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A View from MIT TR Editors

Recommended from Around the Web (Week Ending October 18, 2013)

A roundup of the most interesting stories from other sites, collected by the staff at MIT Technology Review.

  • October 18, 2013

Why Government Tech Is So Poor
Farhad Manjoo cuts into the government’s baggy IT procurement process.
Brian Bergstein, deputy editor

Networking into the Abyss
I liked this from the Baffler. It’s an explanation of how South-by became so big, so lacking in real value for attendees, and yet such a circus.
Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher

An Army of Robot Baristas Could Mean the End of Starbucks as We Know It
A funny and sad tale of barista-destroying robots.
Kevin Bullis, senior editor, energy

The Dawn of “Soft Robots”
On the heels of EmTech MIT and Dr. Angela Belcher’s discussion of technology based on natural design, I enjoyed this story about “soft robots” on CBS Sunday Morning.
—David Sweeney, marketing communications manager

A Camera That Captures Scent Instead of Sights
A way to experience nostalgia using the sense of smell.
—J. Juniper Friedman, editorial assistant

After Decades, a Water Tunnel Can Now Serve All of Manhattan
This huge technical and engineering achievement is the sort of thing that makes everything else possible—and for me conjures fond memories of my late grandfather, John H. Talbot, a sandhog who worked on similar projects.
David Talbot, chief correspondent

The Politics of Tech Transparency: Industry Reports Offer Openness—and Confusion
Although Web companies are rushing to publish “transparency reports” summarizing government requests for data, they have become PR tools that offer little real insight into what happens to users’ information.
Tom Simonite, senior editor, IT

Inside 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki’s $99 DNA Revolution
A writer’s personal experience with 23andMe’s genetic screening service bookends a profile of the company and its founder, Anne Wojcicki. The accompanying article on the challenges of marketing genetic testing is also worth a look.
Susan Young, biomedicine editor

Why Abraham Lincoln Loved Infographics
A short post laying out the history of data visualization.
Will Knight, news and analysis editor

Mississippi Plant Shows the Cost of “Clean Coal”
A demonstration project in Mississippi has cost overruns approaching $2 billion. Such high costs are keeping carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology deployment far behind schedule if CCS is meant to enable significant emissions cuts.
Mike Orcutt, research editor

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