Early Monday morning, NASA’s half-ton, nuclear powered Curiosity rover touched down on the surface of Mars. Minutes later, the rover tweeted, “GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!” The Robot’s outburst prompted a retort from Stephen Colbert. “I don’t know who this Gale is, but gentlemen don’t kiss and tell,” he admonished on his Tuesday show. But Colbert had his facts wrong—Curiosity is no gentleman. I discovered as much when I contacted NASA to find out who exactly is responsible for Curiosity’s sassy and flamboyant personality on Twitter, which has already managed to attract 900,000 followers.
Ryan Lochte turns 28 today. He has achieved a tremendous amount for such a young age, rising to the very top of the international swimming world and racking up 11 career Olympic medals. And yet, if this highlight reel of his interviews is to be believed, he thinks that seven times four comes out to 21. Can he really as slow out of the pool as he is fast in it? Who cares, seems to be the answer for the many, many women who have joined the internet's informal Ryan Lochte fan club this week. In fact, if he is? All for the better!
The Naked and the TED
August 02, 2012
TED Talks are more popular than ever. They're also more vapid, bland, and fraudulent.
Bad political analysts received a gift today: a new tool to reinforce their worst instincts. Twitter has launched the “Twitter Political Index,” which will apparently provide a daily assessment of political sentiment on twitter. What exactly does that mean? Well, computers will analyze every single tweet and determine whether they're for or against Obama or Romney. Twitter sentiment is then boiled down into a number from 0-to-100, where a score near 100 means that tweets are resoundingly positive.
Beltway Media Cynicism? Yeah, You Built That
July 25, 2012
The 2012 campaign got off to a hopeful start in the never-ending battle between truth and cynicism. When the Romney campaign put up an ad last November that took a 2008 line of Barack Obama’s blatantly out of context—“If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” a line that was paraphrasing a John McCain adviser—the political press corps jumped all over it, and essentially shamed the Romney campaign into backing off that attack, no easy thing to do given that Romney advisers initially defended the ad with an “anything goes” breeziness.
The Global Reach of Conservative Conspiracy Theories
July 17, 2012
Much has been written about the role of the internet and social media in the Arab Spring last year, particularly in Egypt, where protestors organized and communicated on Facebook and Twitter. But while global connectivity can help protestors overthrow dictators and tell the world their story, it also gives everyone access to the less-inspiring corners of the web. That was on display this past week during Hillary Clinton’s visit to meet with leaders in Egypt. You may have read about the protests that greeted the Secretary of State in Alexandria.
Buffalo Hunting and Twitter's Revival of our Epigrammatic Impulses: Today's TNR Reader
June 29, 2012
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Rotten Apple: New York is the best city in the world ... unless you are a poor child. NYRB | 18 min (4,454 words) The American Dream? Well, not exactly. Still, there is nothing quite like a buffalo hunt. The American Scholar | 11 min (2,859 words) Twitter may seem like the scrolling suicide note of Western civilization. But it has charmingly revived our culture's epigrammatic impulses. n+1| 6 min (1,426 words)
June 22, 2012
ONE HAS LATELY heard much of the hashtag. That is, the Twitter symbol #, used to categorize a tweet. Charlie Sheen’s first tweet, for example, was famously: “Winning ..! Choose your Vice... #winning #chooseyourvice.” #Winning has gone on to live in irony across the Twitterverse, in mockery of the eternally less-than-winning Sheen. But even President Obama recently urged students to tweet their senators about raising the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans with the hashtag “#DontDoubleMyRate.” The new thing, however, is using the word “hashtag” in conversation.
Is Obama Really Up By 13 Percent?
June 20, 2012
This morning, Bloomberg News released a poll that sent Twitter into a frenzy, showing Obama up by 13 percentage points, 53-40. While these results might be promptly dispatched as an outlier, the Bloomberg poll was conducted by Ann Selzer & Co. of Iowa, an exceptionally well regarded pollster best known for conducting the famous Des Moines Register poll prior to the Iowa caucuses.
Fiona Apple's Eccentricities, Roald Dahl's Genius, and the Age of Twitter Diplomacy: Today's TNR Reader
June 19, 2012
Editor’s Note: We'll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! How strange is Fiona Apple? One magazine writer's quest to find out. NY Mag| 29 min (7,349 words) Sentenced to life in prison, Jon Yount became a gifted jailhouse lawyer and a crusader for prisoner rights.