Obama Was Too Good at Social Media

His “cool dad” presidency blinded him to technology’s dangers.

President Obama has been called the “first social-media president.” It’s both a true and a misleading characterization. On the one hand, the Obama White House was indeed the first presidency to make use of services like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. But on the other hand, these services either didn’t exist or weren’t used by a broad public before Barack… read more


Nintendo’s Sad Struggle for Survival

Facing an uncertain future, the company keeps trying to mine its storied past.

The Japanese video-game giant Nintendo has had a rough decade. Ten years ago, the company was riding high on the commercial and cultural success of the Wii, its physical-controller console, and the DS, its popular handheld. Nintendo’s stature—and its stock price—climbed to record highs by 2007. But flailing Wii remotes around in the den proved to be a short-lived trend… read more

Executive Producer and host Donald Trump (C) speaks about the NBC television show "The Celebrity Apprentice" during the TCA presentations in Pasadena, California, January 16, 2015. Seen (L-R) are other participants Vivica A. Fox, Geraldo Rivera, Brandi Glanville, Kate Gosselin, executive producer Mark Burnett, Donald Trump, Kenya Moore, Lorenzo Lamas and Ian Ziering. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE MEDIA BUSINESS) - RTR4LQWC

Will Trump Make Silicon Valley Kiss the Ring at His Tech Summit?

The president-elect’s history in Hollywood might offer a clue.

Many years ago, when I was working at a Hollywood production company, a coworker went out to dinner with an out-of-town friend. When conversation turned to work, my colleague explained that he was producing marketing for a film by the director Michael Bay. His friend was no fan of Bayhem, it turned out, and issued a tirade against the director’s… read more


Why Silicon Valley May Warm to Trump

The technology industry has resisted him, but a Trump presidency is compatible with its business goals.

A memorable image from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign showed the future president, reclined on a couch. His chief campaign strategist David Axelrod appears in the foreground, and “Change we can believe in” signs rest casually in the back. In then-Senator Obama’s left hand, he holds a sheet of paper. In his right, a BlackBerry. Obama was famously attached to… read more


Home Monitoring Will Soon Monitor You

When the Internet of Things begins to track electrical usage, houses could become more measured—and scrutinized—than ever.

I worry. About my family. My house. My dumb possessions, and my treasured ones. Doesn’t everyone? “Happiness,” Don Draper opines in Mad Men’s pilot, “is the freedom from fear.” Companies sell people solutions to those fears—even if they are contrived ones. Listerine, invented to cure a made-up condition called halitosis. Nike, whose kicks are used for sloth more than athleticism.… read more


A Pocket Guide to the Robot Revolution

Sorting the good from the bad, the creepy from the adorable

For formatting reasons, it’s best to read this one in print, or else over at The Atlantic online

The McLaren P1 car is pictured during the second media day of the 83rd Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 6, 2013. The Geneva Motor Show will take place from March 7 to 17, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS) - RTR3EMV3

More Evidence Cars Will Never Be Sexy Again

Apple’s rumored takeover of McLaren is a symbolic final breath in the life of automotive desire.

The automobile has become the enemy of progress. It’s an unlikely outcome, from the vantage point of the 20th century. Not that long ago, cars were still unequivocal symbols of personal power—especially in America, where basic mobility is often impossible without one. But now cars are increasingly uncool. For one part, they’re a major source of carbon emissions, and thereby… read more


The Designer’s Job is to Make Things More What They Already Are

Ideas on design, adapted from Play Anything

As a game designer, I’m often asked what designers of all stripes can learn from games. Games, after all, appear to be magical objects. Dark ones, even. From Tetris to World of Warcraft, games have an uncanny ability to lure players in. Once hooked on a game, people will spend nearly endless time pursuing bizarre and arbitrary goals—like navigating configurations of four squares… read more


Russian Invasion

A review of Dan Ackerman’s The Tetris Effect

In an official photo from April 6, 1993, Hillary Clinton smirks slightly while playing a Nintendo Game Boy aboard a flight back to Washington, DC. The record doesn’t note what game she was playing, but surely it was Tetris, the cartridge that shipped with the popular Nintendo handheld upon release in 1989. When the photo was released last year, Clinton was already… read more