NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09:  A Michael Jackson impersonator dances onstage at Crystal Pepsi Summer of '92 at Terminal 5 on August 9, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

How Crystal Pepsi Anticipated Silicon Valley

The clear cola’s nostalgic relaunch harkens back to a time when the world’s problems seemed simple.

Like love or peace or tenderness, cola is not a simple thing, but a complex one. In the mid 1800s, John Pemberton invented the soft drink we know by the name by combining extracts of the African kola nut and the coca plant: Coca-Cola was born. But the taste of cola—originally a pharmaceutical tonic—had very little to do with either… read more

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a propeller pod of the solar-powered Aquila drone on stage during a keynote at the Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, California April 12, 2016. Facebook Inc said July 21, 2016, it had completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every corner of the planet. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo - RTSJ3XN

Facebook Is Not a Technology Company

Neither are Google nor Amazon. Here’s why that matters.

At the close of trading this Monday, the top five global companies by market capitalization were all U.S. tech companies: Apple, Alphabet (formerly Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. Bloomberg, which reported on the apparent milestone, insisted that this “tech sweep” is unprecedented, even during the dot-com boom. Back in 2011, for example, Exxon and Shell held two of the top… read more

LONDON - NOVEMBER 22:  A pile of dusty and obsolete video recorders (VCRs) lie abandoned in a back room of a video repair shop November 22, 2004 in London, England. Dixons, the UK's largest electrical retail chain today announced that they will begin to phase out the sale of VCR's due to the popularity of Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) players.  (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Rest in Peace, VCR

An elegy for the machine that let people travel through time—but only by a little

The video store, as it is nostalgically remembered, looks like a record shop, or a hookah parlor. Staffed by scruffy burners or neo-hippies who “really know their stuff,” splayed with shelves at all angles, plastered in posters, encrusted with knick-knacks. Some such stores might have existed, but the earliest video stores were nothing like them. They were modernist celebrations of… read more


The Tragedy of Pokémon Go

What it takes for good ideas to attract money.

Summer, 2001. Players install the boxed, retail software for an Electronic Arts game called Majestic. After signing up, the game sends players messages by phone, email, AIM, BlackBerry, and even fax—shards of a paranoia fiction story that plays out in real-time. The title goes on hiatus after the September 11 attacks—this was not the year for fourth-wall-breaking paranoia fiction entertainment. It… read more


Who Needs Convertible Slippers?

Designers obsess over “revolutionizing” products, but not everything has to be reinvented.

“Hang on, I just have to put my soles on,” I call after the kids, who are racing out the door for a trip to the market. The soles in question are two dove-gray, rubber flaps that snap to the bottoms of my slippers, which I have just imported from London. A slipper-transformer that will transition me from scruffy writer-dad… read more

The Marina Bay street circuit is illuminated at dusk after a downpour in Singapore September 11, 2014. The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race will take place on September 21, 2014. Picture taken with a fish-eye lens. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT CITYSCAPE) - RTR45TEJ

Will Robocars Kick Humans Off City Streets?

Self-driving cars could encourage policies that end public access to America’s roads.

Whenever people go from one place to another, they don’t think much about the roads and sidewalks that pass beneath them. But this infrastructure, known as the public right-of-way, doesn’t work by magic. It is managed and regulated by specific laws. People don’t own the roads they travel on, but streets and sidewalks provide an easement—a right of use or… read more

Actors Suzanne Callaghan (L) Mahon Kelly and Jim Corcoran (R) perform a 'Ulyses' chapter to celebrate Bloomsday in Dublin's city centre, June 16. Thousands of Dubliners turned out to celebrate the city's most famous author on 'Bloomsday' named after Leopold Bloom, the central character of James Joyce's 1922 novel "Ulysses", which centres on the single day, June 16 of 1904 in Dublin.


Ulysses and the Lie of Technological Progress

How a broken Twitter adaption of James Joyce’s novel reveals the secret of Bloomsday

Today is Bloomsday, a folk holiday adopted to celebrate the life and work of the Irish writer James Joyce, in particular his 1922 novel Ulysses. The name derives from the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom, one of the Dubliners the book follows through the day of June 16, 1904. First celebrated mere years after the novel’s publication, Bloomsday festivities have been… read more


Daniel Tiger is Secretly Teaching Kids to Love Uber

The Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Trolley introduced a generation to public transit. Now it’s gone off the rails.

As a kid growing up in a car-centric American city, my first introduction to public transit came from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers’ bright-red Trolley conveyed me and all my fellow television neighbors from the rug in front of the living room console television to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. It was just a model train, but even as a very… read more

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for a rally with supporters in Fresno, California, U.S. May 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2EJCT

I’m Retweeting Her

What a Twitter fight between Clinton and Trump says about politics and politicking on the internet.

There’s politics, and there’s politicking. Politics relates to the process of governing and making policy. Politicking refers to the tactics needed to acquire or retain the power of politics itself. Politics is an esteemed term, while politicking is usually used in a derogatory way. And the two exist in tension. Today, Hillary Clinton posted a good tweet, responding to Donald… read more


Elegy for the Capital-I Internet

It’s silly to capitalize it, but doing so gave the global network a needed sense of awe and terror

We’ve long stopped referring to the Internet as “the information superhighway,” but there was a reason for the metaphor. Back in the 1990s, when the phrase gained popularity, it worked because a highway is fast, and online life offered access to information—and later shopping, services, and socialization—at previously unthinkable levels of speed and convenience. The irony of “information superhighway” as… read more