Chris Wilson

  • Freedom Fighter

    FOR ALL THE GENUINE insight that The Boy Who Could Change the World affords into the mind of Aaron Swartz, the free-information activist whose life was cut tragically short by suicide in 2013, the book’s most telling sentence is probably on the third page, in small font: “No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form, without written permission from the publisher.”

    Swartz was an ardent champion of sharing information on the Internet, and his dedication to this cause often ran up against unforgiving US copyright laws. And yet even this collection of his writings and blog posts comes, by

  • Net Worth

    The torrent of money currently pouring into tech start-ups is commonly likened to a digital-age gold rush, so it’s more than a little ironic that the closest thing to actual gold on the Internet did not come from Silicon Valley. Instead, the digital currency known as Bitcoin came from a cabal of programmers spread across the world who were motivated not by catered lunches and future riches but by an ideological interest in how computer science could reinvent money.

    Since its creation a scant six years ago, Bitcoin has ricocheted its way into a small but insurgent place in the world of finance.

  • Nerds of Prey

    By the spring of 2008, nine months after the first iPhone reached the trembling hands of the American consumer, Steve Jobs had grown so suspicious of Google’s nascent Android project that he took an unusual step: He personally traversed the six miles from Apple’s central command in Cupertino to Google’s Mountain View headquarters to hold a meeting with the wizards of the great global search engine on their turf.

    What he saw there incensed him: a smartphone prototype that offered many of the same features highlighted on the iPhone, like multifinger touch—an innovation he claimed as Apple’s

  • The Pill Pushers

    Most of us would like to believe that our doctors spend every free moment buried in medical journals, impervious to the long tentacles of drug companies—no matter what their inexhaustible supplies of AstraZeneca pens and Eli Lilly clipboards may suggest to the contrary. But physician and journalist Ben Goldacre takes firm and decisive aim at that comforting myth in Bad Pharma, a sequel of sorts to his 2009 title, Bad Science.

    Thanks to the moral ineptitude of oil and tobacco companies, we’re all familiar with tales of soulless corporations skewing data, buying off critics, and silencing

  • The Signal and the Noise

    Political forecaster Nate Silver, who has made the frontiers of digital speculation his comfort zone, wants you to learn one thing above all else from The Signal and the Noise: Just because a prediction is wrong, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad prediction. And just because it’s right, that doesn’t mean the person who made it is smart.

    Silver doesn’t offer one comprehensive theory for what makes a good prediction in his interdisciplinary tour of forecasting. But he does give us a well-worn literary analogy. Drawing on a pet image used by psychologist Philip Tetlock (who in turn adapted it from