Sankofa Futurism

One of my favorite futurist quotes comes from a 1956 Ford commercial called Design for Dreaming. In it, the main character sings (yes, it’s a musical) the line: “Everyone says the future is strange, but I have a feeling some things won’t change.” I love this quote for a lot of reasons, and I use […]

Damage Patterns

The other night I was in the midst of writing about the Ice Age when I strayed to the internet. Up came the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography that went this year to New York Times photographers Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter for their coverage of the European refugee crises. Fresh from writing a […]

Marvin and The System

We live with machines. And our machines are getting smarter. They’re still very dumb, they do what we tell them to, and often not really all that well. But we’re teaching them. And I do mean “we.” When you tag your friends on Facebook, you’re teaching its facial recognition system what to look for in […]

Debunking Hollywood: The Gordian Knot

I’ve often wondered who was the first person to tie a knot. Who was that ancient ancestor 10, 20, 100 thousand years ago who first wrapped a strip of animal skin – or maybe some fibrous vine – around itself and realized that it could hold itself together, even hold a person’s weight. Or hell, […]

Nobody Likes Sad Futures

On Tuesday, the podcast that I host and produce started its second season. The show is called Flash Forward, and it’s weird and fun and surprising. Every episode takes on a possible future, from the terrifying likely (antibiotic resistance) to the completely absurd (space pirates drag a second moon to earth). Every episode starts with […]

The Wonderful World of Period Patents

I recently wrote a story for Racked about how some of the period underwear on the market work — the kind that either help keep your pad in place, or help replace tampons by wicking and absorbing blood. And because I always like to know about the evolution of various technologies, one of the first […]

Data Dump

Here is something you don’t need: a bra that keeps track of your fitness. Half of you don’t even have breasts. And the other half, well, you don’t need a smart bra either. Yet it exists. In fact, it’s debuting this week at the Consumer Electronics Show. On its blog, the bra’s maker — a […]

New Yorkers, I Am Watching You

I recently wrote a story for The Atlantic about a question that I have been obsessed with for a long time: How many photographs am I in, in the world? It’s something that has bugged me for years, and before you chalk this up to pure narcissism, here’s a fact: Facebook can now identify you […]