Opinion

When surveillance meets incompetence

Last week brought an extraordinary demonstration of the dangers of operating a surveillance state — especially a shabby one, as China's apparently is. An unsecured database exposed millions of recor

Please stop marking yourself safe on Facebook

Let me begin by saying that Facebook’s Crisis Response pages do a lot of good. They are a locus for donations and offers of help. But that said, for the love of humanity, when something bad happ

Another fine mesh

Amazon’s acquisition of mesh router company Eero is a smart play that adds a number of cards to its hand in the rapidly evolving smart home market. Why shouldn’t every router be an Echo, a

Privacy is a commons

“The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society,” quoth Wikipedia, “held in common, not owned privately.” We live in an era of surveil

Instagram thinks you want IGTV previews in your home feed

If you can’t beat or join them… force feed ’em? That appears to be Instagram’s latest strategy for IGTV, which is now being shoved right into Instagram’s main feed, the c

The infrastructural humiliation of America

I’m flying back to the USA today, and as an infrastructure aficionado, it’s nice to be going home, but I’m dreading the disappointment. I just spent two weeks in Singapore and Thaila

A simple data analysis disproves the argument for building a border wall

Sometimes the end justifies the means. Other times it clearly doesn’t. But in the new bizarro world that is the modern-day U.S. political climate, increasingly the means has become the new end itsel

The new Two Minutes Hate

You see it first on Facebook or Twitter. Something contemptible: an image, or a video, or a tweet. One accompanied by a furious, snarky caption, highlighting just how awful and unacceptable it is, a d

Has the fight over privacy changed at all in 2019?

Few issues divide the tech community quite like privacy. Much of Silicon Valley’s wealth has been built on data-driven advertising platforms, and yet, there remain constant concerns about the invasi

Theranos documentary review: The Inventor’s horrifying optimism

A blood-splattered Theranos machine nearly pricks an employee struggling to fix it. This gruesome graphical rendering is what you’ll walk away with from HBO’s “The Inventor.” It finally gives

Facebook launches petition feature, its next battlefield

Gather a mob and Facebook will now let you make political demands. Tomorrow Facebook will encounter a slew of fresh complexities with the launch of Community Actions, its News Feed petition feature. C

Technology’s dark forest

We used to be such optimists. Technology would bring us a world of wealth in harmony with the environment, and even bring us new worlds. The Internet would erase national boundaries, replace gatekeepe

In defense of screen time

Silicon Valley engineers who design our tech gadgets won't let their kids anywhere near those devices -- they're convinced too much time in front of smartphones and iPads is rotting kids' brains.

Our dystopian cyberpunk here and now

We in the West love our apocalyptic science fiction, in which cartoonishly evil authorities ruthlessly oppress all who so much as wonder about their absolute power, enforced via ubiquitous surveillanc

It’s the golden age of traditional retail, not its end days

A lot of people will say that traditional retail is dying. But the reality is that, thanks to technology, the future of traditional retail has never been brighter.

The YKarma experiment

Blockchains are boring now. It’s been ten years since Bitcoin launched, and cryptocurrencies have almost exclusively been used to recapitulate existing monetary systems in slightly new forms. Th

It’s the Jons 2018!

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years, it was the wokest of years, it was the most problematic of years, it was the year of AI, it was the year of scooters, it was the year of Big Tech t

What history could tell Mark Zuckerberg

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg obsessed over the wrong bit of history. Or else didn’t study his preferred slice of classical antiquity carefully enough, faced, as he now is, with an existential crisis

My product launch wishlist for Instagram, Twitter, Uber and more

‘Twas the night before Xmas, and all through the house, not a feature was stirring from the designer’s mouse . . . Not Twitter! Not Uber, Not Apple or Pinterest! On Facebook! On Snapchat!

Here comes the downturn

It’s remarkable how fast the tenor of the times has changed. Only a few months ago we were in a boom that seemed like it might never end. Now the yield curve has inverted; the markets have gone bear
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