West Baltimore, 8.39 am April 12: Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, stood on the street talking with friends. Police officers approached on bicycles and made “eye contact” with Gray, who then attempted to leave. The police chased him and video footage shot on neighbours’ mobile phones shows police holding Gray face-down on the pavement.
Imagine never again receiving an energy bill. Instead, you could pay a flat fee for “comfort”, “cleanliness” or “home entertainment” alongside a premium for more energy-demanding TVs, kettles or fridge-freezers. This isn’t the stuff of science fiction – it’s emerging right now. Recent changes in technology and regulation are enabling the development of new ways to provide electricity and gas.
At Christmas, size is everything: so says an online “oven selector guide”. And it is true, ovens are designed and optimised for roasting large birds. As a result, they are typically oversized for regular use – making their total energy consumption greater than necessary. It is not only ovens that are designed to cope with the special demands of the festive season.
Diseases linked to smoking tobacco, a lack of exercise, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthily are on the rise, even though we have more information than ever before on the risks involved. All indications are that these so-called “lifestyle” diseases are defeating efforts to persuade people to make the right choices; maybe it’s time for a different approach.
All the major institutions of ‘free-market’ capitalism have warned that escalating inequalities (of income, health and education) pose the gravest threat to future social and political stability. The premise of this new research project is that to combat this threat we require a much better understanding of relationship between stigmatisation, inequalities and in the context of the particular forms of market capitalism which predominate today—that is we urgently need to theorise stigma as a cultural and political economy.
Universities and researchers all over the world have a problem with Microsoft. It’s not just that the company forces expensive and dated software on customers. Using products like Microsoft’s email service Outlook is potentially in breach of the ethical contracts researchers sign when they promise to safeguard the privacy of their subjects.
Almost two years ago, one of my oldest friends, Bradley L Garrett, boarded a plane at Heathrow airport. As it taxied on the runway, the British Transport Police arrived and dragged him off the plane. He was accused of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.
Facebook has been on a shopping spree in 2014.
As the hype around the internet of things grows, we are being presented with dystopian images of a future in which our fridges spy on us and our toothbrushes tattle to our dentists and insurers. But our concern about these extreme examples is distracting us from a more pressing issue – the collision between social media and financial services.
Most people expect normal room temperature to be about 22 degrees C. but very few know why this is the case. An interactive exhibition, staged by the DEMAND research centre as part of Campus in the City provides some clues.