We Still Don't Know What the Vast Majority of Our DNA Does

Welcome to Reading List, a weekly collection of great tech reads from around the web. This week we explore the bizarre sex-in-a-box reality show, watch a writer compose an article in real-time, and learn how a single bulb can hack a whole smart home. Enjoy!


  • For a long time it was believed that some 98% of the human genome was "noncoding"—essentially "junk" DNA that served no known function. Now, scientists are starting to question that assumption. The New York Times has the story. [New York Times]
  • The story on how electronic spreadsheets transformed the economy may not sound fascinating, but Steven Levy's article on Backchannel may change your mind. When ledger sheets gave way to the first "visible calculation" computer program in 1979, it not only sparked a business transformation Levy compares to the transcontinental railroad, it also inspired a "virtual cult" of spreadsheet gurus. [Backchannel]
  • Sex Box is a reality show that's exactly what it sounds like: people having sex in a box. Except—all the sex is censored. WTF? Slate's TV critic Willa Paskin covers the bizarre scenario. [Slate]
  • A very cool article from FiveThirtyEight's Chadwick Matlin let's you watch the real-time self-editing process of Matlin writing the article. It's very meta and super interesting to watch. It uses a newish app called Draftback that can record your every keystroke and thus gives us a peek into how writers write. [FiveThirtyEight]
  • Fusion tells the story of a computer science professor who built himself one of the first super-connected smart homes, and wound up getting his entire home hacked by a single connected lightbulb performing a DoS attack to say "Change me." [Fusion]
  • TNR profiles Mamoru Samuragochi, the Japanese composer dubbed the "digital age Beethoven." His claim to be deaf throughout his acclaimed career and experience living through the atomic bomb made him legendary. Later, the truth came out. [The New Republic]
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