Alix Spiegel/NPR on Wednesday, Apr. 3rd
From NPR’s All Things Considered.
Were people happier in the 1950s than they are today? Or were they more frustrated, repressed and sad?
To find out, you’d have to compare the emotions of one generation to another. British anthropologists think they may have found the answer — embedded in literature.
Several years ago, more or less on a lark, a group of researchers from England used a computer program to analyze the emotional content of books from every year of the 20th century — close to a billion words in millions of books. (more…)
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Heather Chaplin, NPR on Friday, Mar. 22nd
From All Tech Considered, technology news from NPR
This generation of video game consoles will be remembered for over-the-top, knock-you-out-of-your-seat extravaganza games like Halo, Call of Duty — and Gears of War, a juggernaut of a game. The first three Gears of War sold 19 million units, making it a $1 billion franchise. And the latest, Gears of War: Judgment, has just hit stores at a crucial time in the video game industry — sales are down, new Xbox and PlayStation consoles are due out, and mobile gaming is growing. In a lot of ways, what’s happening with Gears of War is emblematic of what the industry as a whole is going through. (more…)
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Steve Henn, NPR on Tuesday, Feb. 19th
Many people think 3-D printing could help spark a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. — even President Obama highlighted this technology in his State of the Union address last week.
But as 3-D printers and 3-D scanners get cheaper, this nascent industry could be roiled by battles over intellectual property.
Not so long ago, a good 3-D scanner that could create accurate digital models of objects in the real world cost more than $10,000. Then, Microsoft released the Kinect — the video game controller that allows you to play games by just waving your hands.
“But it turned out that the Kinect was actually much more than that — it was a 3-D camera but one-hundredth of the price,” says Nicolas Burrus, co-founder of manctl, a 3-D scanning company. (more…)
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SARAH ZIELINSKI/NPR on Thursday, Nov. 15th
Some rappers have an impressive ability to make up lyrics on the fly, in a style known as freestyle rap.
These performers have a lot in common with jazz musicians, it turns out.
Scientists have found artists in both genres are using their brains in similar ways when they improvise.
A group of jazz pianists had their heads examined in a 2008 PLOS One study, which subjected the musicians to functional magnetic resonance imaging scans. These scans highlight areas of brain activity. (more…)
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LAURA SYDELL, NPR's MORNING EDITION on Thursday, Sep. 27th
Hear the radio version of this story at NPR’s ‘The Record’.
YouTube is well-known for videos, but a recent Nielsen study revealed 64 percent of teens and young adults go to it to listen to and discover music. The free website, which is owned by Google, has set up advertising deals to help musicians get compensated. But it’s not clear how they’re getting paid — or how much. (more…)
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FRANNIE KELLEY, NPR'S Morning Edition on Tuesday, Sep. 25th
By now, everyone’s heard of Kickstarter, the website that lets people with an idea or project ask other people to contribute toward realizing it. It’s called crowd funding, and this summer’s big success story was musician Amanda Palmer. She raised more than $1 million to produce her new album. But crowd funding doesn’t work for every musician every time.
Internet-based crowd funding works sort of like a bake sale. You pay a little bit more than that cupcake’s market value, and when your friends ask where you got it, you tell them the gym needs a new roof and the 11th grade is raising money to fix it. Album sales are less than half what they were 10 years ago. Your local musician needs a new roof.
The Seattle-based hip-hop group The Physics put out its first album five years ago without the help of a record label. The group played all over its hometown, toured the country and hit the festival circuit. But it wasn’t until this summer that the Physics decided to try a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of their latest album — their fourth. (more…)
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NPR on Tuesday, Sep. 4th
Listen to this excellent All Things Considered story by KQED’s Aarti Shahani at NPR.org. Then head over to Branch for a discussion with tech writer Noah Nelson about whether or not Kickstarter needs to evolve.
Crowd funding began as a way to support the arts on the Internet. Artists could go online to pitch a new album, for example, in the hope that thousands would give small amounts. But now it’s expanded to entrepreneurs, and the rules aren’t quite as clear.
On Kickstarter, the largest crowd-funding site, a handful of entrepreneurs have raised millions of dollars more than they’d expected, by selling the concept of products they have yet to make. But financial backers have no clear way of getting a refund if the young businesses fail to deliver. (more…)
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NPR on Friday, Jun. 8th
This is a painting of man. But it’s also a painting on a man. His skin and clothing have become a canvas for Alexa Meade, an artist based in Washington, D.C. The result is striking -– especially when the subject leaves his acrylic world.
First-time viewers of these “Living Paintings” usually react in disbelief: “Wait, that’s a real person?” Even Meade’s first model, whom she painted back in 2009, mistook a photo of himself for a two-dimensional portrait.
Once you’ve convinced your stubborn brain that yes, these are living figures with depth, breadth and breath, there is a kind of joy in knowing the secret. My favorite pieces are those in which the “real,” unpainted world intrudes. I feel like I’m backstage -– I know the magician’s trick.
“I’m not painting on a static canvas,” Meade says. “My brush strokes are a product of my mood and the mood of the model. It almost feels like a collaboration at times.”
Meade paints, photographs and destroys each piece in a single day (she can’t send her subjects home covered in paint) so she has to work fast. Sometimes she uses a household broom as a brush to paint large sections and speed things up.
“It’s part of the adrenaline rush,” Meade says. “Everything is in the moment — I can’t take a step back to look over the painting. I just have to trust my instincts.”
On Wednesday I visited Meade’s interactive installation at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Two women, costumed in paint, posed and shifted and posed. It was a little eerie. Some paintings have eyes that follow you around the room but usually their bodies don’t come along.
Small windows cut into the backdrops invited viewers to occupy the artwork. I queued up with a few friends to have my photo taken; we all wanted a chance to disrupt the illusion.
At the end of the day, Meade’s models peel a thick layer of acrylic from their bodies and performance of the piece is over. What remains is portraiture in triplicate: A photo of a painting of a person, and the real person hidden somewhere underneath.
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NPR on Tuesday, May. 29th
One of the day’s most-discussed stories has to be The New York Times‘ report headlined “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves A Test Of Obama’s Principles And Will.”
It’s a long, detailed look at how the president has “placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.”
Obama himself, the Times‘ Joe Becker and Scott Shane report, approves “every new name on an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.” Those who end up on the list become targets of potential drone strikes.
This afternoon, All Things Considered host Melissa Block asked Shane what surprised him most among the things he and Becker discovered.
For Shane, it was the Defense Department’s “rather open process by which they nominate” suspects to that kill list. As he and Becker wrote:
“It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.”
It is “this strange, secret trial in a way,” Shane told Melissa.
The nominees get sent to the White House, where the president and his top advisers hold “Terror Tuesday” meetings to go over the list and related topics. If, when it comes time to fire a missile at one of the suspects and it appears there might be family members or other civilians nearby, Obama “has reserved to himself the final moral calculation,” the Times reports.
More from Melissa’s conversation with Shane is due on All Things Considered later today. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we’ll add the as-broadcast version of the interview to the top of this post.
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NPR on Wednesday, May. 16th
Alexander Arbuckle, the defendant in the first Occupy Wall Street case to go to trial, has been found not guilty after video of the incident he was involved in showed him breaking no laws. The Village Voice reports:
“The protesters, including Arbuckle, were in the street blocking traffic, Officer Elisheba Vera testified. The police, on the sidewalk, had to move in to make arrests to allow blocked traffic to move. But there was a problem with the police account: it bore no resemblance to photographs and videos taken that night.”
In an ironic twist, Arbuckle was actually working on a New York University photojournalism project aimed at defending police officers working at Occupy protests when he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
“I felt the police had been treated unfairly on [sic] the media,” he said to the Village Voice. “All the focus was on the conflict and the worst instances of brutality and aggression, where most of the police I met down there were really professional and restrained.”
Occupy videographer and indefatigable live-streamer Tim Pool‘s clip was used as evidence along with the NYPD’s own video footage in the trial. The video shows protesters clearly using the sidewalk like they were asked to. (Watch the arrest around minute 35 of Pool’s video.)
“What’s happening is very similar to what happened in 2004 with the Republican National Convention,” Arbuckle’s lawyer told the Voice. “It’s just a symptom of how the NYPD treats dissent. But what has changed is that there is more prevalence of video. It really makes our job a lot easier to have that video.”
Pool, who has used an iPhone, solar-powered backpack and even a drone to stream Occupy protests, has been central to the movement’s emphasis on transparency and constantly capturing the movement using new media tools. The Nation profiled the visibility efforts in March:
“By embracing transparency and pursuing maximum visibility, the protest on Wall Street provided, in the words of one activist, a ‘virtual template for occupation’ that inspired people around the world to follow suit. …
“But Occupy’s habit of obsessive self-documentation isn’t just pragmatic—it’s a matter of principle deeply woven into its DNA. ‘Without a doubt, a founding principle of OWS is transparency,’ says Carrie, a member of the Occupy Wall Street facilitation and minutes working groups (who asked that I not give her last name).”
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I don't normally use the weekly WATCH THIS slot to spotlight a trailer.
As you all undoubtedly already know, Google Glass is finally here.
Now streaming: the archive of our Google Hangout On-Air with Jesse Vigil of Psychic Bunny, one of the designers of the new audio adventure game FREEQ (iOS/Android).
We’ve featured dancer Matt Luck’s work before.
I first encountered Sifteo Cubes back at IndieCade last October, and spent some time playing around with the little blocks which I first mistook for iPod Nanos.