Human Nature is on vacation and won't be back till after New Year's. In the spirit of the holidays, I'd like to thank each of you for staying in touch as a reader and, I hope, as a correspondent . In fact, I'd like to ask one favor of you: Tell me how you'd like me to do my job differently.
The mission of this column is to explore the ways in which science and technology are changing how we live, what we think, and who we are. It's a huge and growing part of modern life. Traditional media have covered it poorly, I think, because they're too accustomed to the old system of beats. There's the science beat, where you cover the latest studies. There's the health beat, where you cover the human body. And then there are political and cultural beats, which address how we live and govern ourselves.
The problem with the old system is that technology is moving so fast, and transforming society so extensively, that we can no longer adequately cover politics and culture without accounting for science and technology. Nor can we cover science and technology without examining how they're affecting culture and politics. Hence this column.
With that framework in mind, which topics should I be covering more? Which developments am I missing? Which questions am I neglecting to ask? And while you're at it: Which formats do you prefer to read? How often do you want to be updated? Do you prefer the longer pieces of previous years? The quick headline links of last spring? The daily, medium-length blog items of the last month or so? Something else?
Who are your favorite writers on science and technology? Your favorite news sources? Your favorite blogs? Last spring I drew up a list of blogs and news outlets. I'll probably adapt it to run in the right-hand column of this page. Should I add to it? If I narrow it, which links should I keep? Got any good books to recommend?
One thing I've come to admire about science, as opposed to politics, is its humility. Today's proudest theories are always at the mercy of tomorrow's inconvenient data, and today's seemingly straightforward data are always open to being reshuffled by tomorrow's perspective-shifting theories. We have a lot to learn from each other.
So give me your best advice . I can't learn without you. And I'll be back to return the favor in 2009.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.