Quick review of ratings: Five Stars: Means Must Have. Worth killing for. Four Stars: Very close to being worth killing for, but is somehow flawed, Three Stars: Take it or leave it. Professional, but without passion or feeling. Two Stars: Should only be read for free at Borders or Barnes and Noble. One Star: Not worth reading for free at Borders or Barnes and Noble.
Business Week, August 23-30
4.5 stars out of 5
Normally when I read about space needles, three dimensional sports and artificial wombs you can find my face firmly planted in an issue of Interzone or Analog. This week you can find the same cool stuff in this week's issue of Business Week.
Doing a surprisingly nice impersonation of Wired or the much missed Mondo 2000, Business Week let their button down writers go to town and write fearless, probably irresponsible speculation, that was completely entertaining to read. In contrast to the uninspired stuff that PC Magazine tried to pass off as speculation some weeks back (Boy, that was dull, but responsible. "The Internet will grow" or some other safe nonsense.)
Not only was the issue entertaining to read, but it was a nice primer on all the hot tech trends of the last year and how they've been updated. Nantech, quantum computing, the genome, it's all here. They even throw out some unusual suspects: a proliferation of nations spurring a Balkens like defragmentation across the glove, how the timing of time is changing, they even define music and MP3 as a net metaphor.
There were several highlights:
Idea Forte 18, Kids were right all along: High School is obsolete: Finally catching up with the likes of John Holt and Ivan Illich, even mainstream educators are catching on that an educational system meant for the 19th century assembly line is counterproductive in an era that values entrepreneurial insight and disrespect for authority. The plan is to stop warehousing students and set them free into the Real World as it were, according to the piece.
"High schools have become very lethargic institutions", sez University of Chicago labor economist James Heckman. Now, if we can just start challenging the intrinsic fascism of the workplace, oh, wait. This is still Business Week
>Idea Forte No. 21, quantum computing: For those of you who don't think computing is complicated enough, just throw in the alchemy of quantum physics to chip design and you just might find a challenge. There's a nice profile on Isaac Chuang, who jokes in the piece that "he has the world's largest functioning quantum computer." This is also the most concise explanation of a theory which in theory seems contradictory, and which I can't imagine applications for. Here, it kind of made sense to me. An adequate primer into the arcane world of the very small.
>The Business Week Version of Astounding Tales: My favorite piece, as someone who's addicted to science fiction, was a pull out section replete with illustrations and fave sci fi books called "Astounding Tales".
Sure is impressive. Oh sure, there are easy calls like "Neuromancer" and "I Robot", but how about the overlooked Bernard Wolfe's "Limbo", where losing a limb is cool because your artificial replacement is just better or a sci fi piece by Karel Capek that isn't "RUR" ever heard of "War With The Newts"? Seems like "Brave New World" (genetics) or "1984" (the surveillance society) should have gotten a mention, but maybe those were too obvious. Relatively recent works like "China Mountain Zhang" and "Red Mars" got a nice mention.
Bottom line: A must read. You better go grab it, there's only several more days to buy it.
Wired Magazine, September 1999
3.98 out of 5
What a shock.
Looked at the new Wired today, and, hey, it turned out to be a good read.
Been awhile, but you take what you can get.
Had a lot of in depth stories (true, sometimes one must journey for days to get through them, but they are worth it.), and some striking visuals--the photo spread on world wide cutting edge architecture worked. The Blur Building and the almost transparent Mediatheque looked very cool. There was one German building that had pictures transposed over its glass and rock frame.
My favorite piece was a profile of Bill Gross.
Founder of Idealab, Gross started a company whose function it is to start companies. And he's been successful. Etoys and Goto were just some of his ideas, they haven't all worked, but a bunch of them have. He's worth a billion dollars now. Last time he was profiled he just seemed weird, if I remember the profile correctly. Now, he's brilliantly eccentric. Being worth a billion I guess does that for you I suppose.
There was also a very in depth piece on Finland's Nokia, world's premier cell phone maker. Everything you wanted to know about Nokia, frankly. They, the creative people behind Nokia, dream of a world where their phones, with its email messaging, becomes ubiquitous. Proving that the folks at Nokia are no slouches at the wild eyed speculation, the story quotes a company futurist as saying:
"Linturi speculates that within 20 years, we will have wireless communications embedded in our throats and ears, allowing subvocalized thoughts to be transmitted to our friends colleagues anywhere in the world. Then, he concludes, engineers would finally have invented practical telepathy."
Gosh. Wire me up.
Yet another story that impressed me was a profile on the philanthropic habits of this new obscenely rich elite . It's not that they don't give, they're trying to figure out how to give smarter. Turns out that it's hard to give away your money well, says the article. That makes sense to me.
As usual, there was a lot of cool stuff in the margins. Some cool Reboot level animation on page 167 for one.
Definitely a good buy this month.