Umbrellas: The iPhones of the Victorian Age
New technologies help create a sense of personal privacy in public.
Reason, March 2017Before the smartphone or the hoodie, the iPod or the Walkman—even before the automobile—that technology was the umbrella. It gave its bearer space and a semblance of privacy. Like the smartphone and the music player, it also provided ample material for humorists, social critics, and arbiters of manners.
When Play Drives Progress
Review of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson
Reason, March 2017Steven Johnson does not buy the repression theory of progress. Nor does he accept its counterpart on the left, where technology and markets equal oppression and drudgery. A man of the center-left, he is a classic dynamist: a genuine liberal who appreciates the power of inventions and institutions that emerge from the bottom up. In Wonderland, Johnson, whose previous works include How We Got to Now (the basis for a PBS series) and Where Good Ideas Come From, explores the playful sources of innovation.
One Nation, Divisible by What Scares Us Most
Bloomberg View, February 15, 2017It’s a dangerous world. The threats are insidious, lurking undetected until it’s too late. Left on your own, you won’t survive. The government’s job is to protect you. Many Americans hold some version of this view. But they strongly differ on which threats they fear.
The Best Picture for What America Needs Right Now
Bloomberg View, February 03, 2017"Hidden Figures," a drama about three black women, is a movie for anxious times, offering patriotic balm for the fractured body politic and even throwing in a tale of career resilience in the face of automation.
Now's the Time for Big-Box Stores to Embrace the 19th Century
Bloomberg View, January 18, 2017Today’s turn toward experiences doesn’t just pose a challenge to brick-and-mortar stores. It offers them an opportunity
Why Americans Long to Live in an HGTV Home
Bloomberg View, January 05, 2017On HGTV, optimism and love abound. Those qualities reflect the fundamental appeal of the network’s formula: It reverses entropy and celebrates home.
A New Year's Eve App to Fight Drowsy Driving
Bloomberg View, December 30, 2016Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving sleepy. But thanks to demand from the trucking business, wearable technologies are already monitoring driver alertness. It won’t be long before conscientious consumers can buy them as well.
Merry Christmas. Don't Be Stupid.
Bloomberg View, December 23, 2016The annual “Merry Christmas” dispute is one of the weirdest things about contemporary America.
Pokemon Go Just Can't Catch a Break
Bloomberg View, December 18, 2016Novelty and a sense of accomplishment are what make Pokemon Go, or any other game, interesting. To hold players' attention, Niantic Inc.'s mobile game needs to work on both.
Love Your Homemade Quilt? Thank Capitalism.
Reason, January 2017Patchwork quilts wouldn't exist without trade, industrialization, and material abundance. They are the physical embodiment of what economist Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment: a bourgeois art par excellence.