Cam Pegg Pocket Articles

While I don’t read as many books of the physical, dead-tree variety as I probably should, I do have a fairly well-stocked RSS reader, so I tend to read quite a lot of stuff online, and have a correspondingly long list of things to read that (mostly) get saved in Pocket. The articles below are ones that I a) have actually found the time to read, and b) think are worth sharing.

January 17, 2021

Make Way for the ‘One-Minute City’

In 2020, as pandemic lockdowns forced billions of people around the world to become intimately familiar with their neighborhoods, one of the hottest ideas in urban planning was the “15-minute city.” A vision for a decentralized urban area that allows residents to meet their daily needs within a quarter-hour walk or bike from their homes, the concept has been pursued as a means of cutting greenhouse emissions and boosting livability in a host of global cities — especially Paris, where Mayor Anne Hidalgo has embraced the model as a blueprint for the French capital’s post-Covid recovery.

Bloomberg • 1,711 words • 8 minute read

January 17, 2021

Camera Obscura: Beyond the lens of user-centered design

It’s 2020 and our systems are failing us. We are increasingly reliant on technology that automates bias. We are celebrating “essential workers” while they are underpaid and their work is precarious. We are protesting in the streets because of policing systems that put black and brown people at risk every day. We use apps for travel, shopping, and transportation that productize exploitative labor practices. The list goes on and on.

Alexis Lloyd • 4,870 words • 22 minute read

January 16, 2021

Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good

When her patient started talking about sick notes, neuropsychologist Judy Ho decided to intervene. Her client, a wildly successful entrepreneur, was rich, happily married, and well-regarded by his peers. The problem was the days when he felt depressed and run-down but unable to admit it.

Bloomberg • 1,243 words • 6 minute read

January 16, 2021

Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories

2020 was a banner year for conspiracy theories. First there was the proliferation of QAnon, whose followers insisted that Donald Trump was all that stood between us and a “deep state” cabal that was running a global sex trafficking ring and harvesting a chemical from children’s blood.

Slate • 1,908 words • 9 minute read

January 14, 2021

Why can't I write code inside my browser?

So I can write code inside my spreadsheet, but not inside my browser? WTF. Ok, let’s back up. Coding is too hard. I’ve been playing with the web and code for years now and still feel like I’m an outsider to the "code club".

Tom Critchlow • 693 words • 3 minute read

January 14, 2021

The Uncanny Valley: The Original Essay by Masahiro Mori

More than 40 years ago, Masahiro Mori, then a robotics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, wrote an essay on how he envisioned people’s reactions to robots that looked and acted almost human. In particular, he hypothesized that a person’s response to a humanlike robot would abruptly shift from empathy to revulsion as it approached, but failed to attain, a lifelike appearance.

IEEE • 2,354 words • 10 minute read

January 12, 2021

A “no math” (but seven-part) guide to modern quantum mechanics

Some technical revolutions enter with drama and a bang, others wriggle unnoticed into our everyday experience. And one of the quietest revolutions of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments.

Ars Technica • 5,361 words • 24 minute read

January 8, 2021

How the 'Goldfinger' Alpine sequence gave rise to Bondmania

A supervillain, an assassin, a mountain car chase and an Aston Martin equipped with gadgetry — the Alpine scenes in 1964's "Goldfinger" set a new benchmark for the archetypal James Bond sequence. And as well as being, arguably, the most iconic six minutes and 37 seconds in the franchise's history, it is also one of the best documented.

CNN • 906 words • 4 minute read

January 6, 2021

A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage

One of McDonald’s most divisive products, the McRib, made its return last week. For three decades, the sandwich has come in and out of existence, popping up in certain regional markets for short promotions, then retreating underground to its porky lair — only to be revived once again for reasons never made entirely clear.

The Awl • 2,961 words • 13 minute read

January 5, 2021

What Is the Geometry of the Universe?

When you gaze out at the night sky, space seems to extend forever in all directions. That’s our mental model for the universe, but it’s not necessarily correct. There was a time, after all, when everyone thought the Earth was flat, because our planet’s curvature was too subtle to detect and a spherical Earth was unfathomable.

Quanta Magazine • 3,230 words • 14 minute read

December 29, 2020

The Very Real, Totally Bizarre Bucatini Shortage of 2020

The very real, totally bizarre bucatini shortage of 2020. Part I: The Mystery Things first began to feel off in March. While this sentiment applies to everything in the known and unknown universe, I mean it specifically in regard to America’s supply of dry, store-bought bucatini.

Grub Street • 3,975 words • 18 minute read

December 15, 2020

Slack Is the Right Tool for the Wrong Way to Work

In 2016, I interviewed an entrepreneur named Sean who had co-founded a small technology startup based in London. As with many organizations at that time, Sean and his team relied on e-mail as their primary collaboration tool. “We used to have our Gmail constantly opened,” he said.

The New Yorker • 1,128 words • 5 minute read

December 9, 2020

We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time

In August 1957, Dr. Joseph Ballinger gave a nurse at a New York hospital the first H2N2-vaccine shot to be administered in the city. You may be surprised to learn that of the trio of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines, the most promising, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.

New York Magazine • 2,373 words • 11 minute read

December 8, 2020

500 Reasons We’ve Loved New York

If you live in New York long enough — and it doesn’t have to be very long — it gradually becomes unrecognizable. And maybe, you begin to realize, it’s for someone else entirely, someone new or from somewhere else, someone perhaps with more money, more energy: someone circumstantially or possibly constitutionally ignorant of what you took to be authentic about this place when it felt like it was yours.

Curbed • 3,708 words • 17 minute read

December 6, 2020

The Modern World Has Finally Become Too Complex for Any of Us to Understand

One of the dominant themes of the last few years is that nothing makes sense. Donald Trump is president, QAnon has mainstreamed fringe conspiracy theories, and hundreds of thousands are dead from a pandemic and climate change while many Americans do not believe that the pandemic or climate change are deadly. It’s incomprehensible.

OneZero • 2,435 words • 11 minute read

November 28, 2020

How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America

In 1991, a children’s book called The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self-Esteem was published. Written by Diane Loomans and illustrated by Kim Howard, The Lovables imparts a simple, nurturing message: You, the tiny child reading this book or having this book read to you, are very special.

The Cut • 5,512 words • 25 minute read

November 25, 2020

The Secrets of Monkey Island's Source Code

On October 30th, 2020, we kicked off The Video Game Source Project with a very special event: a two-hour fireside chat with game developer Ron Gilbert celebrating the 30th anniversary of his most famous game, The Secret of Monkey Island.

Video Game History Foundation • 4,241 words • 20 minute read

November 25, 2020

The Secrets of Monkey Island’s Source Code

On October 30th, 2020, we kicked off The Video Game Source Project with a very special event: a two-hour fireside chat with game developer Ron Gilbert celebrating the 30th anniversary of his most famous game, The Secret of Monkey Island.

3,699 words • 17 minute read