Feeling Herd

At high noon on an early-spring day in 2017, six steers doomed to die escaped their slaughterhouse and stormed the streets of my city. The escape became a nuisance, then a scene, then a phenomenon. “Man, it was crazy!” one onlooker told the local alt-weekly. “I mean, it was fucking bulls running through the city of St. Louis!” What seemed… read more

‘Netwar’ Could Be Even Worse Than Cyberwar

The Russia-Ukraine conflict could trigger a massive cyberwar, New Scientist surmised. An unprecedented cyberwar is likely, Senator Marco Rubio warned. The hacker group Anonymous has allegedly launched a cyberwar against the Russian government. Cyberwar sounds bad—and it is. Broadly, it names the global threat of combat mixed with computer stuff. But further explanations of its risks tend to devolve into… read more

The Internet Is Just Investment Banking Now

Twitter has begun allowing its users to showcase NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as profile pictures on their accounts. It’s the latest public victory for this form of … and, you know, there’s the problem. What the hell is an NFT anyway? There are answers. Twitter calls NFTs “unique digital items, such as artwork, with proof of ownership that’s stored on… read more

I Figured Out Wordle’s Secret

Updated on February 4, 2022 at 11 a.m. ET. Wordle! It’s a word game people are playing online. Each day, the game offers one new puzzle: Guess a five-letter English word correctly in six or fewer tries. After each guess, the game tells you which letters are correct, which are wrong, and which are the right letters in the wrong… read more

The Subversive Genius of Extremely Slow Email

Every day, the mail still comes. My postal carrier drives her proud van onto the street and then climbs each stoop by foot. The service remains essential, but not as a communications channel. I receive ads and bills, mostly, and the occasional newspaper clipping from my mom. For talking to people, I use email and text and social networking. The… read more

Video Doesn’t Capture Truth

Like text and audio, it can be manipulated and interpreted for political ends.

The White House has revoked the press pass of Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, after a testy exchange between the reporter and President Trump at a news conference on Wednesday. Acosta posed a question about the Central American migrant caravan, challenging Trump’s framing of it as an “invasion” meant to reap political advantage. An irritated Trump tried to… read more

The Fetishization of Mr. Rogers’s ‘Look for the Helpers’

Turning the reassuring line for children into a meme for adults should make everyone uncomfortable.

After the senseless calamity of a mass shooting, people seek comforts—even small ones—in the face of horror. One of those small comforts has come to be Fred Rogers’s famous advice to look for the helpers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to… read more

The Myth of ‘Dumbing Down’

If you write about your expertise from a place of contempt, maybe you’re not so smart after all.

One of the pleasures I enjoy as an editor at The Atlantic is bringing the work of scientists and scholars to our pages. From the Object Lessons series on the ordinary lives of everyday things, to the Metropolis Now project on technology and urbanism, to our regular coverage of science, technology, and health, I have had the privilege of editing… read more

The Chinese Motherboard Hack Is a Crisis, Even If It Didn’t Really Happen

Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro have all denied the veracity of a report on Chinese hardware hacking. No matter the outcome, the results could inflame an already raw trade relationship for high tech between the U.S. and China.

It’s easy to forget in the app era, but Silicon Valley got its name from microchips. The generation that transformed orchards into Oracle did so by manufacturing electronic circuits that encrust “chips” of a semiconductor material, usually made of silicon. In the fertile purlicue south of San Francisco, the foundations of the electronic revolution were invented, designed, and manufactured. Shockley… read more

Trump Is Not Texting You

What should have been a routine, required national test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system has become a crucible for public distrust.

At 2:18 p.m. et today, your smartphone probably buzzed and shrieked before displaying a notice that resembled a text message. This was the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission’s test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA). A test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which sends emergency messages to radio and television, followed two minutes later. Both… read more