In this week’s New Yorker

May 19, 2013

new yorker innovators
At first glance, I didn’t think I had the time or interest to absorb the key features in the annual Innovators issue — but I did. They’re all worth it:

* Susan Orlean’s American Chronicles piece on treadmill desks, which made me want to buy one;

* Ian Frazier’s “Form and Fungus,” about a couple of dudes disturbed by all the crappy non-biodegradable Styrofoam in the world who figured out how to grow an all-natural substitute for plastic out of mushroom tissue;

* John Seabrook’s “Network Insecurity,” basically on the hopeless dream of cybersecurity;

* Michael Specter’s “Inherit the Wind,” about another pair of young guys who’ve figured out how to generate electricity from wind energy using kites, as opposed to the wind turbines that even green energy supporters like cartoonist Lynda Barry have catalyzed huge populist activism to oppose;

* Nathan Heller’s “Laptop U,” about the budding field of MOOCs (massive open online courses), which all the big schools are getting into — despite my instinctive revulsion against it, this phenomenon apparently does have some pedagogical advantages; and

* Rebecca Mead’s Reporter-at-Large story, “The Sense of an Ending,” which moved me to tears several times with its reporting on specialists at the Beatitudes Campus, a retirement community in Phoenix, who have found compassionate, humane ways to treat elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The iPad…excuse me, Tablet edition also features a hilarious interactive version of the Christoph Niemann cover illustration (above). And I’m going to let Ben Marcus read his story “The Dark Arts” aloud to me.

et tu killbot

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