LibLink: David Boyle – The future? We’ve seen it all before


Over on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, former editor of Liberal Democrat News and Liberal Democrat blogger of the year, David Boyle, argues that technological change is slowing and we are increasingly re-embracing old “real” ways:

…we cling to the real world ever more tightly as the virtual world presses its claims, a phenomenon predicted by the American philosopher Robert Nozick. A growing minority of us may not shun tablets or ebooks (I write them, for goodness sake). We might even drink instant coffee sometimes. But we are determined that the unspun, unmanipulated and unmarketed shall not perish from this Earth. Even if we have to wait in line for a hissing coffee machine.

This has been dismissed as a middle-class fad, but most of us seem to be demanding more personality from politicians, more moral coherence from corporations. Authenticity is basically classless, even if it manifests itself in different ways for different people.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • Paul In Wokingham 31st Dec '14 - 1:47pm

    Sales of vinyl LPs are at an 18 year high.

    There is something human and compelling about the physical artefact of a 12″ vinyl record – complete with sleeve notes – that compares faviourably against the convenient but transient download technology that dominates today.

    Objects are triggers for memories, and in a world of digitized photos, music and books – all too easily lost or inaccessible due to technology “advances” – we risk being alienated from ourselves for the sake of some dubious notion of convenience.

    My 40 year old vinyl pressing of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” is one of my most treasured possessions, and sounds brilliant. Who will be saying that in 40 years time about something they downloaded from the Apple store?

  • paul barker 31st Dec '14 - 2:03pm

    “Comment is Free as long as you are part of the Authoritarian Left” to give it the full title. It would take more than a reccomendation to get me wallowing in Guardian nostalgia.
    One phrase really got my rational goat -“technological growth is slowing”. What units is technology measured in & who is doing the measuring ? This sounds like the sort of mush that gave Hippies a bad name.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Dec '14 - 2:27pm

    I enjoyed the piece, but I don’t agree that ‘authenticity’ is classless. Authenticity is a social construction. Authenticity and fashion are much aligned.

    Although David is not doing so, people can use their definition of what is ‘authentic’ and what is not as defining class membership, as a weapon of exclusion. There is latent snobbery in ones choice of drug (filter, cafetiere* or instant). And anyway don’t you just deplore the way people pronounce cafetiere as if it had a e acute when it doesn’t. So inauthentic, so franglais.

    I am told that nettles are now the rage among the hipsters and have set up a small enterprise exporting authentic Ribble Valley nettles to a deli in Shoreditch.

    Happy New Year.

  • matt (Bristol) 31st Dec '14 - 2:28pm

    Paul Barker – I really don’t think you can claim David Boyle is part of the ‘authoritarian left’. Have you read his blog?

    And when it comes to the argument that technological growth is slowing that, did you follow the link in the next paragraph of the article which he provides as justification to that argument?

    Or did you just post something rude and uppity instead?

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Dec '14 - 3:34pm

    I agree with Bill Le Breton.

    Anyone who missed Grayson Perry’s perceptive look at class in the Channel 4 series, “All in the best possible taste’, or has visited an exhibition of his tapestries, made during the series, ‘The vanity of small differences’, will better understand the social construction of ‘authentic.

    Needless to say, I have a cafetiere, or as Grayson Perry calls it, the chalice of the middle classes. It was a natural progression from Camp Coffee of my working class childhood, a symbol thatI had ‘arrived’.

  • Mark Inskip 1st Jan '15 - 1:26am

    Technological change is sloping because Dixons Carphone tablet sales don’t go well?

    Industry forecasts at the start of the year pointed to slowing tablet sales, particular in the west where the market is becoming saturated, people holding onto them for longer and because of competition from phablets.

    Vinyl sales may be up but are still less than 2% of music sales by revenue, by volume much less. Pink Floyd’s The Endless River was the best selling vinyl album of the year yet only sold around 6,000 copies. Core music sales have moved from CDs to digital download to streaming services in just a few years. Around 7.4 billion songs were streamed in the UK in 2013, the 2014 figure will be higher.

    The astounding pace of technological change is seen in the growth in IP traffic (rather than road traffic). Cisco forecast global IP traffic will reach a massive 1.1 zettabytes by 2016, around 91.3 exabytes (or 1 billion gigabytes) per month. By 2018, Cisco say, global IP traffic will reach 132 exabytes per month. And by 2018, mobile devices will account for 61 percent of global IP traffic up from 33% in 2013.

    In 1971 Intel announced the first microprocessor with 2,300 transistors on a single piece of silicon. This year the Apple A8 chip in the iPhone 6 has around 2,000,000,000 transistors on a single piece of silicon.

    Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

  • If Jayne Mansfield or Bill Le Breton write something, it is worth reading.

    Jayne Mansfield 31st Dec ’14 – 3:34pm
    ” I agree with Bill Le Breton. ..,… ….It was a natural progression from Camp Coffee of my working class childhood … ”

    I start 2015 with a vision of Jayne, bottle of Camp Coffee in hand admiring that excellent picture of the Indian servant etc whilst Bill stirs his latest brew of Nettles for despatch to the finest food emporiums of the Metropolis.
    (Or should that be ’emporia’, Bill ?)

    paul barker 31st Dec ’14 – 2:03pm. Is getting all grumpy!
    He is accusing David Boyle (of all people!!) of writing ” the sort of mush that gave Hippies a bad name.”
    Is it because he is running out of time for the oft predicted paul barker improvement in polling support for the party?

    Cheer up paul barker, help yourself to a dish of Bill’s authentic nettle salad and wash it down with a swig of Jayne’s authentic working class chicory based ersatz coffee.

    The combination may leave a slightly bitter taste, but it will be a lot less bitter than many of us will feel after reading the results in May.

    Happy New Year.

  • David Rogers 1st Jan '15 - 11:47am

    I enjoy nettles on the outside of Yarg (cheese, for those of you not yet acquainted with it…)

  • I await the first nettles of spring: cooked like spinach and served with a bit of lemon and olive oil you can almost feel how good they are for you after a winter of supermarket greens. And they are not bitter, John!

  • Jayne Mansfield 1st Jan '15 - 12:33pm

    Nettle soup is delicious, especially when in some restaurants, it can be washed down with water recommended by a water sommelier.

    The nutritional value of nettles is such that I grow little else in my garden.

  • I will take on board the culinary advice from David Rogers and tonyhill.

    But I notice that neither of them is speaking up for Camp Coffee.

  • Well John….as it’s New Year’s Day: I prefer my home made dandelion coffee. Even acorn coffee isn’t as bad as the press it got during the war.

  • The Camp Coffee label no longer shows an Indian servant. British Empire chap and Indian are now pictured sitting down drinking coffee together.

  • ColinW
    No doubt UKIP will campaign for a return to the old Camp label. They must be appalled by people drinking with the servants.

    Meanwhile I think I will follow tonyhill’s suggestion and gather some acorns.
    BTW — I do drink mint tea made from the mint that grows like crazy in our garden in the summer. If I did not restrict it to pots it would dominate the whole garden — possibly grows better than anything else in my garden except Bay Trees. I seem to be an expert in growing Bay. So if anyone wants some bay leaves just send me a stamped addressed envelope.

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