Paved the way

“Next time, we see how a cold war between East and West paved the way for rock ‘n’ roll, which paved the way for countercultural hippies, who paved the way for Steve jobs to pave the way for computers and smartphones, which paved the way for social media, which would pave the way for undoing all the progress humankind had made so far.”

Philomena Cunk, from ‘Cunk on Earth’

‘I don’t understand’

The column is about an anti-trust case, but I liked this line from Rana Foroohar on the importance of having things explained in layman’s terms:

I’ve been amazed in my 30 years as a journalist how often just saying, “I don’t understand — explain this to me again,” can lead to an “aha” moment. When experts can’t explain a complex concept in plain terms, they either don’t understand it themselves, or are trying to get something over on the journalist.

Printer extortion

Charlie Warzel in The Atlantic, writing about the latest in a long line of ink-hustles perpetrated by HP:

The first rule of at-home printers is that you do not need a printer until you do, and then you need it desperately. The second rule is that when you plug the printer in, either it will work frictionlessly for a decade, or it will immediately and frequently fail in novel, even impressive ways, ultimately causing the purchase to haunt you like a malevolent spirit. So rich is the history of printer dysfunction that its foibles became a cliché in the early days of personal computing.

How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus

Who among us isn’t depressingly familiar with the constant tug of war between putting off tasks that require focus, and, like a moth to a flame, being drawn to distraction?

Sometimes we blame ourselves, cursing our tendency to procrastinate. But we should give ourselves a break. We’re living in an unprecedented age where billions of dollars have been made by machines designed to tempt us away from doing what we had planned to do.

These thoughts are hardly new. But something happened recently, which — ironically — has captured no small amount of attention and provided me with a glimmer of hope that the internet that has rewired our minds could also be used to untangle them.