Friday Reading S08E01

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology, and other interesting nerdy things. It is also available as an email newsletter. Sign up here.

I’m not entirely clear I buy this whole story, but it is a great yarn well told and I laughed:

“It appears that a database somewhere now associated NULL with his personal information. Which means that any time a traffic cop forgot to fill in the license plate number on a citation, the fine automatically got sent to Tartaro.”

How a ‘NULL’ license plate landed one hacker in ticket hell” – Brian Barrett, Wired

I see the legendary Facebook Pendulum Of News™ is swinging back to humans again before they fire everybody and decide algorithms can do it better then learn they can’t again: “In New Facebook Effort, Humans Will Help Curate Your News Stories

“The Silicon Valley company said that journalists would help curate News Tab, a new section inside of the company’s mobile application that will surface the most recent and relevant stories for readers. Facebook said it planned to hire seasoned journalists from various outlets for the roles and would put up job postings on its employment board on Tuesday.”

I think I’ve seen this movie before: “News Corp is developing a news-aggregation service meant to address concerns that Google News and other digital platforms don’t reward publishers’ work adequately and play down articles from certain types of sites, according to people familiar with the plans.”

Lord have mercy the hoax “this post means I retain the copyright over my images” social media meme has infected Instagram celebrities.

From a few weeks ago but well worth a listen: “The Overtake’s Robyn Vinter candidly takes us through the challenges and compromises involved in running a local news outlet. She discusses the importance of being independent, the strictures and sacrifices that comes from being a small news outlet, and why there needs to be variety and diversity of journalistic voices.”

Lots of nostalgia for how the web used to be from middle-aged men at the moment. But give this a read if you fancy being reminded of what your blogging routine was like in the mid-2000s and suddenly remembering words like ‘trackback’ which you haven’t thought about since.

The tweets sounded better on vinyl” – Justin Paterno

A man reads every issue of WIRED ever to determine whether ‘Internet Time’ is slowing down.


Headlines that could only happen in 2019: An Influencer Is Defending Her Decision To Post A Photo Shoot Of Her Motorcycle Accident On Instagram.

There’s a selfie pop-up in Westfield where you can pay £19.99 to spend the day posing in front of fun stuff. Its existence will probably give middle-aged bores an aneurysm. Excellent.

“The sad, brutal fact is that outside of family and close friends, I think Domino’s might be my longest running correspondence. What that says about me, I can’t be bothered to interrogate.”

Domino’s Will Send Me Promotional Texts Until I Die” – Francisco Garcia

There’s an estimated 40 million old phones and laptops sitting around in the UK not being used, which contain rare elements that we are running out of. I think I’ve got 39 million of them myself in the spare room to be honest.

Remind me when the World Trade Organisation elections are again? The US is blocking the WTO appointing new judges to its appeal body which means by December 2019 it won’t be able to hear more cases.

A bit of bother down at the WTO court” by Peter Ungphakorn.

This piece makes a point that the drop in the level of vaccinations isn’t solely down to flat earth anti-vaxxers, and that other factors including barriers to access and some cultural issues are to blame.

Why is uptake of the measles vaccine so low?” – Isobel Sims, Clinical reporter, Nursing In Practice

An entertaining but not entirely reassuring examination of biblical prophecy to see whether American Evangelical Christians would recognise the antichrist if he was standing right in front of them or, for example, running for president.

How Copenhagen plans to reach carbon-neutral status in just six years. Hint: it’s not cars.

There’s an underground football league where staff from the different London tube lines play each other. Of course there is.

“Previously players could only play for the team representing the station or line on which they worked. In the early days this was necessary to ensure that each team had sufficient players from which to choose, but presumably it must also have caused problems at major interchanges. These days, however, players can more or less play for whoever they wish, as long as they have a valid TfL or London Underground pass. Since the pass check was introduced, the problem of ringers has been resolved.”

If you like this newsletter then you’ll probably like Fair Warning by Sophie Warnes as well – get it over here.

Nobody in the world could possibly dislike Dave Grohl, right? Right? Well, ok, maybe the guy obsessively replying to any positive comments on this piece with “Well, actually, Grohl is technically a distinctly average drummer because…”

This is hypnotic – it is Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner, but only the bits that get wiped out when you compress it down to an mp3.

Miley Cyrus is a national treasure, but I’d definitely be prepared to put in the legwork to fact-check this claim of hers.

“Bill doesn’t own a computer, cell phone, or have access to the internet, so he uses the billboard like other people use Facebook.”

Amazing story of the guy who runs a gun shop in Maine with a billboard outside it where he puts up signs like “Are the demarats taking bribes from the drug cartels for open borders?” or “Send all libtards to Venezeula for socialism ABC bernie style”.

Peter Capaldi is going to be starring in an M.R.James ghost story at Xmas. Inject it in my veins.

Just Dana Schwartz obsessing about the time that Robert Pattinson lied on national television about having witnessed the death of a clown in a circus when his tiny clown car blew up, while Pattinson was supposed to be promoting his new movie about a circus.

It is 2019 and people are still making new games for my beloved ZX Spectrum.

A Wonderful and Extraordinary Collection of Old Hotel ‘Do Not Disturb’ Signs

I’m doing my first gigs for over 20 years. I’m playing at Nestival XI in Deptford on Bank Holiday Monday, and I’ll be supporting Agent Side Grinder in Dalston in October. You could come and watch me if you wanted.