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The best tech writing of the week, May 27

The best tech writing of the week, May 27

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The best tech writing of the week.

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long reads

We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.

On covers

The digital revolution's done a pretty good job of killing the cover as we knew it, and Craig Mod looks at a way forward once we acknowledge it.

@craigmod: Craig Mod - Hack the Cover

The cover image may help quickly ground us, but our eyes are drawn by habit to number and quality of reviews. We’re looking for metrics other than images — real metrics — not artificial marketing signifiers. Blurbs from humans. Perhaps even humans we know! And within the jumble of the Amazon.com interface, the cover feels all but an afterthought.On Holopac

What exactly does Coachella's hologram Tupac mean?

The New Inquiry: Melissa Graeber - All Eyez on Not-Me

Tupac rapping about the halcyon days of the early 90’s may represent a bygone era, and yet Holopac epitomizes the way a generation has been primed to filter most experiences through a tweet, video, or status update (something the Coachella organizers surely banked on). It’s increasingly easier to watch an "exclusive" moment online, then close the tab with the satisfied belief that we too experienced it. We are no longer the protective owners of one-of-a-kind experiences.On Google+

Remember how excited people used to get in advance of the launch of a new Google product? That pre-Wave-I'll-do-anything-for-an-invite hysteria? Alexis Madrigal sees a way for Google to capture that for Google Plus, which he describes as "an abandoned city in the desert."

The Atlantic: Alexis Madrigal - How Google Can Beat Facebook Without Google Plus

So, where are the neighborhoods where humans are already hanging out? Google has a variety of products that while not explicitly "social networks" could easily be thought of as places that help people "share," a la Facebook’s mantra. Just think about them all: Reader. Picasa. Scholar. Earth. Books. Blogger. Hell, even Zagat. It’s these already bustling communities that should form the core of Google’s next-level social offering.On Cook's Apple

Adam Lashinsky offers a glimpse at Tim Cook's approach to running Apple.

Fortune: How Tim Cook is changing Apple - How Tim Cook is changing Apple

What shocked the Apple investors that day was that CEO Tim Cook popped into the room about 20 minutes into Oppenheimer's talk, quietly sat down in the back of the room, and did something unusual for a CEO of Apple: He listened. He didn't check his e-mail once. He didn't interrupt.On computer sales

With the help of some incredible imagery and old ad copy from the Computer History Museum, Matthew Lasar details how computers were advertised.

ars technica: Matthew Lasar - Make mainframes, not war: how Mad Men sold computers in the 1960s and 1970s

"Speed, efficiency, economy, and reliability," were the standard buzzwords. But as computers got smaller, cheaper, and more powerful, ads encouraged consumers to see them as more than just calculating machines. Pamphlets foregrounded the growing female labor force that ran them first as key punch operators and programmer assistants, then as programmers and computer buyers themselves.On scrollbars

1997: Alan Dix explains why computer scrollbars are so often on the right side of the screen.

Graphical User Interface Gallery Guidebook: Alan Dix - Hands across the screen

Why are scrollbars on the right, and is it the best place for them? There are good reasons to think that the left-hand side may be the better choice, but in virtually every interface since the Xerox Star the scrollbar has appeared on the right-hand side. Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 53 minutes ago Better on the inside

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Thomas Ricker53 minutes ago
Sony starts selling the Xperia 1 IV with continuous zoom lens.

What does it cost to buy a smartphone that does something no smartphone from Apple, Google, Samsung can? $1,599.99 is Sony’s answer: for a camera lens that can shift its focal length anywhere between 85mm and 125mm.

Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

Still, it is a Sony, and like.no.other.


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Corin FaifeAn hour ago
If God sees everything, so do these apps.

Some Churches are asking congregants to install so-called “accountability apps” to prevent sinful behavior. A Wired investigation found that they monitor almost everything a user does on their phone, including taking regular screenshots and flagging LGBT search terms.


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James Vincent8:41 AM UTC
Shutterstock punts on AI-generated content.

Earlier this week, Getty Images banned the sale of AI-generated content, citing legal concerns about copyright. Now, its biggest rival, Shutterstock, has responded by doing ... absolutely nothing. In a blog post, Shutterstock’s CEO Paul Hennessy says there are “open questions on the copyright, licensing, rights, and ownership of synthetic content and AI-generated art,” but doesn’t announce any policy changes. So, you can keep on selling AI art on Shutterstock, I guess.


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Thomas Ricker6:58 AM UTC
This custom Super73 makes me want to tongue-kiss an eagle.

Super73’s tribute to mountain-biking pioneer Tom Ritchey has my inner American engorged with flag-waving desire. The “ZX Team” edition features a red, white, and blue colorway with custom components fitted throughout. Modern MTBers might scoff at the idea of doing any serious trail riding on a heavy Super73 e-bike, which is fine: this one-off is not for sale. 

You can, however, buy the Super73 ZX it’s based on (read my review here), which proved to be a very capable all-terrain vehicle on asphalt, dirt, gravel, and amber fields of grain.


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Richard Lawler12:25 AM UTC
The sincerest form of flattery.

I had little interest in Apple’s Dynamic Island, but once a developer built their spin on the idea for Android, I had to give it a try.

Surprisingly, I’ve found I actually like it, and while dynamicSpot isn’t as well-integrated as Apple’s version, it makes up for it with customization. Nilay’s iPhone 14 Pro review asked Apple to reverse the long-press to expand vs. tap to enter an app setup. In dynamicSpot, you can do that with a toggle (if you pay $5).


DynamicSpot app on Android shown expanding music player, in the style of Apple’s Dynamic Island in iOS 16.
DynamicSpot in action on a Google Pixel 6
Image: Richard Lawler

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
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TikTok
Richard LawlerSep 22
TikTok politics.

Ahead of the midterm elections, TikTok made big changes to its rules for politicians and political fundraising on the platform, as Makena Kelly explains... on TikTok.


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Richard LawlerSep 22
The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.

This summer, a former Twitter employee who worked on platform and content moderation policies testified anonymously before the congressional committee investigating the violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.

While she remains under NDA and much of her testimony is still sealed,  Anika Collier Navaroli has identified herself, explaining a little about why she’s telling Congress her story of what happened inside Twitter — both before the attack, and after, when it banned Donald Trump.


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Instagram
Richard LawlerSep 22
But how does it sound?

Our review of Apple’s new AirPods Pro can tell you everything about the second-generation buds. To find out how you’ll sound talking to other people through them, just listen to Verge senior video producer Becca Farsace.


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The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 22
Our list of the best entertainment of 2022 keeps getting bigger.

We just added some notable entries to our running list highlighting the best games, movies, and TV shows of the year, including Return to Monkey Island, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Sorry in advance for your free time.


The best entertainment of 2022

Everything to play and watch this year

Andrew WebsterSep 22

The best instant cameras you can buy right now

We found the best cameras for your budget and needs

Sheena VasaniSep 22
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The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 22
The Bootleg Ratio.

Policy Editor Russell Brandom digs into a phenomenon we’ve all seen on social media before:

I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post.

And now it’s coming for TikTok.


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Youtube
Dan SeifertSep 22
Here’s a look at a few Pixel Watch watchfaces.

Google is ramping up the marketing machine ahead of next month’s Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch event and has released a short video (via 9to5Google) highlighting the design and showcasing some of the watchfaces it will have. Most of them are quite simple, with just the time being displayed.

These videos always look great from a marketing perspective, but I think they poorly reflect how I actually use a smartwatch. I want the computer on my wrist to show me useful information like weather, calendar appointments, timers, etc, which means it’s never as sparse or simple looking as it is in these ads.


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Please stop trying to order the Hummer EV.

GMC is closing the order books for the Hummer EV truck and SUV after receiving 90,000 reservations for the controversial electric vehicle, according to the Detroit Free Press. It just can’t seem to keep up with demand, so the GM-owned company has decided to stop taking orders until production picks up. Maybe if the Hummer’s battery wasn’t the same weight as a whole-ass Honda Civic, it would be easier to manufacture, but I digress.

GMC is the latest automaker to run into the problem of EV demand far outstripping supply. Ford also is having difficulty making enough F-150 Lightnings and Mustang Mach-Es to fill all its orders. Waitlists for most available EVs are longer than my arm. Things are going to be tight until the auto industry is able to bring more battery factories and assembly plants online, and unfortunately that could take a while.


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Alex CranzSep 22
The Verge is hiring!

The Verge is almost always hiring, and right now we’re looking for a big Verge fan with big journalism ambition to join us as a fellow for the next year. We’re also hiring a Space Reporter to join our Science team, a Designer to work with our Art team, and a Senior Editor focused on Search. Come apply to work with us!


Fellow, The Verge

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