Sebastian Thrun, the man behind perhaps the most disruptive idea to hit higher education -- massive open online courses or more commonly... MOOCs -- has decided to pack it in. While some traditional educators might be saying “I told you so”, proponents of online education are worried about what this shift means for its future. Rebecca Schuman is education columnist for Slate and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri. She wrote about Sebastian Thrun -- the acknowledged godfather of MOOC’s -- and his pivot away from them.
Well, the United States has survived another fiscal standoff--for now. Just a few hours before midnight, Republican Legislatures conceded and agreed on a deal to fund government operations until January 15, 2014. The deal ended 16 days of a partial federal shutdown, and today the gears of government sputtered back to life. The crisis was no laughing matter for furloughed workers and worried economists – but, provided plenty of grist for online memes and jokesters. With the fiasco behind us – for now – we’re looking at how the government showdown played out online. Brady Carlson is with us, NHPR’s host of All Things Considered and our regular web culture analyst.
Earlier this month, the F.B.I.. shut down Silk Road, a black market website that the bureau described as “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet today.” Buried in the “dark web,” Silk Road allowed its users to anonymously trade virtually every drug imaginable in addition to other illegal goods and services that included counterfeit and murder.
Though the site has been stopped in its tracks, similar online websites remain in business. Topix.com has provided an open forum for black market trading for many years and is still going strong. Matt Stroud is a Verge contributing writer covering law, business and scams.
When Christopher Hermelin moved to New York, he lived like countless other jobless 20-somethings: no prospects, no money, and rent due at the first of the month. But instead of kicking around in a café, he hit the streets with a ten dollar typewriter and a sign printed: “Stories while you wait. Sliding scale, donate what you can.” And…it worked! Passersby paid him to write one-of-a-kind stories on the spot. While he isn’t the only person to make a living like this, on the streets of New York, he might be the one person whose photograph showed up on the internet. We’ll let him pick up the story from there. Christopher Hermelin is “The Roving Typist.”
The internet provides a forum for public conversation, debate and interaction. At times, it may seem more less public square and more like the Roman forum…where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults can devour conversations and proclaim judgments by like an unruly mob.
Media outlets have long-debated how best to moderate online comments, where some of the worst internet trolling takes place…last month, Popular Science shut down comments on its website, citing, in part, a study from the University of Wisconsin measuring the influence negative comments have on other readers. (We spoke with study co-author Dietram Scheufele back in March about the phenomenon he calls “the Nasty Effect.")
Jake Ward is Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, he’s with us to talk more about the decision and response so far.
Activism and innovation among Greeks started long before that country's debt crisis. In 2002, an Athens community fed up by slow and expensive service set up its own private internet. More than 1000 members of the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network have free access to the web with speeds up to 30 times faster than commercial telecom carriers in the area. Given global concerns over the extent of the NSA’s surveillance program, independent “mesh” networks like the one in Athens could be adapted in other communities.
Congressional approval ratings are currently scraping the floor at about 15%. Voters report feeling frustrated at the dominance of political posturing over action. The exasperation has many wondering what our Legislature does exactly, and what in the Sam Hill are they talking about on the hill. A new web-based tool allows citizens to track congressional discussion, bills -- including state bills -- and regulations concerning issues they care about. From raw milk to education bills to campaign finance, Scout is designed to deliver real time results and encourage a more informed public. Our guest is Tom Lee the director of Sunlight Labs, the technical arm of the Sunlight Foundation – which works to make government transparent and accountable. He and his team helped develop Scout.
From the moment the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital yesterday in the early stages of labor, the whole world was watching. Not literally of course – but if the Royal Family allowed cameras in the delivery room, you can probably bet we would have been.
At any given moment invisible information is traveling all around you. There are two obvious examples: radio waves…or if you’re listening online, the wireless signal emitted by your router. Researchers at MIT have been experimenting with these signals and they’ve developed a type of radar that uses Wi-Fi signal that can be seen – and used to detect movement and even see through walls. Dina Katabi, is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and she spoke with us about her new project, what she’s calling “Wi-Vi.”
Our sunniest content of the week, all in one smart and snazzy hour. This week, misogyny online, the return of legal internet poker, an app that proves you're on a public beach, surprising summer reads, and a photographer's documentation of vanishing highway rest stops.
More than two years have passed since the Department of Justice seized and shut down three major American online-gambling websites, charged site executives with bank fraud, and froze millions of dollars in player funds. Since then, social gaming from Zynga and the like has been thriving on social media sites, attracting millions of players to their digital tables, using only fake money. At the same time, real money gambling is also back on the internet - on April 30th, Station Casinos in Nevada became the first site to offer real online poker since the 2011 shutdown. The questions are: will the for-profit sites draw millions of social players and will they put real money on the line? Michael Kaplan is a contributing editor for Cigar Aficionado and has been covering the return of online gambling.
Privacy is a topic we’ve visited and revisited on this program, especially when it comes to the web community’s reaction to shifting policies on our social media and email accounts. Revelations made by former CIA and Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s sweeping electronic surveillance program could forever change the “privacy conversation.” Joining us with more on the internet’s reaction to the unfolding NSA story is Brady Carlson, our always-vigilant eye on social media and the world of the web.
A new study from the University of Chicago shows that couples who meet via online dating sites tend to have better relationships than couples who meet for the first time in person. Here to tell us more about these findings is Ingrid Wickelgren, editor with Scientific American MIND. She wrote the article, “Does Finding Your Spouse Online Lead to a Stronger Marriage?”
Earlier this week, Yahoo!'s board of directors approved the tech company’s one point one billion dollar purchase of the micro-blogging site Tumblr, the latest move in CEO Marissa Mayer’s bid to revive the flagging tech company. The purchase has some Tumblr users up in arms, and others simply shrugging their shoulders at what just seems like the latest acquisition in the wake of so many to come before it.
Joining us to explain a bit more what the purchase of Tumblr means for Yahoo! and fans of the site is Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief at Mashable.
A government lab announced earlier this month that it’s been operating a quantum internet at Los Alamos for the past two years. Which led us to wonder, um, WHAT IS A QUANTUM INTERNET??? Joining us to explain it is Rob Fleischman, Chief Technology Officer at Xero-Cole, and the guy we call to help us understand things like, you know, quantum technology.