Category Archives: Technology Review

Privacy Laws Turn Europe into Economic Laboratory

In the tradition of printed newspapers, most news websites reserve the prime real estate “above the fold” for their biggest headlines. Since late May, however, sites including the Financial Times and the Economist have instead been greeting visitors with a text box warning them that they are being tracked.

The notifications explain to readers that the publications have placed a cookie in their browsers—a bit of code that allows the sites to record what pages they visit. Cookies are hardly unusual: many websites (including Technology Review’s) place a half-dozen in visitors’ machines. What is unusual is that a website would bother to tell anyone. Continue reading Privacy Laws Turn Europe into Economic Laboratory

Iceland exports energy as data

Iceland’s main exports are aluminum and fish. Now the isolated nation is hoping to offer the world a new commodity: a cheap, guiltless way to store its data.

In February, a startup called Verne Global opened a large server farm on an old NATO base near Iceland’s main airport and began offering “100% renewable” computing services to the rest of the world. It’s one of three data centers in Iceland and part of what Iceland’s government hopes will be a new local industry. Continue reading Iceland exports energy as data

Designing a Smart-Phone Alphabet for the Illiterate

On the road to Chennakeshavapura, a helpful sign on a stone identifies the village as CK Pura for short, but that message is lost on many illiterate residents. For them, reading and writing matters less than channeling enough water to their fields and growing enough peanuts to ride out the drought years.

In 2007, Swiss computer scientists and Indian agricultural scientists offered to install wireless sensors in the peanut fields at CK Pura and collect data the farmers might find useful for improving their yields. There was just one problem: few of the farmers could read the recommendations.  Continue reading Designing a Smart-Phone Alphabet for the Illiterate