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Josh Braun’s Blog // I have it written down somewhere . . .

On Centralizing Skype Jun 24, 2013

skype-logoFor scholars and others interested in questions of “materiality and media”—i.e., among other things, how media technologies and infrastructures enable and constrain particular modes of production, distribution, and use—this mailing list post by one of Skype’s software architects on the service’s shift to a centralized infrastructure is totally enthralling.

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“Developing better in-car technology is critical for automakers like GM to attract younger, tech-savvy buyers. If they can pull it off, the companies will generate new sources of revenue and boost profit margins. One approach may be for GM to sell advertising within the car itself.” Jun 14, 2013

Tim McLaughlin recounting remarks by General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson 

Please, please no.

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Cicadas! Jun 9, 2013


My wife and I went to see the 17-year cicada emergence today.  I took this, among many other photos.  A pretty amazing event that won’t happen again until 2030.

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“I approach my journalism as a litigator. People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.” Jun 7, 2013

Glenn Greenwald on investigating government surveillance programs

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Roundup of Recent Links Jun 7, 2013

Old Against New, or a Coming of Age? Rethinking Broadcasting in an Era of Electronic Media // A very interesting call for papers by Stacy Blasiola, R. Stuart Geiger and Airi Lampinen for a special issue of The Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media on the evolving relationship between broadcast and online media.

chainThe Jobs TV Does // An interesting look by Ben Thompson at the roles TV plays in society.  This is part three of a series by the same author on changes to the television ecosystem and I look forward to going back and taking a look at the first two portions.  I’ve also added Ben to my RSS reader, as it looks as though there’s a ton of interesting stuff on his blog.

How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading’s Rise and Fall // The title says it all.  Very interesting in the wake of discussions at the recent “Governing Algorithms” conference.

TV Apps: A Dive Into Fragmentation // This is a very utilitarian post wrapped in market-speak and aimed at app developers, but it’s still interesting to me as an academic because it does a nice job of highlighting  the numerous layers of intermediaries involved in bringing content to connected television screens. Almost any one of the myriad companies and platforms mentioned would make a good case study.

How likely is the NSA PRISM program to catch a terrorist? // In the wake of the huge breaking news about the NSA’s PRISM program, a biologist schooled in biometrics applies Bayesian methods to the problem of how (un)likely the data mining techniques would be to actually catch a terrorist.  The post is tongue-in-cheek and reads almost like one of Randall Munroe’s “What If?” columns.  It’d be funny if it weren’t all so terrifying.

The Dictatorship of Data: Robert McNamara epitomizes the hyper-rational executive led astray by numbers // An interesting short feature at Technology Review that’s only more relevant in the wake of yesterday’s news.

And lastly, some interesting links concerning Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  The first data and studies from these huge online offerings at Stanford and MIT are coming out and the different takes on their effectiveness are interesting.  I thought these two articles contrasted nicely:

MOOC Students Who Got Offline Help Scored Higher, Study Finds // This post, from the Chronicle of Higher Education concerns a study, which found that, at least for one MOOC, the existence of offline, face-to-face help was one of the biggest predictors of student success.  The post concludes that this study, if replicated, will add arrows to the quivers of online education critics who say that the effectiveness of in-person education can never be replicated by massive online courses.

As Data Floods In, Massive Open Online Courses Evolve // Meanwhile, this piece in Technology Review, which includes interviews with MOOC designers, spins the story the opposite direction.  In the view of the course designers quoted in this piece, the massive amounts of detailed analytics recorded about students interactions with these courses can be used to create adaptive interfaces and tailored course experiences for future classes, and will help delineate and solve issues with the pedagogical process that could never have been identified in traditional educational settings.  A sort of Taylorism for the classroom.

[Image Credit: Chains cc by-nc-nd 2.0 Kristian Vinkenes]

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Awesome Artwork by Kate Themel Jun 6, 2013


I love highlighting cool artists I come across in day to day life.  One of our local cafes, The Funky Monkey, is also a gallery and some of the artists’ work they display is really beautiful stuff.  One of the recent exhibitions was of work by Kate Themel, all of which was particularly impressive.  She creates quilts that look for all the world like spectacular paintings.  I stared at one in person for two minutes before I even realized it was done in fabric.  Her site has a no-copying notice, but the above image, titled “NYE in NYC,” is the one used in all her promotional materials, so I’ll chance sharing it with you here as a way of pointing you to her work.  If she’d like the post taken down I’ll be happy to comply.

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“The best minds of my generation are thinking how to make people click ads.” Jun 6, 2013

Nicco Mele via Anne Wizorek

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Technology Review on TV’s Staying Power Jun 6, 2013



Technology Review just published this interesting infographic on the persistence of traditional television viewing in the age of the Internet.

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Roundup of Recent Links Jun 6, 2013

chainFor better or worse, in the wake of Google Reader’s announced demise I’ve migrated from Reader to Feedly after trying out a few different alternatives.  In the process I’ve begun to make RSS feeds part of my daily routine again and so I thought it’d be a good time to start adding link roundups to the blog again.  Here are few good ones from the last few days.

A Battle Over Broadcast: Barry Diller and CNN’s Jeff Zucker on cable TV’s closed system—and how long it can last // A tame, but interesting “debate” between Barry Diller and CNN’s Jeff Zucker over the future of cable and the legal-commercial nature of Diller’s Aereo television startup, which redistributes broadcast television online for a fee and has grand plans for the future.  Interestingly, Zucker was also one of the prominent television industry figures in the spotlight during the case I wrote about in my Communication, Culture & Critique article, back when Boxee was the insolent tech startup at the center of online distribution controversies.

Teach Hacks: How to Capture and Save Broadcast // A digital-age guide to recording live television for use in the classroom.  As always, it’s interesting to consider how much more involved the process has gotten since the days of the VCR.

Is This the End of Television As We Know It? // Henry Jenkins’ reflection on an Annenberg panel on the future of television, in which he assembles a great list of recent milestones and disruptive events in television production and distribution.

Clever hack brings Plex to the Apple TV, no jailbreak required // A wonderful example of user agency in online television distribution.  Again, I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject in the wake of sharing my related Hulu-Boxee article, and this could be a great new case through which to further plumb the issues involved.  I look forward to reading more about the socio-technological dance that will no doubt ensue with Apple.

The story behind DIAL: How Netflix and YouTube want to take on AirPlay // Pandora is also involved in this attempt to deliver an open protocol for integrating second-screen devices with the living room television.

As sports TV costs soar, leagues find new ways to slice up video dollars // Again, I’ve been thinking a great deal about online television distribution, one of the topics of my forthcoming book.  After considering online distribution of television news, it seems tempting to delve into online distribution of televised sports next, which is a fascinating and instructive counterexample.  So, naturally this caught my eye.

[Image Credit: Chains cc by-nc-nd 2.0 Kristian Vinkenes]

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The Amen Break Jun 6, 2013

Ran into this again yesterday as I was cleaning out my Google Reader account.  It’s a nice look at remix that’s already made the rounds, but is worth sharing again.

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