You Know What Makes New York’s Spy Computer a Little Less Terrifying?

1343165978-scared

The fact that it’s not run by the FBI. Nationwide. With facial and voice recognition as a core feature. Because that would be so much worse: Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American [Read More...]

The Panopticon Awakes

I wrote some quick reactions to New York’s and Microsoft’s new spy computer when the news first broke, and the National Catholic Register asked me to expand on these ideas in a column. An excerpt:  “The head of Argus (as with stars the skies) / Was compass’d round, and wore an hundred eyes.” So writes [Read More...]

Beyond the Cloud: DNA is the Next Storage Frontier

DNA strand with code

I try to resist computer-to-human analogies like “the brain is just an organic computer!” They’re facile and, ultimately, inaccurate. One role of DNA, however, is to act as a kind of data storage. It’s a wild oversimplification to compare genetic code to computer code, but there’s a kernel (geek pun: sorry) of truth in there. [Read More...]

“Person of Interest” Becomes Real

So the TV show Person of Interest just became real in the city where it’s set. In the show, Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from Lost) plays a computer programmer who created The Machine for the government. This black box system sorts all the data feeds from all the CCTV cameras, cell phones, computers, and other digital detritus looking for [Read More...]

The Oxyrhynchus Project: Desktop Papyrology

ancientlives

el-Bahnasa is a sand-blasted village about 100 miles south of Cairo. Once known as Oxyrhynchus (“City of the Sharp-Nose Fish”), it prospered under the Greeks, and became largely Christian under the Romans and Byzantines. It had a gradual decline until about the 7th century, when Arab invasions finished it off. Its structures–including a number of churches and monasteries–were [Read More...]

Get Offa My Cloud!

Cloud

Put all your eggs in one basket — and watch that basket! Mark Twain, “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson” It was only a matter of time before the holes in the grand dream of cloud computing and data sharing began to appear. I’ve been a bit concerned about this move towards reliance on the cloud [Read More...]

Game Review: Dear Esther

Dear-Esther

Dear Esther (The Chinese Room, PC/Mac/Linux: $10, Rated: NR) is a game without gameplay. It’s essentially a short story that unfolds though first person navigation of a 3D environment. (It started life as a Half-Life mod.) The superb score and atmospheric visuals provide an emotional canvas which is filled gradually with disconnected slices of narrative as [Read More...]

The State of Games

In The Darkness II, you can kill enemies using a hell-spawned imp, who then urinates on his victims.

As I mentioned last week, late summer tends to be The Busy Season in long-lead media, since we’re working on our Christmas issues, which traditionally are larger. Ours contains our annual game awards and buyer’s guide. so I’ve been deep in the gaming world for a while now, looking at the whole range of mobile, [Read More...]


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