46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Right now, at UC Berkeley, somebody is inventing a new organism. Across the Bay, at the San Francisco hacker space Noisebridge, somebody is programming a giant array of LEDs they bought from a cheerfully piratical Chinese website that sells the lights on long ribbons rolled tightly into bundles. On Mount Tam, long after the park closes on Saturday night, a group of amateur astronomers has set up telescopes and is surveying Messier objects. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION I've been writing this column for nine years. I was here with you through the dot-com boom and the crash. I made fun of the rise of Web 2.0 when that was called for, and screamed about digital surveillance under the USA-PATRIOT Act when that was required (actually, that's still required). I've ranted about everything from obscenity law to genetic engineering, and I've managed to stretch this column's techie mandate to include meditations on electronic music and sexology. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION It's shocking how quickly we've all gotten used to the idea that the government can and will listen in on everything we say on our telephones, as well as everything we do on the Internet. Case in point: the FISA Amendments Act passed in the House last week, and is predicted to pass the Senate this week. This is a bill that grants telecoms retroactive immunity for illegally giving the National Security Agency access to the phone calls and Internet activities of millions of US citizens. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION Since I started writing this column in 1999, I've seen a thousand Internet businesses rise and die. I've watched the Web go from a medium you access via dial-up to the medium you carry around with you on your mobile. Still, there are three myths about the Internet that refuse to kick the bucket. Let's hope the micro-generation that comes after the Web 2.0 weenies finally puts these misleading ideas to rest.
Myth: The Internet is free.
This is my favorite Internet myth because it has literally never been true. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION I'm surrounded by people who think the world is changing because Amazon released an e-book reader called the Kindle and because Apple released a new, cheaper iPhone that supposedly will run faster. Really, just search for "3G iPhone" and you'll see, like, thousands of articles raving about the Second Coming of iPhone. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION Every year in late May, several thousand people descend on Madison, Wis., to create an alternate universe. Some want to build a galaxy-size civilization packed with humans and aliens who build massive halo worlds orbiting stars. Others are obsessed with what they'll do when what remains of humanity is left to survive in the barren landscape left after Earth has been destroyed by nukes, pollution, epidemics, nanotech wipeouts, or some combination of all four. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION I just love saying that scientists are creating "human-animal hybrid clones" because that single phrase pulls together about 15 nightmares from science fiction and religion all at the same time. Although if you think about it, one fear really should cancel out the other one. I mean, if you're worried about human cloning, then the fact that these are clones created by sticking human DNA inside cow eggs should be comforting. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION Last week I wrote about the premise of Oxford professor Jonathan Zittrain's new book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (Yale University Press). He warns about a future of "tethered" technologies like the digital video recorder and smartphones that often are programmed remotely by the companies that make them rather than being programmed by users, as PCs are. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION A couple of weeks ago I went to the annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, an event where people from all over the world gather for a giant DIY technology show-and-tell extravaganza. There are robots, kinetic sculptures, rockets, remote-controlled battleship contests, music-controlled light shows, home electronics kits, ill-advised science experiments (like the MentosDiet Coke explosions), and even a barn full of people who make their own clothing, pillows, bags, and more. Read more »
TECHSPLOITATION At this point, the outraged response to the latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series of video games, GTA4, is pretty much obligatory. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is lobbying to get the video game rated "adults only" (effectively killing it in the US market, where major console manufacturers won't support AO games) because there's one scene in the game where you have the option to drive drunk. Read more »