Catchphrases are no substitute for substance

I think it’s fair to say millennials hate being caricatured as avocado-eating, safe space-loving brats who don’t know how good they’ve got it. Those who deal in such reductive pictures come across as ignorant, arrogant, and unwilling to engage in the discussion necessary for different generations to understand each other. In short, it’s a massive wind up.

It’s frustrating, then, to see millennials committing similar sins with ‘OK boomer.’ The catch-all ownage has become a favourite rebuttal to older generations who disagree with us, or say something we don’t like, or who we just…


Education deserves to be scrutinized by a coalition of political views

Knowledge. Wisdom. Clarity. That’s Prager University, apparently. For those of you not in the loop, Prager University (or PragerU for short) is a media organisation founded by American conservative Dennis Prager. It is not a university. It is not accredited by any recognised body. Its mission, according to its website, is to create content ‘that advances Judeo-Christian values.’

PragerU does this through bite-sized videos, which have amassed billions of views. As the platform has grown the dubious content of its videos has been picked apart by all manner of critics. That’s not my intent here. It’s well covered ground, and…


We are not taught to question, and those supposed to do it on our behalf are failing us

You may want to sit down for this. Politicians lie. No really, they do. They lie to me and you and everyone else, because lying is more useful to them than telling the truth. Not all of them, but a lot of them. This, I hope, is not a terribly controversial thing to say.

However, it is apparently not worth getting upset about. The thing to get upset about is Facebook allowing political advertisements on the platform to include misinformation and lies…


Please, please stand up

Crowdfunding platforms are viewed by many as a path towards sustainable online media, but the last few weeks have shown there’s still plenty of teething to get through. Botched or controversial fundraisers tend to grab more headlines, but the elephant in the room is that the platforms themselves seem incapable of nonpartisanship.

For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter has gotten itself into trouble recently by blocking the unionisation of its workforce. The company has not handled it well. After firing two employees who just so happened to be leading the push for a union, Kickstarter went on to…


Parkour music, is every sense of the word

Every so often a game comes along that really jibes with people’s imaginations. Mirror’s Edge is one of those games. Released in 2008, the first-person parkour adventure served up a gorgeous blend of art style, story, gameplay, and music that led to millions of sales.

To my mind, what’s so compelling about the game is the complete lack of ego or cynicism that went into its making. It is not a perfect game, but the creative vision behind is as clear and fresh as a spring day. No aspect of the game is inflated or muscling in where it shouldn’t…


And we’re already pretty far down

The role of advertising in publishing has been placed under increasing scrutiny over the last few years, mainly because it’s not working any more. Every couple of weeks it seems another big name has thrown in the towel, unsustainable even by the standards of magazines and newspapers.

Before the rise of the internet, advertising was the saving grace. The rates were good. In fact, they were so good that the price of publications could be reduced to far below what they would cost otherwise. Newspapers and magazines could stay in the black, more people…


Like George Orwell’s ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’, but worse

In an expensive yet strangely characterless flat in some important city or other a man sits unblinking before a computer screen. His hands tremble over the keyboard in anticipation of words that have not come for hours and will not come for hours yet. Countless pairs of headphones litter the floor and one wall is piled high with speakers. After years of listening and thousands of pounds of debt incurred, our hero has resigned himself to the fact that most music sounds irredeemably awful.

And yet he must write, for he is a music reviewer and the world waits with…


Thomas Ashby is a singer/songwriter from Herne Bay. For 16 long, miserable months we lived together in London. During that time he recorded and released his third EP — Backlash. Before he left we sat down to work out what on earth happened.

Over the last year and a half I have probably heard more of Thomas Ashby’s music than anyone else in the world. I haven’t had much of a say in the matter, but that’s all right. I’ve liked it. Until a month ago we shared a flat in London, during which time Tom recorded and released an EP called Backlash.

He being a musician, and I being cofounder of one of the world’s most prestigious music websites, we agreed an article was in order. So here we are. My approach has had to be a little different here, though. Read…


Streaming services have revolutionised listening habits. Anyone, anywhere, can listen to just about anything. In 2012, David Bryne wrote that music risked becoming a soma-like drug. Today his concerns are closer to reality than we would like to think.

Man on a Spotify trip
Man on a Spotify trip

In 2012 David Byrne asked whether music had become a ‘soma-like drug,’ a kind of emotional medication. He was referring to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian 1932 novel Brave New World, in which soma subdues society’s passions and keeps people apart. Faced with the rise of digital distribution and personal audio players, Byrne saw a similar fate awaiting music.

Streaming services like Spotify were in their infancy at the time. Now they dominate the music industry, and Byrne’s concerns are more relevant than ever. Technology has revolutionised music consumption. Exploring the new terrain through the lens of Brave New World can help…


Sounds from the Wasteland

Fallout 3 is a unique beast, something taken for granted sometimes. Generally — though not quite universally — adored, the game occupies a peculiar space between continuity and innovation. Inheriting the legacy of an acquired franchise, yet announcing itself to millions of console players, Fallout 3’s soundtrack is crucial to both the game’s atmosphere and its lasting impact. Composer Inon Zur’s ambient work, juxtaposed with the warm, crackling tunes of Galaxy News Radio, provided the perfect accompaniment to the fresh, terrifying possibilities of the Wasteland.

To fully understand the game’s soundtrack, you need to look where it came from. Fallout…

Frederick O'Brien

Writer and journalist based in east London

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