The Internet Intellectual
October 12, 2011
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live By Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $26.99) In 1975, Malcolm Bradbury published The History Man, a piercing satire of the narcissistic pseudo-intellectualism of modern academia. The novel recounts a year in the life of the young radical sociologist Howard Kirk—“a theoretician of sociability”—who is working on a book called The Defeat of Privacy.
How Steve Jobs Turned Design Into a Necessity
October 11, 2011
Even the “Genius” at your local Apple store admits that your dollar buys significantly more computing power in a PC. iTunes can be infuriatingly glitchy and difficult to navigate. The iPod is so delicate a flower that it breaks, seemingly, if you exhale in its vicinity. What, then, explains a world awash in longing, admiration, and loss in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death last week at the age of 56?
Steve Jobs, Jobs-Creator
October 06, 2011
Steve Jobs was the greatest manufacturer of consumer products of his age. His marketing vision put him on par with Henry Ford, and his grasp of the aesthetic component to industrial design far surpassed Ford’s.
The New iPhone And Apple's Amazing Hype Machine
October 04, 2011
While he may have paled in comparison to Steve Jobs in a black turtleneck, Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook still impressed audiences today when he unveiled the new iPhone 4S. Apple fans and the technology media predictably freaked out. (The hot new iPhone feature, if you haven’t yet heard, is integrated voice command, which can pull up the weather, define a word, or play a song.) All in all, the debut seems to have been a solid one for Cook, whose predecessor, Jobs, was a master of PR. Jobs consistently garnered extensive (and fawning) media coverage for his product rollouts.
Is the Internet Turning Books into Perpetual Works-in-Progress?
September 22, 2011
Richard North Patterson remembers the moment he learned that Osama bin Laden was dead. He was watching television on a Sunday evening two days before the publication of his latest novel, The Devil’s Light, in which Al Qaeda plans a nuclear attack on America for the decade anniversary of 9/11. Wolf Blitzer, grave-faced, said something about a major national security announcement. And immediately, Patterson knew. “I sat there like a man in a catatonic state,” he recalled.
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?
The State Department’s Shameful Record on Internet Freedom
August 08, 2011
At the annual meeting of the Community of Democracies last month in Lithuania, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton struck a characteristic note of cautious idealism in support of Internet users living under repressive governments: “Because technology both empowers and endangers your work, we are giving activists new tools to try to circumvent the many obstacles that governments are putting in your way.” In a February speech Clinton gave at George Washington University, she said roughly the same thing: “There is a debate currently underway in some circles about whether the Internet is a force
Amazon.com: Terrible Corporate Citizen
July 21, 2011
I’m a longtime customer of Amazon—everything from books, eBooks, and two Kindles to tennis balls and baseball caps—but I’m looking for an alternative. I’m not unhappy with Amazon’s service, but with its politics. Amazon is waging an aggressive campaign to prevent revenue-starved California from collecting sales taxes from the company’s customers. And that’s only its most recent effort to prevent states from levying sales taxes on online purchases. States have always had the right to charge taxes on the purchases its citizens have made, whether at retail stories or by mail order or online.
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.
Why Silicon Valley’s Current Boom Isn’t At All Like 1999
July 09, 2011
There’s a time warp along the stretch of Highway 101 that runs between San Jose and Marin County in Northern California. To many there, it looks like 1999 all over again. While the rest of the country is landscaped with foreclosed homes and empty big-box stores, San Francisco and Silicon Valley have a shortage of office space. Established tech companies like Google are offering seven-figure bonuses to retain talented engineers, while the Sand Hill Road offices of venture capitalists are full of optimistic twentysomethings looking for funding—and many of them are getting more than they need.