Tag Archives: digital life

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.


SURVEY Playing on computers vs playing out in nature. How do your kids balance their time?


We live in a world where many kids can use sophisticated technologies but also have access to the wonders of nature, whether it’s the family veg patch or the great outdoors.

I’m writing an article about the ways in which we can make these opportunities work together in harmonious and positive ways, and I’ve love to hear about your own experiences.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher or carer of kids aged between 0-18, I’d be most grateful if you would fill out this short survey.

Many thanks.

Digital Reading Network Symposium, Bournemouth, 19 June 2014

Bob Stein, 2009. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bob_Stein_in_2009.jpg
Bob Stein, 2009. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bob_Stein_in_2009.jpg

I’m a member of the AHRC-funded Digital Reading Network and we’re holding our first symposium at Bournemouth University on 19th June 2014. The keynote speaker is Bob Stein, who was one of the co-founders of Voyager back in the day, and more recently the inspiring founder of The Institute for the Future of the Book. He’ll be talking about his most recent project SocialBook.

I’m taking this opportunity to try out an idea for a workshop on the stories we tell ourselves about digital well-being. It’s an experiment and I hope it will be fun.

The symposium is free to attend and there are still a few places left. Find out more here.