Nicholas Thompson

World Wide Wash

Unfortunately, as Shanthi Kalathil and Taylor C. Boas argue in their fascinating and extremely useful new book, Open Networks, Closed Regimes, that shouldn’t surprise. The Internet hasn’t really helped global democracy, and it hasn’t built a global civil society either. In some countries, authoritarian governments have even been able to use the Internet to entrench… Read more »

Bill’s Excellent Adventure

Six years later, when Serbian forces cut loose in Kosovo, Clinton threw Powell’s doctrine out the window. Obviously unclear about his goals, the president alienated Republican and Democratic traditionalists alike. The United States certainly didn’t use decisive force, nor did we pursue a clear objective: Were we trying to force Milosevic from power, or just… Read more »

Finding The Civil Service’s Hidden Sex Appeal

But if you call NASA to ask Ridge about his wonderful government job, you’ll have some trouble finding him. Turns out he left town not long after posing for the brochure. Now he develops supercomputing technology called Beowulf clusters for Scyld, a startup company in Maryland. He didn’t leave because he wanted more money—he’s earning… Read more »

Why Gore should get credit for the economic boom

That time was August 1993, when, in the midst of economic malaise created by the phenomenal budget deficits of the Reagan/Bush years (economist Paul Krugman called it “The Age of Diminished Expectations”) Bill Clinton and Al Gore twisted arms and cajoled Democratic allies to pass their Budget Act through Congress and the Senate. The Act… Read more »


We make most everything by tearing stuff apart. To make paper, we plant trees, chop them down, and send the wood through our mills. To make spoons, we yank iron up out of the earth, drop it into blast furnaces to make steel, and then mold and shape it at extreme temperatures. But what if… Read more »