Robert Moses, Stabilising Russia, Internet Of Things, File Formats, Google Maps, World Trade Centre

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

Myth, Mystery & Mess In Manhattan

Margaret McCormick | Failed Architecture | 2nd December 2014

Perhaps we're overdoing the New York City public transport infrastructure today, but this history of the Port Authority Bus Terminal explains marvellously well how such a great city came to have such a terrifying antechamber. Short answer: Robert Moses. The terminal was quite an elegant art-deco structure at first. But then Moses set to work ruining it, motivated by a "deep hatred towards public transportation" (1,430 words)

The Rise And Fall Of Illiberal Powers

Lilia Shevtsova | American Interest | 2nd December 2014 | Metered paywall

Reflections on Russia, mainly. An irresponsible government has a geopolitical advantage. Responsible governments favour stability in the world, so they will try to protect an irresponsible government even from the consequences of its own actions, if those actions threaten chaos. Thus, while Vladimir Putin claims that the West is trying to undermine Russia, the West's overriding concern is to keep Russia stable (3,000 words)

Smart Connected Products Will Change Everything

James Heppelmann & Michael Porter | Harvard Business Review | 30th November 2014

Overview of the "internet of things". Cheap sensors and big data will drive "dramatic improvements in functionality and performance", amounting to a third information-technology revolution in manufacturing industry. The first revolution was the automation of tasks in the 1960s. The second was internet connectivity in the 1990s. In this third revolution, IT penetrates the products themselves (PDF) (10,000 words)

On File Formats, Very Briefly

Paul Ford | Manual | 3rd December 2014

File formats encode the history and the ideology of the internet. "The Photoshop format is more like a legal document. Parts are open to interpretation. The computer is the ultimate judge, but you never know how it will rule". As for Microsoft Office: "The File Formats specifications are of a most disturbing, fascinating quality; one can read through them and think: Yes, I see this. I think I understand. But why?" (2,630 words)

Mapping On iOS

UX Launchpad | 2nd December 2014

You might call this an insanely detailed deep-dive into the most filigree of design differences between Google Maps and Apple Maps. Or you might call it a masterclass in why apps look and work the way that they do. Designers have constraints and intentions that are not always obvious to the user. If you use a mapping app at all on your phone or tablet, prepare to find this comparative study strangely enthralling (10,200 words)

New York’s $4 Billion Subway Station

David Dunlap | New York Times | 2nd December 2014 | Metered paywall

The World Trade Center train station is finally taking shape, five years behind schedule and at more than twice the budgeted cost. Santiago Calavatra's wildly ambitious design has had to be crudely simplified. The roof that was meant to look like a bird's wings looks instead like a dinosaur's back. The project manager, the Port Authority, has been its own worst enemy: "Administrative costs alone exceed $655 million" (2,500 words)

Video of the day: Cooking At Guantanamo Bay

What to expect: Vice News documentary. A visit to Guantanamo Bay, with the focus on food (9')

Thought for the day

A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order
Jean Luc Godard (

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in