Generation Boom

One of my most formative experiences was an upper school trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium. Amidst all the stories of carnage and destruction, and the unfathomable numbers of casualties involved, what struck me above all else was the sheer proximity of the respective front lines. In some places a mere hundred yards might separate the two groups of… Continue reading Generation Boom

2016: year of the tactical takedown?

Cross-posted from MIT's Center for Civic Media blog. The present presidential election is a spectacle, in the truest sense of the word, like few before. Just as FDR's weekly radio addresses and JFK's success in the first televised presidential debate watermark the adoption and cooption of a particular communication medium for political ends, so the… Continue reading 2016: year of the tactical takedown?

WTF offers a unique perspective on life on the front line

★★★★✩ Originally published in The Tech. Reviews often destroy movies, and only rarely, as in the case of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, do they create them. In 2011, a New York Times review of Kim Barker’s wartime memoir The Taliban Shuffle described Barker as “a sort of Tina Fey character, who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to… Continue reading WTF offers a unique perspective on life on the front line

Michael Moore’s war of hearts and minds

Originally published in The Tech. ★★★✩✩ The title of Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, seems to reflect ambivalence on the part of its creator. It is after all no coincidence that Moore’s trio of breakout box office hits — Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko — appeared during the administration of… Continue reading Michael Moore’s war of hearts and minds

Consider the Lawn Sign: elections as civic engagement

Cross-posted from the Center for Civic Media blog. Last week I had the chance to watch one of the world’s great electoral-political spectacles - the New Hampshire primary - up close. It wasn’t by any means my first dalliance with American politics: I’ve had at least a loose involvement in the fascinating and frequently Freudian… Continue reading Consider the Lawn Sign: elections as civic engagement

Review: Trumbo offers a shallow take on Hollywood’s writer’s bloc

Published in MIT's The Tech. ★★★✩✩ Trumbo It seems more than a little fitting that Jay Roach’s new biopic, Trumbo, is classified as a ‘Drama’ for the forthcoming Golden Globes in spite of its studio’s preference for it to be considered in the less competitive Comedy category. This is fitting not only since Trumbo is a… Continue reading Review: Trumbo offers a shallow take on Hollywood’s writer’s bloc

Fired Up, Dumbed Down? William F. Buckley and the Decline of Political Discourse

Published in MIT's The Tech “From Firing Line to The O’Reilly Factor” - Heather Hendershot, CMS/W Colloquium Series, October 22, 2015 Lamenting the state of American political discourse is a popular refrain at present, and it’s not hard to see why. At a time when offensive statements from the likes of Donald Trump and Ben Carson serve not… Continue reading Fired Up, Dumbed Down? William F. Buckley and the Decline of Political Discourse

Welcome to Britain’s First Ever Prime Ministerial Primary

This blog post, in an abridged form, has been republished at the LSE's Politics and Policy blog here. #JezWeCan? It's a laughable comparison, of course: the engrossing election of 2008 which brought the United States its first African-American president, at the expense of its first female one, propelled by the power of hope, change, and… Continue reading Welcome to Britain’s First Ever Prime Ministerial Primary

What’s at the end of Facebook’s rainbow?

In a talk I gave at the Data Power conference in Sheffield a couple of weeks ago, I posed the following thought experiment: what if Mark Zuckerberg woke up feeling like Rupert Murdoch? For decades it's been accepted - if seldom celebrated - that Murdoch's red-tops command serious influence over the British electorate. Not for nothing,… Continue reading What’s at the end of Facebook’s rainbow?

Big Data – What’s New(s)?

The following is a slightly edited version of a talk I gave at the Data Power conference in Sheffield this week, presenting work by myself and Ralph Schroeder. The question of what drives news coverage far pre-dates the Internet and the rise of social media, and over the decades – or indeed the centuries –… Continue reading Big Data – What’s New(s)?