Fending Off The Tyranny of Tools

“Distracting Ourselves to Death” isn’t just a metaphor anymore

3 min read
Opening illustration for Technically Speaking opinion
Illustration: Edmon de Haro
Now, you may wonder if in the process of outsourcing my thinking I am losing my individuality. Not so. My preferences are more narrow and individualistic than ever. It’s merely my autonomy that I’m losing.

—David Brooks, The New York Times

If you program, you will occasionally need some useful bit of code from an online source such as Stack Overflow. You might then have noticed something interesting: If you simply copy and paste the code, you don’t remember it and often have to repeat the process later on. However, if you type the code yourself, then you are much more likely to remember it. You get what I call a “fingertip feel” for the text that somehow enables your brain to internalize it better. You invoke what the architect Juhani Pallasmaa refers to as the thinking hand, and you enhance the tool-user bond, that sense of connection that comes with the conscious use of any tool.

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How Nanotech Can Foil Counterfeiters

These tiny mechanical ID tags are unclonable, cheap, and invisible

10 min read
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University of Florida
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What's the largest criminal enterprise in the world? Narcotics? Gambling? Human trafficking?

Nope. The biggest racket is the production and trade of counterfeit goods, which is expected to exceed US $1 trillion next year. You've probably suffered from it more than once yourself, purchasing on Amazon or eBay what you thought was a brand-name item only to discover that it was an inferior-quality counterfeit.

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