40 Recent Posts

Why do we play video games, when they cause us such pain? On Jesper Juul’s “The Art of Failure”
Why do we play video games, when they cause us such pain? This is the question that Jesper Juul…

Why people forgive your bad spelling in email “sent from my iPhone”
Do you have one of these sig-file apologies at the end of your phone mail? You probably should. A…

How “making” leads to “fixing”
This month I wrote my Wired column about how we need to go past the “maker” movement — and…

A long German word for “noticing when ads are being customized based on your surfing history”
View “A long German word for “being tracked online”” on Storify…

Gay squid sex
It’s been too long since I’ve been able to return to the longstanding B-plot of my blog: The science…

“El Ajedrecista” — an analog chess-playing computer from 1912
Dig this: In 1912, the Spanish civil engineer Leonardo Torres y Quevedo created an analog computer that could play…

Hacking the Model T
It’s hard to hack cars these days. Open up the hood: The guts of an automobile have become an…

“How did you find my site?” and Vannevar Bush’s memex
“How did you find my site?” I get asked this question a lot. Whenever I call up someone to…

Come for the design, stay for the text
Some sad news: Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, passed away this week. If you read any ebooks…

Misophonia, or, why my leg-tapping drives some people nuts
I’m a twitchy guy. I have a huge amount of nervous energy, which I expunge via nearly-constant motion: I…

What can computers teach that textbooks and paper can’t?
On Sunday, Matt Richtel publishing a terrific piece in the New York Times lamenting how schools are blowing billions…

“The tag is the soul of the Internet”
Yesterday I was poking around on Instagram, and one of the people I follow put up a picture of…

The art of public thinking
I feel like I’m losing some of my ability to think. Why? Because I’m not blogging any more. This…

“Let’s get this party started!” My evening talking to “babygurl01475” …
So, the last couple of days while I’ve been on IM, I’ve been pinged by “babygurl01475”. I ignored the invitations…

Study: Teams work best when members are physically close together
When I wrote about “the death of the office,” I heard a lot of young entrepreneurs say they collaborate…

The end of the office
A few years ago I started noticing a strange trend: I’d become interested in a new high-tech startup, so…

“The Deep”: Stop-action creatures of the inky depths
When it rains squid news, it pours. Longtime Collision Detection reader Paul Gemperle sent me a link to this…

All you need to know about cannibalistic squid
It’s been far too long since I posted any news about squid, but this morning while drinking my coffee…

How tweets and the web can boost the power of long-form thinking: My latest Wired column
Wired magazine just published my latest column, and this one is about the relationship between what I call “the…

How this laughing baby video can make you smarter
Behold the famous “laughing baby” video. Since it was first posted in 2006, this infant’s crazed giggle has been…

Clipboard
This clipboard picture is more evidence of what I blogged about earlier this week — i.e. the visual effect…

Who feels chills while listening to music? People “open to experience”
Do you ever experience chills while listening to music? Recently, scientists have gotten interested in this question, and they’ve…

Will the word processor destroy our ability to think?
In October of 1962, Douglas Englebart imagined a remarkable new technology for writing. Englebart is a serial visionary; among…

@cavafy probably wouldn’t be on Twitter
As a casualty — or side benefit (is it a bug? or a feature!) — of having read and…

How Instagram changes the way I look at things
That door above? It’s from a brownstone about three blocks from my house. It’s on the way to the…

The “Milky Way Transit Authority” map
This one is really lovely. Samuel Arbesman, a computational sociologist at Harvard, has created the “Milky Way Transit Authority”…

Should automobile software be open-sourced?
Back in the late 90s, many newspapers reported this apocryphal exchange between Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and General Motors:…

My Bookforum review of Jaron Lanier’s “You Are Not A Gadget”
You may have heard about You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto, the new book by Jaron Lanier, the…

Molecular secrets of the “iron-plated snail”
Life isn’t easy for the “scaly-foot gastropod”. This humble snail lives in hydrothermal vent fields two miles deep in…

Garry Kasparov, cyborg
Back in 1997, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov played against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, and lost. At the time…

In Praise of Obscurity: My latest Wired column
My latest column for Wired magazine is now online, and it’s a fun topic: I analyze the downside of…

TV watching and education “almost perfectly inversely correlated”, says Hunch
How much TV do you watch? What’s the highest level of educational level you’ve attained? According to data gathered…

Using the economics of “free” to help Haiti
Last week, Sean Patrick Fannon got an interesting idea on how to raise money for Haitian relief. Fannon works…

Owl in flight
I’ve got nothing to say about this, really; it’s just awesome. (Thanks to TYWKIWDBI for this one!)…

Asking Wolfram Alpha “Does God exist?”
Wolfram Alpha is a super cool question-answering system. Ask it about something factual, and it’ll offer up whatever specific…

The zen humidifier
This humidifier is awesome for two reasons. The first is that it uses no electricity: Instead, water is drawn…

What would it be like if the US president grew up playing video games?
While doing some egosurfing today, I hit upon this interview I did last spring with WNYC’s On The Media….

Study: Shorter search queries produce better search results
Here’s a study with an interesting finding: If you want to get better results on Google, try using a…

Does calorie labeling get Starbucks customers to eat light? With food — but not with drinks
Why do people eat unhealthy, high-calorie fast food? Is it because they don’t realize how bad it is for…

Study: Testosterone injections change the way you use language
James Pennebaker is a psychologist who specializes in analyzing how your use of seemingly innocuous words — like “I”,…

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Bio:

I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson