The People Who Shaped The World Wide Web
Thirty years ago, the world wide web was a way for scientists to share data. Since then, it’s become a critical force for industry, and how the world connects. But this didn’t happen all at once. The web’s evolution has been shaped by the geography of its creators and users.
The Unhackable Email Service
Ladar Levison built an encrypted email service called Lavabit that counted a prominent figure among its users: Edward Snowden. When the FBI demanded Levison decrypt Snowden’s communications, he had two options, either hand over the encryption key or destroy his servers. He chose the latter.
How The English Language Is Taking Over the Planet
English is everywhere, and everywhere, English dominates. From inauspicious beginnings on the edge of a minor European archipelago, it has grown to vast size and astonishing influence. Almost 400m people speak it as their first language; a billion more know it as a secondary tongue. Is there any point in resisting?
How A New Technology Is Changing The Lives Of People Who Cannot Speak
Millions are robbed of the power of speech by illness, injury or lifelong conditions. Can the creation of bespoke digital voices transform their ability to communicate? The digital voice is not a remnant of who they were, but a promise of who they will be.
The Billion-Dollar Ponzi Scheme That Hooked Warren Buffett And The U.S. Treasury
Jeff Carpoff was a good mechanic but struggled as a businessman. His machine—a solar generator on wheels—was a sun-fueled alternative. He called it the Solar Eclipse. His invention, he thought, was “crazy, harebrained.” But investors saw the makings of a clean-energy revolution.
German Circus Uses Holograms Instead Of Live Animals For A Cruelty-Free Magical Experience
For a very long time, people couldn’t have imagined a circus show without horses, elephants, monkeys, and lions. But recently, Circus Roncalli has shunned tradition, swapping flesh and blood for hologram projections. The shows, however, remain just as spectacular.
The Mysterious Origins Of Mastermind, The Codebreaking Board Game
Invented in 1970, Mastermind would sell 30 million copies before that decade was up, and boast a national championship at the Playboy Club, a fan in Muhammed Ali, official use by the Australian military for training, and 80% ownership amongst the population of Denmark.
AI Is Dreaming Up New Kinds Of Video Games
Game-making algorithms are almost as old as video games, but their use has typically been limited to generating terrain and other simple digital art. The next frontier is using increasingly sophisticated machine-learning techniques to design entirely new kinds of games that have, to date, evaded the human imagination.
Golden Dawn: The Rise And Fall Of Greece’s Neo-Nazis
A decade ago, violent racists exploited a national crisis and entered mainstream politics in Greece. The party has since been caught up in the biggest trial of Nazis since Nuremberg, and is now crumbling – but its success remains a warning.
The Dictatorship Of Data
Big data is poised to transform society. Yet big data also exacerbates a very old problem: relying on the numbers when they are far more fallible than we think. Nothing underscores the consequences of data analysis gone awry more than the story of Robert McNamara.
History Remembers These People, Just Not Their Names
Throughout history, people have made a name for themselves without anyone actually knowing their name, from the protestor who stood up to a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989, to notorious successful hijacker D.B. Cooper (almost certainly not his real name).
The History Of George Laurer And The Barcode
A 67 cent packet of gum has ballooned into an enormous industry, and five billion barcodes are scanned each and every day. But how did we get to this point, and who was responsible for the UPC barcode?
Faith, Friendship, And Tragedy At Santa Fe High
Sabika Sheikh, a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan with dreams of changing the world, struck up an unlikely friendship with an evangelical Christian girl. The two became inseparable—until the day a fellow student opened fire.
The Secrets Behind The Runaway Success Of Apple’s Airpods
If you started a business in an ultra-competitive space in consumer tech, and within three years it was earning more revenue than AMD, Spotify, Twitter, Snap or Shopify, you’d justifiably be pleased with yourself. Apple’s wearables, home and accessories division has done just this.
The Everything Town In The Middle Of Nowhere
On any given day, thousands of packages from Walmarts, Targets, and stores around the country travel north along a two-lane road out of Billings, Montana — past the Tumbleweed Saloon, past cows grazing on empty rangeland, past the Busy Bee Cafe and stands of short pines — to the town of Roundup, where they will be unboxed, re-boxed, and sent off to Amazon.
Why Socialism Failed in Africa
Considering capitalism to be equal to colonialism, Africa’s founding fathers rejected it and adopted marxist-socialism in the 1960s. Foreign companies were nationalised, state-owned enterprises were created and all sorts of controls on rents, prices, imports and foreign exchange.
Gaming The Lottery Seemed As Good A Retirement Plan As Any
A lottery loophole that would eventually make Jerry and Marge millionaires, spark an investigation by a Boston Globe Spotlight reporter, unleash a statewide political scandal and expose more than a few hypocrisies at the heart of America’s favorite form of legalized gambling.
How Big Oil And Big Soda Kept A Global Environmental Calamity A Secret For Decades
With new legislation, Sen. Tom Udall is attempting to marshal Washington into a confrontation with the plastics industry, and to force companies that profit from plastics to take accountability for the waste they create. Big Plastic isn’t a single entity. It’s more like a corporate supergroup: Big Oil meets Big Soda.
The Man Who’s Going To Save Your Neighborhood Grocery Store
American food supplies are increasingly channeled through a handful of big companies: Amazon, Walmart, FreshDirect, Blue Apron. What do we lose when local supermarkets go under? A lot — and Kevin Kelley wants to stop that.
Puff, Puff, Pass: A New Vape With Hazy Origins Takes Juul’s Place
Due to their popularity with teenagers, flavored vapes fell directly into regulator’s crosshairs. Pod-based vape companies, like JUUL, are now banned from selling any flavored pods, aside from menthol and tobacco. Now, Puff Bar’s popularity is surging, but no one knows anything about the mysterious company.
How To Be A Better Web Searcher: Secrets From Google Scientists
Search engines are powerful tools that can be incredibly helpful, but they also require a bit of understanding to find the information you are actually seeking. Small changes in how you search can go a long way toward finding better answers.