Annalee Newitz

Whose bionics?

Turning the TV clock back on feminism
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION Of course I tuned into the series premiere of Bionic Woman last week. Some of my earliest TV memories are of watching the first Bionic Woman, a hopelessly and gloriously 1970s series about Jamie Sommers, a tennis player who gets bionic implants that give her super strength in her legs, one arm, and one ear. She was a cyborg before cyborgs were cool. Read more »

To see or not to see

The Internet Archive's wartime footage
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION I did not know the screaming man, nor did I know what country he was in. My view of him was shaking — the video was probably taken with a cell phone or cheapo digital camera with limited vid capability. Suddenly another man came into the frame and cut out the first man's throat, which didn't stop the screaming but instead turned it into a horrible, high-pitched wheezing. Eventually he sawed off the rest of his victim's head and threw it around a little bit just for good measure. Read more »

Green satellites dying

Downsizing climate sensor networks could be bad news for all of us
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION Government-funded satellite systems and sensor networks are supposed to be spook stuff, technologies for surveillance and social control. They're the "electric eyes" that follow us and turn our private lives into sitcoms for bored intelligence agents, right? Wrong. They may be spooky, but satellite and sensor networks are some of the most powerful tools for studying the way humans are impacting climate change. Read more »

NASA hippies

Golden records in outer space
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION As annoying as hippies can be, it's strangely comforting to think that the one bit of junk we shot into deep space is emblazoned with a hippie symbol. I'm talking about the golden records screwed onto the shells of Voyagers I and II, two space probes that completely changed our understanding of the solar system and then shot out into deep space bearing record albums intended for alien consumption.

Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the Voyager II launch. Read more »

Antiauthoritarian cities

Welcome to Brak
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION Archaeologists have discovered that one of the oldest urban areas in the world was built in a way that completely defies conventional wisdom about how cities grow. Last week, a group of researchers working in Syria published a paper in Science about a 6,000-year-old city called Brak, a once-thriving urban center in northern Mesopotamia (now northern Syria, near its border with Iraq). It has long been believed that cities begin as dense centers that grow outward into suburbs. Read more »

Mouse politics

Turning predator, genome be damned
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION My apartment has been invaded by mice, and my biggest worry is not that I will catch some strange disease but that they'll stage a revolution. Read more »

Anonymity trouble

The satisfactions of Wikiscanner
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION Pundits of the Internet age are fond of excoriating the Web because anyone can post on it anonymously. Andrew Keen, whose recent book Cult of the Amateur is a good primer on why people hate the Web, highlights the horrors of anonymity in his work, contrasting the millions of unnamed Web scribblers with honorable, properly identified writers of yesteryear. Read more »

Foxing in the archive

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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION Paper archives are dangerous. For the past several weeks, I've been standing knee-deep in paper untouched by human hands for decades, sorting through decaying files and strange pamphlets, breathing so much dust that I cough all night afterwards. Read more »

Kids safer online!

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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION There's a horrifying new menace to children that's never existed before. Experts estimate that 75 to 90 percent of pornography winds up in the hands of children due to novel technologies and high-speed distribution networks. That means today's youths are seeing more images of perversion than ever before in the history of the world.

What are the "new technologies" and "distribution networks" that display so much porno for up to 90 percent of kids? I'll give you one guess. Read more »

Pain and fun

The frisson of ambivalent feelings
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annalee@techsploitation.com

TECHSPLOITATION A couple of economic researchers have proven via scientific experimentation something that artists have known for millennia: people can feel pain and have fun at the same time. At last, we have a scientific theory that explains why the torture-tastic movie Saw is so popular. Read more »