John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for March, 2020

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Anywhere but Westminster coronavirus diaries: alone, together – video

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

The headlines have so far been all about a panic-buying, lockdown-defying Britain. But in video sent by viewers and their own neighbourhoods, John Harris and John Domokos find distancing and isolation giving rise to amazing community spirit, even as Covid-19’s effects deepen

Next week we are going to be talking about the gig economy. If you have a story to tell please email us at anywhere.but.westminster@theguardian.com 

If you want to send us a video of something you are doing as part of your daily routine when you are filming it please remember to follow government physical distancing advice. Be sure to stay two metres away from anyone else. 

We do not want to put anyone at risk of either catching or spreading the virus. 

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Facebook is still far too powerful. It’s also how millions are coping with this crisis | John Harris

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

As coronavirus forces communities online, support groups are realising Facebook’s promise to truly connect us

Coronavirus latest updates
See all our coronavirus coverage

About 25 years ago, “face time” was a new phrase. In 1994 or thereabouts, news came that in cutting-edge workplaces of the US, the term denoted time actually spent in the company of other human beings – and was, by implication, a symbol of how that most basic aspect of human interaction was being lost. As they became immersed in email and the nascent worldwide web, it was rumoured that the most modern people were increasingly removed from even their friends and families – something crystallised in Douglas Coupland’s 1995 novel Microserfs, which moves from Microsoft’s HQ near Seattle to Silicon Valley.

Midway through the book comes an angst-ridden email written by one of the key characters. “So many people no longer have lives that you raeally [sic] have to wonder if some new mode of existence is being created which is going to become so huge that it is no longer on the moral scale – simply the way people ARE,” he says. “I only need 2 hours of people a day. I can get by on that amount. 2 hours of FaceTime.”

As so many of life’s fundamentals fall away, this is the one kind of human interaction that will be strengthened

Related: Community aid groups set up across UK amid coronavirus crisis

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Anywhere but Westminster: we need your help covering the coronavirus

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Become part of our new video project documenting the impact of the outbreak across the UK

For 10 years, the Guardian’s Anywhere but Westminster video series has been about getting out into communities, giving voice to ordinary people, and trying to find a new way of covering politics and current affairs. As the series has evolved, we have also been increasingly focused not just on the problems people are experiencing, but the ways in which they are coming together to solve them.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, this work has suddenly become simultaneously more difficult and more important than ever. So we’re going to try to re-imagine how the series works, and we need your help.

Speak directly to the camera, and hold it horizontally;

Keep it personal, about you, and your community;

Where possible also take some video shots of what you are talking about.

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Anywhere but Westminster: we need your help – video

Friday, March 20th, 2020

Amid the coronavirus crisis, Anywhere but Westminster is back, and we would like your help. 

We’re aiming  to produce a weekly film, centred on how people and places are responding to the crisis. 

If you have  story to tell or want to highlight an interesting way in which your community is responding to the crisis you can message us here.

If you want to send us a video of something you are doing as part of your daily routine when you are filming it please remember to follow government social distancing advice. 

We do not want to put anyone at risk of either catching or spreading the virus. 

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The experts are back in fashion as Covid-19’s reality bites | John Harris

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Trump’s war on science and Johnson’s civil service purge may be on hold but their politics of polarisation lives on

See all our coronavirus coverage

In most crises we tend to see the story we want to see. And in this one, those of us who cling on to collectivist, egalitarian ideas can discern things that speak to our sense of how the world ought to be organised. To find crumbs of political comfort in a dire public health emergency might seem inappropriate. But unforeseen events always have consequences beyond their immediate impact: just because they fit some of our existing beliefs that does not make them any less real.

Even if the new imperative of “social distancing” sounds like the ultimate example of individualism and frantic panic-buying does not exactly look like an expression of altruism, our shared humanity has also been brought to the surface, or soon will be. As the rapid appearance online of community help initiatives proves, we are already getting used to doing some of what the common good requires.

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

Related: I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire | William Hanage

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