Backchannel

We’re a few days into a new calendar year, but that doesn’t mean 2017 is gone for good—the best writing will stay relevant for years to come. Last year may not have been the smoothest year in Silicon Valley (or anywhere, for that matter), and certainly 2018 has arrived with…

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The first thing they noticed was the ears. They were just plain wrong. They seemed tiny—really, really tiny—when they were supposed to be big and pointy. That would be strike one against him: the absence of that universal trademark, his Vulcan ears. And he wasn’t wearing his regulation blue shirt,…

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One married couple was responsible for the foundations of modern code breaking, and the principles that gave the NSA a head start in cryptanalysis. Though the husband, William Friedman, is usually apportioned the lion’s share of the credit, his wife Elizebeth Friedman was in every way his equal. During World…

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One day in 2015, Dan Hon put his toddler, Calvin, on the scale. He was two and a half years old, and he clocked in at 29.2 pounds—up 1.9 pounds from the week before, and smack in the middle of the normal range for his age. Hon didn’t think twice…

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“Well, you’re going to have to look down if you want to see the camera.” Travis Schlenk didn’t give off the impression of someone you’d care to defy. Beefy and bald, with a penchant for wearing cowboy boots instead of designer shoes, Schlenk was wrapping up his seventh season with…

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It’s that time of year again! Every December, like clockwork, a sloshed colleague sidles up next to you at the office holiday party, armed with a hostile question. It’s practically a yuletide tradition, predictable as Starbucks cups turning red. Right before spilling spiked eggnog all over your new cardigan, the…

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On November 9, 2016, I wrote an essay defending the relevance of covering technology. It was the day after an election result had dangled our world by the feet over a high balcony, not even holding it tightly by the ankles. Defying depression, I called the piece “The iPhone is…

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There are few electronic devices with which you cannot order a Domino’s pizza. When the craving hits, you can place an order via Twitter, Slack, Facebook Messenger, SMS, your tablet, your smartwatch, your smart TV, and even your app-enabled Ford. This year, the pizza monger added another ordering tool: If…

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“Hey Don, we have an unusual idea. Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.” WikiLeaks slid that message into Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter DMs—an unusual request for the son of a then-presidential candidate. Since its founding, WikiLeaks had portrayed itself as the ultimate fourth estate—a digital drop-box…

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