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Since the 60s, countercultures have subverted mainstream tech to connect and build community

From the Whole Earth Catalogue to Facebook drag queens: a short history of online counterculture.

How tech can help build a more sustainable fashion future

Our digital tech both facilitates and mitigates waste in the garment industry. But can the technology that ramped up global fashion production also help us build a more sustainable fashion future?
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The Spark Guide to Civilization

Each episode in this 10-part series is a deep dive into a single issue in society and how we've managed it over the course of civilization, through technological innovation and design.

How the invention of the lens helped us see the world more clearly

The glass lens has allowed us to correct our vision, see the furthest objects in the sky, and the smallest objects on the Earth. Oh, and there's photography and film as well.

Why we became more nostalgic during the pandemic

In times of crisis, it seems baked into our humanity to turn to retro and analog activities as a way to cope. Why is cultural nostalgia so often a reaction to the present time?

We're trapped in an upgrade cycle whether we like it or not

The origins of planned obsolescence, and the ethics of creating disposable devices in a future of scarcity and climate change.

It wasn't just you - the pandemic really did make it hard to focus on anything

Humans have always worried about dwindling attention spans and loss of focus. So why does it feel so extra in the digital age?

Individual privacy is a relatively recent idea in human history

The notion of privacy has evolved over thousands of years and is tightly woven with power. What might that mean for our future?
First Person

Waking up in the middle of the night? Thank your pre-industrial ancestors

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! Everybody sleeps. But how has the way we sleep evolved with the technology we've developed?

How the pandemic put building design and ventilation back into the public health conversation

What the historical relationship between public health and public spaces can teach us as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Planning the future of transportation? Think sustainability, social equity, experts say 

How tech from the wheel to just-in-time delivery architecture changed the way humans have been able to move, expand their horizons and shrink their world.

Fifty years of email, the correspondence we love to hate

From hieroglyphs to instant messaging, humans have been attempting to perfect the way we correspond with one another. And still, we love to hate to email.

Computer chips that mimic the brain may be the next big thing in computing

The history of computing laid the groundwork for today's innovations, such as using the brain as a model for computing.

The case for (and against) vaccine passports

Vaccine passports need to be uniform, simple, and not contain extraneous private information, says expert.

Pandemic presents opportunity to rethink our cities for tourism and living, says urban designer

Using big data to rethink urban tourism in cities strained by overtourism like Venice.

YouTube videos an 'important cultural artifact' of our life, says researcher

YouTube has all but a monopoly on online video. What would happen if it were to disappear entirely?

Something's rotten in the state of the internet, and archivists are worried

How do we preserve 'the record' when web pages get taken down, reassigned, or simply disappear?

Could face and voice recognition become the new 'phrenology'?

We have technologies for identifying many physical characteristics, from DNA, to facial recognition, and even voice. But how accurate are these techniques? And can the same tools for identifying us be used to control and surveil us? The future of biometrics.

Indigenous Futurisms: Changing the narrative in science fiction and fact

How do Indigenous Peoples fit into futuristic narratives? And not just in science fiction, but also in the tech world?

Computer chips that mimic the brain may be the next big thing in computing

The history of computing laid the groundwork for today's innovations, such as using the brain as a model for computing.

When the chips are down: material scarcity in the tech industry

All signs point to the chip shortage coming to an end, but what about materials that aren't only scarce, but have no substitutes?

How to make culturally appropriate persuasive games

We can use our love of games for behaviour change and to explore serious issues. But how do we design these games effectively, and what are the ethics of serious games?

Online games have become a big part of our pandemic lives

As people continue to look for opportunities to socialize at a distance, more and more are using game play to socialize right now. The video game industry is facing some real challenges nonetheless.

It's time to take back control of our data and become active data citizens, says author

What does it mean to be a good data citizen? Data artist and author Jer Thorp discusses how to build the information future we want. And political scientist Branka Panic talks about how data and machine learning can be used in conflict resolution and human rights.
First Person

Waking up in the middle of the night? Thank your pre-industrial ancestors

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! Everybody sleeps. But how has the way we sleep evolved with the technology we've developed?

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