A row of '70s view-masters.

Before virtual reality, there was a plastic, binocular-like device that filled viewers' worlds with vivid scenes: the View-Master. A peek into how the toy came to be. Read More...

This week, we look at icons and infamy.

Three things to remember this week:

1. Skyscrapers might be beautiful and majestic… but architects probably shouldn’t build them anymore. Professor John Ochsendorf says most buildings today only last about 50 years, and that we could do better by taking a few pointers from the ancients.

2. Hacker collectives, pirate ships, and street gangs might be more creative than Silicon Valley. Author Alexa Clay tells us what we can learn from a ‘misfit economy.'

3. When Carl Sagan first got popular, other scientists thought he was selling out. Professor Declan Fahy looks at the tremendous rise of “celebrity scientists,” and how they now influence our daily lives.

A pirate flag.

The mafia, pirates, gangs, and hackers. What can we learn from them? According to author Alexa Clay, turns out a whole lot — including creativity. Read More...

Carl Sagan was a pioneer celebrity scientist.

Move over, Britney – there’s a new kind of celebrity in town. American University's Declan Fahy explains the rise of the celebrity scientist, and why they're important to all of us. Read More...

The Pantheon stands the test of time.

The Burj Khalifa might be the tallest building in the world, but is it the most advanced? MIT Professor John Ochsendorf thinks that today’s architects should take a page from classical structures. Read More...

Looking towards the future.

1. Hospitals in the South were desegregated thanks to Medicare. Jennifer Klein, professor of history at Yale, lets us in on Medicare's bumpy, challenging backstory.

2. Access to cell phones won't banish poverty. That's according to author - and former Microsoft exec - Kentaro Toyama, who explains why technology is not always the answer.

3.  In politics, owning an island is still better than owning a computer. Micah Sifry, co-founder of Personal Democracy Media, expains why technology hasn't lived up to its promise - and why he's still hopeful.

Toyama says students are a little too used to tech.

Computer scientist Kentaro Toyama used to use tech to help the poor around he world. But slowly, he started believing it wasn't the answer. He explains why tech isn't doing much to educate the underprivileged or spur social change. Read More...

Happy 50th birthday to Medicare.

As Medicare turns 50, Yale Professor Jennifer Klein explains how the social program changed America - and why it almost didn’t happen. Read More...

Some old-fashioned ballot casting.

The Internet was supposed to revolutionize democracy and make government more responsive.; so far, that hasn’t really happened. Author Micah Sifry tells us what went wrong, and what could still go right. Read More...

One screen isn't enough for today's employees.

Ever feel like you’re still at work, long after you’ve left the office? Well, you’re not alone. Professor Ian Bogost argues we live in a “hyper employed” time, and offers some ideas for what we can do about it. Read More...

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