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Death of Diaspora, a smart lock for your door, best Rube Goldberg machine ever in this weekend’s staff picks

Digital Trends Staff Picks

Micah Abrams: The little social network that couldn’t

Set phasers to Instapaper and navigate your browser to Motherboard, where Alec Liu takes a deep, deep dive into the triumphant-turned-tragic story of Diaspora. Heralded as a populist retort to Facebook, and quickly enmeshed in the thornier aspects of tech’s start up culture, Diaspora went from white-hot concept to cautionary tale in just two years, churning through funding, relationships, and — ultimately — lives, in the process. It’s a story that sprawls from the troubling implications of Facebook’s social media domination to the operatic relationship dynamics between brilliant, well-funded, and totally unprepared young men, and Liu handles all the various threads with a deft touch and insightful reporting. If you only read one 7,000 word article about technology this week, make it this one.

diaspora social network


Caleb Denison: Great idea, terrible hair

Lockitron is the coolest Internet-connected home product I’ve seen since the Nest thermostat. I’m usually pretty good as poking holes in new devices, but these guys have thought about everything. Essentially a way to control your home locks remotely, Lockitron is web-enabled to allow you to lock and unlock at will. It works with any mobile phone, can be operated by text message and, thanks to Bluetooth, it turns your home into that Mercedes you can’t afford by providing keyless entry. Access can be scheduled like with hotel keycards, which makes airbnb seem like a much better idea. Honestly, the only thing I can see worth harping on is the hair situation going on with the inventors. Seriously, guys: mow those manes!


Andrew Couts: The ins and outs of the 3D revolution 

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to dive head first into the world of 3D printing at Maker Faire NYC, an event that featured the increasing array of 3D printers available to a do-it-yourself public. Unfortunately, the giddy vibe at Maker Faire only showed the optimistic side of this growing movement. For an in-depth look at the world of 3D printing and its implications for the world, check out “How To Make Anything,” a meticulous feature by Neil Gershenfeld of Foreign Affairs. In it, he explores 3D printing’s “ability to turn data into things and things into data,” and how this could change the world of physical goods, just as the personal computer expanded our digital universe.

Natt Garun: Rube Goldberg Parkour

When I was a dorky little kid, one of the things that excited me the most in science class was the Rube Goldberg machine concept. Every time I saw it on TV, I really wanted to attempt the same, but my contraptions only went as far as a few dominoes, flimsy books, and just a whole lot of mess.

These days, I just leave the inventions up to the professionals. Take for example Jason Paul’s Rube Goldberg Parkour — a concept that combines my favorite science experiment with an urban obstacle course. The Rube Goldberg, in this case, is powered entirely by humans. At one point in the course, Jason Paul is literally jumping from a giant storage unit to another, just to have them all fall down as he runs out of the way and into safety. Just have a watch and tell me the video isn’t one of the sickest thing you’ve witnessed this weekend.

Jeffrey Van Camp: All about Neeson

Taken 2‘s early reviews (17 percent on RT) aren’t promising, but I’ll probably see it anyway this weekend. I have Neeson on the brain lately. Somehow, a 60-year-old man has become the biggest action star in Hollywood, and it’s mostly because he’s a damn good actor. In the last year, he’s been in Unknown, The Grey, Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, and The Dark Knight Rises. These films have have been hit (The Grey) and miss (Battleship), but Neeson remains the most dangerous man on screen today. 

This isn’t a new clip, but I’ve watched it a few times this week. It’s from Life’s Too Short on HBO. Liam Neeson decides that he wants to be a stand up comedian, and he’s deadly serious about it. 

Ryan Fleming: Vice Presidential debates

Earlier this week, 67 million people tuned in to watch the theater of politics that was the first of the Presidential debates. The odds are exceptionally high that if you watched you have an opinion of who won, what it all means, who had the prettier tie, etcetera.

Governor Romney and President Obama square off once again on Tuesday, October 16, but if you are among the poor wretches unfortunate enough to be considered a political junkie, then you don’t have to wait that long to get your fix. This Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan will step in to the steel cage (figurative) and fight to the bloody end (also figurative)!

Traditionally, the VP debates are more to make sure neither person screws up so badly they drag the ticket down, but there have been some memorable battles, and neither Biden nor Ryan have traditionally been known to be quiet people. It should be “fun!”

debates