Why There’s Still Space—and Time—For Another GOP Contender
September 30, 2011

This weekend in Little Rock, Bill Clinton and an all-star cast of political alumni will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his formal entry into the 1992 presidential race. But the candidate decision that did the most to bequeath Clinton the Democratic nomination did not occur until December 20, 1991.

Why a Two-Horse Race Is a Problem for Mitt Romney
September 23, 2011

Neither Rick Perry nor Mitt Romney should have been surprised by a single serious question during Thursday night’s clunker of a debate sponsored by Fox News and an obtrusive Google promoting word clouds and grainy average-citizen videos.

Can Groupon Survive In The Long Run?
August 31, 2011

Over the past week, two companies have abandoned the “daily deal” market, pricking holes in what many observers are calling an unsustainable bubble. Both Yelp and Facebook have decided to opt out of the market populated by companies like Groupon and LivingSocial. According to surveys, consumers feel overwhelmed by the glut of daily offers filling their inbox—discounts on everything from three-course dinners to auto detailing. Even the big dogs of the industry are losing steam: In July, Groupon and LivingSocial sustained traffic declines of almost 9 percent and almost 30 percent, respectively.

Do Ideas Matter?
August 24, 2011

I. MY ROLE ON September 11 was to be a reporter for The New Republic. I was in downtown Brooklyn, and from my rooftop I watched the first tower crumble, and then I ran downstairs to the street with pen and notebook and plunged into the crowds fleeing over the bridges. I spoke with one person after another, asking what they had seen. They told me. I compiled my report.

How To Decry The Victim Card While Simultaneously Playing It
August 23, 2011

Last week, Rick Perry described the national debt as a "big black cloud that hangs over America." MSNBC host Ed Schultz bizarrely characterized this as a racist metaphor for President Obama.

In Praise of Anonymous Internet Advice Columns
August 11, 2011

“Can’t you ask the computer?” my seven-year-old son regularly demands when I fail to supply the answer to one of his seemingly random questions. His generation knows implicitly what mine has gradually learned: That the Internet is essentially a garbage dump for information, albeit one that requires increasingly sensitive tools to pick out objects of value. “Crowdsourcing,” a term that Wikipedia (appropriately) tells me was coined only five years ago, has become the preferred way to answer any and all questions. Need a dentist in Missoula or a brunch spot in New Orleans?

Why Facebook Still Poses Risks Even With The "Spam King" Captured
August 08, 2011

The perpetrator of nearly 30 million Facebook spam messages surrendered to authorities last week. “Spam King” Sanford Wallace faces criminal charges that could land him in jail for perhaps more than 16 years. Wallace is alleged to have hacked roughly a half-million Facebook accounts, sending those obnoxious (and dangerous) wall posts which fool users into visiting websites that steal their personal information. By now, many Internet users are savvy enough to know better than to click on an email promising a prince’s trapped fortunes or free prescription drugs.

Kawasaki Disease, Social Networking, And The Future Of Medicine
July 15, 2011

The web is buzzing with discussion of the case of Deborah Copaken Kogan, a writer and Financial Times columnist who discovered—via Facebook—that her child had a rare and dangerous disease. Kogan’s story began when her four-year-old son developed a stubborn rash, followed by a fever and intense swelling. After Kogan began to post photos of her sick child on Facebook, she received a panicked phone call from a former neighbor who had seen the photos. “You have to get to the hospital,” the neighbor warned.

Don't Be Evil
July 13, 2011

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives By Steven Levy (Simon & Schuster, 423 pp., $26)  The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) By Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of California Press, 265 pp., $26.95)  I. For cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists alike, the advent of Google marks off two very distinct periods in Internet history. The optimists remember the age before Google as chaotic, inefficient, and disorganized.