Our story picks of the week, featuring the Hollywood Reporter, New York magazine, Wired, Oxford American and the New York Review of Books, with a guest pick by Teddy Worcester.
The author of nearly three dozen books on the decline of manufacturing in America, and a future in which innovation can’t save us but reducing our consumption might:
Most innovation is not done by research institutes and national laboratories. It comes from manufacturing—from companies that want to extend their product reach, improve their costs, increase their returns. What’s very important is in-house research. Innovation usually arises from somebody taking a product already in production and making it better: better glass, better aluminum, a better chip. Innovation always starts with a product.
Look at LCD screens. Most of the advances are coming from big industrial conglomerates in Korea like Samsung or LG. The only good thing in the US is Gorilla Glass, because it’s Corning, and Corning spends $700 million a year on research.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 26, 2013
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1807 words)
Health care workers are attempting to eradicate polio by penetrating remote areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan controlled by the Taliban:
Because all the Afghan polio cases in 2013 have been reported here in the eastern half of the country, these National Immunization Days have special importance in this region. As with the global campaign writ large, polio here has receded greatly over the past two decades but with serious setbacks along the way: Although cases dropped after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, an outbreak in 2011 brought 80 new cases and a general sense of emergency. And so the eradication program—which is government-run but supported financially by who and unicef —ordered a “surge” in Afghanistan. They doubled the international staff and cracked down on underperforming and corrupt officials. This year, the surge has paid a huge dividend, in that the war-torn south of the country, for a long time the greatest problem area, now appears to be free of the virus. It’s the inaccessible areas in the east, where Jalalabad is, that are now the main concern.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4382 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring The New Yorker, MIT Technology Review, BuzzFeed, Wired and Gawker, plus a guest pick by Andrew Pantazi.
A look back, and ahead, at how the Internet is evolving to capture our data—and what organizations will do with it next:
"There is no doubt that the Internet—that undistinguished complex of wires and switches—has changed how we think and what we value and how we relate to one another, as it has made the world simultaneously smaller and wider. Online connectivity has spread throughout the world, bringing that world closer together, and with it the promise, if not to level the playing field between rich and poor, corporations and individuals, then to make it less uneven. There is so much that has been good—which is to say useful, entertaining, inspiring, informative, lucrative, fun—about the evolution of the World Wide Web that questions about equity and inequality may seem to be beside the point."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 22, 2013
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4244 words)
A class of students attending José Urbina López Primary School in Matamoros, Mexico had little access to the internet, broken classroom equipment, and difficult living situations. Their teacher, Sergio Juárez Correa, helped them succeed in extraordinary ways using a radical teaching method:
"In Finland, teachers underwent years of training to learn how to orchestrate this new style of learning; he was winging it. He began experimenting with different ways of posing open-ended questions on subjects ranging from the volume of cubes to multiplying fractions. 'The volume of a square-based prism is the area of the base times the height. The volume of a square-based pyramid is that formula divided by three,' he said one morning. 'Why do you think that is?'
"He walked around the room, saying little. It was fascinating to watch the kids approach the answer. They were working in teams and had models of various shapes to look at and play with. The team led by Usiel Lemus Aquino, a short boy with an ever-present hopeful expression, hit on the idea of drawing the different shapes—prisms and pyramids. By layering the drawings on top of each other, they began to divine the answer. Juárez Correa let the kids talk freely. It was a noisy, slightly chaotic environment—exactly the opposite of the sort of factory-friendly discipline that teachers were expected to impose. But within 20 minutes, they had come up with the answer.
"'Three pyramids fit in one prism,' Usiel observed, speaking for the group. 'So the volume of a pyramid must be the volume of a prism divided by three.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5420 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring Esquire, Wired, BuzzFeed, The New Republic, Lapham's Quarterly, and a guest pick by Sari Botton.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 27, 2013
Gangs in Chicago have used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread inflammatory messages about rivals and incite violence:
"We naturally associate criminal activity with secrecy, with conspiracies hatched in alleyways or back rooms. Today, though, foolish as it may be in practice, street gangs have adopted a level of transparency that might impress even the most fervent Silicon Valley futurist. Every day on Facebook and Twitter, on Instagram and YouTube, you can find unabashed teens flashing hand signs, brandishing guns, splaying out drugs and wads of cash. If we live in an era of openness, no segment of the population is more surprisingly open than 21st-century gang members, as they simultaneously document and roil the streets of America’s toughest neighborhoods."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4452 words)