The Browser
Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

A Conversation With Mark Zuckerberg

On strategy. Interesting throughout. “On mobile, people want different things. Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile there’s a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences. So what we’re doing with Creative Labs is basically unbundling the big blue app” (Metered paywall) (1,670 words)

Humans 1, Robots 0

Why human cashiers beat check-out machines at the supermarket. “The human is faster. The human has a more pleasing, less buggy interface. The human doesn’t expect me to remember or look up codes for produce, bags my groceries, and isn’t on hair-trigger alert for any sign that I might be trying to steal toilet paper. Best of all, the human does all the work while I’m allowed to stand there and stupidly stare at my phone” (990 words)

How Google Taught Itself Design

Google’s aesthetics are catching up with Apple’s. Design revolution began when Larry Page took over as chief executive in April. He called for a unified look and feel across all products: “Our goal is to design everything so it’s beautifully simple”. The outcome so far: a new design process, centred on the “card” — a little white information box that the user can access or dismiss it with a touch or a swipe (4,000 words)

WarGames: Google vs. Apple

Recommendation goes to the entire series: seven episodes long at the time of writing, and still under construction. What would happen if Google and Apple went to war — first commercially, but then for real? Slate at its slightly crazy best. Worthy of an Orson Welles radio broadcast. To my taste it jumps the shark in episode seven, when Apple starts issuing iPistols to loyalists queueing outside Apple stores, but, who knows, it may yet jump back again.

If The NSA Trusted Edward Snowden, Why Trust The NSA?

Good point. The PRISM whistleblower may be an idealist, even a hero. But what does his access to secrets say about the workings of the NSA? “The NSA trusted its most sensitive documents to this guy? He isn’t a seasoned FBI or CIA investigator. He isn’t a State Department analyst. He’s not an attorney with a specialty in national security or privacy law. Instead, he’s the IT guy, and not a very accomplished, experienced one at that” (740 words)

Profiling Is Great, Except When You Do It to Me

Plausible reconstruction of how the IRS came to scrutinise Tea Party groups. If tax officials are required to spot signs of political activity in groups applying for exemption, it makes sense to look for short cuts: for example, those that seem to be part of a new political movement, Tea Party. Trouble is, that’s “profiling”. Just like the TSA officer pulling over a traveller in a turban. It’s easy, logical, and wrong (1,590 words)

Greatest Hoodie Ever Made

That thing about jobs coming back to America. It isn’t just Apple computers. Here’s a man who’s making great clothes in America, including a hoodie that lasts a lifetime. But, there again, his chief designer comes from Apple

‘It Smelled Something Like Pizza’

Samsung trial revealed how Apple came to invent the iPhone. And it’s a good story. Apple knew that one day a phone maker would produce a device that ate the iPod’s lunch. So it had to invent the iPod killer itself

Copying Works: How Samsung’s Decision To Mimic Apple Paid Off in Spades

Samsung pays $1bn, may face injunctions. But look at bigger picture. When the iPhone emerged, competitors reacted three ways. Nokia ignored it, Palm tried to leapfrog it, Samsung copied it. Right choice! Samsung alone has thrived

Ding Dong, Daily Deals Are Dead

Oh dear: Groupon’s latest financial results don’t inspire much confidence. Slower growth, lower average spend per user, and a dismal outlook for current quarter. Does this spell an end to the daily deals model? Manjoo thinks so

How Not To Get Hacked

If it can happen to a tech writer, it can happen to you. So here are the four key things you should do to protect yourself against hackers causing chaos in your life. Number one is where we learn about “two-factor authentication”

Marissa Mayer Is In Over Her Head

This is actually a complimentary piece about Yahoo’s new CEO, although not about the company itself. Tech turnarounds are rare and the situation at Yahoo looks too far gone. This non-techie account explains the challenge Mayer faces

Apple Doesn’t Need To Make The TV Of The Future

Microsoft already has. “The future of entertainment is bound to be fragmented. And in a fragmented world, the Xbox’s magical powers to cut through the clutter may be the best thing to happen to your TV.” How could Apple top it?

The End Of Money

New book by David Wolman asks: Why do we need cash? “Part of the reason we feel reverence toward cash is because it’s been stitched into the culture.” But it needn’t stay that way. Social rituals will be updated to the digital age

The End Of The Echo Chamber

New research on how we share, conducted on 250m Facebook users, reaches interesting conclusion. It seems social networks don’t limit serendipitous discovery of information. The idea that they create “filter bubbles” looks wrong

Best Of 2011: The Great Tech War Of 2012

The four American companies that have come to define 21st century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will fight it out across many markets. The rest are dust

Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller

Perhaps best described as a brave post. Ditch your local bookshop, let them go to the wall. Start shopping at Amazon instead. It’s better for you, better for authors and better for the economy. Apparently. Here’s why

Google+ Is Dead

Google wants to take on Facebook but its social network has a fatal flaw. “There’s nothing to do on Google+, and every time someone figures out a possible use for it, Google turns out the lights”

Overdone

Why are restaurant websites so bad? Why the slow-loading Flash, why the music? Because they’re the product of restaurant culture. The aim is to entertain you, whether you like it or not. “The swankier the place, the worse the page”

Fix Your Password In Five Minutes

Take an easily memorable phrase. Turn the first letters into an acronym. Throw in a couple of twists: a capital letter, a symbol. “My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota” becomes “M1stCwarlsIbaT”. You’re done

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