Culture

Does Christmas really come earlier every year?

It has become something of a cliché to remark upon the ever earlier arrival of the Christmas season. Given its popularity you would expect an early arrival to be a source of satisfaction, but this is rarely the case. In reality we seek to delay the festive season until a time we deem suitable - which seems to be much later than the retailers decide. The beginning of the holiday season ends up being greeted with a resounding ‘already?’ As we struggle to fathom how anyone could possibly feel festive at such an early time in the year.

The weight of expectations: a Q&A with Jasper Fforde

Do certain things happen because we expect them to happen? Jasper Fforde suggests so. The comedy/fantasy author, whose books include The Eyre Affair, Shades of Grey, and the Last Dragonslayer series, introduces his theory of 'expectation-influenced probability'.

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Review aggregators: the trouble with replacing critics with consensus

Earlier this summer I went to a panel debate on the future of criticism in the arts. Two things came out of the discussion, firstly the art of criticism should be appreciated and secondly, the internet was causing ructions in the field. The effect of the internet wasn’t deemed to be all bad, but the professional critics had a particular disdain for one of the internet’s more revolutionary innovations - the review aggregator.

The sounds of places: mapping the world's musical taste

At Spotify, where I work, we have listeners in a large and growing numbers of countries around the world. You might theorize that people in different countries listen to different music. You might be curious to hear this music. If you are like me, you might be really curious, to the point of a kind of obsessive, consuming fear that there is awesome and bizarre and wonderful music in, say, Estonia, that you're not hearing.

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The best statistics book you've read this year?

Statistics plays a role in all walks of life - including literature. So, for our end-of-year issue, we want to celebrate 2014’s best books about (or involving) statistics. We’re looking for Significance readers to nominate their favourites and to explain - in 100 words or less - why they’d recommend the book.