“She told him that she loves me, which is an important data point.” I overheard those words a few months ago, and they stopped me in my tracks. I did not know the smitten and empirical young man who spoke them well enough to offer a correction of his way of talking about desire, but I was pleased to have stumbled upon such a blunt formulation of one of the shibboleths of the day. I refer to the messianic conception of data, or Big Data. READ MORE >>
Welcome to the Node Pole, the near-Arctic location that wants to house a good chunk of the Internet
It’s easy to forget that what we see on the Internet doesn’t just show up on our screens magically. It’s a representation of immense quantities of data that have to be physically stored somewhere, most often in gigantic, Super Walmart–sized warehouses with rows upon rows of servers. And the machines need to be kept below 80 or so degrees, lest they malfunction. READ MORE >>
Two days with the extremely anxious drone lobby
It seems that we have finally decided to have a moment of reckoning about drones. In Washington, hard questions are being asked about the president’s kill lists of militants in Pakistan and Yemen. READ MORE >>
What happens to Mac fanatics when the brand bums them out?
In the history of commerce, only one corporation could fairly be compared to a major religion, in that it's amassed a devoted following and often is a source of public debate: Apple. But what happens to a group of believers when the object of their devotion disappoints them? READ MORE >>
What the Internet did to Aaron Swartz
On his third day at Stanford, Aaron Swartz forced himself to attend a party. He wasn’t interested in having a good time—in fact, crowds of strangers made him anxious. He merely wanted to document the mating rituals of the “teenager,” a species that alternatively mystified and horrified him. READ MORE >>
Can UFO culture survive ubiquitous videography?
The explosion of a large meteor over a medium-sized city would have been worldwide news at any time in the modern era, but something peculiar to this historical moment made the Chelyabinsk blast a global sensation. Friday's event marked the first time that a large meteor fall has been filmed by hundreds of cameras. This was accomplished spectacularly, thanks to the sudden ubiquity of small videocameras and video-equipped cellphones, and the Russian fad for dashboard-mounted cameras. READ MORE >>
The tech giant is treating Google like a political rival
When anyone bemoans the prevalence of negative advertising in political campaigns, there’s an easy reply: It works. That’s not always true in the corporate world. Just take Microsoft’s ongoing blitz of attacks on Google, which launched last Thanksgiving under the cutesy tagline “Scroogled!” READ MORE >>
The Italian retreat that radicalized the Internet prodigy
Despite the many hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about Aaron Swartz since his suicide last month, there remain a number of unanswered questions about the life of the computer-prodigy-turned-political-activist. READ MORE >>
What happens when the town hall goes digital?
Let no one fault local governments for hiding from the networked era. Nearly every official and government agency in a major metro area uses Facebook and Twitter, and some cities have hosted app development contests to get their citizens coming up with ways to use public data for good. Local electeds can even establish their popular bona fides simply through the assiduous use of social media. READ MORE >>
The People's Republic may lift its ban on consoles. It wouldn't be the boon that many expect.
Last month, China Daily, the country’s main English-language paper, reported that the People’s Republic might lift its 13-year-old ban on video game consoles. READ MORE >>