I found myself at Los Angeles’ Wilshire Blvd and Fremont Street, at night and without my normal point-and-shoot camera. Therefore I took pics with my iPhone 5 — which produces a certain burnt style — of an area that had me very surprised. Among the South LA community, here were private, gated communities, church headquarters, and a Masonic Temple that can rarely be used because zoning doesn’t permit its use. Continue reading »

Typical Los Angeles “food desert” photo along Figueroa Corridor. Getty Images/David McNew

Walking through the Figueroa Corridor in South Central, Los Angeles, it is difficult to overlook the wave of urban developments. If you haven’t visited the area, you may have already seen it through popularized photos of fast food chains between Jefferson Blvd and Adams Blvd used as an icon for “food deserts.” These so-called deserts are short on healthy food options and high on fatty foods, and the commercial zoning of the Figueroa Corridor coupled by a large mix-used inner-city/university population has lead to a proliferation of prefabricated options. Though the restaurants are iconic of the area, due to a number of factors including the expansion of nearby University of Southern California, the re-emergence of Downtown LA as a cultural and economic center, and the relatively cheap land value of strip-malls, the northwest end of South Central is losing its fast food chains in favor of multi-story housing facilities. Re-enforcing the trend away from the strip-mall towards a more fashionable aesthetic is the style of the new developments: marble-looking columns meet archways at entrances, statues line the walkways, and brick is mixed with stucco.
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Taskrabbit LogoSure, there’s no paycheck in the mail every two weeks, but look around your home. Do you have a car? A computer with Internet? A backpack and good pair of shoes? You could be paying the rent as a micro-entrepreneur, piggybacking on a new wave of platforms that connect people who need stuff done with people willing to do it.

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Just in time for the 2012 US elections, Wired lets you finger your politician’s sponsors–NASCAR-style.

Try it before you vote!

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Now that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned of a possible Cyber-Pearl Harbor, it’s time to change your passwords. And guess what: a more secure password is actually easier to remember, if you follow a very simple rule.

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Luxo LogoThe world’s most innovative animation and game companies have just put their video software in your hands.

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St Thompson Techlaw fThe 3d printer promises to become “a photocopier of stuff,” and creative people have already begun to use them for fun as well as practical ends.

But will vending machines that fabricate homemade Legos or Warhammer figurines be the next target of filesharing lawsuits? It’s great to be able to download a Herman Miller Aero chair, but what if you only can afford the trial version, and you’re sitting on it when it crumbles into polymer dust 30 days later?

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Mi c With i Phone and i pad illIt’s never been easier to get music onto a phone, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. These tools help you find and record music–and even bust out an app for your band using HTML5.

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Recruit Talent illNow that one of the world’s foremost authorities on economic development declares capitalism “superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate,” it’s a good time for designers to find work. Here are some recommendations for getting seen and getting paid.

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Skateboard manufacturers, coffee bars, and tattoo parlors are all new media industries–they just don’t know it yet. Here’s how to convince them to hire you.

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India taj MahalCall centers? Check. Custom software? Check. Music videos? Yes, now creative work can be outsourced to Bangalore.

Does this threaten the livelihood of North American artists, or just give them more options to choose from?

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Hollywood’s resort to draconian tactics like SOPA may have cost them the moral high ground.

Venture capitalist Paul Graham is already looking to fund Hollywood’s successors.

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV….

http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html

Fortunately those successors can take advantage of technical infrastructure like the Cloud, as the chief creative officer of a small digital arts company attests.

After turning to Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing service for the first time to finish animation under tight deadline, [John McNeil] was impressed by how it would let him compete with bigger studios. He said, ‘Cloud computing is the first truly democratic, accessible technology that potentially gives everyone a supercomputer…it’s a game changer. I could never compete or be able to deliver something at the level of a Pixar or a Disney, given what I have at my disposal inside the walls of the studio,’ McNeil said. ‘But if I factor in the cloud, all of a sudden I can go there. And then the limitations of whether or not I can deliver something great will be on my own talent and the talent of the people that are part of the studio.’”

Meanwhile, an admission from the horse’s mouth: the movie industry’s real worry is not piracy but the loss of control.

“Miramax CEO Mike Lang has admitted to what we all suspected. The biggest worry is a distribution monopoly, not piracy. They saw what happened to the music industry with iTunes, and vowed to not lose control and be at the mercy of Apple or whoever becomes the dominant distributor. From the article: ‘Lang, whose company today debuts the Blu-Ray version of the cult classic Pulp Fiction, emphasized that people don’t necessarily want to pirate, as long as they get what they want. “Innovate or die,” should be the motive of entertainment industry companies, where it’s key to listen to customers.’”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/07/0032233/Movie-Industry-Loss-of-Control-Worse-Than-Piracy.

Gabe Newell, chief of the company that brought you Half Life and Portal (and former classmate of mine, hi Gabe!), finds a comparable misunderstanding in gaming:

“In general, we [at Valve] think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.”

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/11/25/2217247/valves-gabe-newell-on-piracy-its-not-a-pricing-problem

One game company is taking control of this…loss of control?

“Indie game company tinyBuild Games, who released a platformer called No Time To Explain recently, uploaded their own game to the Pirate Bay. However, there’s a key difference between the game they uploaded and the version you can purchase: the game characters wear pirate hats, and everything else has a pirate theme. One of the company’s founders, Alex Nichiporchik, said, ‘[S]ome people are going to torrent it either way, we might as well make something funny out of it. … You can’t really stop piracy, all you can do is make it work for you and/or provide something that people actually want to pay for. For us this is humor, we like making people laugh.’”

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/09/14/0517245/Indie-Devs-Upload-Their-Own-Game-To-The-Pirate-Bay

Mompreneurs look to family life for product inspiration. And maybe Steve Jobs did too.

The rise of “mompreneurs” has been helped by the rise of Internet and social media, which allow child-raising women to exchange ideas without having to leave the house….

“In many households, moms are the chief buyers. And in the new millennium, if they can’t find what you need, they just invent it themselves.”

THAT was true for Ms. Monosoff, who couldn’t figure out how to stop her 8-month-old daughter from unrolling all of the toilet paper and stuffing it down the toilet. “I was like, ‘O.K., where’s the gadget?’ ” Ms. Monosoff recalls. “I was trying to figure out how to design something like that, but I really had no experience. Then I was buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, and I saw a hair permanent rod, that little roller thing, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that might work!’ ”

She worked on a rough prototype of what would become the “TP Saver.” The basic concept is that a small, plastic rod — that grown-ups can lock into place — keeps the toilet paper from unspooling.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ffac44920a28697da6e791ee5ef96652

(This mom ends up a commercial success–though one hopes other moms would question whether we really need more gadgets manufactured in China.)

Steve Jobs was renowned for his attention to design detail, calling Google’s senior vice president for engineering one Sunday morning with the urgent message that, “The second O in Google doesn’t have the right yellow gradient.”

It turns out one of Apple’s most “human” design features was also Jobs’ idea. If you’ve ever watched a loved one sleeping, you know why that rhythm is so compelling.

But the greatest example of Mr. Jobs’s attention to detail and design can be found in the little millimeter-sized glowing light that appears on every MacBook Laptop. The light, known as a sleep indicator, glows when the laptop is closed, or sleeping. Competing laptops have this feature too, but Apple’s is different.

The Mac sleep indicator is timed to glow at the average breathing rate of an adult: 12 breaths per minute. As with the space between typographic letter on the Macintosh, only Mr. Jobs could pay attention to such detail.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=73fab914e0c92349501d148ba10d64eb

One author in the New York Times argues that those who run our government should take a cue from Jobs’ focus on the human scale.

After all, if you wanted to really get a picture of how the national culture has evolved in the last few decades, particularly in the urban areas that drive economic growth, you could do a lot worse than to study Apple’s string of innovations. Mr. Jobs understood, intuitively, that Americans were breaking away from the last era’s large institutions and centralized decision-making, that technology would free them from traditional workplaces and the limits of a physical marketplace.

This was the underlying point of “think different” — that our choices were no longer dictated by the whims of huge companies or the offerings at the local mall. This was the point of a computer that enabled you to customize virtually every setting, no matter how inconsequential, so that no two users had the exact same experience. This was the essential insight behind devices driven by a universe of new apps, downloaded in seconds depending on your lifestyle and interests.

At the same time, while Mr. Jobs saw a society moving inexorably toward individual choice, he also seemed to understand that such individuality breeds detachment and confusion. And so Apple sought to fill that vacuum by making itself into more than a manufacturer; it became a kind of community, too, with storefronts and stickers and a membership that enabled you to get your e-mail, or video-conference with your friends, or post a Web page of your vacation photos.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=13f8170588e641086d46aff02e1a48af

Snap a photo of that Andy Warhol print, and your phone tells you what similar artworks lie in your price range. Tech startup Art.sy is hoping their recommendation system will make the art market more accessible to normal mortals–or at least make them a bunch of money in commissioned sales.

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How to get by in lean times with a lean startup–or a lean resume.

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Whether sea levels rise or fall, your amphibious house will ride the waves of climate change.

A controversial new study suggests that most of humankind’s maladies — from wars to epidemics to economic downturns — can be traced to climate fluctuations….

Climate shifts were a statistically significant cause of social disturbance, war, migration, epidemics, famine, and nutritional status, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And climate caused famines, economic downturns, and catastrophic human events far more often than did any of the other 14 variables. The most direct way in which extreme climate shifts influence human society is through agriculture, Zhang says; a falling supply of crops will drive up the price of gold and cause inflation. Similarly, epidemics can be exacerbated by famine. And when people are miserable, they are likely to become angry with their governments and each other, resulting in war.

But golden ages rise out of these dark periods, the team argues. For instance, a 100-year cold period beginning in 1560 caused shortened crop growing seasons. The researchers found a causal linkage with a decline in average human height by nearly an inch during this period, and the century was rife with disease and conflict. But the world began to warm in 1650; when Charles II was crowned king of England in 1660, the coronation sparked the Enlightenment era in Europe.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/3KOUud3C3M4/

Meanwhile a different study pins a mini Ice Age in Europe on Christopher Columbus.

“Science News reports on a story which blames a centuries long cooling of Europe on the discovery of the new world. Scientists contend that the native depopulation and deforestation had a chilling effect on world-wide climate. ‘Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University.’

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/10/14/0345253/columbus-blamed-for-mini-ice-age

In this century, rising sea levels have inspired a new architectural style that might be called the ‘amphibian avant-garde.’

“Venice may soon be sharing its ‘Floating City’ moniker thanks to a research project developing ‘amphibian houses’ that are designed to float in the event of a flood. The FLOATEC project sees the primary market for the houses as the Netherlands, whose low-lying land makes it particularly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels. Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans that are at the risk of disappearing in the next 100 years to maintain their claim to statehood through the use of artificial, floating structures.”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/05/007211/Floating-Houses-Designed-For-Low-Lying-Countries

Greece Volos BarterAccording to Richard Florida, readily available digital tools like Firefox and Final Cut were supposed to empower artists, designers, and other “creatives” to steer the world’s future in a 21st-century Creative Economy. So why aren’t we all employed in creative industries by now?

It’s easy to point to the usual suspects like job outsourcing to China and Wall Street fat cats. But it is also true that some creative economies are thriving–even in epicenters of economic recession such as Greece–but they are organized around barter and free software rather than dollars or drachma.

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if you are interested in any of these jobs, contact these folks directly or via New Media Department chair Larry Latour or Jon Ippolito.

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Thought up a foldable power-cord or a new device for straining pasta? Pitch it to “social product-development” Web site Quirky, where crowdsourcing meets professionals.

Now if only Quirky didn’t outsource its manufacturing to China. Maybe someone could launch a site that connects local ideas to local fabricators. (Any of your neighbors have 3D printers…?)

“Quirky was based on my realization of how hard it is to find a manufacturer, get financing (and) know all the disciplines like industrial design, mechanical engineering, prototyping, merchandising, retail logistics,” [Ben] Kaufman, 24, told Wired.com by phone. “All these things need to come together just to push one little product out into the real world. Basically, if you have the right idea, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to make the idea you have in your head see the light of day.”

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/pBPTlR7_CjA/

As new laws force ISPs to become copyright cops, the ramifications of intellectual property in the digital age just get more and more absurd.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films

“As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a California man who’s incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/16/2346248/Anti-Piracy-Lawyers-Accuse-Blind-Man-of-Downloading-Films

Maybe he just liked the music?

Can a Monkey Get a Copyright & Issue a Takedown?

“Last week, the Daily Mail published a story about some monkeys in Indonesia who happened upon a camera and took some photos of themselves. The photos are quite cute. However, Techdirt noticed that the photos had copyright notices on them, and started a discussion over who actually held the copyright in question, noting that, if anyone did, the monkeys had the best claim, and certainly not the photographer. Yet, the news agency who claimed copyright issued a takedown to Techdirt! When presented with the point that it’s unlikely the news agency could hold a legitimate copyright, the agency told Techdirt it didn’t matter. Techdirt claims that using the photos for such a discussion is a clear case of fair use, an argument which has so far been ignored.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/13/0033214/Can-a-Monkey-Get-a-Copyright-amp-Issue-a-Takedown

“Dice Age,” sounds like…?

Dice Age — Indie Gaming Project vs. Hollywood

“Dice Age, a independent game project that raised nearly $35K through Kickstarter, is apparently facing some scrutiny from a certain movie studio that has produced movies with a similar name. From the latest project update: ‘As if the Ice Age was exclusively the name of a movie, or if Dice Age was a movie itself, the 20th century fox has just asked for an extent of time (till 10-26-2011) to oppose to the registering of our beloved Dice Age game name. My point of view, as a scientist, is the Ice age is a geological era before it is a movie.”"

http://games.slashdot.org/story/11/07/29/2114234/emDice-Ageem-mdash-Indie-Gaming-Project-vs-Hollywood

Wendy Seltzer is an ace cyberlawyer who’s worked with Still Water to craft more enlightened forms of intellectual property law.

ISPs Will Now Be Copyright Cops

“Wendy Seltzer, Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, talks about the new plan by ISPs and content providers to ‘crack down on what users can do with their internet connections’ using a 6-step warning system to curb online copyright infringement.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/08/06/235206/ISPs-Will-Now-Be-Copyright-Cops

Looks like six is the new three:

“American Internet users, get ready for three strikes^W^W ‘six strikes.’ Major US Internet providers — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable — have just signed on to a voluntary agreement with the movie and music businesses to crack down on online copyright infringers. But they will protect subscriber privacy and they won’t filter or monitor their own networks for infringement. And after the sixth ‘strike,’ you won’t necessarily be ‘out.’” It’s not suspicious at all that most of the ISPs signing on for this are owned by or own media companies.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/07/1644240/Media-Companies-Create-Copyright-Enforcement-Framework

On the pro-sharing front:

A federal judge ruled Monday that publishing an entire article without the rights holder’s authorization was a fair use of the work, in yet another blow to newspaper copyright troll Righthaven. It’s not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/SDLVTXCwy2k/

A federal judge backed the music storage-locker business model Monday while ruling that companies may develop services that store their customers’ songs in the cloud. The closely watched case brought by EMI against MP3tunes comes as Amazon and Google recently launched similar services without the music labels’ consent. Apple is expected to launch a cloud-storage service… http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/XGIJztQaOPw/

Who knew? Maybe the Pirate Bay should start an ecommerce site called Arrrrmazon.com.

Suppressed Report Shows Pirates Are Good Customers

“The movie and music industry think pirates are criminals and parasites who cost both industries billions of dollars in lost sales. In order to prove this fact a number of studies have been commissioned to help demonstrate the effect a pirate has on sales of entertainment. GfK Group is one of the largest market research companies in the world and is often used by the movie industry to carry out research and studies into piracy. Talking to a source within GfK who wished to remain anonymous, Telepolis found that a recent study looking at pirates and their purchasing activities found them to be almost the complete opposite of the criminal parasites the entertainment industry want them to be. The study states that it is much more typical for a pirate to download an illegal copy of a movie to try it before purchasing. They are also found to purchase more DVDs than the average consumer, and they visit the movie theater more, especially for opening weekend releases which typically cost more to attend.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/20/2119232/Suppressed-Report-Shows-Pirates-Are-Good-Customers

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