Ten Stories We’ve Enjoyed This Week

28th February 2015

1) MIT on Project LoonGoogle’s aerial plan to use balloons to widen the reach of the web ‘Google says these balloons can deliver widespread economic and social benefits by bringing Internet access to the 60 percent of the world’s people who don’t have it. Many of those 4.3 billion people live in rural places where telecommunications companies haven’t found it worthwhile to build cell towers or other infrastructure’.

2) Great News on Net Neutrality : The Federal Communications Commission has voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers, including cellular carriers, from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

The New York Times on why the choice by the FCC was essential and inevitable – a lack of competition. The FCC’s approach makes sense, proponents say, because for genuine high-speed Internet service most American households now have only one choice, and most often it is a cable company. Maybe Google’s Project Loon could help here…..?

3) Interesting and short piece about a major business sector undergoing rapid change – How’s the Media Industry These Days? Confused.

4) YouTube:  The greatest record of modern civilisation (?) ‘On the 10th anniversary of YouTube, Alexis Madrigal contemplates the collective impact of people uploading millions of clips documenting every corner of the mundane world’ (video).

5) This from last week , but it’s a great (and rather worrying) article about the danger of losing our stored digital memories. Digital material including key historical documents could be lost forever because programs to view them will become defunct.

6) And from The Oscars……

Birdman is a great film and a worthy Best Film winner (in my view) but relatively few people have seen it.

Birdman, was only the 82nd best-grossing film of 2014, with only about $37 million in domestic ticket sales. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 1, by contrast, grossed more than $330 million in the U.S.

Here is the moment where Michael Keaton puts away his Best Actor acceptance speech.

…and those fab Lego Oscars were made by Nathan Sawaya. But these statues are not nearly his best work.

7) My kids are obsessed by the John Madden NFL Playstation Game. In particular the various ratings that are ascribed to each player’s performance ( speed,strength etc..)

Turns out this information comes from just one man – Donny Moore. ‘If you’re in the NFL and you want your performance to be excellent, Moore is the man to talk to. He’s the guy behind the Madden ratings, and he decides everything from how fast you run, to how well you tackle’. The secret process that turns NFL players into digital gods.

8) Powerful stuff – The graffiti artist Banksy unveiled his latest politically charged creation online on Thursday, posting on Instagram a photograph of a weeping figure, which the artist tagged with the hashtags “Banksy” and “Gaza.”

9) The continuing power of hoaxes in a digital world, where we have facts at our fingertips. Why do hoaxes still play a dominant role in our lives? As Lyz Lenz writes in Aeon, “people believe the stories that they connect to, the ones that affirm their view the world and truth be damned.

10) Finally the NFL Combine – where college football players show of their athletic prowess is not the most riveting entertainment; but the jumping exploits of Byron Jones ( both vertical and horizontal) are astounding.