On Slashdot: new articles about the recent NSA controversy, including its future implications (“Big Data and the End of Secrecy”) and how to (possibly) keep your own data protected from snooping eyes.
Available for pre-order: Carrier Pigeon volume 3 issue 1, featuring my short story “Everything I Do Hurts Somebody,” described by the editors as “a morbid ramble of desire, envy and fiery revenge.” Accompanying illustrations provided by the illustrious Matthew Barteluce. Release date is May 17.
Recently on Slashdot: an essay on Big Data, advertising and the erosion of privacy; the nice folks at Netflix tell me that the upcoming season of “Arrested Development” won’t crash their servers; and another piece on public surveillance in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
On Slashdot: a discussion of reporting and social media in the wake of the tragedy at the Boston marathon. In essence, the debate over the media coverage of the Boston situation is a continuation of a very old argument, between publications insisting the public must be informed and critics arguing that such coverage is tantamount to exploitation. The current state of media, in which publications have become more blatant about their hunt for pageviews and advertising dollars, plays into those critics’ arguments.
NPR’s All Things Considered blog was kind enough to quote from my Slashdot article about Yahoo’s acquisition of Summly, and whether a major tech firm shelling out $30 million for a news-aggregation app is yet another sign that a tech bubble is well and truly upon us. As I mention in the original piece, a lot of companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.) have been spending quite a bit of coin on apps with relatively limited functionality, but that doesn’t mean we’re back in the heady days of the dot-com bubble; indeed, a lot of these buys are intended to scoop up promising talent, or keep an asset out of a rival’s hands.
Your humble correspondent spent the past few days in Austin, Texas, eating his weight in grilled meats and listening to the tech luminaries at this year’s South by Southwest opine about everything from spaceflight to super-computers. For your reading pleasure: Elon Musk talking about SpaceX (including recent experiments in reusable rockets) and why he still thinks a certain New York Times reporter is a lying liar who lies; the one and only Nate Silver gets a little bitter about fame; Al Gore ends up a little hot under the collar about spider goats and genetic engineering; and Stephen Wolfram, a.k.a. the walking supercomputer, has a unified theory of Pretty Much Everything.
And because I was basically unable to stop writing, thanks to my continuous ingestion of caffeine and animal protein, I also covered the spread of mobile phones in Africa and how emotions figured into the design of Google Android (just two of several interesting SXSW panels). It’s all over on Slashdot.
In non-tech writing, The Washington Independent Review of Books (just redesigned!) has my review of Lawrence Wright’s “Going Clear,” while Circuit Gallery posted my short essay about Alejandro Cartagena’s Car Poolers series. Now someone please pry this espresso cup from my hand.
In this month’s The Washington Independent Review of Books: my review of Gavin Newsom’s “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.” California’s lieutenant governor talks about how technology can help citizens sidestep government bureaucracy and improve their communities.
From Slashdot: stories on Tesla Motors and Apple’s rumored “iWatch” timepiece, IBM’s Watson supercomputer adapted for cancer research, and much, much, much more; we need to feed the bottomless maw of the Internet with fresh material, after all.
Last year, a couple dozen software developers and engineers worked on a startup that lasted for eighteen months, one that involved shipping a whole lot of code under the most stressful conditions imaginable, and at the end of the whole process they had to shut down all the apps and wonderful data toys they’d spent so much time and money developing. The “startup” in question was Obama’s re-election campaign, and I had the chance to hear those developers and engineers tell the whole story. “The Billion-Dollar Startup: Inside Obama’s Campaign Tech” is over at SlashBI.
I also made an appearance earlier this week on HuffPo Live, participating in a roundtable about the FTC’s decision to not pursue an antitrust case against Google. The link to that segment is here. (Warning: I wave my hands quite a bit when I talk.)
A new poem, “The Jailbird’s First Flight Attempt,” in The Evergreen Review (Issue 130).
On Slashdot: pieces on IBM’s predictions for robots, Instagram pulling a Netflix, and Google expanding its experiments in high-speed fiber.
And if you’re looking for last-minute holiday presents, there’s a certain book I can recommend.