The Washington Monthly

World Wide Wash

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
February 1, 2003 |

I recently asked Oxblood Ruffin, a programmer working to help dissidents who use the Internet to skirt repressive governments, about efforts to foment digitally borne subversion in China. Alas, he said, Chinese Internet users care more about slipping past pornographic censors than political ones. "There's a sort of Western romance associated with Web censorship that imagines all those poor folks in China, Iran, etc., just can't wait to get to CNN. Although this is true for some people, many more are lining up to get into the school for one-handed typing."

Patriot Gains

  • By
  • Phillip Longman,
  • New America Foundation
December 1, 2002 |

On the three month commemoration of the September 11 attacks, Secretary of the Treasury Paul H. O'Neill, yielding to congressional pressure, held a press conference to announce a new way Americans could fight the war on terrorism. Besides going to the mall or investing in the stock market, they could go to the bank and buy up the government's brand new "Patriot Bonds."

Bright Lights, Small Villages

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
  • and Ricardo Bayon
December 1, 2002 |

In most ways, Patriensa is just another tiny town amidst lush farming land in the Ashanti region of Ghana: a remote part of a remote country where per-capita income is less than a dollar a day. The day starts when the rooster crows and ends at about 9 p.m., when everyone has finished eating their pounded yams and plantains.

The Parent Gap

  • By
  • Karen Kornbluh,
  • New America Foundation
October 1, 2002 |

On a bright California day last April, Arnold Schwarzenegger was out of character. Instead of shooting up bad guys on a movie set, he was driving to the Los Angeles county clerk's office in a truck loaded with petitions bearing 750,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to fund California after-school programs, known as the After School Education and Safety Act.

Bad Press

  • By
  • Phillip Longman,
  • New America Foundation
October 1, 2002 |

Pick up The Wall Street Journal today, and the business pages are full of stories about the men and women who built the stock market bubble. Months into the current downturn, the saga of Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, and other 1990s cheats has become the biggest running business story in decades -- and business journalists are hot on the trail. Should we blame sticky-fingered CEOs? Self-dealing analysts and accountants? Board members asleep at the switch? Absolutely.

Left Behind

  • By
  • Brendan I. Koerner,
  • New America Foundation
September 1, 2002 |

The Internet post-mortems are coming fast and furious nowadays, from John Cassidy's trifling Dot.con to James Ledbetter's forthcoming Starving to Death on $200 Million a Year, a tell-all about The Industry Standard's fleeting heyday. So far, this literature of failure has portrayed the technology boom as a madcap adventure, and the subsequent bust as little more than a sitcom comeuppance for a handful of arrogant louts. Sure, a couple billion dollars got lost in the shuffle, and some twenty-somethings had to move back in with mom and dad for a spell.

Net Gain

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
July 1, 2002 |

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has a theory that he thinks may explain the spread of cancer, the Asian economic meltdown, and the ubiquity of Washington insider Vernon Jordan. To understand it all, you have to follow a simple rule: "Think networks."

May the Source Be With You

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
July 1, 2002 |

In 1984, Internet pioneer Stewart Brand made one of the most prescient observations of the technology era: "On the one hand, information wants to be expensive because it is so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

Brand's insight is famous among computer programmers. But it is probably even more apt in explaining what is happening today in biology.

Machined Politics

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
May 1, 2002 |

With control of the House and Senate hanging in the balance, every pundit, politico, and poli-sci professor has a theory on which party will win in November's elections. Opposition parties always gain in midterm elections, Republicans could ride Bush's coattails, Enron could swing the country to the Democrats.

Although these issues matter, close elections often hinge on a much less sexy factor: which party does a better job of getting out the vote. After all, when the polls open, policies don't vote. People do.

Net Loss

  • By
  • Nicholas Thompson,
  • New America Foundation
April 1, 2002 |

John Cassidy probably set out to write the first really readable, definitive history of the Internet: from the wild levers of early punch-card machines to the glorious late '90s, when you could log onto Kozmo.com, order a pint of ice cream or an old comic book, and get it delivered in minutes for free.

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