Browser Daily Newsletter 1203

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Hacking It

Evgeny Morozov | New Yorker | 6th January 2014

Will the Maker movement transform the political economy of physical things, much as the Internet has transformed the political economy of intangible things? Perhaps, but expect the same level of blowbacks and contradictions. Tools are just tools; they can be used for good, or for bad. "Our tech imagination is at its zenith. But our institutional imagination has stalled, and with it the democratising potential of radical technologies"

How The NSA Almost Killed The Internet

Steven Levy | Wired | 7th January 2014

The Snowden/NSA saga as seen from the viewpoint of the tech giants — Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple — who found themselves in the unhappy role of useful idiots at best, government stooges at worst. "The tech world found itself ensnared in a fight far bigger than the ones involving oversharing on Facebook or ads on Gmail. Over the coming months, they would find themselves at war with their own government"

Afghanistan: The Desert Of Death

Anatole Lieven | New York Review Of Books | 7th January 2014

Notes from Kabul and Helmand. "Obama’s failure to seek talks with the Afghan Taliban during his first years in office, when US and allied forces were driving the Taliban back, was an error that should be apparent from a freshman’s course in negotiating strategy. Overtures that might have received a positive Taliban response in 2010 receive a far cooler response with US forces already beginning to withdraw"

Why Drugs Are Expensive

Ashutosh Jogalekar | Scientific American | 6th January 2014

Or new drugs, at any rate. "Taking a drug all the way from initial discovery to market is considered harder than putting a man on the moon. The science of drug discovery is so tortuous because biology is so complex. We are dealing with a classic multiple variable optimisation problem, except that the variables to be optimised pertain to a very poorly understood, complex and unpredictable system"

The Biggest Myths In Economics

Cullen Roche | Pragmatic Capitalism | 8th January 2014

Ten common assertions elegantly skewered. "The biggest mistake in modern macroeconomics is probably the fallacy of composition. This is taking a concept that applies to an individual and applying it to everyone. We aren’t all better off if we all save more. In order for us to save more, in the aggregate, we must spend (or invest) more. As a whole, we tend not to think in a macro sense"

Video of the day:  Mistakes

Thought for the day:

"Some things need to be believed to be seen" — Guy Kawasaki

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