Snowdeniversary: The Tech World Can't Forget June 5

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1. It's the world's one-year Snowdeniversary, and the EFF is trying to rally the troops about surveillance.

"On June 5, 2013 the Guardian newspaper published the first of Edward Snowden's astounding revelations.... A year later, we're still learning about operations conducted globally by the United States and its closest allies in defiance of billions of people's fundamental freedoms. We've discovered that the US government has confidential systems in place to scoop up data from American Internet companies. We've learned that the British equivalent, GCHQ, has taken millions of snapshots of Webcam images as they eavesdrop on the Internet backbone. We've seen encryption standards undermined, an entire country's  telephone conversations recorded, and five billion records of phone locations globally recorded per day."


2. How teen hackers were portrayed in 1980s magazines like Scholastic's Family Computing and K-Power.

"You and your computer pals are part of the whole new breed called . . . er . . . computer maniacs? . . . whiz kids? . . . hackers? . . . computer nuts? . . . enthusiasts? This terminology business is a real dilemma. Nerd is a stupid word that we hope is on its way out. Hacker is misused. 'Whiz Kids' is the name of a TV show. The rest are labels noncomputing people have tacked onto serious computer users. Isn’t it about time we thought of something new?"


3. Home automation just keeps getting more exciting: Sears is getting into the game

"Craig LaRosa, Sears Holdings’ deputy VP for in-store experience and design, said, 'Many of our members are aware of smart devices or home-automation products but don’t fully understand how they are used to make their lives better. Connected Solutions offers an entertaining and interactive environment to learn about the products.' Sales associates can help customers develop relevant solutions, he said, and ensure that they leave the shops with connected products that are fully functioning. Products include smart watches, streaming-media devices, health monitors and the company’s own Craftsman Assurelink garage door opener that can notify homeowners when the door is opened and closed."


4. An exhibition at the Digital Public Library of America about the Golden Age of Radio.

"The radio emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the result of decades of scientific experimentation with the theory that information could be transmitted over long distances. Radio as a medium reached its peak—the so-called Radio Golden Age—during the Great Depression and World War II. This was a time when the world was rapidly changing, and for the first time Americans experienced those history-making events as they happened. The emergence and popularity of radio shifted not just the way Americans across the country experienced news and entertainment, but also the way they communicated. This exhibition explores the development, rise, and adaptation of the radio, and its impact on American culture."


5. The bros of 1809.

"You must very often drink very much; and when you have drank very much, you must appear very great; that is, you must swear a very good round hand, and sing a very good bawdy song. You must be expert and ready in giving an ingenious toast or sentiment; by ingenious, I mean, that it must be smart and witty; by smart and witty, I mean, that it must be smutty and fulsome…"


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

bowdlerize. Expurgate; from the name of Thomas Bowlder, whose edition of Shakespeare (1818) omitted all 'offensive words & expressions.' Bow-rhymes with cow.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of 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, 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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