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What Does 'Community' Mean?

July 5, 2017 For much of the 20th century, if you asked someone to define “community,” they’d very likely give you an answer that involved a physical location. One’s community derived from one’s place—one’s literal place—in the world: one’s school, one’s neighborhood, one’s town. In the 21st century, though, that primary notion of...

‘Covfefe’: A Typo? A Conspiracy? A Metaphor for America?

June 1, 2017 “What is ‘covfefe’?” That was the voice of a White House reporter, on Wednesday afternoon, asking a question of White House press secretary Sean Spicer on behalf of herself and many confused Americans. Her question was practical and philosophical and full of frustration: What, truly, is “covfefe”? Was it the...

Are We Having Too Much Fun?

April 27, 2017 Earlier this month, thousands of protesters gathered at Washington’s National Mall to advocate for an assortment of causes: action against global climate change, federal funding for scientific research, an empirical approach to the world and its mysteries. The protesters at the March for Science, as scientists are wont to do,...

'I’m Moving You to BCC'

April 14, 2017 Have you ever been on an email chain, conversing pleasantly with colleagues and/or friends, and been suddenly informed that you have been “moved to BCC”? Was the announcement a tad startling? Maybe a bit confusing? Did the tiny part of you that remains a self-conscious tween wonder whether you had...

Hillary Clinton, Tracy Flick, and the Reclaiming of Female Ambition

July 13, 2016 This time last year, at a producer’s conference in Hollywood, a member of the audience asked Reese Witherspoon whether she’d ever consider playing Hillary Clinton in a movie. She already had, Witherspoon responded: One of her earliest roles in film was Tracy Flick, the teenage villain of Election, 1999’s dark...

When Algorithms Take the Stand

July 1, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In February of 2013, Eric Loomis was found driving a car that had been used in a shooting. He was arrested; he pleaded guilty to eluding an officer and no contest to operating a vehicle without its owner’s consent. The judge in Loomis’s case gave him a 6-year prison sentence...

Casual Friday and the ‘End of the Office Dress Code’

May 26, 2016 The New York Times ran a story Wednesday announcing “The End of the Office Dress Code.” The suit and its varied strains, the article argues—corporate uniforms that celebrate, well, corporate uniformity—are giving way to more individualized interpretations of “office attire.” As the writer Vanessa Friedman puts it, “We live in...

Here's Why Carly Fiorina Was the Consensus Debate Winner

September 18, 2015 Carly Fiorina stood out on the GOP debate stage last night in large part because she, well, literally stood out. The sole female candidate, the royal blue in a sea of obligatory black, handily won the debate, and that is largely because she skillfully exploited the thing that is both...

‘The Meatball’ vs. ‘The Worm’: How NASA Brands Space

September 2, 2015 FROM NEXTGOV arrow “It’s a design nightmare,” Greg Patt, a publishing contractor for NASA, sighed. He was talking about the logo that’s been the space agency’s official one since 1992: the blue sphere meant to suggest both Earth and other planets, its interior sprinkled with stars of white and and belted with the...

The Radical Efficiency of the Pot Vending Machine

February 4, 2015 There should probably be a law—of marketing, of psychology, of thermodynamics—holding that every commercial product, given a long enough tenure on the planet, will eventually end up being sold in a vending machine.Cupcakes. Kale. Crabs. Caviar. Lobster. Beer. Pizza. French fries. Smartphones.Underwear. And now… pot. After medicinal marijuana was legalized...