There’s a strange, wonderful short story by Donald Barthelme about a balloon that appears one day on Fourteenth Street and grows, like a low-hanging blimp, until it covers a good deal of Manhattan. It becomes an object of widespread puzzlement and fascination. Children leap across its surface. Art critics analyze its colors. City officers conduct secret nighttime tests to better understand it.
For the past couple of weeks, Fort Greene has been living out its own strange version of "The Balloon." On a handful of corners, seemingly overnight, bike racks have appeared. And not just any bike racks, but city bike racks. Or is it citibike racks? These, in [...]
How many user agreements have you digitally signed? With Apple, with insurance companies, with Google, with Twitter, Facebook, and a thousand random web startups? How about with Paypal—a Delaware corporation whose user agreement "authorizes PayPal to place holds and reserves at its sole discretion and does not require it to inform users of its reasons for doing so"?
The only reason you're not getting hosed a thousand ways to Sunday by all these companies is reputation management. Hordes of unhappy customers means loss of business and an eventual sinking of the ship. Millions of us have given all our data, private information and even banking duties to companies based [...]
What a chic Subaru that is. Other Google Maps cars in the series have red camera-balls up top; the blue on this one is nice. Far more soothing, less intimidating. (Spotted this morning by the Awl Secret Squirrel Correspondent for Big Brother Issues.)
"The well-staffed offices, the air of self-conscious seriousness shading into pomposity, the tendency to file what from a British point of view always seemed several hundred words too much—all these features of American papers were underpinned by the easy money of monopoly-based classified advertising." —Here is a fascinating lengthy analysis of the financial matters of British and English newspapers which ends in… a call for a universal micropayment system for news consumers. This is my problem with journalists basically? In the time it took to research and edit this story, everyone involved could have partnered with two good engineers and BUILT AND LAUNCHED A UNIVERSAL MICROPAYMENT SYSTEM. (And then [...]