For John Naughton's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Mar 20, 2013
One of the wonders of the online world is the "Downfall" meme on YouTube. (For those whose time is too valuable to be wasted watching video clips, I should explain that the parody is based on remixing a scene from Oliver Hirschbiegel's film, "Der Untergang [Downfall]," which chronicles Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker.)
Mar 13, 2013
A few years ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman published a bestselling book with the title "The World is Flat." In it he used the concept of "flatness" to describe "how more people can plug, play, compete, connect and collaborate with more equal power than ever before — which is what is happening in the world".
Mar 6, 2013
Some years ago, when the Google Books project, which aims to digitize all of the world's printed books, was getting under way, the two cofounders of Google were having a meeting with the librarian of one of the universities that had signed up for the plan. At one point in the conversation, the Google boys noticed that their collaborator had suddenly gone rather quiet. One of them asked him what was the matter. "Well", he replied, "I'm wondering what happens to all this stuff when Google no longer exists." Recounting the conversation to me later, he said: "I've never seen two young people looking so stunned: the idea that Google might not exist one day had never crossed their minds."
Feb 27, 2013
A few weeks ago, the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, spent four days in Cambridge as the Humanitas visiting professor in the university's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, where I work. Afterward, one of the questions I was most frequently asked by people who hadn't been around for his visit was: "Was he wearing the glasses?"
Feb 13, 2013
Jan 30, 2013
Nothing lasts forever: if history has any lesson for us, it is this. It's a thought that comes from rereading Paul Kennedy's magisterial tome, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," in which he shows that none of the great nation-states or empires of history — Rome; imperial Spain in 1600; France in either its Bourbon or Bonapartist manifestations; the Dutch republic in 1700; Britain in its imperial glory — succeeded in maintaining its global ascendancy for long.
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