Weekend tech reading: The rise and fall of Zynga

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How Zynga went from social gaming powerhouse to has-been In Zynga's July 2011 prospectus to future shareholders, company founder and CEO Mark Pincus outlined his firm's ambitious plan to take over the gaming world. "My kids decided a few months ago that peek-a-boo was their favorite game," he wrote. "While it's unlikely that we can improve upon this classic, I look forward to playing Zynga games with them very soon. When they enter high school, there's no doubt that they'll search on Google, they'll share with their friends on Facebook, and they'll probably do a lot of shopping on Amazon. And I'm planning for Zynga to be there when they want to play." Will it? At the time, Pincus had ample reason for confidence. Ars Technica

Smarter than you think: the internet isn't dumbing us down after all A writer for publications including The New York Times and Wired, Clive Thompson is used to defending the latest trends in digital technology from naysayers and skeptics. In 2008, he was one of the first to describe how sites like Twitter were about more than sharing what you had for breakfast. Now he’s written his first book, Smarter Than You Think, an investigation of how technology is helping us to learn more and retain information longer. Clive took some time to talk with us about the new book, distraction, MOOCs, and how he uses technology with his kids. The Verge

No child left untableted Sally Hurd Smith, a veteran teacher, held up her brand-new tablet computer and shook it as she said, "I don't want this thing to take over my classroom." It was late June, a month before the first day of school. In a sixth-grade classroom in Greensboro, N.C., a dozen middle-school social-studies teachers were getting their second of three days of training on tablets that had been presented to them as a transformative educational tool. Every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County’s 24 middle schools would receive one, 15,450 in all, to be used for class work, homework, educational games -- just about everything, eventually. The NY Times

The geeks on the front lines Inside a darkened conference room in the Miami Beach Holiday Inn, America's most badass hackers are going to war -- working their laptops between swigs of Bawls energy drink as Bassnectar booms in the background. A black guy with a soul patch crashes a power grid in North Korea. A stocky jock beside him storms a database of stolen credit cards in Russia. And a gangly geek in a black T-shirt busts into the Chinese Ministry of Information, represented by a glowing red star on his laptop screen. "Is the data secured?" his buddy asks him. "No," he replies with a grin. They're in. Rolling Stone

Intel open (source) inside out The Computer Weekly Open Source Insider blog caught up with Intel's VP of open source Imad Sousou at the firm's IDF Intel Developer Forum 2013 to get a brief history of open source Intel. Intel reminds us that as we stand today, we are twenty years (plus) on from the time when the open-source evolution/revolution started to reshape entire industries. Intel has been developing its processor architecture prowess for 45 years now and further says that it has been at the heart of the movement since Linus Torvalds launched the Linux kernel on Intel architecture in 1991. Computer Weekly

E-ZPasses get read all over New York (not just at toll booths) After spotting a police car with two huge boxes on its trunk -- that turned out to be license-plate-reading cameras -- a man in New Jersey became obsessed with the loss of privacy for vehicles on American roads. (He's not the only one.) The man, who goes by the Internet handle "Puking Monkey," did an analysis of the many ways his car could be tracked and stumbled upon something rather interesting: his E-ZPass, which he obtained for the purpose of paying tolls, was being used to track his car in unexpected places, far away from any toll booths. Forbes

Cage: The future of game narratives will be designed with Scorsese algorithms Video game narratives will continue to evolve based off of technology that mimics the style of film directors, according to Quantic Dream studio head David Cage during his BAFTA Games keynote in London. In a lecture focusing on the artistic possibilities of games development, Cage looked to the potential future of gaming narratives, suggesting that narrative design will eventually take its influence directly from filmmakers whose famous directorial styles will be procedurally generated by algorithms. Polygon

Wikipedia will fail in four years (authored in 2006) In theory, Wikipedia draws on the collective wisdom of its readers. Instead, Wikipedia is run principally by a fairly small group of hardcore Wikipedians. In June 2005, Benkler estimated that Wikipedia had 46,000 contributors (contributed 10+ times), 17,000 active contributors (5x in last month) and 3,000 very active contributors (100x in last month). Separately, Jimmy Wales reportedly said that 0.7% of Wikipedia's users have made 50% of all Wikipedia edits and 1.8% of users have written more than 72% of all articles... Eric Goldman

With 30 tuners and 30 TB of storage, SnapStream makes TiVos look like toys When you're picking out a DVR for your home, there's a pretty short list of candidates -- TiVo has its new 6-tuner DVRs, or you can get something from your cable provider, or you can roll your own. But consumer-grade DVRs don't really scale all that well for media companies that need to record and process lots of TV. When you've got 30 or more channels that you need to be recording simultaneously, your cable company's DVR isn't really up to snuff anymore and it's time to call in the big guns. Ars Technica

Honor among gamers The gaming world, particularly the multiplayer hemisphere, is rife with diverse moralities that run the gamut from zealous, near-self-sacrificial restraint to über-Darwinian brutality that would make even the Zerg proud.  We all know someone who would rather finish a round 0-27 than succumb to using "cheap" tactics or an overpowered weapon.  On the other hand, we all know that one guy who would strap C4 to his grandmother and send her to the enemy HQ with a plate of freshly-baked cookies just to maximize the body count. True PC Gaming

Here's what post-IPO Twitter is going to look like What does it mean for you that Twitter is going public? Here’s a safe bet: You’ll hear about Twitter going public a lot. Here’s another: You’ll see more ads. But not just any ads. Twitter, a company that could have easily gone public years ago, waited until it had a type of ad that was truly its own. A type of ad that at least has the possibility of making real money, rather than just a lot of money, and the type of ad that nobody else could really sell. It had to monopolize something, and it did. BuzzFeed

In-car brainwave scanning security system prevents carjacking, and drunk/tired driving An engineer in Japan has developed an always-on biometric security system for your car. If the system detects that you’re no longer "driving normally," be it via carjacking, falling asleep, or intoxication, the engine cuts out. This system uses an EEG -- a brainwave scanner -- to transparently and continuously authenticate your ability to operate the vehicle. In almost every case, security systems are based on one-time authentication methods... ExtremeTech

Exclusive: BlackBerry bidders may want to carve up business A handful of potential bidders, including private equity firms, are lining up to look at BlackBerry Ltd, but initial indications suggest that interest is tepid and buyers are eyeing parts of the Canadian smartphone maker rather than the whole company, several sources familiar with the situation said. Private equity firms are mostly interested in businesses such as BlackBerry's operating system and the patents around its keyboard, two of the sources said. Reuters

Research shows that it may be time to let software, rather than hardware, manage high-speed on-chip memory banks In today's computers, moving data to and from main memory consumes so much time and energy that microprocessors have their own small, high-speed memory banks, known as "caches," which store frequently used data. Traditionally, managing the caches has required fairly simple algorithms that can be hard-wired into the chips. Phys.org

Argentina, Brazil agree on cyber-defense alliance against US espionage Defense ministers of Brazil and Argentina have pledged to cooperate closely to improve cyber defense capabilities following revelations of the scale of US spying on Latin American countries. “We need to reflect on how we cooperate to face these new forms of attack," Brazil's defense minister, Celso Amorim, said at a conference in Buenos Aires. RT

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