The lost ruby of Egypt

Caleb stood before the pyramid, gazing up at the peek. The sun bore down on his leathered face at a hundred degrees. Caleb said a prayer, and made one last call to Gordon. Gordon, the technical guy, explained the layout of the pyramid. « Just don’t get killed » Gordon said. So, with that uplifting comment, Caleb strode into the pyramid. It was easy going at first (except for the occasional arrow that almost knicked him) and he was following a dank hallway to the center of the pyramid. The ruby sat high on a pedistool, which Caleb climbed up the side of. He grabbed the ruby from where it lay, and suddenly he could hear crunching and grinding noises. The whole place was coming down! Caleb jumped from the pedistool, landing hard on his left ankle. With a limp he sped out of the pyramid, just as it collapsed, behind him, into dust. Caleb’s phone rang, out of breath, Caleb answered « Yeah? » On the other side, Gordon asked – « Are you still alive? »

Photograph: archer10 on Flickr.

The Future of the Internet: and how to stop it

On January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to an eager audience crammed into San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
A beautiful and brilliantly engineered device, the iPhone blended three products into one: an iPod, with the highest-quality screen Apple had ever produced; a phone, with cleverly integrated functionality, such as voicemail that came wrapped as separately accessible messages; and a device to access the Internet, with a smart and elegant browser, and with built-in map, weather, stock, and e-mail capabilities. It was a technical and design triumph for Jobs, bringing the company into a market with an extraordinary potential for growth, and pushing the industry to a new level of competition in ways to connect us to each other and to the Web. This was not the first time Steve Jobs had launched a revolution. Thirty years earlier, at the First West Coast Computer Faire in nearly
the same spot, the twenty-one-year-old Jobs, wearing his first suit, exhibited the Apple II personal computer to great buzz amidst “10,000 walking, talking computer freaks.” The Apple II was a machine for hobbyists who did not want to fuss with soldering irons: all the ingre-dients for a functioning PC were provided in a convenient molded plastic case. It looked clunky, yet it could be at home on someone’s desk. Instead of puzzling over bits of hardware or typing up punch cards to feed into someone else’s mainframe, Apple owners faced only the hurdle of a cryptic blinking cursor in the upper left corner of the screen: the PC awaited instructions. But the hurdle was not high. Some owners were inspired to program the machines themselves, but true beginners simply could load up software written and then shared or sold by their more skilled or inspired counterparts. The Apple II was a blank slate, a bold departure from previous technology that had been developed and marketed to perform specific tasks from the first day of its sale to the last day of its use.

Jonathan Zittrain

Photograph: nrkbeta on Flickr.