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  • Originally published 01/09/2018

    The Future of Work, a History

    Kevin Baker

    America has a long, complicated track record of dreading that robots would take our jobs.

  • Originally published 12/04/2017

    When the Robots Take Our Jobs

    Greta de Jong

    Majoring in STEM fields might teach students how to build robots, but studying history will teach them what to do when the robots take their jobs.

  • Originally published 03/12/2014

    The Technologists' Siren Song

    W. Patrick McCray

    Tech buzzwords are a tepid substitute for robust analysis and honest critique.

  • Originally published 10/24/2013

    Recalibrating the Poverty Line

    John E. Schwarz

    For its 50th anniversary, the poverty line calculation should be rejiggered to reflect reality.

  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Apps mix history with technology at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

    PHILADELPHIA — At the 150th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg, many Civil War re-enactors will eschew the use of modern technology, but scores of tourists will embrace it.More than 5,700 Foursquare users have checked in at sites in the historic borough; more than 16,000 Facebook users have liked it. And in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, apps that offer maps and information about key battle spots have surged in popularity.Garry Adelman has been a licensed Gettysburg battlefield guide for 19 years and has recently moved his high-energy tour into the realm of the smartphone. The project was initiated four years ago by the Civil War Trust, a nonprofit battlefield preservation group where Adelman is the director of history and education....

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    San Francisco™, Brought to You By Google

    Rebecca Solnit

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff.Originally posted on TomDispatch.com Finally, journalists have started criticizing in earnest the leviathans of Silicon Valley, notably Google, now the world’s third-largest company in market value. The new round of discussion began even before the revelations that the tech giants were routinely sharing our data with the National Security Agency, or maybe merging with it. Simultaneously another set of journalists, apparently unaware that the weather has changed, is still sneering at San Francisco, my hometown, for not lying down and loving Silicon Valley’s looming presence.

  • Originally published 06/02/2013

    HNN Hot Topics: MOOCs

    Image via Shutterstock/Flickr.NewsCoursera contract with UT system released; history chair says no MOOCs at Knoxville this fall (6-3-13)Historians at MOOC partner schools say faculty not consulted (5-30-13)San Jose State professors fire back at online class offer (5-25-13)Profs get ready for tens of thousands of students in online courses (1-14-13)Commentary

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Computing Pioneer Harry Huskey Is Honored at 97

    On Saturday evening, I was a very happy attendee of the Computer History Museum’s Fellow Awards, an inspiring annual event which celebrates the contributions of individuals whose work has changed the course of computing history. Three people were honored this year: Ed Catmull, Harry Huskey and Bob Taylor.Ed Catmull, as I knew, started out as a computer graphics scientist, became one of the founders of Pixar and is now the president of both that extraordinary company and Walt Disney Feature Animation. I was also well aware that Bob Taylor headed up the research efforts at ARPA and Xerox PARC which produced the Internet, the modern graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer and other utterly essential technologies.But Harry Huskey? I’d never heard of the man. Turns out that he did an awful lot — and, having been born in 1916, he did much of it in the very early days of the computing industry, even before the word “computer” came into use....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    John J. Geoghegan: A Brief History of Book Vending Machines

    John J. Geoghegan reports on unusual inventions that fail in the marketplace despite their innovative nature. His non-fiction book, Operation Storm: Japan's Top Secret Sumbarines and Its Plan to Change the Course of World Whttp://hnn.us/node/add/hnnar II, about underwater aircraft carriers designed to attack New York City and Washington, DC, as a follow up to Pearl Harbor was published in March 2013. You can visit him at http://www.operationstormbook.com/ There are lots of reasons why a white elephant technology doesn't catch on. Sometimes the technology is ahead of its time. In other cases, no amount of time can make a misguided technology useful or attractive.Then there's vending machines that sell books.

  • Originally published 02/13/2013

    New Sonar Map Shows Details Of USS Hatteras Wreck

    A new 3D state-of-the-art sonar map released by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, ExploreOcean, Teledyne BlueView and Northwest Hydro shows never-before seen details of the USS Hatteras, the only Union warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War. The map was released on the 150th anniversary of the ship sinking on Jan. 11, 1863, after fighting the raider CSS Alabama approximately 20 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The Hatteras was a 210-foot-long iron-hulled steamship the U.S. Navy converted into a gunboat. Its wreck is largely intact 57 feet under water in sand and silt....

  • Originally published 01/12/2017

    Obama's Legacy in Science, Technology, and Innovation

    Infinity, Limited

    What will be the legacy of Barack Obama's policies in science, technology, and innovation?  His most important policy was not a specific goal but promoting the scientific approach -- experimental, data-driven, open, and transparent -- as an integral part of federal policy making and implementation.  

  • Originally published 07/19/2016

    Does Technology Make Us Dumber or Smarter? Yes.

    Infinity, Limited

    Since humans began to farm, technology has made us individually dumber and individually smarter – and collectively smarter. Technology has made us able to do more while understanding less about what we are doing, and has increased our dependence on others.  What technology has not done is make us wiser.

  • Originally published 06/17/2016

    Technology and Politics: Neither good, nor bad, nor neutral

    Infinity, Limited

    The Economist aptly applied “Technology is neither good, nor bad, nor neutral,” Mel Kranzberg’s first law of the history of technology, to its recent discussion of technology and politics.  While the revolutionary power of digital data and social media are great, possibly greater are the opportunities for repressive states to observe dissidents, attack opponents, manipulate public perceptions, and even create alternate realities to stay in power.  Such efforts have a long history, but the digital politics offers much greater potential and peril.

  • Originally published 12/31/2015

    Why I Miss Old Fashioned Library Cards

    Infinity, Limited

    When the teenage library records of novelist Haruki Murakami were published the Japan Library Association criticized this violation of privacy.  But this information used to be public. It was useful. 

  • Originally published 02/25/2015

    Compromising Engineers and the Keystone XL Pipeline

    Infinity, Limited

    Compromise may be a career-ending concept in politics, but it is essential in engineering.  Every day engineers have to balance legitimate and conflicting interests.  What makes a great engineer is not only the ability to find the best balance but also to convince the appropriate people of the wisdom of that decision. President Obama's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline provides a similar opportunity for a grand compromise of political engineering:  Democratic support for the pipeline in exchange for Republican support of a carbon tax.