What we've been reading: The Zuck, art and Atwood

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Happy friday, folks! As is tradition on AccountingWEB these days, we mark everyone’s favourite weekday with What we’ve been reading.

As the title suggests, the AccountingWEB and UK Business Forums editorial teams look beyond the boundaries of our own website and list the things we’ve enjoyed reading (or listening to/seeing).

Enjoy, and if you have something cool you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below!

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Richard: Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood

I’m going for a controversial choice this week: I’m choosing Shakespeare. Hang on! Where are you going? Please come back.

I realise that the very thought of Shakespeare revives long buried school memories of studying the Bard, but Margaret Atwood’s witty retelling of The Tempest contains enough literary magic to tempt even ardent Shakespeare detractors.  

Atwood bases her Tempest on Prospero’s final three words: set me free. That’s why in her take the idea of imprisonment comes up again and again. She even shifts the action from being marooned on an island to prison.

Atwood’s mischievous reworking casts Felix, the artistic director of a Canadian theatre festival, in the Prospero role. After he's banished from his artistic director position thanks to a scheming rival, Felix takes a job as an acting tutor for the Fletcher correctional facility inmates. It is there that he plots his revenge (I’m sure Tempest buffs can guess what’s coming next…). And what’s his storm? It’s a production of The Tempest, of course.

Throughout characters are locked in metaphysical and literal prisons, and the same can be said for us. Whether it is through feeling imprisoned within your job, by clients’ demands or from listening to HMRC’s helpline music on a loop, Atwood shows Shakespeare can be just as relevant to modern audiences as he was 400 years ago.

Fran: Why I love Mark Zuckerberg and can never say a word against him

As I’ve become more and more immersed in Open Banking, I realise just how important information is. I mean, I knew that before -- but I really don’t think I fully understood just how critical who controls data and why is.

It’s why this article by Nathan Robinson resonated with me so much. Without us really paying attention, a few Silicon Valley titans have formed a nearly impenetrable data cartel.

The list of creepy and invasive things these large tech companies have done or are doing seems to be ever expanding. And here we sit, the gormless rubes, seemingly unaware of just how much power corporations like Google and Facebook lord over us.

Faced by these powerful private interests our ability to choose increasingly loses its potency. They are “private governments” with “control over people’s lives, and their decisions can determine who gets to speak and whether anyone will hear them”.

“The more they dominate a market, the less “exit” becomes a meaningful option for dissatisfied users: you could go and live in the forest (unless the forest is privatized), but otherwise, you have to accept whatever terms are handed down from above.”

Valme: Who does art belong to?

If you’ve been to Greece, you might have been slightly disappointed with the amount of ancient art and architecture that you expected to see. Surely, in 5th century BC, Athens might have been full of the wonders that you would expect to find in a city that is considered to be the centre of the world, but where has all that gone?

The ugly truth is that if you are interested in ancient Greek culture, it might be worth to take a trip to London instead of going to Greece. For instance, the Parthenon Marbles have been displayed in the British Museum since 1817. And that is just one example.  

There is African patrimony in France, Turkish art in Germany, Colombian treasures in Spain, and the list goes on.

Western museums argue that they take better care of the works and make it accessible to more people. Whether that is really the case is a matter open to debate.

Kat: I made my shed the top rated restaurant on TripAdvisor

As someone who’s perpetually hungry, there’s nothing worse than showing up to a restaurant to find overpriced food, absurd presentation (anyone else had their chips served in some kind of bucket?) and tiny portions.

Oobah Butler chose a similar sort of pretentious style at his restaurant, The Shed at Dulwich, last year. Customers chose from moods, rather than food: the pictures showed immaculate sushi and dense chocolate sponges. Except, of course, they weren’t.

With the help of Iceland ready meals, fake reviews and our FOMO culture, it took The Shed at Dulwich less than six months to become London’s top rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. An achievement, sure, but not what I loved most.

It was the real-world creativity and dedication of his efforts that stood out in our era of digital: dishes made out of shaving foam and painted sponges, coffee granules and washing tablets. A Wendy House full of chickens.

As he puts it: “You could look at this cynically – argue that the odour of the internet is so strong nowadays that people can no longer use their senses properly. But I like to be positive. If I can transform my garden into London’s best restaurant, literally anything is possible.”

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter. 

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