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. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.

Sydell's work focuses on the ways in which technology is transforming our culture and how we live. For example, she reported on robotic orchestras and independent musicians who find the Internet is a better friend than a record label as well as ways technology is changing human relationships.

Sydell has traveled through India and China to look at the impact of technology on developing nations. In China, she reported how American television programs like Lost broke past China's censors and found a devoted following among the emerging Chinese middle class. She found in India that cell phones are the computer of the masses.

Sydell teamed up with Alex Bloomberg of NPR's Planet Money team and reported on the impact of patent trolls on business and innovations particular to the tech world. The results were a series of pieces that appeared on This American Life and All Things Considered. The hour long program on This American Life "When Patents Attack! - Part 1," was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and accolades from Investigative Reporters and Editors. A transcript of the entire show was included in The Best Business Writing of 2011 published by Columbia University Press.

Before joining NPR in 2003, Sydell served as a senior technology reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, where her reporting focused on the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.

Sydell is a proud native of New Jersey and prior to making a pilgrimage to California and taking up yoga she worked as a reporter for NPR Member Station WNYC in New York. Her reporting on race relations, city politics, and arts was honored with numerous awards from organizations such as The Newswomen's Club of New York, The New York Press Club, and The Society of Professional Journalists.

American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored Sydell for her long-form radio documentary work focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists.

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.

Sydell graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and earned a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law.

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6:29am

Wed November 9, 2011
Digital Life

Teen Study: Social Media Is Positive Experience

A study by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reveals what teens think about the online experience. While bullying on social media sites like Facebook gets a lot of news coverage, most teens think social networks are a friendly place for them.

1:00pm

Tue October 25, 2011
The Record

Rocksmith: Guitar Hero Gets Real(er)

Paul Cross, creative director of Rocksmith, plays the game at a demonstration event in San Francisco, Calif.

Kimihiro Hoshino AFP/Getty Images

Music-based games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, which let you play along to popular songs with fake instruments, once ruled the video game industry. They raked in billions of dollars in sales in 2008, when their popularity was at its peak. But such games have since lost their luster, and sales for both have plummeted. Now the French video game publisher and development company Ubisoft is hoping to revive interest in the video game genre by adding a new twist — the ability to use a real guitar.

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2:44pm

Sun October 9, 2011
Music Interviews

Bjork's 'Biophilia': Interactive Music, Pushing Boundaries

Bjork's new album, Biophilia, is also an interactive multimedia project.

Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin

The title of Bjork's new album came to her after she read a book by neurologist Oliver Sachs about the mind's empathy for music.

"He called it 'musicophilia,' she says. "Obviously, I make music, but I wanted to do a project about nature. So I thought, if I call it Biophilia, it's sort of empathy with nature."

So there are song titles like "Solstice," "Dark Matter" and "Crystalline." The lyrics actually touch on processes in nature — for instance, how crystals grow.

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12:07pm

Thu October 6, 2011
Digital Life

Steve Jobs' Greatest Legacy May Be Impact On Design

Steve Jobs introduces new MacBook Air models at Apple headquarters on Oct. 20, 2010. Some say one of his greatest legacies is his impact on design.

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Steve Jobs, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 56, was obsessed with computers from an early age. In 1975, when he was 20, Jobs was part of the Homebrew Computer Club — a group of early computer enthusiasts obsessed with making computers more popular.

"People [would be] all together in a room, jostling, bubbling with ideas, bringing in new technology, new chips, new displays, new networks, new software, everything new," says John Gage, a former member of the club.

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7:44pm

Wed October 5, 2011
Remembrances

Apple Visionary Steve Jobs Dies At 56

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 2:01 pm

Steve Jobs holds up an iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June 2010.

Paul Sakuma AP

Steve Jobs — the man who brought us the iPhone, the iPod and the iMac — has died. The co-founder of Apple was 56 years old. Jobs had been battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer for years.

"It boggles the mind to think of all the things that Steve Jobs did," says Silicon Valley venture capitalist Roger McNamee, who worked with Jobs.

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5:34pm

Mon October 3, 2011
Technology

Microsoft, Google Tussle Over Android Phone Patents

Originally published on Mon October 3, 2011 6:15 pm

The Galaxy S II is a Samsung smartphone that runs on Android. Analysts say Microsoft could be getting as much as $15 for each phone Samsung sells.

Jin Sung-chul AP

Apple's iPhone may be the most talked about smartphone on the market, but there are far more phones using Google's Android operating system — 40 percent of the U.S. market. Microsoft's Windows for Mobile comes in near the bottom, with around 5 percent.

But Microsoft says Android steps all over its patents.

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5:30pm

Thu September 22, 2011
The Record

Facebook Announces New Partnerships For Music, Movies And TV

Screengrab of the Facebook Music profile picture.
Courtesy of Facebook

Facebook took a leap Thursday towards making itself into what it hopes will be the social center for entertainment and media. You'll be able to see what movies and TV your friends are watching, what music they're listening to and what news items they're reading.

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3:00pm

Mon September 19, 2011
NPR Story

Netflix Splits Into Two Companies

Netflix is splitting into two companies — one to handle its online streaming business and one to handle DVDs by mail.

5:15am

Sat September 10, 2011
Reflecting On Sept. 11, 2001

'Heart Of A Soldier': An Opera At The Heart Of Sept. 11

A shot from the dress rehearsal of Heart of a Soldier, which opens Saturday.
Corey Weaver

A man saves thousands from a burning building, then goes back in to make sure he got everyone out. He dies, leaving behind the great love of his life. It might sound too dramatic to be real life, but it happened exactly 10 years ago this Sunday, at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Journalist James Stewart wrote a book about that man, called Heart of a Soldier, and now that book is the subject of a new opera, premiering Saturday in San Francisco.

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12:11am

Tue August 16, 2011
Around the Nation

BART Defends Cutting Off Cellphone Service

Authorities in San Francisco had to shut down several city subway stations Monday after demonstrators tried to stop a train from leaving a downtown station.

The protesters were upset that the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency last week shut down cellphone access in the subway to prevent a protest.

BART police have been the target of protests over alleged brutality. Most recently, two BART officers shot Charles Hill, a transient man they said threatened them with a knife.

That shooting is one of the reasons that Jevon Cochran has come to this and other protests.

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12:01am

Thu August 11, 2011
Business

In Shift To Streaming, Netflix Customers Find Holes

It seems like Netflix is on top and it's everywhere. Users can watch it on their computers, game consoles, smartphones, or Internet-connected TV. Netflix boasts some 25 million subscribers, which is more than big cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner.

Although the company started as a mail order DVD service, these days it does the lion's share of promoting for its online streaming service. The company says it's the place to "watch instantly."

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