Steven Levy

The Next Picture Show

Steve Jobs had some 'splain-in' to do. He's spent the last couple of years insisting that no one wants to watch video on the puny screens in handheld devices.

Turning the Car Keys Over to the Car

At first, Sebastian Thrun didn't feel quite comfortable behind the wheel of the modified Volkswagen Touareg R5 named Stanley. That's understandable, because he wasn't driving.

CAN STRINGER FIX SONY ON THE RUN?

When Sir Howard Stringer became the first gaijin (non-Japanese) to head the legendary electronics-and-entertainment giant Sony last June, it didn't really seem so shocking.

THE MIND OF AN INVENTOR

ARE INVENTORS BORN, OR ARE THEY MADE? Danny Hillis, who can't remember a time when he wasn't trying to make mind-blowing stuff, comes at the question, as usual, from an unexpected angle: potential inventors are un-made. "In some sense, every kid is inventive," he says.

EBAY'S BET: THE SKYPE'S THE LIMIT

When I talked to Meg Whitman last week, we used plain old telephones. But since both of us belong to the 54 million-member Skype community--a global society one joins simply by signing up to use that company's voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service--we could have had the conversation free via laptops and our Net connections.

Q&Amp;A With Steven Levy: Ballmer Unbound

Microsoft's CEO has always been hard core, whether leading cheers at employee meetings, strategizing to maintain the company's status as the world's biggest software firm or upbraiding analysts for insufficient bullishness on the company he joined in 1980.

Sports: Would You Buy T.O.?

Is plain old fantasy football not time-wasting enough for you? A new twist promises more addictiveness--and is even more nerdy. This week a Silicon Valley start-up called Protrade (protrade.com) is launching an "athlete market" that merges the high-pressure action of stock-market trading with the skills of sports prognostication.

Honey, I Shrunk The Ipod. A Lot.

Ever since it was clear that Apple's 2001 foray into digital music would be a smashing success, naysayers have been proclaiming that it was only a matter of time before competitors would catch up to and eventually surpass the wildly popular iPod player.

WILL STICKS LICK BROADBAND FIX?

When Bob Dylan sang "Time passes slowly up here in the mountains," he wasn't referring to the speed of Web pages loading on his computer. But this month I've had plenty of time to think about that Dylan lyric, as well as re-read the paper and stare at the hummingbird that flutters outside my window at my western Massachusetts retreat.

MICROSOFT'S PLAN: VISTAS FOR EVERYONE

This month people in the tech world are looking back 10 years to the Netscape IPO, which marked the arrival of the Web as an unstoppable phenomenon--and began inflating a tech bubble.

PULLING THE PLUG ON LOCAL INTERNET

Pete Sessions, a Texas member of the House, believes in states' rights. But he also thinks that there are situations so extreme that Congress must slap down state and local government initiatives.

THE SUPREMES HIT THE PIRATE SHIPS

There is something about the pomp and circumstance of a Supreme Court decision, especially a long-awaited one like last week's file-sharing case, that tempts one to view any conclusion of nine justices as a historic turning point.

Grand Theft Identity

BE CAREFUL, WE'VE BEEN TOLD, OR YOU MAY BECOME A FRAUD VICTIM. BUT NOW IT SEEMS THAT CORPORATIONS ARE FAILING TO PROTECT OUR SECRETS. HOW BAD IS THE PROBLEM, AND HOW CAN WE FIX IT?

LIFE AFTER NAPSTER

Shawn Fanning, at 24, has already had a career's worth of fame as creator of Napster, the free peer-to-peer music-sharing service that changed the record industry, before it was litigated out of business. (Don't mistake that effort for the current music-subscription service that bought the Napster name.) But he thinks the best is yet to come.

AOL'S SOLUTION: A PORTAL IN A STORM

Nine years ago I wrote a column about the future of the three great subscription online services--CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online. In the age of the Internet, I argued, their business model was doomed.

LOST MY SECRETS? PAY UP, BUDDY!

If you had something extremely valuable to ship--a bundle of cash, a bag of diamonds or the plotline for "Mission Impossible 3"--would you just pack it in a cardboard box and hand it over to the United Parcel Service for delivery?

DIGITAL DJS ARE TURNING THE TABLES

I can't imagine what my life in the early '70s would have been like without Michael Tearson. As the alpha disc jockey on WMMR, Philadelphia's hippest FM radio station, Tearson spun song sets that seemed to cosmically interact, providing transcendent moments throughout his midnight shift.

THE EARTH IS READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP

Not long ago we were instructed to think of cyberspace--the digital realm that opens when you go online--as a territory of its own. But these days you don't hear much about cyberspace as a foreign country.

TELEVISION RELOADED

Forty-four years ago, when Newton Minow famously described television as a vast wasteland, he might have hit the bull's-eye on the wasteland part. But he didn't know from vast.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE (MUSIC) BOX

Technology moves at broadband speeds. but the music industry's transformation to the digital era has been trickling along at a pace suitable to that modem you tossed out when you got your high-speed connection.

TELEVISION RELOADED

Forty-four years ago, when Newton Minow famously described television as a vast wasteland, he might have hit the bull's-eye on the wasteland part. But he didn't know from vast.

HUFFINGTON'S POST: NOT YET TOAST

Almost from the moment Arianna Huffington's blog (huffingtonpost.com) went live last week, it became the epicenter of digital snarkiness. Seemingly everyone with access to the Web--and more than a few spitballers from mainstream media--took a shot at the socialite pundit's site, a compendium of the views, opinions and random remarks of 350 actors, pundits, writers and politicos, ranging from genuine celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Larry David, Walter Cronkite) to the niche-famous (wonky...

THINKING OUTSIDE THE (MUSIC) BOX

Technology moves at broadband speeds. But the music industry's transformation to the digital era has been trickling along at a pace suitable to that modem you tossed out when you got your high-speed connection.

TECHNOLOGY: THIS TIGER HAS CLAWS

Mac users, not a shy bunch to begin with, will be roaring over Tiger, the $129 operating-system upgrade Apple rolled out last week. The showstopper is Spotlight, a built-in hard-drive search.

TIGER'S OUT THIS WEEK. NO BULL.

It's Steve Jobs's plan to make this the Week of the Tiger. But Bill Gates and his minions at Microsoft are crying bull--specifically, a Longhorn steer. Despite the zoological bent, this dust-up is not about animals, but operating systems; Apple and Microsoft just happen to have named each of their major system upgrades after beasts of the realm.

LIVING BY GOOGLE RULES

A couple of weeks ago, a prominent dot-com warrior gave me a hot tip about Google: the next big move of the search phenom would be an assault on eBay. Think about it.

IN THE NEW GAME OF TAG, ALL OF US ARE IT

Melvil Dewey had it easy. In 1876, when he created his famous system of ordering information, the Dewey Decimal Classification System, there weren't Web sites, video clips or blogs.

DIE, SOFTWARE!

The not-exactly-thrilling world of enterprise software, which manages the workings of corporations and monitors their client relationships, paradoxically generates larger-than-life executives in its own ranks.

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