I met my first drone playing Call Of Duty: Black Ops. In the game, you can control one of these unmanned flying vehicles to hover and fire missiles to destroy enemy territory. In real life we also associate drones with death from above. The news constantly reminds us of their destructive power, but at a recent Brains and Beakers, Youth Radio’s science-speaker series, Chris Anderson demonstrated how drones can be constructive too.
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It’s easy to find alarming evidence that we’ve lost our way when it comes to civics in the US. But longtime global activist and MIT prof Ethan Zuckerman says there’s a lot to get excited about too, if we’re willing to think in new ways about what it even means to be civically engaged in the digital age.
Silicon Valley may be the financial center of the tech industry, but lately San Francisco is earning a reputation as the heart and soul of it. Tech workers who don’t want to live in the Valley’s sprawling suburbs have migrated northward. And hundreds of tech-related businesses have set up shop in San Francisco too. But the culture of tech that’s taking hold in the city hasn’t come without controversy.
For the first time, the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, has added a Gaming Expo. Since the 1980’s the city has been the spiritual heart of computer gaming. Austin’s strong ties to the $67 billion dollar video game industry are now being recognized by the festival. This puts the 7,000 game developers who work in Austin– according to the IRS by way of the International Game Developers Association — in the spotlight. While conventioneers have been gathering downtown to hear about the latest trends, I went in search of Austin’s burgeoning independent game scene.
ProPublica is still the cool new kid in investigative journalism— less than five years in the game, and they’ve got the best toys, plenty of talent, and everyone wants to be their friend. And that doesn’t just apply to journalists. The investigative journalism outfit’s big data projects draw interest from programmers too. That’s why the Engineering and Computer Science departments at UC Berkeley asked Jeff Larson from ProPublica’s News Applications team, to talk about the new ways that coding is helping tell stories.
When it comes to raising money for the arts, Kickstarter has become the place to go. Since it launched in 2009, the crowd-funding site has successfully delivered over $400 million to creative projects, including three films currently up for Oscars. But for all of Kickstarter’s success, funding creative work is still risky business. A study out of Wharton counts 3.5% of funded projects drop the ball. Small, but significant enough to raise the question: what happens to that money?
As a college student, I love this whole phenomenon of the “sharing economy.” That’s the term economists use to define a community of people who freely share and swap resources, often managed online through websites or forums. Turns out, actually paying for stuff, or just throwing it out, is so 2011–if you can share it instead.
Big data. Everyone has a slightly different definition of this new buzzword.
Rick Smolan, former photographer for National Geographic and TIME Magazine and the author of The Human Face of Big Data, defined the term for us like this:
“When you take several different sources for information and you overlap them and you look for patterns in the data… It’s a little bit like watching the planet develop a nervous system. …All of us walking around with our smartphones, we’ve become human sensors. So we’re all feeding data back into this growing mass of databases, and the ability to collect data, process it, visualize it and react to it in real time is something the human race has never had before.”
Thousands of Americans lined up last night, not to vote, but to buy one of the most anticipated new video games of the year. Halo 4 is the latest installment of the popular franchise for the Microsoft XBox 360. Some gamers refer to Halo as their Star Wars.