As 2017 draws to a close it gives each of us a chance to reflect what we’re most proud of during the previous year. For TNW staff, there’s a lot to be proud of. As someone that gets to work with this amazing group of super-talented reporters on a day-to-day basis, I’m in awe every day of some of the amazing content — whether reviews, investigative pieces, humor, or opinion — we produce each year.
As for the writers themselves, these are the pieces they’re most proud of this year. Have a look.
Stop supporting tech companies as if they are sports teams
It’s fun to follow tech companies as they build exciting new things and grow to new heights. But treating them like sports teams that you must pledge allegiance to is just silly, and can cloud your judgement of whether your favorite brand is doing well, or whether it’s truly committed to positive causes. I’m glad I got a chance to address this problem that’s unfortunately all too common among our readers this year, and I hope more people ditch this toxic behavior in 2018.
This startup wants to clear cities of cigarette butts using crows (yes, the bird)
One of the more beautiful trends in technology is that it somewhat paradoxically helps us humans interact with nature in more interesting – and less exploitative – ways. From modifying viruses to treat diseases to using specialized bacteria to treat wastewater and turn it into useful material, we’re finding ways to piggyback on exceptionally efficient mechanisms that are the result of millions of years of evolution. This article gives another great example of that. Crows are intelligent enough to be trained by machines to do useful things for us, and even though it might not be the most ethical thing to make them do – and people have doubts about the effectiveness of this particular example – it is a perfect example of how we can employ technology to fit into our environment. It’s one of the things I’m most excited about for the next years.
Inside the ‘conflict-free’ diamond scam costing online buyers millions
This piece was one of my favorites of all time, not just this year. It’s probably not my best work as far as writing goes, but I’m proud of myself for sticking with it after running into wall after wall. Eventually the story came together, drew some traditional media attention, and even had me featured in a lawsuit that Brilliant Earth eventually settled with Jacob Worth — the YouTuber who brought the problem to our attention and helped us better understand the diamond industry.
It’s definitely not in our normal bag of tricks, but the story proved to be one worth writing.
How an out-of-body VR experience changed my views on dying
Getting to try out a proposed medical device that simulates an out-of-body experience was super exciting for me, especially as it was my first time in VR. The device’s purpose is to reduce people’s fear of death and I realized, I didn’t even really know how I felt about dying.
Writing about this experience really got me thinking about my own mortality and what happens when my time does eventually come to an end. The experience helped me to imagine there’s more in store for me when my body is no longer useful. And speculative designs like this could help shift our _usually_ negative connotations with death
Már Másson Maack
Pirate Bay founder: We’ve lost the internet, it’s all about damage control now
I love writing and reading pessimistic and ideological pieces on tech, but the problem is that our readers, well, don’t. That’s why my interview with Peter Sunde in Budapest was my absolute favorite this year, because you, our readers, loved it! It actually kind of went viral, which is awesome. Apparently Sunde was just famous enough to get people excited about pessimism. So enjoy my article, but please promise me that you’ll read my bummer articles in 2018!
The furore around Zoella’s teenage tweets proves how low we’ve set the bar for public shaming
My generation grew up online. The Internet is where we figured out who we are. For teenagers, it’s was battleground where we very publicly wrestled with our emotions and our hormones.
And our generation is the first to face the consequences of our teenage online musings. Saccharine vlogger Zoella was recently raked over the coals for some tepid, snarky tweets she made when she was 19. The tweets weren’t terribly pleasant, but they were almost eight years old.
In this piece, I talked about the troubling lack of a statute of limitations on the Net, and why the internet indulges our worst possible instincts when it comes to public shaming.
Fleshlight Launch Hands-on: How I tried outsourcing masturbation to automation
Unlike other consumer electronics categories, I find covering sex tech particularly tricky. The challenge ultimately comes down to approaching the issue in a way that is both informative and engaging; but the real difficulty is to charm the readers into leaving back their prejudices and simply enjoying the read for what it is. I feel this is precisely what I was able to do with the Fleshlight Launch review.
Stock Android is no longer the best version of Android
It’s a nerdy choice, I know, but I write about nerdy things. This isn’t to say stock Android is bad – I use a Pixel 2 XL – but I often miss all the things I could do with a Samsung phone. With every passing generation, there are diminishing returns on performance gains, and going forward, I expect software differentiation to play a bigger role than ever in helping people choose their phones.
Why I chose to keep my late mother’s iPhone
My mother’s sudden death left a gaping hole in my life and heart, and several months later I’m still trying to cobble together a basic sense of closure. Writing an article about how her iPhone was an important part of the process not only helped me work through my initial feelings of shock and heartbreak, but it also gave me a chance to show the world how wonderful she was.
Simulation Theory and the scientific pursuit of God
This article represents the moment it became real for me: I’m a technology reporter. It wasn’t easy pitching this story. The research was incredibly complex but I got to talk to my hero Professor Nick Bostrum. Unfortunately, I blew the interview. I froze up and asked a few stupid questions before forgetting everything I’d ever learned about quantum physics – which isn’t much! Yet, despite the fact this story wouldn’t be anything extraordinary on a given news day, it’s a primitive blueprint for the journalist I want to be.