Bringing broadband to rural America | Need to Know | PBS

Need to Know on PBS

If you are reading this, you probably have broadband. But what is broadband? How can we close the “digital divide” between urban and rural areas when internet access is becoming a utility like any other?

This past spring, we aired a story about the gap between the United States and Europe when it comes to broadband access. Recently, Pioneer Public TV in Appleton, Minn., looked at a broadband divide closer to home by exploring the gap between broadband access in rural areas compared to urban areas within the United States.

While many Internet providers claim to give “broadband” access, the loosely defined term has left many Americans wondering if they’re receiving the best service. Specifically in rural communities, like those in midwestern Minnesota, companies providing “high-speed” Internet may only be granting users a moderately fast download speed, while upload speeds are severely lagging.

Pioneer Public TV takes a look at the situation by exploring the stories of people who are lacking fast, reliable Internet access; companies that are struggling to keep up with the demand of supplying high-speed fiber connections in rural communities; and how our representatives in Washington, D.C. are handling the problem.

via Bringing broadband to rural America | Need to Know | PBS.

Watch Rural Broadband Special on PBS. See more from Pioneer PTV Specials.

Time is money, and knowledge is power. What is the impact of your service’s transfer rates?

Live-Streaming the Olympics – TechHive Beta Blog

The mouse potato’s view of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The London 2012 Olympic Games will go down in history for lots of reasons—and not just because of Michael Phelps’ historic swims or the USA women’s gymnastics success. This is the first truly connected Summer Olympics. Never mind the athletes’ entertaining Twitter feeds; the connected center of attention this year is NBC Sports’ ambitious live streaming of all 32 sports and 302 events. While NBC’s streaming coverage doesn’t get a gold medal for reasons both in and out of the broadcaster’s control, the live streaming does go beyond anything viewers ever got to experience before in Olympics coverage.

That’s no exaggeration. By Day 6, NBC says it served up 5.3 million hours of live video from London, more than NBC delivered in total for Beijing four years ago. Viewers are coming in droves: According to NBC’s stats as of Day 6, the network had some 64 million total video streams across all platforms—Web, smartphone, and tablet. That represents a 182 percent increase over Beijing. Of those, some 29 million are to live events, a 343 percent increase over Beijing. The number one stream to date of the first week? 1.5 million streams to the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final on July 31.

via Live-Streaming the Olympics – TechHive Beta Blog. [emphasis added]

One People Flash Mob — Occupy

I love this example of artful augmented protest. It’s artful because it draws on Dancing without Borders, and pop culture, and augmented because it uses YouTube to convey the choreography, which is to say the internet to animate the motion of bodies, and other Web 2.0 technologies to organize the flash mob. Personally, I also love the positivity and humor of the flash mob. My students have impressed upon me the power of YouTube, which I often take for granted, but I would have them understand the complex combinations of technologies, and the augmentation of our very physical presence. No wonder the powers that be want to censor the internet.

Last November 19, a group of over 100 dancers converged on Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza  to dance their solidarity with the Occupy movement. Dancing without Borders organized the dance flash mob, which included a mini drama featuring a momentarily tense, then peaceful encounter between a stereotypical white man in a power suit, representing the 1 percent, moved to action first by a young girl and then by an African American man, whom he ends up embracing:


It’s been said that revolutionaries  lack a sense of humor, but the dance mob demonstrates the power of joy and light heartedness in the pursuit of positive change.The statement on Dancing without Borders’ website reads:  “By celebrating life, community and peace through music, conscious dance, we ignite our light within, inspire each other and renew our spirit as a collective.”  Group movement has been a vital part of ritual since prehistoric times; why not revive it during these days?

via Dance Flash Mob Embodies Occupy Movement | Care2 Causes.

Emma Goldman would be proud.

Soulful Cyborg

Who says being a cyborg is necessarily soulless? I was mesmerized yesterday listening to this RadioBoston podcast of Julia Easterlin, this Berklee grad who uses a looping machine to perform as a one-woman chorus.

When 22 year-old singer/songwriter Julia Easterlin walks into a room, she is warm and humble, equipped with just a backpack. She carefully unpacks her rectangular looping machine and starts explaining how it works: “I have a microphone plugged into this machine, and I’m able to set it up so that I record what I’m singing live and then it plays back. And then over the playback, I record many other layers — again and again. And it essentially creates a one-woman chorus to back up my lead vocal.”


When she sat down recently with Radio Boston‘s Adam Ragusea, Easterlin put her looping skills on display, starting with a rhythmic base. She slowly added percussion, trilling her tongue and clapping her hands. Next came a vocal bass line. She ran those loops and then recorded a second section — another set of vocals.


Vodpod videos no longer available.


Starbucks Augmented Reality App Animates Holiday Cups

Here is the latest example of augmented reality, reported on We considered examples of augmented reality, like the talking newspaper, earlier in the semester.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Starbucks is launching its first major augmented reality app this holiday season that will let customers animate their coffee cups with their smartphones.

Starbucks Cup Magic launches for iPhone and Android devices in the U.S. next Tuesday. (In Canada, just the iPhone version will launch.) As demonstrated in the video above, the app works by pointing your phone’s camera at the company’s red holiday season coffee cups and 47 additional objects, such as bags of coffee, on display at Starbucks retail locations.

Doing so will produce animations involving five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen. You can also interact with the characters. For instance, if you tap the boy on the sled he does a somersault. Those who activate all five characters can qualify to win an as-yet-unnamed prize.

The app also includes traditional and social sharing capabilities. You can the send ecards as well as holiday offers from Starbucks, among other things.

The object, says Alexandra Wheeler, vp-global digital marketing for Starbucks, is to “surprise and delight” customers during the holiday season.

Although Starbucks experimented with an AR app years ago in an ad, Wheeler says this is the first major AR push by the company. The effort follows some other recent AR programs from marketers including an app from Nivea featuring Rihanna and an Amazon app that lets you point your phone at objects and then buy them.

Cup Magic, created by Blast Radius, caps off a year of successful mobile implementations by Starbucks. The brand launched a mobile payment app in January that has been used in more than 20 million transactions and a QR code program designed, like Starbucks Cup Magic, to enhance the in-store brand experience.

Starbucks Augmented Reality App Animates Holida…, posted with vodpod

How do we “surprise and delight” customers without smartphones? Is this an example of a growing “digital divide”?

American Edit – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Doctor Who on Holiday” is my favorite mashup, a song from this album. I would like to have used this to demonstrate the idea of a mashup in our discussion of the article on sociology and Web 2.0.

American Edit is a mashup album released by Party Ben and Team9 under the shared alias Dean Gray. Its primary basis is the Green Day album American Idiot — the name “Dean Gray” is a spoonerism of “Green Day.” If the name “Dean Gray” had been spelled as “Dean Grey,” it would have been an anagram of Green Day.

via American Edit – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The System is Down

This now classic web cartoon from pokes fun at techno. I think of it whenever I consider some system being “down.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All kidding aside, the possibility of the internet coming down was very real for a small group of volunteers policing internet security. I was quite fascinated to hear this podcast yesterday, via NPR’s “Digital Life” and “Fresh Air.

For the past three years, a highly encrypted computer worm called Conficker has been spreading rapidly around the world. As many as 12 million computers have been infected with the self-updating worm, a type of malware that can get inside computers and operate without their permission.”

What Conficker does is penetrate the core of the [operating system] of the computer and essentially turn over control of your computer to a remote controller,” writer Mark Bowden tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “[That person] could then utilize all of these computers, including yours, that are connected. … And you have effectively the largest, most powerful computer in the world.”

The gigantic networked system created by the Conficker worm is what’s known as a “botnet.” The Conficker botnet is powerful enough to take over computer networks that control banking, telephones, security systems, air traffic control and even the Internet itself, says Bowden. His new book, Worm: The First Digital World War, details how Conficker was discovered, how it works, and the ongoing programming battle to bring down the Conficker worm, which he says could have widespread consequences if used nefariously.

“If you were to launch with a botnet that has 10 million computers in it — launch a denial of service attack — you could launch a large enough attack that it would not just overwhelm the target of the attack, but the root servers of the Internet itself, and could crash the entire Internet,” he says. “What frightens security folks, and increasingly government and Pentagon officials, is that a botnet of that size could also be used as a weapon.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.
NPR Media Player, posted with vodpod

Given that loss of life could ensue should the internet be “brought down,” what should individuals, groups, organizations, governments and the international community be doing to prevent this?

Using Digital Dualism to Sell Cars » Cyborgology

This is the video we saw in class on September 8.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

What do you think? Which is “so sad”? What about research findings that suggest that people’s offline (IRL) connections are enhanced or augmented by those they map online?