Is the Internet the greatest technological gift to humankind since the invention of the printing press? Or is it rewiring our brains, turning us into distraction-prone, screen-addicted infovores incapable of deep, imaginative thought?
Matt Ridley sets out to prove that now is by far the best of times, and it's only going to keep getting better. Even today's greatest challenges, such as African poverty and climate change, are surmountable because of a remarkable human insight: that specialization and division of labor allow us to constantly improve our lot.
O. J. Simpson's low-speed chase, the blackout in the Northeast in 2003, Kanye "I'ma let you finish" West at the MTV Video Music Awards—these are the "common denominators" of our time, to borrow a phrase from NEWSWEEK's editor in chief, Jon Meacham.
Apple's next "magical" and "revolutionary" product? An iLegalDefenseTeam. According to the New York Post, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are negotiating over which of the two agencies will launch an antitrust inquiry against the company, now the third-largest in America (by market capitalization).
For much of the last two years, Silicon Valley's favorite parlor game has been guessing how Twitter would eventually make money. The much-hyped company is now valued at more than $1 billion, yet for its first three years of existence it had no meaningful revenues.
Facebook won an important skirmish in the privacy wars this week. That is one way, at least, to read the news that the social-networking startup successfully forced Pete Warden, a tech entrepreneur and former Apple engineer, to delete a data set culled from Facebook's public profile pages.
Last week the nebulae swirled, the interstellar dust motesaccreted, and a Web star was born: Merton, a.k.a. the Chatroulette piano-improvguy. First, for those of you living off the grid (or actually using their computer to, youknow, work), here's a little background: Chatroulette is the latest Webfad, a stripped-down site that randomly connects you and a stranger via Webcam.
You would hate my iPod. But not because my taste in music is bad. It's actually quite good. (Don't take my word for it, though. Judge for yourself.) But rather than rely on recognizable groupings like "Indie Electronica" or "Party Mix!!!," my iPod is chronologically ordered, like an audio diary.
At this point, Facebook owns your social life. The site, which just overtook Yahoo to become the second most visited Web destination in the U.S., has had six years to record all the photo tags, friend requests, and pokes made by its 400 million users.
This year the Web turns 21. So it's somewhat ironic that 2010 will also be the year the place finally sobers up.Many of the startups and media sites that define the e-commerce ecosystem are, at long last, making serious plans to make serious money. Hulu, the slick portal that picked up where TiVo left off in killing the idea of "appointment television," is the free site likeliest to begin charging in 2010.
Remember when everybody thought that markets were all-knowing? Before the financial crisis struck in late 2008, the reigning dogma in economics was the "efficient-markets hypothesis," an idea popularized by Eugene Fama that enjoyed exalted status for more than three decades.
Despite the brouhaha over stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia, the science of climate change is well enough established by now that we can move on to the essential question: what's the damage going to be?The total bill, if emissions are left unchecked, could reach 20 percent of annual per capita income, says Nicholas Stern, the British economist who led an influential Whitehall-sponsored study.
I am a loyal Firefox user. I love the tabs, the extensions, the customization. It's fast and free and, because it's an open-source project organized by a nonprofit in Silicon Valley, it gives me a warm, fuzzy, volunteering-at-the-soup-kitchen kind of feeling.
The secret to turning a poor nation into a rich one can't be found in a World Bank report. Rather, it comes from the British Empire. That's one way, at least, of interpreting U.S. economist Paul Romer's new plan for transforming economically backward countries such as Cuba into engines of growth.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Africa visit earlier this month disappointed experts who'd hoped for groundbreaking new policies. But it certainly made one man happy: Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, president of Somalia's transitional government, who won promises of more money, equipment, and training for his beleaguered country.