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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2:14am

Fri April 4, 2014
All Tech Considered

Twitch Boosts A New Pro Category: Video Game Player

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 12:01 pm

"I make a living attempting to beat video games on my show, and people watch," says Jayson Love, whose stage name is Man.
Twitch.tv screengrab

It may not surprise you that Netflix uses more bandwidth at peak hours than any other company, followed by Google and Apple. No. 4 on the list, though, is Twitch.tv.

Twitch is a company devoted to live interactive broadcasting of people playing video games. It's helping to launch a new type of broadcast professional.

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1:38am

Thu March 27, 2014
Business

No Sugar High For Wall Street: Candy Crush Maker's IPO Disappoints

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 11:18 am

A banner for the mobile gaming company King Digital Entertainment is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange during King's initial public offering.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Candy Crush is played by trying to line up at least three of the same color of candies.

In February, an average of 144 million daily active users got sucked in to the challenge.

Candy Crush is one of more than 180 games made by King Digital Entertainment, and it alone brought in three-quarters of the company's revenue in the last quarter of 2013.

Roger Kay, president of research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, says to a lot of investors, the game seemed like Farmville, the hit game by Zynga that Zynga can't seem to repeat.

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3:13pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Technology

Path To Television's Future May Be Paved In Virtual Reality

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 6:59 pm

On display at South by Southwest is an attempt to create the future of storytelling. HBO is working with Oculus — maker of virtual reality goggles — to put the audience right into Game of Thrones.

2:04am

Thu March 6, 2014
All Tech Considered

Anti-Muslim Video Still Stirring Controversy In The Courtroom

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 10:43 pm

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (right) brought a copyright claim against Google with the help of attorney Cris Armenta over the film Innocence of Muslims, which was posted to YouTube in 2012.
Jason Redmond AP

Google intends to fight a court order to remove a controversial anti-Muslim video from YouTube in the U.S.

The company plans to file for a hearing before a full nine-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after two of three judges on a smaller panel forced the company to take down the film, Innocence of Muslims, which caused uproar in the Islamic world in 2012.

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9:15am

Wed February 26, 2014
All Tech Considered

iOS 6 Users Left In The Lurch After Security Flaw Discovered

Still using Apple's iOS 6? You may be counting on luck to protect your iPhone from a serious security flaw.
Michael Nagle Getty Images

As has been widely reported, Apple recently discovered a critical bug in its iOS and OS systems.

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8:15am

Fri February 14, 2014
All Tech Considered

Mobile Match Apps Are 'Dating On Steroids'

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 11:15 am

Matchmaking apps like Tinder can help people find potential dates quickly.
Tinder

It's Valentine's Day, and if you aren't giving roses to someone special — or getting them — you might be thinking ahead to next year.

But OkCupid and Match.com may be considered old-school ways to find a mate. These days, whether you're gay or straight, the online dating scene is all about apps. Like a lot of technological change, apps bring efficiency to the process. But that isn't always a good thing.

Kristy Vannatter used to use the online dating service eHarmony, but she says it was a lot of work.

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3:53pm

Mon February 10, 2014
All Tech Considered

That's Just Like 'Her': Could We Ever Love A Computer?

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 4:36 pm

Joaquin Phoenix stars in the film Her, in which his character falls in love with an operating system. When will artificial intelligence programs like Siri evolve to the point where we'll fall in love with them?
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The film Her, about a man who falls in love with his computerized personal assistant, has been nominated for five Oscars including best picture. It takes place at an unspecified time in the future when computer voices sound like Scarlett Johansson instead of Siri. This made me wonder if it was really possible to fall in love with an artificially intelligent being.

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4:16pm

Wed February 5, 2014
All Tech Considered

What Bill Gates' New Role Could Mean For Microsoft

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 9:23 pm

As Satya Nadella becomes the new CEO of Microsoft, company founder Bill Gates is moving from chairman to "technology adviser."
Bebeto Matthews AP

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman of its board and into a new role, which the company is calling "technology adviser." The change comes as a new CEO — Satya Nadella — takes the helm. Gates says he will actually be spending a little more time at Microsoft. Microsoft watchers say if he manages his new role well, it will be good for the company.

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3:25pm

Thu January 30, 2014
All Tech Considered

Small Cinemas Struggle As Film Fades Out Of The Picture

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 7:00 pm

The Roxie Theater in San Francisco still has two 35 millimeter projectors, but the switch to digital is inevitable.
Laura Sydell NPR

Cinema owners who don't have a digital projector in their movie house can't show Paramount Pictures' latest release: The Wolf of Wall Street. This year Paramount became the first big studio to distribute a major release in the U.S. entirely in a digital format, and other studios are likely to follow.

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4:53pm

Thu January 23, 2014
All Tech Considered

Retailers Can Wait To Tell You Your Card Data Have Been Compromised

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 4:32 pm

The security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus have raised questions over how quickly companies are required to disclose that customer information was hacked.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

You might think that retailers have to let you know right away if they get hacked and someone steals your account information.

But recent disclosures by Target and Neiman Marcus that their networks were hacked, and data about their consumers were stolen, have raised questions about how quickly merchants need to alert their customers.

In the case of Neiman Marcus, the company may have had evidence of a breach as far back as July. But the law is a bit murky on just how quickly companies need to let customers know.

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5:46pm

Mon January 13, 2014
All Tech Considered

Game Over For Nintendo? Not If Mario And Zelda Fans Keep Playing

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 4:09 pm

Some analysts say that Nintendo's days are numbered. Holiday sales of its new console, the Wii U, have been lackluster compared to Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

But since Nintendo still offers some of the most popular game franchises, the love of Zelda and Mario may keep the company going for a long time.

In preparation for this story, I put out a call to talk to die-hard Nintendo fans. I was inundated with responses. Among them, Brian White, 30, grew up playing the Zelda games.

Now he's got a daughter. "We named her Zelda," he says.

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2:23am

Mon December 30, 2013
All Tech Considered

Hot On YouTube: Videos About Video Games, And Science, Too

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 9:34 am

A screengrab of a YouTube video of the game Walking Dead from the Swedish gamer known as PewDiePie. Videos of people offering commentary while playing video games are wildly popular on YouTube.
YouTube/PewDiePie

2:04am

Wed December 18, 2013
All Tech Considered

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:11 pm

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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4:08am

Thu December 12, 2013
All Tech Considered

Amid Cuts And Tax Hikes, Tech Companies Get Love in Ireland

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:47 am

Tech companies around the world have set up shop in the financial district in Dublin, Ireland.
Peter Muhly AFP/Getty Images

Ireland is about to become the first European country to emerge from an international bailout in the wake of the financial crisis. Like other European countries, Ireland has been in a period of austerity — higher taxes and more cutbacks.

The nation's technology sector has been protected, however, as Ireland makes a concerted effort to attract foreign businesses through tax incentives and development programs.

But Ireland's methods have also been criticized — locally and internationally.

Apple In Ireland

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1:49am

Fri November 29, 2013
All Tech Considered

For Advocacy Groups, Video Games Are The Next Frontier

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 3:07 pm

A screenshot of Half the Sky, where virtual successes sometimes lead to real-life donations.
Games For Change

Movies and books have long been used to advocate for causes, such as climate change or breast cancer. As video games become more mainstream, advocates are beginning to see how this art form can be a new way to reach out and get people engaged in a cause.

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