Here, David Armitage discusses the problems with a systemic ‘short-termism’ and lack of historical perspective in public policy formation today. Within a governmental system that privileges ‘quarterly reporting, brief electoral cycles and planning horizons of at most five years’ to determine almost all aspects of public life, the historical perspective is being ignored.
‘History should not be just affirmation, like Michael Gove’s myth of a single “national past”. Nor should it be entertainment: merely something “people enjoy”. It is a critical science for questioning short-term views, complicating simple stories about causes and consequences, and discovering roads not taken. History can upset the established consensus, expand narrow horizons and, in Simon Schama’s words, “keep the powerful awake at night”. In that mission lies the public future of the past.’
This beautiful ‘love letter to a machine‘ is the perfect antidote for the Monday Blues. Judith Newman describes her autistic son Gus’s growing relationship with Siri and how intelligent assistants are being developed to help people with speech and communication problems; “See, that’s the wonderful thing about technology being able to help with some of these behaviors. . . Getting results requires a lot of repetition. Humans are not patient. Machines are very, very patient.”
We also came across the What We Wore blog, which is in the process of collecting personally documented images of British street style accompanied by anecdotes offering historical shapshots from the 1950s to the present day. The fashion historians in us wish there were more detailed accounts of where garments were bought etc. for a more material culture approach but needless to say from the perspective of a 23 year old that has spent my formative years with an instant camera of some kind, this blog stylistically open questions about the value of a photograph.
Grace Bremner & Rachel McCarthy-Yardley
Purchase ‘What We Wore: A People’s History of British Style’ here