Groupon's quick rise has been overshadowed poor management and shady accounting. Can the company repair its reputation?
"Everyone The Verge spoke with who has worked directly with Mason says he’s not the clown that became his persona in the media. 'He was an incredibly focused and hard-working guy,' says Sennett. But in crafting his image as a goofball, Mason painted himself into a corner. 'I don’t think Eric used Andrew, or that Andrew didn't go in with his eyes wide open. But yes, the cynical interpretation is that Eric saw how useful Andrew could be, first as the charming, boyish entrepreneur, then as the fall guy for Groupon’s public plunge.'"
PUBLISHED: March 13, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3561 words)
Remembering Aaron Swartz, the programmer and Internet activist who took his own life earlier this year, and what he was fighting for:
"Aaron didn’t play that game. After he sold Reddit, he couldn’t be bought. In fact, he was spending his own money, and his valuable time, on campaigns for the public good, and helping others to do the same. He was a realist about the government, media companies, and Silicon Valley. His experience with all of them made him grow up too soon. But he also never stopped being that not-even-teenager who believed in the utopian possibilities latent in the World Wide Web. He never stopped believing in the power of small groups of people who were willing to devote their attention to small problems and nagging details in order to create the greatest good for the greatest number. Aaron played in that space without resolving its tensions.
"It’s that collapsing telescope between the many and the few, the rational and the altruistic, the minute and the world-historical, the irreducibility of life as it is lived and the universality of the ideals that life should serve."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 22, 2013
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6506 words)
The city of Chicago is looking to go paperless, but digitizing won't be easy:
"'You can't move forward with technology in government if you’re redundantly moving around multiple copies of pieces of paper,' he says. 'To me, it’s shocking that we’re still talking about forms.'
"But Hillman also acknowledges that there are major roadblocks. Cost is less an issue, he surmises, than overcoming the governmental status quo.
"To make a paperless government work, 'you would need a paradigm shift,' Hillman says. 'You have entire departments — the fire department, the Department of Revenue — that run with their paper. This is how they do things. So when you shift to a paperless government, you have major staffing changes. You have people saying, ‘Well this is not how we do this.’ So that’s going to be the biggest hangup.'
"But it may be more than a mere hangup."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 6, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4041 words)
The making of the boy and girl groups that are leading the international K-pop explosion:
"Lee founded S.M. in 1989. His first success was a Korean singer and hip-hop dancer named Hyun Jin-young, whose album came out in 1990. But, just as Jin-young was on the verge of stardom, he was arrested for drugs. Russell writes that Lee was 'devastated' by this misfortune, and that the experience taught him the value of complete control over his artists: 'He could not go through the endless promoting and developing a new artist only to have it crash and burn around him.'
"In effect, Lee combined his ambitions as a music impresario with his training as an engineer to create the blueprint for what became the K-pop idol assembly line. His stars would be made, not born, according to a sophisticated system of artistic development that would make the star factory that Berry Gordy created at Motown look like a mom-and-pop operation. Lee called his system 'cultural technology.' In a 2011 address at Stanford Business School, he explained, 'I coined this term about fourteen years ago, when S.M. decided to launch its artists and cultural content throughout Asia. The age of information technology had dominated most of the nineties, and I predicted that the age of cultural technology would come next.' He went on, 'S.M. Entertainment and I see culture as a type of technology. But cultural technology is much more exquisite and complex than information technology.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 3, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7351 words)
A writer meets with "grinders"—people who are obsessed with human enhancement through the manipulation of their body with technology—and then decides to implant a magnet in his finger:
"I chatted with Warwick from his office at The University of Reading, stacked floor to ceiling with books and papers. He has light brown hair that falls over his forehead and an easy laugh. With his long sleeve shirt on, you would never know that his arm is full of complex machinery. The unit allows Warwick to manipulate a robot hand, a mirror of his own fingers and flesh. What’s more, the impulse could flow both ways. Warwick’s wife, Irena, had a simpler cybernetic implant done on herself. When someone grasped her hand, Prof. Warwick was able to experience the same sensation in his hand, from across the Atlantic. It was, Warwick writes, a sort of cybernetic telepathy, or empathy, in which his nerves were made to feel what she felt, via bits of data travelling over the internet."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5016 words)
The problem is, IUDs have been at the bottom of the contraceptive heap for years, the victim of bad press and a four-decade-old scandal. But Peipert is finding that you can let the past go—of the 8,300 women who have received counseling in his study so far, about 50 percent have chosen an IUD, making it by far the most popular choice. IUDs are on the verge of a remarkable return to popularity. Nationally, 5.5 percent of women using contraception choose them. That sounds unimpressive, but it’s the first time in more than 20 years that the number has risen above 2 percent; in 1995, it was 1.3 percent.
PUBLISHED: July 15, 2011
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3543 words)
On Father’s Day three years ago, biologist Jonathan Eisen decided he’d like to republish all his father’s papers. His father, Howard Eisen, a biologist and a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, had published 40-some-odd papers by the time that he died by suicide at age 45. That had been in Febuary 1987, while Jonathan, a sophomore at college, was on the verge of discovering his own love of biology. At the time, virtually all scientific papers were just on paper.
PUBLISHED: May 11, 2011
LENGTH: 4 minutes (1033 words)
Over the past month, BYU has been held up as a symbol of all that is decent in college sports for its unsparing treatment of Brandon Davies, the African-American basketball player who violated the school's honor code by reportedly having sex with his girlfriend. Davies was suspended shortly before the NCAA tournament, and a braying mainstream press lauded BYU for sticking to its principles. Sports Illustrated's website even wondered if a values-driven, "non-hypocritical" BYU was "on the verge of becoming America's team." The reality isn't so appealing.
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4658 words)
With layoffs, the encroaching Internet, and the recession, is Baltimore's paper of record on the verge of collapse?
PUBLISHED: Sept. 1, 2009
LENGTH: 42 minutes (10520 words)