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Jason Pontin
13,970 followers -
I'm the editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review.
I'm the editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review.

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My TED Talk "Can Technology Solve Big Problems?" is finally published:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jason_pontin_can_technology_solve_our_big_problems.html

Alonzo this morning and last night, prompted by questions about when the 300 Spartans defended the Pass of the Thermopylae and a recent visit to Plymouth Church with Dave Nelson and Jean Nelson, ran through the following historical and theological questions:

1. How do we count the years? (A. Well, traditionally, Anno Domini and Before Christ.)
2. Was Jesus the Son of God? (A. Some Christians thinks so, and believe that God sent Him to Earth to teach us how to be kind to one another. Other Christians might say He had a special relationship to God. And unbelievers think He was just a very wise teacher.)
3. What did Jesus teach? (A: Lots of great stuff! But, most famously, the Golden Rule. Alonzo got the universality of the principle immediately - although we stressed that wise and good women and men had discovered the Rule throughout history, and made sidelines to Kant's Categorical Imperative, the Buddha, and Gandhi.)
4. Was Jesus - and God - still alive? (A. Some believers think so. Others, might say They're alive to us.)
5. And most difficult of all... Were "we" professing Christians in any meaningful sense of the words? (A. Your parents were brought up as Christians. Daddy went to school chapel 6 days a week when he was a little older than you. And Church was central to your mother's community when she was growing up. But you'll have to make up your own mind, my son.)

There was also a more general discussion of what God was for. This is all happening more quickly than I had anticipated. He's not 5 years old.

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"Privacy Is Sometimes the Wrong Word" by Dave Winer.

I think the use of word "privacy" confuses conversations about our civil right to be left alone. When people talk about privacy, they often think about keeping secret things that would embarrass them. (Mostly, sex or drugs stuff.) Because no one wants to be embarrassed by suspicions that they've some kink, or had an affair, or can't give up coke, or did smack in their youth, no one defends privacy with sufficient warmth. We trivialize the subject. 

But, really, as Dave points out, the thing we are protecting when we defend privacy is deeper and more profound. Privacy may be a movable feast, and what we mean by "private" differs from culture to culture and time to time. But at its core is a simple and important idea: that there should be behavior that we choose whether or not to disclose. 

And without that sphere of privacy nothing that we care about can thrive: neither art, nor science, nor technology, nor contracts of any sort, nor marriages, nor democracy - nor anything much at all. 

http://scripting.com/2013/08/12/privacyIsTheWrongWord

How about these names for a list of 7 innovators still working at over 70?

George Whitesides (73), Carver Mead (79), Barbara Liskov (73), Lee Hood (73), Nick Holonyak (84), Millie Dresselhaus (82), Stewart Brand (73). And, as an extra from my own field, Bob Silvers, the editor of The New York Review of Books, who is 83. 

Goog+ is a much prettier network on mobile.

Which stories or events created by MIT Technology Review do you think failed? And why? 

What constitutes failure?  don't want to be too prescriptive. (Failure is in the eye of the beholder, after all.) But I would say a thing failed if it didn't live up to our brand's promise of thought-leading technology journalism and events programing. In that sense, something would be a failure if it was ill-conceived at its heart, boring, inutile, or corrupt. We might also fail by omission - by never having covered something. 

I found, amongst my papers, a twenty-year old "heroic sonnet" addressed to to Congressman Ron Dellums of Oakland, occasioned by the closing of the naval bases in the Bay Area. 

Sonneto Eroico - to Ron Dellums, Representative of the 9th Congressional District of California and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Dellums, whom more than twenty years have seen
In Oakland's service, growing old; first sent
To Washington to voice our town's dissent
From Nixon's policy in Indochine;
And since the House's most fierce critic
Of swelling budgets and secret wars, 
The Agency's errors and Energy's claws:
Oakland requires something specific,
Substantive and local from you. The loss
Of all the naval bases in the Bay, 
Defense's response to your long critique, robs
Us of civilian jobs; now you're their boss
In Congress, cut some deals and make them pay:
Transform our bases, for we need the jobs.

3/12/94

A formal warning to the trolls, crazies, and bullies who sometimes comment on MIT Technology Review, drawn by our reputation and MIT ownership: we'll be taking a much tougher line in the future, deleting irrelevant posts, and banning you quickly. You're abusing an open publishing system, using the comments to ride your hobby-horses and air your ideological grievances. It's not fair to our readers; it's tedious. And it's going to stop.

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A tautological truism: Pontin's 1st Law of Advertising: Everyone resents the ads they hate, identifying them as "advertising"; but delights in the ads they love. A corollary: What makes us love an ad? The quality of the creative, for sure; but mostly our feelings about the brand. An example? Well, everyone is different, but for me, Nudie Jeans' 2013 "Look Book": http://www.nudiejeans.com/books/lookbook-ss13/#/0 It's an ad, but I don't feel it's an ad.

A dumb pay wall will destroy a media company, and a smart one cannot save it. But a truly strategic approach to audience membership, which involves all of an organization's properties (including print, online, and live), can supply 1/3 to 1/2 of the company's revenues. And, best of all, it can free the organization from the heart-breaking pursuit of page views and ad impressions in a world of collapsing digital CPMs.
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