When Tim Berners-Lee arrived at CERN , Geneva's celebrated European Particle Physics Laboratory in 1980, the enterprise had hired him to upgrade the control systems for several of the lab's particle accelerators. But almost immediately, the inventor of the modern webpage noticed a problem: thousands of people were floating in and out of the famous research institute, many of them temporary hires. "The big challenge for contract programmers was to try to understand the systems, both human and computer, that ran this fantastic playground," Berners-Lee later wrote.
Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society. Phillip Toledano Y vette Vickers, a former Playboy playmate and B-movie star, best known for her role in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman , would have been 83 last August, but nobody knows exactly how old she was when she died.
At Citi Field Stadium this Sunday, 50,000 religious men gathered to discuss the dangers of the Web. An organizer explains why the digital era is so challenging for the people of the book. Attendees at Sunday's rally used binoculars to watch rabbis deliver sermons about the Internet.
While the ultra-Orthodox steadily streamed down the 7 train platform and onto the pavilion, a group of four teenagers sat around the big red New York Mets apple, waiting for their friends. This was last night, an hour or so before the Citi Field gates opened. Outside the stadium, a few hundred ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stood around, waiting for the masses to arrive to this rally about the dangers of the internet.
Frank Warren is the creator of PostSecret, one of the internet’s most successful sites. But is he qualified to handle his readers’ most private confessions? Answering night-time calls at a suicide hotline in Washington DC some years ago, Frank Warren found himself using The Voice.
ANYONE can publish on the web, but it would be better if some people didn't; the world does not need another site that provides advice on how to unlock an iPhone or find cheap car insurance. Now new evidence shows that search engines have upped their game to make sure their results are not dominated by such low-quality sites. Search engines are meant to pick out high-quality sites amid the sea of knock-offs, but even they get overwhelmed.
In the spring of 2009, a college student named Amy received an instant message from someone claiming to know her. Certainly, the person knew something about her—he was able to supply details about what her bedroom looked like and he had, improbably, nude photos of Amy. He sent the photos to her and asked her to have "Web sex" with him.
By harnessing the vast wealth of publicly available cloud-based data, researchers are taking facial recognition technology to unprecedented levels "I never forget a face," goes the Marx Brothers one-liner, "but in your case, I'll be glad to make an exception." Unlike Groucho Marx, unfortunately, the cloud never forgets.
When the virtual currency bitcoin was released, in January 2009, it appeared to be an interesting way for people to trade among themselves in a secure, low-cost, and private fashion. The Bitcoin network, designed by an unknown programmer with the handle “Satoshi Nakamoto,” used a decentralized peer-to-peer system to verify transactions, which meant that people could exchange goods and services electronically, and anonymously, without having to rely on third parties like banks. Its medium of exchange, the bitcoin, was an invented currency that people could earn—or, in Bitcoin’s jargon, “mine”—by lending their computers’ resources to service the needs of the Bitcoin network.
IT HAS been a rocky year for Bitcoin, the online peer-to-peer currency , with the exchange rate soaring from a few cents to over $30 per coin before crashing after a string of thefts, hacks and other setbacks . Coins have since regained a value of around $5. But it is becoming clear that the software could prove at least as useful as the currency itself, underpinning a number of important new technologies. First, it could be used as a form of "carbon dating" for digital information - something that would make electronic voting more secure. This is possible because of the way Bitcoin records transactions, says Jeremy Clark , a computer scientist at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
<img alt="Illustration: Martin Venezky" src="/magazine/wp-content/images/19-12/mf_bitcoin_f.jpg" title="The story of the virtual currency you can actually spend—if it doesn't get stolen first." width="660" height="595" /> Illustration: Martin Venezky In November 1, 2008, a man named Satoshi Nakamoto posted a research paper to an obscure cryptography listserv describing his design for a new digital currency that he called bitcoin. None of the list’s veterans had heard of him, and what little information could be gleaned was murky and contradictory. In an online profile, he said he lived in Japan. His email address was from a free German service.
Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge ( #30DaysofGOOD ), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for August? Get off the internet at 8 . There’s nothing like an article about how the internet is changing our brains to really freak people out. Studies show our thought process is adapting to the constant influx of media.
It might be useful, with such a statement like that, to review some of these big events. Obviously one of the big events in our history was the origin of our planet, about 4.5 billion years ago. And what's fascinating is that about 3.8 billion years ago, only about seven or eight hundred million years after the origin of our planet, life arose. That life was simple replicators, things that could make copies of themselves. And we think that life was a little bit like the bacteria we see on earth today.
Online echo chambers: A study of 250 million Facebook users reveals the Web isn’t as polarized as we thoughtToday, Facebook is publishing a study that disproves some hoary conventional wisdom about the Web. According to this new research, the online echo chamber doesn’t exist. Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer. This is of particular interest to me. In 2008, I wrote True Enough , a book that argued that digital technology is splitting society into discrete, ideologically like-minded tribes that read, watch, or listen only to news that confirms their own beliefs.
Last week, as he paced around the stage at the f8 Developers Conference , Mark Zuckerberg declared with wide-eyed optimism that Facebook was "helping to define a brand-new language for how people connect." "When we started," Zuckerberg explained, "the vocabulary was really limited. You could only express a small number of things, like who you were friends with.
Web Utopia No More