An oral history of The Right Stuff.
The grim world of outsourced content moderation.
A pair of gamblers and a glitch too good to last.
A Profile Auditor goes sniffing after anomalies in the consumption habits and personal data of an unsuspecting hotel clerk.
A Profile Auditor goes sniffing after anomalies in the consumption habits and personal data of an unsuspecting hotel clerk.
"Through the Demosphere we fly, we men of the Database Maintenance Division, and although the Demosphere belongs to General Communications Inc., it is the schmos of the world who make it - every time a schmo surfs to a different channel, the Demosphere notes that he is bored with program A and more interested, at the moment, in program B. When a schmo's paycheck is delivered over the I-way, the number on the bottom line is plotted in his Profile, and if that schmo got it by telecommuting we know about that too - the length of his coffee breaks and the size of his bladder are an open book to us. When a schmo buys something on the I-way it goes into his Profile, and if it happens to be something that he recently saw advertised there, we call that interesting, and when he uses the I-way to phone his friends and family, we Profile Auditors can navigate his social web out to a gazillion fractal iterations, the friends of his friends of his friends of his friends, what they buy and what they watch and if there's a correlation."
An oddball team of ship salvage mercenaries is tasked with uprighting a tipped two-football-field-long cargo ship before it sinks into the darkness of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
On Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Flickr and now Slack, a wildly popular, difficult-to-describe messaging service that has 38,000 paying subscribers just a few months after launching.
From Word to smartphones.
On Amir Taaki and Cody Wilson, two anarchists with a history of creating controversial software, and their dream of an economy based on untraceable, uncontrollable money.
The 50,000-word story of Microsoft’s antitrust case.
The story of Jim Olson and his Tumor Paint dream.
Previously: Brendan I. Koerner on the Longform Podcast.
Ted Nelson's Xanadu project began in 1960 and was supposed to be the universal, democratic hypertext library that would help human life evolve into an entirely new form. It didn't go that way.
Update: The software was finally, quietly released in April.
A 42,000-word, 3-continent spanning “hacker tourist” account of the laying of the (then) longest wire on earth.
But not for want of programmers trying.
The dark side of startup life in Silicon Valley.
An extended version of this story is available as an ebook.
On Silicon Valley's newfound interest in the weed business.
Previously: Mat Honan on the Longform Podcast.
After nine months of striking out, Chris McKinlay decided to change his online dating strategy. It worked.
How and why the goverment pulled Silicon Valley into the war on terror.
The FBI couldn’t find Ryan Eugene Mullen. Neither could a trio of private investigators. Only Michelle Gomez knew where to look.
The fight to vaccinate children in the border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of an attempt to eradicate polio worldwide.
“I shared my plans with no one, not my girlfriend, not my parents, not my closest friends. Nobody knew the route I was taking out of town, where I was going, or my new name. If I got caught, it would be by my own mistakes.” A writer’s attempt to disappear for a month with a $5,000 bounty on his head.
“In 1981, with a computer built into my shoe, I walked into a Las Vegas casino and beat the house.”
How real-time information can make you a better human.
“The government calls it “Operation Open Market,” a four-year investigation resulting, so far, in four federal grand jury indictments against 55 defendants in 10 countries, facing a cumulative millennium of prison time. What many of those alleged scammers, carders, thieves, and racketeers have in common is one simple mistake: They bought their high-quality fake IDs from a sophisticated driver’s license counterfeiting factory secretly established, owned, and operated by the United States Secret Service.”
How a corporate network engineer became one of Aleppo’s most prolific weapons manufacturers.
A startup’s plan to launch a fleet of cheap, small, ultra-efficient imaging satellites and revolutionize data collection.
How General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, became the most powerful intelligence officer in U.S. history.
How to drive across America in less than 32 hours and 7 minutes.
A cautionary satire about the potential excesses of an unchecked Google.
"'My Google Being anticipates everything I would think, everything I would want to say or do or feel,' Larry explained. 'Everywhere I would go. Years of research have gone into this. It is in every way the same as me. So much so that my physical form is no longer necessary. It was just getting in the way, so we removed it.'"
In the not-so-distant future, all of our objects will talk to each other. They’ll make our coffee, find our keys, save our lives. The roadmap to a fully networked existence.
An conversation with Omar Hammami, via Twitter.
Alfred Anaya was a genius at installing secret compartments in cars. If they were used to smuggle drugs without his knowledge, he figured, that wasn’t his problem. He was wrong.
How the CIA used a fake science fiction film to sneak six Americans out of revolutionary Iran. The declassified story that became Ben Affleck’s Argo.
The man behind the Body Worlds exhibit faces his own death.
Dr. Elisabeth Targ became famous for running scientific experiments that appeared to prove the healing power of faith. Then she got sick and became a test subject herself.
On November 12, 2012, after Belizean police announced that they were seeking him for questioning in connection with the murder of his neighbor, John McAfee began a well-publicized stint on the lam. Six months earlier, the writer had begun an in-depth investigation into McAfee's life. This is the chronicle of that investigation.
Listen to Joshua Davis disucsses this article on the Longform Podcast.
How a small group academics revealed an ancient order of opthamologists.
The strange existence of the accused Internet pirate as he battles the U.S. government.
How one woman is monitoring the jihadi network from a home office in Montana.
Exploring the relationship between cats and the Internet in Japan.
A psychological, historical and neurological look at Alcoholics Anonymous.
On getting a brain implant to slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease.
A tech reporter tells the story of his ruined digital life.
The secret is an exclusive 22-year-old archive of viewer-submitted clips.
A profile of Eugene Kaspersky, KGB-trained online security mogul.
How an art project led to a visit from the U.S. Secret Service.
Inside the hacker ecosystem.
“Over the past century, coaches have used intuition and discipline to vastly improve athletic performance. Now scientists are taking the last step, helping athletes approach perfection.”
A painter’s dogged, doomed pursuit of the perfect $100 bill.
On board the Perl Whirl 2000, a conference of hard-coding geeks on a luxury cruise ship.
The story of a bizarre—and bizarrely effective—smear campaign.
Scientists quarrel about the fate of animals living in the 1,600 square mile exclusion zone.
An Iowa dad’s surprisingly short path from commentor to screenwriter.
When computer science legend Jim Gray disappeared, his friends and colleagues – including Bill Gates and Larry Ellison – used every technological tool at their disposal to try to find him.
“In the very near future, the act of remembering will become a choice.”
Inside the attempt to turn a World War II-era antiaircraft deck (that its owner claims is an independent nation) into “the world’s first truly offshore, almost-anything-goes electronic data haven.”
The autonomous car of the future is here:
I was briefly nervous when Urmson first took his hands off the wheel and a synthy woman’s voice announced coolly, “Autodrive.” But after a few minutes, the idea of a computer-driven car seemed much less terrifying than the panorama of indecision, BlackBerry-fumbling, rule-flouting, and other vagaries of the humans around us—including the weaving driver who struggles to film us as he passes.
On the French urban exploration group UX—”sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself.”
It had seemed simple in the beginning. Now everything was so complicated, he wasn’t sure what the truth was. He had to admit that he might have gotten involved with the wrong people—that he might have become part of a scam within a scam.
A profile of Christopher Soghoian whose “productions follow a similar pattern, a series of orchestrated events that lead to the public shaming of a large entity—Google, Facebook, the federal government—over transgressions that the 30-year-old technologist sees as unacceptable violations of privacy.”
A shipping container spewing radiation appears mysteriously at an Italian port, prompting a larger look at the anonymous world of international shipping.
An orgy of free song-sharing seems to be exactly the kind of thing that the horrified labels would quickly clamp down on. But they appear to be starting to accept that their fortunes rest with the geeks. Or at least they’re trying to talk a good game. “I’m not part of the past—I’m part of the future,” says Lucian Grainge, chair and CEO of the world’s biggest label, Universal Music Group. “There’s a new philosophy, a new way of thinking.”
On Sam Jain and Daniel Sundin, the fugitive kings of scareware.
On video game collectors’ “holy grail” – a Nintendo World Championships cartridge:
Wired.com tracked down some of the Nintendo World Championships participants and serious videogame collectors whose lives have touched by these coveted artifacts of a bygone 8-bit era. Here are their stories.
On riding China’s Qinghai-Tibet Railway just before it opened:
Staring out at the shimmering tracks and concrete-reinforced embankment extending to the horizon, I can’t help but think of the senior Chinese scientist who confessed to me that the rail line he helped build might not be safe for long.
The story of a small Latvian counterfeiting business that got far too big for its own good.
On digital animators’ quest to capture the endlessly complex human face.
In the early years of the Iraq war, the U.S. military developed a technology so secret that soldiers would refuse to acknowledge its existence, and reporters mentioning the gear were promptly escorted out of the country. That equipment—a radio-frequency jammer—was upgraded several times, and eventually robbed the Iraq insurgency of its most potent weapon, the remote-controlled bomb.
The bitter rivalry within the aerospace industry to produce unmanned combat aircrafts.
The placebo response doesn't care if the catalyst for healing is a triumph of pharmacology, a compassionate therapists, or a syringe of salt water. All it requires is a reasonable expectation of getting better.
Steven Levy’s piece on cypherpunks and Internet libertarians could not feel more relevant in the wake of WikiLeaks’ rise and the heavily scrutinized role of online organizing in recent revolutions. During Wired’s first year, I’d just gotten an Internet account and had somehow stumbled on the magazine. It became my guide to this hybrid life that we all live now, half-online, half-offline.
Investigating the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.
One of the most valuable cars in the world crashes going 200 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway. Its owner claims to be an anti-terrorism officer. In fact, he’s a former executive at a failed software company—and a career criminal. The unraveling of an epic con.
How the culture of academia helped Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama scientist who murdered colleagues during a faculty meeting, fall apart.
Tackling the science of cooking, one perfect french fry at a time.
A trip to Râmnicu Vâlcea, a town of 120,000 where the primary (and lucrative) industry is Internet scams.
“I’m not the kind of guy who hears voices. But that night, as I passed the station, I heard a little voice coming from the back of my head…‘If you do it that way, if you use that algorithm, there will be a flaw. The game will be flawed. You will be able to crack the ticket. You will be able to plunder the lottery.’”
On how 21st century culture shifts killed the nerd and what lies ahead.
In 2003, a man robbed a bank with a bomb around his neck. It exploded shortly thereafter, taking his life and leaving authorities to piece together who had put it there.
On boot camps designed to break kids of their web addiction.
Inside the world of competitive coding.
How Cantor Fitzgerald is bringing the principles of day trading to sports betting in Vegas.
William Gibson’s controversial take on the sanitized wonderland that is Singapore.
An interview with Douglas Hofstadter, who after winning the Pulitzer for Gödel, Escher, Bach retreated into the lab and published only sparingly in technical journals, on what it would mean if a program could generate humor and/or masterful compositions.
The article that spawned a school of thought; an elegy for the age of the megahit and a primer for the niche-based future.
Yes, 311 helped solve the mysterious case of the maple syrup smell. But with the data from more than 100 million calls, it’s primed to explain far more.
How virtual worlds like Ultima Online form economies and the sellers who make a living in digital goods.
The story of two Canadian artificial intelligence visionaries who became bitter rivals and then both committed suicide in the same month.
For most people who participate in clinical trials, being a guinea pig is just a way to make a quick buck. For others, it’s a career.
Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong tabloid tycoon, thinks he’s found the future of journalism: an animation assembly line that can crank out clips recreating–or anticipating, or imagining–breaking news.
An American, born into privilege, became a bootleg DVD kingpin in Shanghai and then, in an unprecedented development, landed in Chinese prison.
How a dental equipment salesman from Germany named Klaus Teuber invented the perfect board game, Settlers of Catan.
An early 1995 peek at what happens when secretive groups meet the Internet: a Scientology Usenet group, populated by believers and critics, stirs conflict that results in raids.
After his wife disappears, Hans Reiser’s defense contacts a Wired writer who they believe can help explain the world of groundbreaking code, video games, and sci-fi that defines Reiser’s existence.
75 years after its founding, it’s still hard to explain exactly why Alcoholics Anonymous works.
One of the founders of Google discovered that he carried a gene that meant a 50% chance of developing Parkinson’s. In response, he is working to change and expedite the way that Parkinson’s research is conducted.
The urban legend about the guy who hooked a rocket up to the back of his car and drove/flew it into a mountain? The anonymous author claims the story is about him and some of his small town high school buddies.
“The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.” –Steve Jobs, 1996
How $100 million in diamonds, gold and jewelry disappeared from Antwerp Diamond Center’s supersecure vault.
In the chaotic days before the Berlin Wall fell, the East German secret police shredded 45 million pages. Fifteen years later, a team of computer scientists figured out how to put it all back together.
What fragmented reading experiences do to neural circuitry. (It’s not good.)
He was an 18 year old Marine bound for Iraq. She was a high school senior in West Virginia. They grew intimate over IM. His dad also started contacting her. No one was who they claimed to be and it led to a murder.