After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.
Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident, is now Germany's federal commissioner of the Stasi archives. His agency is painstakingly piecing together the shredded documents of the former East German secret police. Jahn is shown here in March 2011 at a former Stasi prison at Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen.
Credit Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images
A worker in the former headquarters of the Stasi sorts hundreds of thousands of torn or shredded Stasi documents in January. Workers are sifting through thousands of bags, containing between 50,000 and 80,000 fragments each.
With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.
In the mid-1970s, a man approached singer Kenny Rogers after a performance in the lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton. The mysterious stranger simply said, "Hey, man, I really like your music." Rogers learned later that the fan at the dressing-room door had been Elvis Presley.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Fla. <em>Slate Magazine's</em> John Dickerson says likeability doesn't matter as much in a presidential campaign as you might think.
William Lowndes was a congressman from South Carolina who served in the early part of the 19th century. He was once asked to describe who should serve as chief executive.
"The presidency is not an office to be either solicited or declined," he said.
In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes didn't even vote for himself. He saw it as unseemly. And in 1916, Woodrow Wilson called campaigning "a great interruption to the rational consideration of public questions."