Companies with unusual structures

Here are some companies which are large and successful, but have either a non-hierarchical management structure, or an unusual pattern of ownership. Not everything profitable is stock market listed with an all-powerful CEO. Ocean Spray may at first glance look like a huge top-down Coca-Cola-but-for-juice corporation. But it’s not, it’s a co-operative owned by 650 […]

Moving house

The main disadvantage of renting property is that you can’t control things if your landlord decides to sell it. In the long term, I feel like there should be something clever halfway between renting and leasehold which gives you more rights over the freeholder. But until somebody works out what that is, I suggest getting […]

School without rules

Imagine a school with a set of complicated rules. It’s an old school, very old. About 1000 years. Numerous head teachers have modified the rules over time – banning running in corridors, or creating tort for pencil poking. Occasionally the deputy head of timetabling thinks they are getting a bit complicated, and simplifies them a […]

Usability errors in Google

By and large, all of Google’s services are astonishingly usable. That is, both people who are comfortable with computers, and those who are new to them, find the interface clean, fast, and understand how to use it. Recently I’ve become aware of two major flaws, which are both enlightening. You can drag Google maps to […]

Working for your self

So today, I’m filling in my self-employed tax return for the last tax year. I’ve never used the website for doing this before, and in general I’m quite impressed. However, it had two simple but major usability flaws, both of which nearly stopped me using the service at all. The address doesn’t work at […]

Don’t be evil

It’s getting on for a year ago that I posted about organic bodies, and the quest for a form of incorporation that I actually like. One that lets you organise a group of people, is efficient and agile enough to compete with for-profit companies, but which doesn’t sell out the world down the line. A […]

Suriname with engineers

“I will give 10 pounds towards the 500 pounds needed for Engineers Without Borders UK’s project in Suriname but only if 49 other people will too.” What were your first, and subsequent reactions on seeing the sentence/link above? If you followed the link, what was your first rection to the page? Could you understand the […]

Vote based on a quiz

There are lots of different approaches to deciding how to vote, and to the power relation between politicans and you. Here is a list of them (courtesy of Arthur Edwards in Holland, who studies these things). Excuse the posh names for them, just pretend we’re in a university for a paragraph or two. Promissory – […]


I just can’t be bothered to vote. Or even to tell the world why I can’t be bothered to vote. Thanks to Sam and Matthew B for building such a great site. It is mySociety’s first one that was made entirely by volunteers. It’s nice to launch a whole website when all I had to […]

How your MP voted on important issues

Soon you’re going to have to vote for a new MP, so it seems fitting to have a quick look at how your last one voted on your behalf. For example, my MP Anne Campbell voted: Very strongly for introducing foundation hospitals. Moderately for introducing student top-up fees. Quite strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws. A […]