Posts Tagged: Technology
6

How Do We Know Who People Are?

It seems worthwhile to revisit the idea of the universal reputation market, in light of Schrödinger's Satoshi Nakamoto. Is this man Satoshi, or isn't he? For now, he equally is and he definitely isn't the progenitor of Bitcoin. No one has yet elaborated a way to decide.

One way, of course, that we might discover if this person is Satoshi Nakamoto is through constant surveillance—both physical and digital. Would that be a good thing?

How do we know who people are? We have some definite if hackable systems, like social security numbers. Names are a problem; sometimes unique, often not. So people are who they say they are—except, more [...]

0

It's Not Just Apple, Everything Sucks

"Technology becomes obsolete. Batteries don't last forever. That's not exclusively Apple's problem, nor is it exclusively Apple's fault."

6

Inside Manhattan's Tower of Internet

In January 2009, when architecture writer Andrew Blum arranged to have his home internet service repaired, the technician who arrived at his Brooklyn apartment told him that the source of the problem was relatively low-tech: a squirrel had been chewing the rubber-coated wire that ran from Blum's building. Not much could be done, the technician said, other than wait for things to get better on their own, and they did. But Blum was shocked by his realization that the emails and websites he'd been reading on the computer had first passed through a wire in his back yard; his wonky home service was a physical problem, not a strictly technological [...]

26

How 'Minority Report' Trapped Us In A World Of Bad Interfaces

Pocket

I wish I could get away with charging my clients a fee for every time they say "Minority Report" to me. I’m a commercial artist in L.A., and 90% of commercial art is shutting up and giving the client what they want. That means I spend a lot of time trying to repackage Steven Spielberg’s vision of the future: floating graphical windows with video hovering in them, typography flickering and animating in response to actors’ actions, interfaces appearing and disappearing when fingers reach out to poke them. In short, building a virtual iPad interface, hovering in front of the actor using it. In [...]

83

Venture Capital's Massive, Terrible Idea For The Future Of College

Can you go to college on your computer? Some say yes, and others respond with a resounding no. But one thing is for sure: there is a boatload of public money to be vacuumed off an overcrowded, underfunded educational establishment desperate for at least the appearance of a quick fix.

Enter Udacity, the foremost provider of Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Does what's above look like college to you? Or rather, is this how college should look now?

They've been described as "a relentless force that will not be denied," revolutionary, "the single most important experiment in higher education." Also MOOCs are getting a drubbing from [...]

3

IBM Supercomputer "Watson" Learns Filthy Words From Illiterate Kids

Remember "Watson," the fancy IBM computer that appeared on Jeopardy as Alex Trebek a contestant? A scientist at IBM tried to teach it the slang used by the kids, probably so the supercomputer can write the next Twilight series or maybe churn out a three-volume slash-fiction series loosely based on Twilight or À la recherche du temps perdu. In order to make the genius computer speak in a way modern idiots would understand, researcher Eric Brown forced Watson to digest the entirety of UrbanDictionary.com—the whole filthy thing, with its Boston Steamers and Donkey Punches and King James Versions.

Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. [...]

11

Are You Already A Cyborg, Because Of Your Phone?

The human species is rapidly changing! Mostly not for the better, obviously, but some "futurists" believe their particular demographic (overeducated overpaid youngish professionals starting to worry about mortality) has already begun the process of becoming superhuman mutant cyborgs. Are you kind of depressed that you didn't get around to doing grown-up adult-type things until you were already (technically) middle-aged? Maybe it's okay, because you are the first generation of this new technological human-synthetic revolution! Or maybe you will physically and mentally deteriorate the way humans have always declined, unless they were lucky enough to be killed in a war or wiped out by a plague or eaten by saber-toothed tigers.

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3

Your "Vibrant" Economy Is Keeping Things Unequal

"If you want to live in a more equal community, it might mean living in a more moribund economy."

8

Jonathan Franzen And Clay Shirky Fight Over Their Girlfriend, The Internet

The event wasn’t supposed to be some run of the mill afternoon of discourse. It was anticipated like an Ali-Frazier bout of verbal sparring, and it featured two thinkers with polarized views about my favorite subject: whether technology is good for the culture.

In one corner of this New Yorker festival production was best-selling novelist and maybe-lovable curmudgeon Jonathan Franzen. He was there to represent a starchy, Luddite view. Franzen is the author of million-selling The Corrections and Freedom (and two other novels!) but others know him best as the man who defied Oprah. In the other corner was media and technology theorist Clay Shirky. Shirky is the only [...]

2

Rude Twitter User @Pontifex Ignores Best Practices, Issues Alleged "Last Tweet"

Micro-blogging service Twitter struggles with corporate and celebrity users who refuse to follow industry standards for social media engagement. Case in point: Twitter user @Pontifex, apparently an elderly World War II veteran with an inexplicably large online following, has outraged millions of Twitter users by refusing to follow anyone but his own duplicate accounts. The rudeness reached such a point today that the end-user has finally given in to intense pressure to retire his Twitter accounts and also give up his job leading a global pedophilia ring headquartered in a European castle.

But there is a #fail even with this alleged cessation of the @Pontifex Twitter account, which [...]

7

How To Fail At Journalism In Exotic Foreign Lands

Budapest had never been my favorite European capital, but a job in a foreign city is always better than a job wherever I happen to be living at the moment. This is why, on a balmy Southern California morning in February of 1996, I voluntarily carried my only possessions to Los Angeles International Airport's Tom Bradley terminal the customary three hours prior to departure. The first two hours passed pleasantly at the airport lounge, where my friend Steve and I drank double Greyhounds served in pint glasses.

The Double Greyhound is just a lot of vodka with grapefruit juice to soften the blow. We had been drinking these regularly in [...]

4

Get Reliable Backup Storage For All Your Media, Using Human DNA!

Having trouble with iCloud? Confused by CrashPlan? Today's smart tech consumers are getting ready to purchase the sturdiest backup media of all: human DNA. The mad scientists behind a weird new study say that the double helix of genetic code has been successfully used to store all kinds of documents, including audio files and text of Shakespeare's sonnets and "a picture of their office," because most of what we digitally save is silly garbage. (Future archeologists will likely be baffled by the discovery of, say, a flash drive holding nothing but hundreds of weirdly filtered pictures of somebody's entrée with a glass of wine in the background. "These [...]

63

Is San Francisco The Brooklyn To Silicon Valley's Unbuilt Manhattan?

Like many people who moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s, I did it because San Francisco was cheap. It didn't have the lowest rents—in the California of three recessions ago, a Silver Lake bungalow or blocks-from-the-beach Santa Monica apartment were even more affordable than the chilly city by the bay—but it was the only West Coast town you could survive in without a car. With a $35 Fast Pass, all the smelly buses and dinky Muni trains and even the cable cars were there for the riding to and from work, whether you were a bartender or a waiter or (like me) a very fast typist irregularly [...]

2

Nobody Home

This story is from Punch!, an app for the iPad which you can download for free here!

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1

Death Watch

Tikker is a normal-enough looking digital watch. Nobody needs to know that every time you glance down to check the time, you’re also checking on your death. It’s “the watch that counts down your life."

Unlike Tikker, ALARMclock has a sleek, faux-retro design, with simplistic LED display. Upon waking, the prototype tells you how much money and how many social network “friends” you have, along with how many days left you have to live based on fairly common demographic information. It's “the stuff that matters the most to the most people," according to designer Al Kelly.

Tikker received almost $100,000 in its Kickstarter funding that ended early [...]

1

What Happens After You Sell Your Startup

This Tumblr is just hypnotic: Our Incredible Journey collects the deadly combination of "We've been acquired, now our company will be amazing!" with the inevitable "We've suspended service to focus on Google/Facebook/Yahoo's core products" announcements. (via)

7

Powerful New Kindle Update Deletes All Your eBooks

If you enjoy reading Kindle-brand electronic books on your iPhone or iPad, you've surely had moments when the best idea seems to be just erasing all your ebooks. There's something about the shoddy copy-editing and optical-character-recognition errors and lame single jpeg of cover art and terribly rendered illustrations that really puts a spotlight on the bad corporate non-fiction titles you've somehow spent $13 a piece to accumulate "in the cloud." Wouldn't it just be better if Kindle developed a "killer app" that would erase all of this garbage?

"In shipping the latest version, apparently the company's QA testers somehow missed a bug that can delete your entire book collection from [...]

4

Rick Perry Very Certain Nobody Can Do Business In California

Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Google, Chevron, Disney, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Oracle, KB Home, Yahoo, Qualcomm, Hilton, Oracle, eBay, Charles Schwab, Clorox, Adobe, Oracle … it seems like a lot of the world's top companies are based in California, including more than half of the NASDAQ technology index. But Texas Governor Rick Perry is the kind of man who knows things in his heart, and he won't let any fancy coastal-elite numbers and facts get in the way of what God tells Rick Perry in the dead of night.

That's why Rick Perry's comically dumb voice is featured on new radio ads aimed at getting Californians to move their [...]

33

Goodbye, Anecdotes! The Age Of Big Data Demands Real Criticism

If you think of all the information encoded in the universe from your genome to the furthest star, from the information that's already there, codified or un-codified, to the information pregnant in every interaction, "big" has become the measure of data. And our capacity to produce and collect Big Data in the digital age is very big indeed. Every day, we produce 2.5 exabytes of information, the analysis of which will, supposedly, make us healthier, wiser, and above all, wealthier—although it's all a bit fuzzy as to what, exactly, we're supposed to do with 2.5 exabytes of data—or how we're supposed to do whatever it is that we're supposed to [...]

3

Apple Maps and Apps: Are They Killing Everyone?

Australian police are warning the people down there to stop using Apple's terrible maps program, because the app is so worthless that people could easily die if they believe the ridiculous maps have any connection to earthly reality. For example, Apple Maps is telling gullible Australians that an entire city, Mildura, is hidden within a vast and terrible wilderness 44 miles away from the actual city.

Police have received calls from motorists who have been stranded in the park without adequate food and water for as long as 24 hours. The park does not have a water supply, police said. Combined with the fact that temperatures in the [...]