How Do You Run a News Portal?

Tim Carmody ABC News President Ben Sherwood, left, and Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s Executive Vice President of Americas, address a news conference in New York, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. Photo: Richard Drew First thing Monday morning Yahoo and ABC News announced a new distribution deal — familiar stuff, albeit between two big partners. It will encompass … Continue reading

Information explosion

Lee Hutchinson Moore’s Law gets all the press. It’s easy to present even to non-technical readers, and the way it’s most often expressed is something like, "computers double in speed every year," though that’s a bastardization of the axiom, which actually states that the transistor count of integrated circuits tends to double every eighteen months … Continue reading

What Wikileaked About Al Jazeera

Is the rapidly expanding Middle East satellite television network and voice of the Arab Spring as independent as it claims? OMAR CHATRIWALA Al Jazeera has been making waves in the Middle East ever since it aired its first broadcast on Nov. 1, 1996. In its news dispatches and talk shows, the pan-Arab satellite channel, which … Continue reading

The Manichean World of Tim Wu

Paul Starr For the past dozen years, several distinguished thinkers about law and technology have warned that a golden age of Internet freedom may be about to close. The most influential alarm-ringer has been Lawrence Lessig, who argued in his 1999 book, Code, that under corporate and governmental pressures, the Net could be flipped to … Continue reading

Divine Inspiration

How Catholicism made Marshall McLuhan one of the twentieth century’s freest and finest thinkers By Jeet Heer Art by David Rokeby Media Installation view of Through the Vanishing Point, commissioned by the 2010 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival and the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, Coach House Institute, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto Appropriately … Continue reading

A Paywall That Pays Off’s Quality Content Farm is Educational Ryan Singel Imagine a website that publishes such useful information that about 1 million people have been willing to pay a $25 monthly access fee. No, it’s not the New York Times — which only has about 100,000 paid digital users — it’s, a video tutorial site that’s … Continue reading

Information flow can reveal dirty deeds

Analysis of Enron e-mails reveals structure of corrupt networks By Rachel Ehrenberg HUB-AND-SPOKE OF DECEIT: When Enron employees communicated about legitimate projects, e-mails were reciprocal and information was shared widely (right), but communications about an illicit project (left) reveal a sparse network with a central, informed clique and isolated external players. CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Political … Continue reading

Sharing Information Corrupts Wisdom of Crowds

Brandon Keim When people can learn what others think, the wisdom of crowds may veer towards ignorance. In a new study of crowd wisdom — the statistical phenomenon by which individual biases cancel each other out, distilling hundreds or thousands of individual guesses into uncannily accurate average answers — researchers told test participants about their … Continue reading

The Information Sage

Meet Edward Tufte, the graphics guru to the power elite who is revolutionizing how we see data. By Joshua Yaffa Illustrated by Merchant for the Brunswick Review One day in the spring of 2009, Edward Tufte, the statistician and graphic design theorist, took the train from his home in Cheshire, Connecticut, to Washington, D.C., for … Continue reading

The Information

How the Internet gets inside us. by Adam Gopnik  Books explaining why books no longer matter come in many flavors. When the first Harry Potter book appeared, in 1997, it was just a year before the universal search engine Google was launched. And so Hermione Granger, that charming grind, still goes to the Hogwarts library … Continue reading

What Defines a Meme?

Our world is a place where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve By James Gleick With the rise of information theory, ideas were seen as behaving like organisms, replicating by leaping from brain to brain, interacting to form new ideas and evolving in what the scientist Roger Sperry … Continue reading

Google and Its Sources (UPDATED)

Guess what news source Google pushed for tsunami coverage? By JONATHAN V. LAST Oh, Almighty Google Machine–I kid! We know you’re not evil. You’re the most benevolent algorithm ever. But every once in a while, Google (which owns YouTube) drops a little data point about how it sees the world. Early this morning, while bopping … Continue reading

Content Yawn

What content farms tell us about what we’re interested in. By Annie Lowrey and Angela Tchou Content farms are to online media what tabloids are to print. Neither journalism nor advertising, they are a trashy and addictive product, sussing out what we really want in order to give us something we don’t really need—and, in … Continue reading

A Statement About Search Engine Algorithm Changes

by larry fitzgibbon  How our content reaches the consumer – whether it’s through direct visits, social media referrals, apps or search – has always been important to and monitored closely by us.  We also recognize that major search engines like Google have and will continue to make frequent changes. We have built our business by … Continue reading

Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model

By Daniel Roth Illustration: Stephen Doyle Christian Muñoz-Donoso is going to make this job pay, he’s got to move quickly. He has a list of 10 videos to shoot on this warm June morning, for which he’ll earn just $200. To get anything close to his usual rate, he’ll have to do it all in … Continue reading

Google Clamps Down on Content Factories

By Ryan Singel Google updated its core ranking algorithm Thursday for U.S. searchers to decrease the prevalence of so-called content farms in top search results. The change comes after months of criticism in the tech community over what’s perceived as an increased amount of cheap, low-quality content being rewarded by Google with top results. While … Continue reading

What are those symbols on the back of the iPhone?

By Casey Johnston Question: There are a bunch of symbols and numbers on the backs of iPhones. I know what 16GB means; what about the rest? A jumble of symbols have been trying to communicate with us from the back of the iPhone since it launched, and indeed, from a number of other non-Apple communication … Continue reading

How Much Information Is There in the World?

Think you’re overloaded with information? Not even close. A study appearing on Feb. 10 in Science Express, an electronic journal that provides select Science articles ahead of print, calculates the world’s total technological capacity — how much information humankind is able to store, communicate and compute. "We live in a world where economies, political freedom … Continue reading

Unconventional Wisdom

A special anniversary report challenging the world’s most dangerous thinking. View scenes from an unconventional world. In Foreign Policy‘s first issue, published at the height of American exhaustion with the war in Vietnam, founders Samuel P. Huntington and Warren D. Manshel promised to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy in Washington. And with provocative essays from the … Continue reading

The Al Jazeera Revolution

The satellite television station is seizing the message away from the bland propaganda of Arab autocrats. BY LAWRENCE PINTAK As darkness fell on Tahrir Square the night of Feb. 1, a giant makeshift TV screen broadcast Al Jazeera’s live coverage of the Egyptian uprising to the enthusiastic crowd. The channel would later transmit Egyptian President … Continue reading

Digg This: Reddit Serves Up a Billion Pages a Month

By Ryan Singel Reddit, the community news sharing site, has now joined the billion-page-per-month club, having served up some 1,000,404,480 pages to almost 14 million unique visitors in January, as measured by Google Analytics. That means Reddit, once largely seen as a geekier also-ran to Digg, has now handily surpassed its better-funded rival in traffic. … Continue reading

If I ruled the world …

Arianna Huffington  Objectivity is overrated. We need media that take sides and call leaders to account. And we all need to spend less time online If I ruled the world, my first goal would be to make it easier to cut through to the facts. At the moment, we are all drowning in spin, smokescreens … Continue reading


Far from a triumph for transparency, the Palestine Papers are a victory for the enemies of peace in the Middle East — but only if Palestinian leaders embrace Al Jazeera’s narrative. BY ROBERT M. DANIN The Palestine Papers — more than 1,600 internal Palestinian documents summarizing negotiations with Israel over the past decade — are … Continue reading

The War On Wikileaks

John Pilger’s investigation and interview with Julian Assange By John Pilger  The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration … Continue reading

The trouble with academics on cable news…

By Daniel W. Drezner Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about why he largely abstains from cable news appearances and why this is in and of itself a problem: The outlines of the problem are becoming clear–I’m a snob. More seriously, it’s my impression that much of cable news is rigged. Complicated questions are … Continue reading

First High-Temp Spin-Field-Effect Transistor Created

An international team of researchers featuring Texas A&M University physicist Jairo Sinova has announced a breakthrough that gives a new spin to semiconductor nanoelectronics and the world of information technology. The team has developed an electrically controllable device whose functionality is based on an electron’s spin. Their results, the culmination of a 20-year scientific quest … Continue reading

Air Force Blocks WikiLeaks-Publishing Times Website

By Spencer Ackerman Credit where due: the New York Times is publishing some great stuff right now. Here’s an interesting piece comparing the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. Here’s Harvey Araton poring over Cliff Lee’s decision to return to the Phillies instead of taking his talents to the South Bronx. And here’s something about … Continue reading

Data leak embarrasses Colorado sheriff, terrifies informants

By Jacqui Cheng A database leak in Mesa County, Colorado has left the personal information of 200,000 people in jeopardy. And not just any 200,000 people—these are suspects, victims, and informants working with the sheriff’s department to out other criminals. The incident has left the sheriff’s department scrambling to find out who might have accessed … Continue reading

What Is Frankincense?

And where does it come from? By Jackie Spinner ON THE FRANKINCENSE COAST OF OMAN—As a child, I dutifully sang the lyrics to "We Three Kings" every holiday season. For anyone lacking a proper parochial school upbringing, these biblical Magi, guided by a star to Bethlehem from the East, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and … Continue reading

Is Treason a Civic Duty?

Since 9/11, press freedom in the West has come under attack as governments argue that national security is more important than transparency. But the hunt for WikiLeaks is a greater danger to democracy than any information that WikiLeaks might reveal. A Commentary by Thomas Darnstädt  REUTERS A protester prepares a Julian Assange mask at a … Continue reading

Predicting the future of WikiLeaks: Follow the media!

By Evgeny Morozov  One possible future for WikiLeaks is to morph into a gigantic media intermediary — perhaps, even something of a clearing house for investigative reporting — where even low-level leaks would be matched with the appropriate journalists to pursue and report on them and, perhaps, even with appropriate N.G.O.’s to advocate on their … Continue reading

Why Most Hardware Specs Are Total BS

by Bryan Gardiner, To measure is to know, said Lord Kelvin. But as marketing departments get more and more creative with their published specifications, what we’re left measuring — and by extension, knowing — about our gear is increasingly worthless. With the gadget-buying squarely in season, most of us will soon be turning to … Continue reading

What is Julian Assange?

By Blake Hounshell One of the many fascinating angles to this unfolding State Department cables story has been the character of Julian Assange himself — mysterious, flamboyant, and uncompromising. It often seems as if he were sent by Central Casting to play the role of WikiLeaks frontman — with his angular Teutonic features and his … Continue reading

State to host celebration of digital information openness

By Josh Rogin Before the WikiLeaks crisis, the State Department began a new initiative called "21st Century Statecraft", which includes a drive to expand openness and combat government censorship in cyberspace. As part of that initiative, the State Department announced on Tuesday that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, meant … Continue reading

Why WikiLeaks Is Good for America

Evan Hansen A truly free press — one unfettered by concerns of nationalism — is apparently a terrifying problem for elected governments and tyrannies alike. … … WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it. The greatest threat we face right now from Wikileaks is not the information it has spilled and may spill … Continue reading

WikiLeaks Attacks Reveal Surprising, Avoidable Vulnerabilities

Kevin Poulsen Some online service providers are in the cross hairs this week for allegedly abandoning WikiLeaks after it published secret U.S. diplomatic cables and drew retaliatory technical, political and legal attacks. But the secret-spilling site’s woes may be attributable in part to its own technical and administrative missteps as well as outside attempts at … Continue reading

Where’s WikiLeaks? The "infowar" is on as site hops servers

Nate Anderson Silver Smith Early this morning, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed reposted a tweet from EFF cofounder John Perry Barlow. "The first serious infowar is now engaged," Barlow wrote. "The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops." Barlow is no stranger to theatrical overstatement; this, after all, is the guy who in 1996 … Continue reading

The Autocrat’s Algorithm

Is Google News helping to spread propaganda? JOSHUA E. KEATING Of course, offering news from different international perspectives is the whole point of Google News. The service was developed by Google’s Krishna Bharat shortly after the 9/11 attacks with the goal, as he later put it, of "helping people understand multiple points of view, and … Continue reading

Twitter’s @Ev: Ad Money’s Good, Facebook Blocking Bad

Ryan Singel Twitter’s Evan Williams reminded the Valley Wednesday that Google wasn’t the only company being stymied by Facebook’s stranglehold on user identity. Journalist John Battelle publicly asked Williams if Facebook would ever import Twitter’s firehose of data. Williams shot back, “You’ll have to ask Mark that. You missed your opportunity,” referring to Batelle’s interview … Continue reading

Your own private matrix

Tracking your life on the web “MIRROR WORLDS” is only one of David Gelernter’s big ideas. Another is “lifestreams”—in essence, vast electronic diaries. “Every document you create and every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream,” he wrote in the mid-1990s together with Eric Freeman, who produced a doctoral thesis on the … Continue reading

China’s New Media Strategy: Forget the CCP, it’s all about CNN

by Elizabeth C. Economy  Just four months after launching their 24-hour global news network, CNC, Chinese media officials are in the midst of a strategic rethink. Selling China “Chinese-style” hasn’t quite worked out. The problem is less about getting the news—CNC has access to 130 news bureaus globally—than it is about getting people to watch. … Continue reading

Intel gets into the news business

By Jon Stokes Intel has now launched what looks to be the semiconductor industry’s answer to the venerable in-flight magazine: Free Press, a "news" site hosted and published by Intel. It’s sort of like Delta Sky magazine, but with a more direct and pervasive focus on Intel. The new site hosts byline-less articles on topics … Continue reading

In Defense of Thaksin Shinawatra

The unfair attacks against Thailand’s former prime minister. BY ROBERT AMSTERDAM The former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra was recently featured in a negative light in Foreign Policy ("Bad Exes," Oct. 1, 2010).  As legal counsel to the prime minister, I would urge your readers to take a closer look at why he remains … Continue reading

Don’t Attack Thaksin

The former prime minister is the victim of a smear campaign. BY JANE FOLEY In its original uncorrected form, Joshua E. Keating’s article "Bad Exes" contained a number of inaccuracies, including that Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, had "lived under a false name in Germany" and had used "illegally received passports from … Continue reading

Chemical Weapons, Iranian Agents and Massive Death Tolls Exposed in WikiLeaks’ Iraq Docs

By Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman As the insurgency raged in Iraq, U.S. troops struggling to fight a shadowy enemy killed civilians, witnessed their Iraqi partners abuse detainees and labored to reduce Iran’s influence over the fighting. None of these phenomena are unfamiliar to observers of the Iraq war. But this afternoon, the anti-secrecy organization … Continue reading

Telling Secrets

WikiLeaks isn’t the problem. It’s reams of unnecessarily classified documents that remain hidden from the public eye by overzealous intelligence officials. And the Obama administration’s fixes don’t go far enough. BY STEVEN AFTERGOOD Washington is bracing for another Wikileaks document dump later this week and the Pentagon is urging reporters not to publish the secret … Continue reading

Everything* Explained Through Flowcharts

By Eric Horner Hello! Welcome to my article. My name is Doogie Horner; I used to be a mess like you until I discovered that life’s most confusing conundrums—cellular division, quantum mechanics, blue jean shopping—can be explained through infographics. (I’ve even written a book on the subject.†) In the following pages, I will demonstrate the … Continue reading

The Death of Egypt’s Free Press

In the run-up to November’s parliamentary elections, President Hosni Mubarak’s allies are silencing what remains of the independent media. BY DAVID KENNER For years, the newspaper al-Dostour has been one of the few independent voices in the Egyptian press. No longer: Its editor in chief, Ibrahim Eissa, was fired today for refusing to toe the … Continue reading

From Picassos to Sarcophagi, Guided by Phone Apps

Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times A British couple tour the Museum of Modern Art with the help of the MoMA app, which they downloaded from London. By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN  Walk into a crowded museum, and what do you see? People with cameras or cellphones snapping pictures of people looking at objects. The artwork, … Continue reading

AP: Yeah, we’d better cite pajama-wearing bloggers, too

By Nate Anderson Flickr user thestarmama The Associated Press didn’t need any help from a bunch of unshowered bloggers pecking away at their keyboards from the basement offices in which they play "reporter," thank you very much. Now it knows better. At the AP’s 2009 annual meeting, Chairman Dean Singleton reminded his audience (read the … Continue reading