All posts by Sue Thomas

Can you sense where north is? These people can.

Whenever I spend time in the USA  or Canada I’m always intrigued by the way they use compass points for directions. “Go north three blocks, then east two blocks,” helpful people tell me. They assume I know which direction north is, but I don’t have a clue. In the UK we’ve never located ourselves that way. I’m always baffled at how North Americans  actually know which way east or west is. I’m aware it’s often written on street signs, but I’m sure that people are deeply familiar with it in their own neighbourhoods. To me, it seems like a magical sixth sense.

But now I, too, can know where north is. Not just know it, but feel it. Liviu Babitz and Scott Cohen, co-founders of Cyborg Nest, have developed North Sense, “a miniature Artificial Sense, vibrating each time it faces the Magnetic North. Your North Sense will not depend on an internet, it’s a standalone artificial sensory organ, coated in the highest quality body-compatible materials”.

It sounds very exciting: “Our New Sensory Organs take inspiration from animals and nature. Designed by world experts, they require minimal invasion into the body. Once attached, a whole new range of experiences and emotions are unlocked.”

Josie Thaddeus-Johns  met the pair, and saw North Sense in the flesh, as it were. She described how Liviu Babitz opened his collar to reveal a small silicone gadget, the size of a matchbox, attached to his chest with two titanium bars that sit just under the skin. Most resembling a compact bike light, the North Sense that Babitz has attached is an artificial sense organ that delivers a short vibration every time the user faces North. Her article is long, intriguing and well worth the read. Find out more at The Guardian.


Start the New Year the right way – stop using the word ‘blog’ incorrectly!

Arg! Please pay attention! When you say ‘I wrote a blog today’ you are almost certainly using the term incorrectly. If you’re referring to having written all the content on a blogging website, that’s ok. But if you’re talking about writing a single post (entry) on a blogging website, you’re not using the word properly.

So please,  add this to your list of 2017 New Year’s Resolutions:

“In 2017 I will write a post, not a blog, on my blog.”

Post! The term is POST! Not blog! Aaarrgg!

This is why. The term ‘blog’ refers to a style of web design which allows authors to write smallish chunks of text with attachments if they wish, such as images, videos, audio etc,  and upload them to a website.  It comes from ‘weblog’, i.e. a log or list of entries placed online. That individual item is called a post  and the act of writing and uploading it is called posting. (Sometimes  the act is also called blogging, though that can also refer to the ongoing process of maintaining a blog e.g. “I have been blogging at since 2007″.

How did this misconception spread? My belief is that it was started in the early days by media outlets who didn’t really understand what blogs were. Even today you still often hear the BBC, for example, talk about an ‘online blog’, as if there were such a thing as an offline blog! Now we’re at the point where more people use the term wrongly than those who get it right.

So, okay, I admit that this is my petty grumpiness, and it’s probably already gone too far to stop it, but please can you just try to use it correctly so my blood pressure stops rising ?

Any of the following will do:

  • I wrote a blogpost
  • I posted
  • I wrote a post
  • I read a post
  • even ‘I blogged’ is ok
  • but NOT ‘I wrote a blog’ or ‘I read a blog’ (unless it was the whole blog). Please, please, stop it before I go insane!

And if you don’t believe me, check out the Wikipedia definition, which begins:

A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog)[1] is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual[citation needed], occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject or topic. In the 2010s, “multi-author blogs” (MABs) have developed, with posts written by large numbers of authors and sometimes professionally edited. MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanks, advocacy groups, and similar institutions account for an increasing quantity of blog traffic. The rise of Twitter and other “microblogging” systems helps integrate MABs and single-author blogs into the news media. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Remember, it’s never too late to change a bad habit :)

So, Happy New Year! And I hope you have enjoyed reading this POST!


Technobiophilia Comes Home

Season’s Greetings! One year ago I started the Technobiophilia website as an experiment. I’d never set up a blog before and was curious to find out how it differed from the blogs I was very familiar with. Well, 12 months on and I’ve learned a lot, most particularly that although is a lot of fun,  I don’t want to maintain two blogs at the same time.


This is my main website. has been running since 2007 and is soon to be 10 years old. It contains a large archive of posts and information about my research throughout that period, including all my work on Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace. It’s been fun writing a blog which focuses only on technobiophilia, but it feels odd to keep the two apart.

So I’ve been gradually migrating everything from Technobiophilia over to this site and repointing the domain name of over here too. Nothing will be lost, and everything will be tidy, I hope!


Readers who currently subscribe to the Technobiophilia Mailchimp list should see no difference.  If you’re not currently subscribed, but would like to be, click here.

I’m looking forward to reintegrating my research and fitting the pieces all back together again. In the meantime, thanks for your patience and I hope you won’t be able to see the join.

PS – one thing that’s neat about is that they offer you automatic website snow for the Christmas season. How can I resist? After all, it’s very technobiophilic!