe

• Two more TwiTrips for the Guardian, to Leeds and to Oxford, where the two chaps pictured above were waiting for me at the station.

• And finally, a while back I wrote a profile for the NYT Goal blog on the Ivorian footballer, Gervinho.

NYT cover story: Europe Without Hotels


This weekend my piece on AirBnB.com and other new social accommodation websites, Europe Without Hotels,  was on the front cover of the NYT Travel section, and was also the most emailed story in the NYT over the entire weekend. Which is very nice indeed.

Below is a video I made for the trip, shot on my iPhone in my Paris pad, owned by a 26-year old Parisian chef, Julien Szeps.

London to Istanbul by train

Recently I travelled from London to Istanbul by train, accompanied by the twisted genius Alex Healey. Here are our videos:

Munich

Budapest

Bucharest

Istanbul