The Peculiar Endurance of the Physical

Why Do We Still Have to Print out Forms, Sign Them, and Scan Them Back In?

Zócalo’s editors are highlighting some of our favorite pieces from the archive. This week: Cybersecurity scholar Josephine Wolff explains why the physical, handwritten signature endures even though few transactions actually require it.

Last summer, an exhibit at the Guggenheim—“The End of Signature” by Polish artist Agnieszka Kurant—used a mechanical autopen to produce identical signatures every 30 seconds. The artwork was inspired by the “decline of handwriting and the dominance of keystrokes and digital communication” and, indeed, there’s no doubt that all our lives involve much …

The Most Influential Southern Art School You Never Heard Of

At North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, Avant-Garde Artists Taught Students to Ignore Everything They Had Been Taught

“It must have been so much fun to be at Black Mountain,” a friend said the other day. She’d been up to Boston for the “Leap Before You Look” show …

The Laptops That Powered the American Revolution

Always on the Go, Our Founding Fathers Waged Their War of Words From the Mahogany Mobile Devices of Their Time

Delegate to the Continental Congress. Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. General Washington’s aide-de-camp. Secretary of state. President of the United States. Secretary of the treasury. During their lifetimes, Thomas Jefferson, …

Casanova Was More Than a Good Lover

The Infamous Seducer Wasn’t Merely After Conquest. He Chased Intelligent Conversation and Passionate Affairs to Remember.

He first saw Henriette when she was travelling with an army officer and disguised as a man, though everyone could tell that she was a beautiful woman. His love grew …

How the 1992 L.A. Riots Sparked My Imagination and Opened My Eyes

Research For My Novel Uncovered Tales of Survival in a City I Had Never Fully Known

I didn’t set out to write a book about the 1992 L.A. riots. In fact, if anyone had told me I’d end up writing a novel featuring 17 different first-person …

Novelist Neal Stephenson

Wanna Be a Writer? Write 10,000 Pages, Then Throw Them Away

Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic “The Baroque Cycle” and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. Before discussing the relationship between science …