Thomas M Hughes writes: American Novelist Jonathan Franzen has recently argued that the telos of techne is to replace the natural world. In the process, we may end up losing that which is most dear to the human condition: the ability to love. That is to say, technology does two things. First, most technology seeks to make us self-sufficient, such that we never need to rely on another, and thus, never really believe we need another to complete us. At the same time, social networks like Facebook lead to a culture of liking, not loving. Is Franzen right to be concerned about our reliance on sexy new gadgets? Or is love possible in a technologically sophisticated world?
Thomas M Hughes writes: Despite its learning curve, LaTeX is pretty much the standard in academic writing. By abstracting out the substance from the content, it becomes possible to focus heavily on the writing, and then deal with formatting later. However, LaTeX is starting to show it's age, specifically when it comes to collaborative work. One solution to this is to simply pair up LaTeX with version control software (such as Subversion) to allow multiple collaborators to work on the same document at one time. But adding subversion to the mix only seems to increase the learning curve. Is there a way to combine the power of LaTeX with the power of Subversion without scaring off a non-technical writer? The closest I can approximate would be to have something like Lyx (to hide the learning curve of LaTeX) with integrated svn (to hide the learning curve of svn). However, this doesn't seem available. Google Docs is popular right now, but Docs has no support for LaTeX, citation management, or anything remotely resembling decent formatting options. Are there other choices out there?
Thomas M Hughes writes: We're all familiar with the claim that it's horribly dangerous to allow our children on to the Internet. It's long been believed that the moment a child logs on to the Internet, he will experience a flood of inappropriate sexual advances, putting him at great risk. Turns out this isn't an accurate representation of reality at all. A high-profile task force representing 49 state attorney generals was organized to find a solution to the problem of online sexual solicitation, but instead it has issued a report claiming that "Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons." Turns out the danger to our children was all just media hype and parental anxiety.
Thomas M Hughes writes: At Blizzard's World Wide Invitational, it was just announced moments ago that the game studio will be developing and hopefully releasing Starcraft II. I imagine much more news will come in the next few days, as the flood gates are now open.