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This week in comments – riots, plastic bags and car CDs

Fist pumping

Did you follow the riots on social media? We did. It made us contemplate the role of social networks in these events. But this week hasn’t just been about riots, you’ve also had your say on plastic bags and car CD players.

London riots and social media

Let’s not over hype the role of social networks, said Which? tech’s Andy Vandervell, and Hannah agreed, highlighting how they’ve been used positively this week:

‘Social networks revealed genuinely heart-warming solidarity, combined with a wry British spirit – such as calls for “wombles” to help tidy up the aftermath – that were funny and useful to communities that had been bruised and burnt.’

Richard looked back on pre-social networking riots to draw comparison:

‘The difference between staging riots and revolutions before the era of electronic communications is simply the speed of reaction. It was shown that it takes around an hour to react to electronic communication. Before it would take weeks or months to pass the word – it didn’t stop riots.’

Does NatWest expect students to make regular deposits?

NatWest has decided to change its student account T&Cs following our Convo and your complaints! Ian Savell comments on the victory:

‘With the prompt action from the bank it looks like the whole thing was a gaffe by an ill-informed employee in the marketing department. Thanks to StonedPhysicist and Which? for their part in flagging up the mistake and to NatWest for fixing it promptly.’

Tech ‘patent wars’ are bad for consumers

You had lots to say about tech patents, but we thought PeteDA summed it up succinctly, ‘Patents stifle innovation, development and competition. Software patents doubly so.’

Ford ejects in-car CD players – will you miss them?

DanielCake doesn’t want to see the back of CDs in cars:

‘Always use them when I’m in the car as it’s easier than bothering to sync up my iPod – which I can’t control using the steering wheel.’

But Inese Wood has found a solution to the problem:

‘My car’s entertainment system includes a memory card slot. I can load a memory card with a lot of content and control it via the steering wheel. If the car gets stolen, all you have lost is a memory card.’

Will you back Boris Johnson’s ban on free plastic bags?

John’s reaction to the idea of banning plastic bags is to reintroduce paper ones:

‘I was hoping that by now we would have edible bags in a range of flavours. I cannot see why supermarkets and other shops don’t go back to paper bags. I still have a number of paper carrier bags from the 1970′s – very strong, two could hold a week’s shopping.’

But not even paper can convince Wavechange:

‘If a levy on plastic bags has worked well in Ireland, why not try it here? It is not difficult to take decent quality reusable bags to the supermarket. Disposable bags, whether plastic or paper, are an unnecessary waste of resources.’

Should squatters have rights?

And this week, our comment of the week goes to Nigel Whitfield, who gave sound judgement on the state of squatting. Here’s part of his comment:

‘There is a massive shortage of housing in the UK, and reputable organisations fear that some of the changes (e.g. to housing benefits) will create more homelessness. And while I’m not going to condone squatting, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more of it, as a result of the combined effect of policy changes and the economic downturn.

‘If time is to be spent on housing issues in Parliament, what about removing any tax breaks on second homes, doing something about the 8,000 empty homes owned by the MOD and giving more secure tenure to renters?’

Comments have been edited due to length, so make sure to read them in full on their relevant Convos (by clicking on the red title link).