Monday, July 26, 2010


I have a question. I don't want to sound like one of those misers who think they have the measure of Twitter by asking WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT TWITTER WHO WANTS TO KNOW WHAT YOU HAD FOR BREAKFAST (usually either accompanied by an exasperated Jeremy-Clarkson-book-cover stance, or muttered wryly in an attempt to sound like a cross between Blackadder and Oscar Wilde)... but what's so great about Foursquare?

For a start, I'm only 70% sure I know what it is. One of my friends often has things posted to his Facebook page saying thinks like "I am starting a trip to New York" or "I am in Starbucks, Broadgate", and I'm pretty sure that the name of the beast is Foursquare. Someone else has just instructed me to join it and, after a cursory and no doubt wildly inaccurate skim of a Guardian article on the subject, I'm not sure I would like it very much for the following reasons:

  • There's something distastefully and self-defeatingly transparent about going "HEY! I am at this Cool Venue" which, despite the fact that I am as superficial and self-promoting as anyone, I don't like.
  • I don't sufficiently trust the judgment of randoms to break out my phone every time I go into a cafe to see if someone has said "have the bacon roll! It's deliiiiicious lols!".
  • As far as the "hooking up!" ability goes, there are probably only about six people that I would never resent bumping into. The day where my phone is excitedly bleeping at me to tell me that my college hockey captain is in a 400 metre radius is a day I would rather have stayed in bed.

I don't think my BlackBerry would let me install it in any event, so it's probably academic, but you know. Good to have a view.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ICRC 'Missing Lives' Exhibition

The International Red Cross 'Missing Lives' exhibition catches you off-guard as you wander guilelessly along the South Bank. Installed on a jutting platform opposite Gabriel's Wharf, it appears to be a glossy display of high definition photography - glamorous eye candy, no doubt!

On closer inspection, however, the exhibition has a sombre and moving story to tell. 'Missing Lives' highlights 15 individual accounts taken from thousands describing pain and loss from the Balkans wars, which scarred Yugoslavia in the 1990s and cost the lives of about 140,000 people.

Of those 140,000, a quarter of simply vanished and were reported missing by their families. Even today, almost 15,000 people remain unaccounted for. Photography by Nick Danziger and text by Rory MacLean illustrate the anguish suffered by the families of the murdered and missing.

Some stories are shocking, others just sad. Piecing them together produces a terrifying vision of a world where neighbour turned on neighbour and close-knit communities were ravaged by mass executions, often willingly carried out by citizens upon their acquaintances.

Unexpectedly and suddenly moving, this restrained yet harrowing exhibition may take the spring from your step as you trot alongside the river, but don't avert your eyes: it is profound, thought-provoking and - as pressure increases on the West Balkans governments to provide answers to affected families - timely.

'Missing Lives', Gabriel's Wharf, 7 July to 26 July.
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