Science & technology
Technology and the Brain
Socrates railed against the invention of the alphabet, worrying that the written word would erode human memory. Imagine how he would have felt about Google Maps and iPhone calendar alerts.
Technological revolutions have always spawned both opportunity and panic. Today, digital technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and research into its effects on the human brain is struggling to…
Kate Grenville: The Smell Test
Many grand pronouncements have been made about the power of perfume – most of them by glamorous people who sell perfume. (‘A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future,’ said Coco Chanel. ‘A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting,’ said Christian Dior.) But what do we know about the harmful effects of fragrances; the power of…
The Longform Society
Meeting #1: Robots
In our first meeting of the Longform Society we’ll read a selection of compelling, entertaining and occasionally terrifying pieces on the subject of robots and artificial intelligence.
Will humans have moral obligations to robots? Are we guilty of ‘origin chauvinism’ if we believe only natural phenomena can exhibit consciousness? And is this line of thinking a sinister cousin to racism…
Kyle Wiens: Right to Repair
‘When you fix something – just for a moment – entropy loses its iron grip on the universe,’ Kyle Wiens has written. ‘When you fix something – just for a moment – you’re the victor.’
Kyle Wiens is a consumer activist and the CEO of iFixit, an online repair community. A crusader against planned obsolescence, he believes in the power…
Life on Mars: Carmel Johnston
‘You can fake your personality for a couple of weeks, at most ... But over the long term, your true personality will come out.’
Carmel Johnston, an environmental scientist, was the crew commander of NASA’s most recent Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project. As part of this mission, she spent an entire year living with five other scientists…
Invasion of the Pod People: Radiolab, Risk and Genius: Jad Abumrad and Andrew Denton
Radiolab is one of the world’s most popular podcasts. Admired for its gentle explorations of big questions, the show – which was collecting listeners in their millions long before podcasting arrived at the mainstream’s door – has won many significant awards. Abumrad himself has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant, and his incredibly labour-intensive sound designs complement killer editorial instincts…
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Zadie Smith vs Facebook
Poster from the film, The Social Network
The New York Review of Books has published a scathing review by novelist Zadie Smith on the film, The Social Network.
Smith damns the bio-pic of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg not for its portrayl of the boy genius but as “a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of…
Oxford Dictionary Finally Gets Into Sexting
The 12th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has been hauled into the 20th century, with a number of first-time additions to the dictionary reflecting the rise and rise of online culture. New words include cyberbullying, denialist, jeggings, mankini, retweet, sexting and woot (informal [especially in electronic communication] used to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph). Some…
New News by the Centre for Advancing Journalism
Media Policy Makers and Shakers: What can government do?
Man Macmillan Signs Up First Title for Ebook Imprint
An Australian writer is seeking to become a pioneer of digital publishing with a venture that’s making the most of new publishing technologies. Nathan Farrugia has an ambitious project in mind - in fact, he’s calling it ‘the future of story-telling’. The Chimera Vector is, according to its author, “a conspiracy techno-thriller of unusual depth, snappy dialogue and edge-of-your-seat action”. Farrugia has turned to…
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