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Tech Week That Was: Surveillance Scope, Apple's Retail Hire

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is moving to Apple, where she will head the company's retail division.
Mark Lennihan
Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is moving to Apple, where she will head the company's retail division.

It's time for your Friday week in review, a look at the big headlines and conversation in the tech and culture space.


On the air, we continued to follow the ongoing failures of websites designed to sign people up for the new health insurance exchanges. I chatted with All Things Considered about how an old technology — pen and paper — is what a lot of folks are turning to in light of repeated issues with trying to sign up online. (The folks at Reason magazine say we have no idea when the problems will be fixed.) Steve Henn looked at how Silicon Valley may have been able to do the job much better than the tech contractors who built the behemoth.

Also this week, Steve introduced us to new technology that gives parents a better way to track their teen drivers. On the blog, our pals at Turnstyle featured an innovative Indian man who is helping women in rural areas with his maxi pad machine, and our weekly innovation pick was a USB charger that's powered by fire.

The Big Conversations

Tech companies are business titans, and this week Apple's hire of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as the tech giant's new retail chief signaled the company's interest in fast growth in Asia. As Twitter readies for its IPO, it continues to roll out changes to user capabilities and its platform. This week, it announced a change to who can send you direct messages (it's no longer only people you follow). And more revelations about the scope of NSA surveillance — The Washington Post reported that the NSA is collecting hundreds of millions of email and instant messaging contact lists. The New Yorker explained why these stories are troubling.

Other Curiosities

Vice: Online Booksellers Are Increasingly Afraid of Selling Smut

The dark corner of the Amazon Kindle store gets some attention.

The Atlantic: Someone Has Solved The Supreme Court's Angry Email Problem

Good ol' pen and paper seems to be a theme, eh? At the Supreme Court, justices avoid firing off angry emails with their innovative system: only handwritten memos.

Finally, your blogger is on the road today, in Atlanta with 1,200 other journalists, technologists and educators for the Online News Association annual confab. The conversations here focus heavily on the tech-powered reporting and distribution methods that are changing the game for traditional journalism — data, mobile and networks. "2014 is about anticipatory computing revolution for the masses," predicts digital strategist Amy Webb, who spoke Friday morning about how predictive elements like Google Now and smart virtual personal assistants are taking over. Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard will be covering other big themes to emerge from here. Stay tuned.

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Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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