According to most accounts, the history of computing is a triumph of enterprise. This story starts in the 1950s and 1960s with commercial mainframe computers that, one stack of punch-cards at a time, assumed business tasks ranging from managing airline reservations to calculating betting odds ...... (read more)
Alex Tighe reviews 'Net Loss: The inner life in the digital age (Quarterly Essay 72)' by Sebastian Smee
You probably own a smartphone. Chances are it’s in your pocket right now, or at least within arm’s reach – don’t pick it up. Fight the habit. Besides, you’ve probably checked it in the last fifteen minutes. If you are an average user, intentionally or not, you will spend three to four hours looking at its screen today. If you did check your phone after the second sentence, then well done for making it back to this piece, although (according to some research) it probably took you about twenty-five minutes to refocus.... (read more)
Joel Deane reviews 'Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy' by Jonathan Taplin
Good books are like recurrent dreams: haunting the reader’s waking hours by sitting, tantalisingly, on the edge of conscious thought. Take, for example ...... (read more)
What are the implications of the ever-accelerating revolution in information communication technology on our lives? Is the Internet a force for good, for increased freedom and democracy? Or are we so in thrall to the prophets of Silicon Valley that we have lost sight of the perils that lie in ‘big data’, the extension of algorithms and quantification into every ...