The Wiki Man

Finally, we’re unboxing the teleporter

11 July 2020 9:00 am

This week’s Wiki Man may read a bit oddly. You see, I haven’t ‘written’ it at all; I’ve dictated it…

What if Oxford PPE graduates on TV were made to wear pink conical hats?

27 June 2020 9:00 am

You can’t discuss racial inequality without using the N-word. And you can’t debate social justice without adding the C-word and…

Cars weren’t invented for transportation, but conversation

20 June 2020 9:00 am

When I first heard Abba’s magnificent 1982 swansong ‘The Day Before You Came’, I’d never come across the Americanised use…

What should you charge for a virtual conference?

13 June 2020 9:00 am

From time to time, every industry must adapt to some inconvenient technological advance. Suddenly, some part of what you offer…

The £39.99 gadget that will transform how you work at home

6 June 2020 9:00 am

Hours of googling have left me unable to find the essay on domestic horticulture, written by a Victorian aristocrat, which…

The stupidity of the ‘spare bedroom’

30 May 2020 9:00 am

The Tesla Model 3 is an astounding achievement, but one thing baffles me: why do electric cars lack even the…

Did the behavioural scientists have a point?

23 May 2020 9:00 am

For all the abuse heaped on the Behavioural Insights Team early in the crisis, let’s not forget that the only…

Have you caught the remote-working bug?

16 May 2020 9:00 am

One of the few benefits to emerge from this pandemic is that the world’s population has been given a crash…

Croquet is the perfect sport for social distancing

9 May 2020 9:00 am

In Mr Alton’s absence, I thought readers might want a column about sport. The problem is that I’m largely indifferent…

Is this the end of commuting?

2 May 2020 9:00 am

The brother of a friend in Durban was once given a generous donation by a wealthy aunt. ‘I hate to…

What bees can teach us about efficiency

25 April 2020 9:00 am

The newspapers are full of stories about how small groups of engineers from Formula 1 teams have been able to…

The keys to ending lockdown – introverts and brown M&M’s

18 April 2020 9:00 am

Once we’ve flattened the curve of infection with mass self-isolation, the next debate will concern how to soften the restrictions…

My Japanese toilet has made me a lockdown hero

11 April 2020 9:00 am

Compared with every other household chore, progress in bum-wiping has been glacially slow. It’s only in living memory that schools…

NHS workers deserve our applause – but so does the telecoms industry

4 April 2020 9:00 am

Next time there is a highly deserved round of public applause for NHS workers, do add one additional clap for…

The trick that will let you have a conference call from your home phone

28 March 2020 9:00 am

For the past 12 years, Roger Alton and I have shared this half page like Box and Cox: he writes…

Will quarantine for travellers become normal again?

21 March 2020 9:00 am

It wasn’t a coincidence that the US government chose Ellis Island as an immigration station. The crucial word is ‘island’.…

Why the BBC licence fee makes sense

7 March 2020 9:00 am

A consensus seems to be forming that the BBC licence fee is for the chop. In a digital age, the…

The simple trick that will hugely boost your phone coverage

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

In the recent debate over Britain’s 5G infrastructure, one dog didn’t bark in the night. At no point did anyone…

The real reason I am against HS2

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Some years ago, two British supermarket chains needed to place a large order for replacement trollies. They had to decide…

The great train robbery: why Britain’s rail prices need a rethink

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

Outside mathematics, the word ‘commute’ can mean two things. Mostly it refers to the act of making a daily journey…

Something is badly wrong with the housing market – so why aren’t we talking about it?

11 January 2020 9:00 am

In 1991, 67 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds owned their own home. In 2016, that figure had fallen to…

Technological progress is as messy as Darwinian evolution

21 December 2019 9:00 am

There is a famous chart which shows the time it took for various technologies to be adopted by 50 million…

This year’s top gadgets – according to my inner chimp

7 December 2019 9:00 am

I’d hoped to spend this week writing about my new Geberit Japanese-style toilet, but since the grout is not yet…

No one else has the weird levels of self-regard shown by people who appear regularly on TV

23 November 2019 9:00 am

One of the more tedious tropes of recent years is for journalists to bemoan the rise of populism while busily…

How veganism became mainstream

9 November 2019 9:00 am

I have just returned from Canada, which seems to share Britain’s new-found obsession with veganism. There, chains such as Burger…