Saying Farewell to World Wide Wade
They say it’s better to quit while you’re ahead, and I believe them. It’s easy to see what happens when you don’t. Remember season 7 of The West Wing? The second term of Ulysses S. Grant’s presidency? All of the Star Wars prequels?
With precedents like that in mind, I’m shutting down World Wide Wade. This is my final column under that intentionally goofy title. If you are a follower, don’t worry—I’ll be back next week with a new column under a new name. (In fact, next week will be full of surprises here at Xconomy, so stay tuned.) But after five years and 228 columns, it’s time to shake things up a bit.
I started the column for a simple reason. As I wrote back in April 2008, when Xconomy was still focused solely on Boston:
Every week I come across news items, tech trends, and useful gadgets and services that I know Xconomy’s readers would find interesting, but that don’t fit with our usual lineup of hyperlocal news stories about Boston’s innovation scene. To create an outlet for such random finds…we’ve decided to carve out a bit of space for articles that don’t necessarily relate to New England.
Even as Xconomy has expanded far beyond the Northeast, I’ve continued to use this space every Friday to investigate obscure technologies, raise questions no one else seems to be asking, or light up under-appreciated subjects or companies, with a heavy emphasis on the “random.”
To cap things off and provide a map of sorts for interested readers, I thought I’d try to organize the best columns into some clearly labeled buckets. Click around in the lists below, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of the themes I’ve been most obsessed with over the last few years.
Diagnosing Big Trends
I’ve argued that the Internet encourages introversion (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and written about how the accelerating pace of modern life is actually a good thing. Sometimes the hardware or software we buy keeps getting better even after we bought it; I called that consumer surplus. On the other side of the ledger, I wrote about how technology is taking jobs away. I started a directory of food-tech startups—a category that’s now booming—and wrote about how Internet video is endangering the traditional university.
The Future of Television
I’ve written about how to turn your HDTV into a digital art canvas. I’ve asked whether it makes sense to cut the cord and live without cable TV, and pointed out how the networks and cable companies are holding back innovation. I’ve spent a lot of time with streaming devices like the Roku Player and Apple TV. I’ve covered companies like Dijit Media that hope to change the way people find shows to watch and asked what if your next TV is a tablet? I’ve even reviewed a couple of tech-related TV shows, including The Last Enemy and Fringe.
Desktop, Web, and Mobile Mapping
I’ve covered censorship on Google Maps, and showed how to use online maps to locate abandoned highways. Google Earth has come up several times in the column—I’ve written about the effort to populate it with 3D buildings, tools for contributing your own 3D structures, and how its layers of historical photos can help solve modern-day detective stories. I’ve also written about the sport of geocaching and how you can use your iPhone or your iPad to make it more fun.
I panned the first Kindle and talked about what Amazon could do to improve it, then talked about why you shouldn’t buy a Kindle at all, and then promptly bought one myself and fell in love with it. I’ve complained about high e-book prices and talked about how I published my first Kindle e-book (a compendium of World Wide Wade columns called Pixel Nation) and why it’s dumb for authors to keep their e-books off Amazon. I covered Vook’s multimedia e-books. I’ve talked about how some e-books make poor use of the iPad and others look fantastic. I’ve written about the e-textbook wars in education circles and speculated that schools are Apple’s real target with the iPad mini.
Media for Learning
I’ve waxed elegaic about the golden age of multimedia CD-ROMs in the 1990s, the bounty of free course material at iTunes U, and several cool educational tools from Microsoft, including Project Tuva and the World Wide Telescope. I’ve written several times about TouchPress, a UK-based publisher of iPad apps that may yet bring back the golden age.
I’ve explored the new vogue for camera phone photography, the rise of HDR photography, and how you can use your consumer point-and-shoot camera to make gigapixel images. I chronicled the fascinating early days of Microsoft’s Photosynth app, and have kept tabs on the best photo apps for tablets. I’ve worried about what might happen if Flickr died (thankfully, it looks like it won’t). I covered the debut of the revolutionary Lytro light-field camera and wrote about how Lytro may change the way we think about 3D imaging.
The Rebirth of Radio