Depending on who you ask, Jack Dorsey started off the latest Disrupt on either a very controversial or a very non-controversial note. “We need revolution, not disruption,” he said, words that would be easy to characterize as platitudes if he were not working hard at uprooting a few global institutions. Even so, the sentiment did not entirely match the tone of the conference that was to… → Read More
The power of the internet lies in its near-infinite mutability. It’s an edifice of information being added to and sculpted by as many hands as there are eyes viewing it. Truly democratic and increasingly accessible, it will soon be the vector for most communication that takes place on our world.
But its mutability is also a weakness, as so many great strengths are. The weakness arises from a… → Read More
The 20th century was owned and operated by middle men. Industry began as the creation of something for which would be traded other goods, services, or cash. As production centralized, distribution (as always) rose to close the distance between the product and the consumer. Facilitating consumption became a business unto itself: printing, shipping, packaging, and all the rest. A respectable… → Read More
Suppose you dropped your phone — a real fall, like from the second story — and it broke. You’re picking up the pieces, cursing and trying to think of the last time you backed up your contacts, when you notice something. Deep within the phone’s hardware, hidden from everyday use, you find a message — etched right onto the chassis.
What kind of message? Let’s say you found a Darwin fish, or… → Read More
Magic, they call it. And indeed we may add an appendix to that old saw: any sufficiently advanced, or sufficiently obscure, technology is indistinguishable from magic.
You must know the story of the Mechanical Turk. How princes and tradesmen were amazed by this ingenious device’s ability to play chess intelligently. In an age of steam and brass hinges! Yet at the time thousands were fooled. Had… → Read More
I have a confession to make: despite having reviewed a few e-readers, and having written dozens of articles about them, I’ve never really used one. I mean, I’ve used them enough to know a good one from a bad one, to understand the features, and to do a proper evaluation — but I’ve never made one part of my life, the way one makes a mobile phone or laptop part of one’s life. In that way I haven’t… → Read More
Mr. President, I’m glad your administration has taken the time to craft what looks like a fairly forward-thinking and potentially globally influential policy towards consumer privacy on the internet. No doubt it will have to be snipped here and built up there and the fast pace of the technology world may make some of its provisions quaint after a few years, but overall it seems strong, and fair to… → Read More
The Occupy movement, or rallying cry, or whatever you want to call it, is by its nature decentralized. By refusing to come together under one banner other than the word “Occupy,” they’ve both diluted their message and allowed it to spread more quickly. You don’t need an Occupy license to occupy a bank’s lobby in Kansas City, but at the same time there’s a natural question of whether one occupation… → Read More
2011 saw many interesting developments in the virtualization of goods. The growth of app stores continued unabated, aided by huge sales of iOS devices and Android handsets, and media of all kinds continued the move to a totally non-physical state for the end user: Netflix, Spotify, and other services make the idea of storing your things, whether on your hard drive or in stacks by the TV, seem… → Read More
The global slapfight between Apple and Samsung shows no sign of abating – a victory here, an injunction there, a ruling here, a reversal there – like Aesop’s goats, neither will give way and chances are they’re both going to end up the worse for it, though not likely at the bottom of a ravine.
It doesn’t mean that the conflict doesn’t furnish some interesting topics for discussion, however. → Read More
A little while back, I got an email from Atmel, one of the leading touchscreen makers, asking if I wanted to check out their latest creation: a new active stylus that works with an improved touchscreen, for stylus actions alongside normal finger-touches and technologies like palm rejection. I passed, because to be honest, it didn’t sound very exciting.
It has shown up at a few other websites… → Read More
If there is one thing I could say about most websites, it is that they are ugly. I mean really. Just atrocious. There are generally so many things going wrong that we have all had to completely reconfigure our expectations just to exist in this noisy, cluttered, pixelated world. It’s difficult to stretch one’s mind far enough to even imagine what the web would look like with the clarity and… → Read More
One aspect of the Egyptian uprising (among the others, most ongoing) that was overpowered by the wild acclamation of social media is something that has been quietly but powerfully changing societal norms over the last decade. It is simply the inclusion, on almost every mobile phone sold, of a digital camera. When 90% of the active population can, at any time, record an event they are witness to… → Read More
Recent reports that have both Peter Jackson and James Cameron shooting films at 48 frames per second (fps) have attracted a lot of commentary, and as this is a blog that covers trends and bleeding-edge tech, it seems like a synthesis of this discussion is warranted. Framerate standards sound like a rather dry topic to begin with, but it’s amazing what difference is created by even a minor… → Read More
As a result of the ongoing tragedy in Japan, in particular the threat of meltdown or catastrophic radiation release from the Fukushima nuclear power plants, there has been a renewal of the discussion of nuclear power and its risks. As a tech site that occasionally covers scientific research in this area, and has a whole section dedicated to “green” technology, I thought we should at least touch on… → Read More
We’ve had a few editorials here lately regarding China. I wrote about our moral hypocrisy in disapproving of factory conditions there, and John wrote how the lowest-price-possible culture still extant in much Chinese manufacturing is harmful in a number of ways. Throughout, I think there has always been a sort of grudging admiration for the way that country is capable of single-mindedly pursuing… → Read More
This is a rather disturbing turn of events. Federal Magistrate Joseph Spero has approved a request by Sony to subpoena the hacker GeoHot’s web host, as well as YouTube, Google, and Twitter, for identifying information on anyone who has accessed, commented, or viewed information relating to the hack. At best this is lazy on Sony’s part and irresponsible on Magistrate Spero’s, and at worst it is a… → Read More
This morning’s Apple press event has come and gone, and as you likely have noticed, we covered just about every aspect of it. The iPad 2 itself, the new features and apps coming with iOS 4.3, the 100m and 15m iPhone and iPad sales numbers, even the new device’s funky magnetic case. That said, the announcement was conspicuous for its lack of truly major announcements. Rumors have been… → Read More
Warmest congratulations to the Egyptian people, whose truly grassroots revolution has reminded the world what political action is supposed to look like. Although the work is far from done, and reconstituting a government by the people and for the people is perhaps the more difficult phase, it is right that they, and the world, should take a moment to reflect on a job well done.
Some are using… → Read More
We are at a strange point at whatever economic upturn we’re experiencing in the world economy. Things aren’t quite “right” yet, many are still out of work, and the general sense is that business spending has flatlined. However, things are looking up. How can you tell? Gadget makers are advertising again.
During the dot-com bust, and more recently during the housing crisis, gadget spending tanked… → Read More
I recently watched, like many of our readers, the interview (1, 2) with Mike Daisey regarding the conditions under which Apple products are made in China. And at the risk of fomenting conflict with Mr. Daisey, I would like to editorialize on the topic in slightly harsher terms.
Actually, it’s not that I disagree with the man, exactly. It’s that he doesn’t go far enough, and in doing so… → Read More
Sony has announced the PSP2 (temporarily named the “Next Generation Portable”), perhaps the final boss of handheld consoles. It’s far more powerful than its destined competitor, Nintendo’s 3DS, and incorporates social and locational data, 3G, a monster 5″ OLED screen, and a number of other features detailed here. It is to be one of the linchpin platforms for the… → Read More
In the wake of the sensible legislation banning on texting while driving and requiring of hands-free in cars, it seems that lawmakers are setting their sights a little too high — or low, depending on your perspective. Some nascent proposals in New York aim to make it a crime to cross the street while using an electronic device. I don’t often cry “nanny state,” but this situation really is… → Read More