Technology

Category archives for Technology

Eyes to the Future

My grandmother suffered in her old age from macular degeneration, a common age-related eye disease that causes the center of your visual field (the macula) to gradually fritz out. As it affected her more and more, the font size in her emails ballooned to cartoonish sizes. She began walking with a cane, and needed a…

Information Overload!!!

I don’t have the attention span to write this article. In the course of penning this introductory paragraph, I’ve taken umpteen email breaks, gotten distracted by several Wikipedia wormholes, and taken an hour’s time out to watch Frontline documentary clips on YouTube. It has taken me, in toto, seven days to write a five-paragraph article…

There Goes the Solar System

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served us Nine Pizzas. My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets. My Very Early Morning Jam Sandwiches Usually Nauseate People. Mon Vieux Tu M’as Jeté Sur Une Nouvelle Planète! – Various mnemonic devices for remembering the order of the nine planets I just found out that Mercury is…

Last November, in Florida, I had the opportunity to see my first Space Shuttle launch. For the hundreds of millions of people who don’t pay more than a passing notice to the fact that human beings still go into space on a regular basis, this is a fairly banal thing. But to those who camp…

In his seminal 1991 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” the video artist Douglas Davis writes that digital bits “can be endlessly reproduced, without degradation, always the same, always perfect.” This is different, Davis argues, from analogue information. In the past, copying an audio signal — for example, dubbing a…

Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin

Photograph by Benjamin Reed. Ursula K. Le Guin is a internationally-recognized, award-winning science fiction writer, an elegant badass and the author of such classics as the Hugo and Nebula-award winning The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe Of Heaven, and the Earthsea novels. Last year, she began mounting formidable opposition to the Google Books Settlement,…

Beam Me Up

Recently, Rhizome.org invited me to contribute a long-form article to their Rhizome Writer’s Initiative, a new program designed to give emerging and established writers the opportunity to pontificate on the world of new media arts. I was glad to do it, especially when I realized that the exhibition I was to review is called “Beam…

One of Buckminster Fuller‘s most interesting conceits was his dislike of specialization, which he likened to a kind of intellectual prison, restraining “bright” people from truly understanding the complex, and general, systems of which they were a part. After all, he argued, what causes extinction in the animal kingdom? Overspecialization. Of course, it’s logical, and…

Picnics in Space

In 1976, NASA Administrator James Fletcher noted that “The question, ‘What is feasible?’ can be finally answered only by future historians.” He was talking about the elaborate plans for space habitats the agency had spent a summer noodling over, but the same remark could have been made to the incredulous before the first moon landing,…

The Right Stuff

A few months ago, I wrote a piece for GOOD Magazine highlighting some of the lesser-known successes of everyone’s favorite bloated space agency. Although I intended to write about basic research, good science, and interesting pipeline projects, I ended up stuck in a vortex of awesome open-source software development and interactive art programs. Doing my…