Software, Debt, Thomas Piketty, FitBit, Open Offices

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

A New Soft Technology

Venkatesh Rao | Breaking Smart | 28th July 2015

First in a series of essays, all of them highly recommendable, about the rise of software. "After written language and money, software is only the third major soft technology to appear in human civilization". When software was embedded in hardware we thought that hardware had the power. Then, around 2000, we understood that software had the power. We are still discovering how much power. Software is eating the world (1,960 words)

What St Luke Would Say To Schäuble

John Kay | Financial Times | 29th July 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

If you are serious about finding the solution to a financial crisis, you do not ask who is to blame, you ask what is likely to work. Morality does not come into it. To harangue the debtor, as Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Wolfgang Schäuble are doing with Greece, is not only pointless, it is also deceitful. If they must assign moral blame for the Greek fiasco, they should blame reckless lenders at least as much as reckless borrowers (630 words)

A Practical Vision Of A More Equal Society

Thomas Piketty | New York Review Of Books | 25th June 2015

"Anthony Atkinson occupies a unique place among economists. During the past half-century, in defiance of prevailing trends, he managed to place the question of inequality at the center of his work while demonstrating that economics is first and foremost a social and moral science. In his new book, Inequality: What Can Be Done? he provides us with the broad outlines of a new radical reformism" (3,390 words)


Moira Weigel | New Inquiry | 27th July 2015

The world according to FitBit. "From the point of view of the tracker, all activity is inherently solitary and accrues to you alone. The device produces a complete archive of our lives by abstracting them from any and every context. Taking a plane from New York to New Zealand, you travel no farther than the length of the aisle you walk to the bathroom. The only possible way to relate to others is through competition" (3,100 words)

Why Open Offices?

Aceso Under Glass | 27th July 2015

Why do tech firms have open offices, when coders usually prefer to work alone? It can't be cost, because engineers are more expensive than doors. The main effect is to encourage talking and interrupting in place of sending emails. But is that good? "Information is exchanged at meetings, which means everyone has to process it at the same time and either everyone moves at the speed of the slowest person or you leave them behind" (1,420 words)

Video of the day: Hunter S. Thompson

What to expect: Conversation between Hunter S. Thompson and Studs Terkel about motorcycle gangs, from 1967, animated for PBS (5'07")

Thought for the day

Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know
Bertrand Russell

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