Dec 3, 2013

Why the NSA has landed us all in another nice mess

by John Naughton

Fans of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy will fondly remember Oliver’s complaint to Stanley: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” In a future remake, Hardy will be played by Barack Obama, suitably enhanced with a toothbrush moustache, while Keith Alexander, currently ...

Nov 26, 2013

What's Twitter's real value?

by John Naughton

A national economy is an unimaginably complex system. And yet we compress all its complexity into a single measure, and then focus obsessively on that. If you want a metaphor for this, think of King Kong spending most of his time staring at a ...

Nov 19, 2013

Church of Apple tests the faith of its flock

by John Naughton

Someone once said that one of the advantages of religion is that it offers security in return for obedience. This point was not lost on the late Steve Jobs, the cofounder, savior and high priest of Apple. And it led Italian semiotician, philosopher and ...

Nov 5, 2013

Why the Obamacare website was doomed

by John Naughton

One of the most dispiriting spectacles of the last month has been the botched launch of, the website created to implement President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reforms. Obamacare had a desperately turbulent passage through Congress and survived various wrecking attempts by the Tea ...

Oct 29, 2013

Remember past smells with the Madeleine

by John Naughton

Next month sees the 100th anniversary of the publication of “Swann’s Way,” the first volume of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece “Remembrance of Things Past” (or, if you prefer D.J. Enright’s translation, “In Search of Lost Time”). So stand by for what one expert calls a ...

Oct 15, 2013

The back door to your PCs, smartphones that can't close

by John Naughton

At a remarkable conference held at the Aspen Institute in 2011, Gen. Michael Hayden, a former head of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, said something very interesting. In a discussion of how to secure the “critical infrastructure” of the ...