A Dispatch From the Lead Up to the 2018 World Cup

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1. A sports section from April 2018, recently sent out to 130,000 people in Manchester

"How will the so-called beautiful game of global football be different in a world where sport itself, and the culture of the fans who love it, is altered by the rush of data, quantification, analytics and digital delivery? What might a high-stakes match of the near future be like when every move is measured, and every tactic forecast by silicon? What will the technologically savvy supporter and the lifelong fan alike experience differently when Big Data takes on the game Winning Formula, is project by Near Future Laboratory which takes the form of a newspaper sports section from April 2018, explores these questions and some of the more unreal features of data-driven football future."

+ The Near Future Laboratory.


2. On weird corporate Twitter.

"But slowly, and by 2014, very quickly, the insouciant, lower-case voice became the mainstream, corporate voice. Now, a Denny’s tweet can sound more casual and on meme than any individual’s Twitter account. And it isn’t just Denny’s: Brands from Chipotle to Hamburger Helper have gained massive followings this way. If in the past five years we all had to grow up somewhat — Carles doesn’t even tweet anymore — how is it that corporations grew down, becoming the new meme-aware 'teens' of social media?"


3. A scathing case against small, modular nuclear reactors, which are very popular with a lot of future-of-energy pundits (including me).

"SMR technology represents a particularly challenging leap in nuclear technology that is likely to suffer greatly form the historic problems of nuclear power. SMR technology will suffer disproportionately from material cost increases because they use more material per MW of capacity. The novel, even radically new design characteristics of SMRs pose even more of a challenge than the failed 'nuclear renaissance' technology. The untested design and the aggressive deployment strategy for SMR technology raise  important safety questions and concerns. Cost estimates that assume quick design approval and  deployment are certain to prove to be wildly optimistic."


4. The Museum of Modern Art has (rightfully) put Björk's Biophilia app into its collection.

"The interactive graphics and animations of the mini-apps relate directly to the theme of each song and are the musical instruments. In the song 'Solstice,' for example, players control the orbits, speed, and coordinates of planets orbiting a star. Rendered as simple colored lines, each planet and coordinate represents and controls the string music accompanying Björk’s vocals. In this elegant player-singer collaboration, users create alternately spare or highly layered and complex music, and are given the option to record and save their own unique Björk composition."


5. Just in time for Father's Day!

"Your home is your castle, but could it withstand an attack by Attila and the Huns, Ragnar and the Vikings, Alexander and the Greeks, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, or Tamerlane and the Tartars? Engineer William Gurstelle, author of the bestselling Backyard Ballistics, poses this fascinating question to modern-day garage warriors and shows how to build an arsenal of ancient artillery and fortifications aimed at withstanding these invading hordes. Each chapter introduces new bad actors in the history of warfare, details their conquests, and features weapons and fortifications to defend against them—culminating, by the end of the book, in a fully fortified home."


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

brachylogy. (Gram.): 'short speech.' Irregular shortening down of expression. Less sugar, This is no use, & A is as good or better than B, are brachylogies for Less of sugarThis is of no use, A is as good as or better than B. The first is established as idiomatic, the others are still regarded by many as illegitimate. 


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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