May 15, 2017


For the past several months, I’ve been complementing my podcast regimen with narrated long-form journalism via an excellent new service called Audm.

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September 6, 2013

Audio Things!

I’ve really gotten into podcasts this summer. Normally, I find them difficult to focus my attention on, but some habits I’ve picked up recently have helped with this: I started running regularly, and I started playing Euro Truck Simulator 2. In fact, I liked the latter so much that I started a blog about it at

Just as French Fries are my delivery vehicles for ketchup, these new activities are my delivery vehicles for podcasts.

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July 25, 2009

In Defense of Sweatshops

Back in 2001, I made a satirical site for Nike Sweatshops, arguing that poverty is a great thing for capitalism. Poverty is a great thing for capitalism, but Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist—which I recently picked up from Dog Eared Books and finished this morning—offers an excellent explanation for why sweatshops and similar forms of foreign investment are ultimately a good thing for the world. What impresses me most about The Undercover Economist is Harford’s underlying humanitarianism. ... Read more

August 15, 2008

Herdict: The Verdict of the Herd

I’m still in the middle of reading The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, but one of the major “take-aways” from the book is a software suite that Zittrain has been working on at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society called Herdict, which is a portmanteau of “herd” and “verdict”. From what I understand, one component of the suite, Herdict for Network Health, is a Firefox/IE plug-in that allows an end-user’s computer to tell “the herd”—that is, the other users of the software as a single anonymous entity—what sites it can access. ... Read more

July 30, 2008

Towards Inter-Community Trust

In my recent post on Trusting Functionality I alluded to a socially-based framework for trust that would allow software to be generative and safe at the same time. When trying to figure out a solution to this problem, I realized that there are already communities on the internet that have built-in social mechanisms for trust. Python, for example, is a language notorious for its lack of protection against untrusted code. Yet we don’t see much concern that a Python script may contain malicious code, even though it has the ability to do whatever it wants to our computer. ... Read more

June 8, 2008

The Morality of Bottled Water recently published an interesting interview with Elizabeth Royte, the author of a new book called Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. It’s definitely worth a read, I think. One of the biggest takeaways from it is the fact that the whole “8 cups of water a day” maxim isn’t so much a myth as a misinterpretation that’s been promulgated by the water industry: yes, we need 8 cups of water a day, but we already get most of it from the water contained in the food we eat. ... Read more

August 1, 2005

Slightly Old Stuff

The following is a summary of stuff I worked on before the new Toolness was created, but after I stopped maintaining any of my old sites. Programming Narrowcaster - During the summer of 2004, I realized how great RSS syndication was and decided to get an aggregator. Unfortunately, all of them were horribly complicated: highly modal interfaces, tons of tabs and controls and buttons to mess around with and what have you. ... Read more

July 31, 2005

Another Beginning

Well, the new Toolness has been launched. You can read about what this site is for here.

© Atul Varma 2021