Laura Sydell

Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. She's covered politics, arts, media, religion, entrepreneurship, and most recently she became the Arts & Technology Correspondent for the NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Sydell considers it incredibly exciting to be reporting on the ways in which technology is changing our culture. She enjoys telling the stories of everyone from high-profile CEOs, to small inventors such as a Berkeley man who developed a revolutionary book-binding machine in his basement that could transform the publishing industry. She sees the beat as an opportunity to help listeners understand how technology is changing the way we create and live.

As a senior technology reporter on Public Radio International's Marketplace, Sydell looked at the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.

Before coming to San Francisco, Sydell was based in New York City where she worked as a reporter for NPR member station WNYC. There, her reports on race relations, city politics, and arts won numerous awards from The Newswomen's Club of New York, The New York Press Club, The Society of Professional Journalists, and others. She has also produced long-form radio documentaries that focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists. American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored her documentary work.

After finishing a one-year fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, Sydell came to San Francisco as a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.

Among her all-time favorite pieces are her profile of a private eye who found a way to incorporate Buddhist faith into her job by working exclusively on death penalty cases, and the story of a mother's devotion to a son charged with a brutal murder and the bus that carries her and others with incarcerated family members from New York City to a prison upstate.

Sydell has a bachelor's degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law. She lives in San Francisco and laments the fact that she is too busy to have a dog.

 

This Sunday, at Chinese embassies all over the world, protesters are planning a global sit-in to protest the detention of the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Ai was taken into custody by Chinese authorities nearly two weeks ago for what government officials now say are questions about his finances.

Every week people across the globe spend 3 billion hours playing video games — but that isn't enough for Jane McGonigal. She told an audience at last year's TED conference in California that we need to play more.

"If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity," she said, "I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week by the end of the next decade."

The 25th annual South by Southwest Music Conference is over, and many a sigh of relief has been heaved. It was the biggest SXSW ever, and downtown Austin rocked for five days. The whole city felt like one big crowded bar. Revelers like Mathew Oats, who just moved to Austin, staggered down the street soaking up the music coming out of every door and window.

"We're trying not to pay anything to have a good time," Oats says. "It is very easy to do."

Darren Solomon says he was fascinated to discover that you can play as many as 20 YouTube videos simultaneously.

"Usually," he says, "if you did play more than one at the same time, it would sound pretty horrible."

But not always.

"I noticed that if they're in the same key, or had complementary elements, a lot of times you could get something kind of cool," Solomon says.

Fans have flocked to the Internet to find music with — to put it mildly — great enthusiasm. But, investors — not so much. Very few have found a way to turn all that downloading and streaming into dollars. But there are some signs that could be changing.

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