Sue Halpern is the editor of NYRB Lit and scholar-in-residence at Middlebury. Her new book is A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home. (December 2013)
To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov
Hacking the Future: Privacy, Identity and Anonymity on the Web by Cole Stryker
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age by Alice E. Marwick
Privacy and Big Data: The Players, Regulators and Stakeholders by Terence Craig and Mary E. Ludloff
The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson
DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You by Misha Glenny
Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick with William L. Simon
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser
You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
Twin: A Memoir by Allen Shawn
The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks
Restrepo a film by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington
War by Sebastian Junger
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus, with Karl Weber
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003–2007 edited by Shawn Christian Nessen, Dave Edmond Lounsbury, and Stephen P. Hetz, with a foreword by Bob Woodruff
Generation Kill a miniseries written and produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, based on the book by Evan Wright
Baghdad ER a film directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery a film directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson
What Is Emotion?: History, Measures, and Meanings by Jerome Kagan
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric R. Kandel
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger as Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg
Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
Anxious Parents: A History of Modern Childrearing in America by Peter N. Stearns
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine, M.D.
The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine, M.D.
The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s, Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk
The Memory Bible: An Innovative Strategy for Keeping Your Brain Young by Gary Small, M.D.
A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D.
The Aging Brain by Lawrence Whalley
Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s by Thomas DeBaggio
Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at Sixty and Beyond by Larry McMurtry
Duane’s Depressed by Larry McMurtry
Wickerby: An Urban Pastoral by Charles. Siebert
The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of a City by Robert Sullivan
Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park by Marie Winn
The Story of Junk: A Novel by Linda Yablonsky
The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison
Eve’s Apple by Jonathan Rosen
Billie Dyer and Other Stories by William Maxwell
Alva Myrdal: A Daughter’s Memoir by Sissela Bok
Childhood by Jan Myrdal, translated by Christine Swanson
Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America by Jonathan Kozol
Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan
The day after the iPhone 4S was launched, Apple’s founder and resident seer, Steve Jobs, died. One of the most popular Jobs quotes circulating in the days after his death was one that he attributed to hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” After three days of record iPhone 4S sales, there’s no better example of playing to where the puck is going to be than Siri. There are other “personal assistant” smart phone apps available. Indeed, before Apple removed it from its App Store, Siri was one of them. But who knew that consumers wanted Siri baked into their phone, and into Apple’s servers, which stores all previous “conversations,” so that Siri gets more and more familiar with its “boss” all the time? Steve Jobs, obviously.
Playing to where the puck is going to be is, of course, a proxy for anticipating and then apprehending the future. At a conference at the MIT Media Lab last week sponsored by Technology Review, engineers, scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, students, and corporate spokespeople were engaged in the journal’s annual attempt both to anticipate where the puck will land and, at the same time, push it there.
Last week, when Apple’s Steve Jobs took to the stage during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference and grandly announced its new iCloud service, he was putting the Apple logo on something most internet users have relied on eclectically for years. Gmail, Dropbox, Netflix, Hotmail, Flickr, Box.net, and Spotify, to name a few popular services, all rely on cloud computing, where data—documents, music, photos, and movies—are stored on shared servers in large data centers, rather than on your puny, personal hard drive. The benefits of cloud computing are obvious: one is not limited by the size of that drive, nor restricted to viewing that material on a single device. Once it is in “the cloud,” the only thing standing between you and your stuff is a (fast) internet connection.
Not long after the iPad went on sale in early April, the Ilinois Institute of Technology announced that it would be providing each member of next fall’s freshman class with one of the new Apple devices. School officials said that the iPad would allow students to take notes, check email, and read books. Which books they had in mind is not precisely clear except for this: they are not likely to be textbooks.
One of the defining features of social media, if not the defining feature, is its participatory nature. Anyone, everyone, is a content producer. Anyone, everyone, is a critic. And, for the most part, everyone’s voice registers at the same volume. Your take on the new Michael Jackson movie, and my take, and the take of the fifteen-year-old boy down the street are given equal weight. True, there are some sites, like The New York Times and Amazon that let readers rate or recommend other people’s musings, rants and insights, but even so, all the comments are put “out there” with little or no intercession. This works really well for consumer products, where the average user, whose experience is actual and authentic, is typically a more reliable guide than that of professional testers, though manufacturers have figured out how to game the system by mobilizing armies of average-joe posters to shill their products. Still, if 328 people have something to say about a piece of software or a robotic vacuum cleaner you’re interested in, you are going to get a very good sense whether these products will meet your needs.
Sue Halpern and Nicholas Kristof have been engaged in an exchange about microfinance, following her recent NYR review of his new book (co-authored with Sheryl WuDunn), Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The first part of their conversation can be found here. The next installment appears below.
In the November 19 issue of The New York Review, Sue Halpern wrote about Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s new book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Her piece describes the systematic abuse of women documented by Kristof and WuDunn throughout the world, and the considerable success of microfinance programs—pioneered by the Nobel-prize winning economist Muhammad Yunus, whose book is also included in Halpern’s review—in countering this problem by helping poor women gain economic power. Following is an exchange between Halpern and Kristof about the spread of microfinance and some of the criticisms that have emerged about it.