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Edward Hopper, Two Comedians (1966). Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

It is ironic that the United States looks to the awards made possible by the endowment of Joseph Pulitzer for their standard of excellence in journalism (and, indeed, beyond journalism), given that at the height of the war between Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal in 1895–98, the two papers could be found competing over which of the two of them could most quickly drive context, research standard, accuracy of portrayal, balance and reason — all of the things that make reporting worthy and vital — out of the news cycle to make room for…


Wonk Bridge’s Letter to Our Readers for 2020

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2020 was not an easy year to be anyone — the scale and nature of the tests to which we’ve all been subject hardly bear recap.

The hay Wonk Bridge managed to make out of testing times astonished us all — and while we do not wish to risk insensitivity by over-emphasising the way in which we were able to mine the ore of development out of this year’s dreadful seam, 2020 was the year that made this publication. Bolstered by an ever greater tide of technologists and undifferentiated talents set to the waves by the uncertainty of employment many…


A selection of the finest books, essays and blog-ellany our contributors enjoyed in 2020

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Of all the things — processes corporate and lean; the bureaucracies of venerable nations; music — that proved susceptible to the vicissitudes of this abjectified year 2020, one thing proved robust: human willingness to know and communicate. As Wonk Bridge’s contributor Sebastian Vogelpoel recently noted, “Knowledge is never finished.”

With that additional time spent indoors, it is no wonder that 2020’s installment of Wonk Bridge’s traditional Holiday Reading Review should be a particularly rich one. …


Dominic Cummings reached near the apex of British politics with ambitions of building a ‘meritocratic technopolis’. Why did these dreams implode so spectacularly? Could they ever have been fulfilled?

A few weeks ago, the most high-profile special adviser in British government left office, carrying ARPA, the superforecaster, Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, Mistah Kurtz, Otto von Bismarck, the battlements of Barnard Castle, and a coterie of visionary technologists in his cardboard box.

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While Dominic Cummings’ unprecedented reign in the shadow of Britain’s highest office may have ended in a notional failure — though Cummings previously described firings such as his, and the ostensible disgrace(s) that surrounded it, as part of the traditional ceremony of a figure in government, and one which is generally greeted by its recipient without so much…


Or “Two Spirits of Non-Conformity in the Machine”

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‘Ivor and Oliver’, photo by Lucy Cox, editing by Wonk Bridge

There is no guarantee that exceptional deeds, even a lifetime of them, will necessarily command acclaim. That innumerable, unknowable feats of exception are attained daily throughout the world, under modest circumstances, awaiting our discovery and otherwise doomed to obscurity, is a truth that may both harness us to the most implacable anxiety, and present to us a store of ever-self-renewing hope as to the essential value of our actions.

It is for this reason that the biography of the ordinary person, as yet unacclaimed, is the most neglected of all the literary genres — for the slightest pursuit of it…


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It must be the soft prejudice that goes most without saying in the worlds of technology and start-up entrepreneurialism — that it’s a young person’s business. From the nested mythologies of our most pre-eminent social network and its founders, to the whole practice’s gruelling and often family-unfriendly pursuit of the gains of unsociable working hours, — if there’s one thing you’re less likely to find front-and-centre in the diorama of startup idealism than a defaced California Republic flag or a tablet of consequentialist ethics, it’s people over 50 (or much over 40, for that matter).

There is a generational factor…


Or ‘A Census of a Better World’

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Image from AutCraft on Twitter

There will be those of you who have begun your journey through this article — a journey predestined for a violent end, I’m afraid — with a certain feeling of demiverachtung; “little contempt”, the sentiment many feel when they have begun reading an online article in spite of, or indeed because of, the fact that they are fairly sure that its subject, or one aspect of its subject, is to some degree beneath them. “What a choice of topic focus”, perhaps you scoffed…

…Minecraft. And relative to such a serious topic as autism”

For those of you to whom…


Wonk Bridge Reviews the Year’s Funniest Warning

You cannot accuse the Western populace of the Early Digital period of not having a sense of humour about the rather extensive list of predicaments facing down their collective bid for a peaceful and productive digital life — to mark an age which, in the totality of its mental state if not its material circumstances, feels thoroughly dystopian, they have also inaugurated a “golden age of dystopian fiction.”

Whether or not The Social Dilemma is fiction is hard to say — both with respect to the melodrama it self-consciously makes out of its perils-of-social-media thesis, and in terms of the…


Or ‘When Big Companies Steal Concepts from Small Companies, and How They Get Away with It’

A 5-minuter from Wonk Bridge

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It was with the Sherman antitrust act of 1890 that the United States first sought to impose its anti-regal approach to governance upon big business. As its namesake Senator John Sherman said, “If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life.”

It did not represent the country’s first attempts at legal restraint over monopoly formation or monopolistic practice. Milder regulations and restrictions had existed in international common law since at least Darcy vs. Allin


Or ‘The Problem with Government-By-Numbers’

A 5-Minuter from Wonk Bridge

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A* Algorithm gif, from Imgur

Conventional wisdom about the COVID period holds that it’s a good time to be an ecommerce monopolist, a communications facilitator, or the proprietor of an online gaming platform. It also holds that it’s a very bad time to be a tourism-dependent economy, a high-street retail chain, or a traditional educationalist. It is, more broadly, a very bad time to be precariously employed, or old. It is also a very bad time to be young.

As much as to the beleaguered rest, one’s heart goes out to the class of 2019–20, with portion preserved in the…

Max Gorynski

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