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The Emma Watson nude pictures hoax shames our ‘news’ culture

Did you hear that a shady group of antisocial hackers threatened to release nude pictures of Emma Watson after she gave a highly visible speech at the United Nations? It turns out that was just one of many hoaxes that professional journalists unwittingly helped to propagate last week. By Wednesday, a supposed PR firm had stepped up to claim responsibility for the threats against Watson, as part of an effort…

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On Death and iPods: A Requiem

I never owned a classic iPod, though I did have a B&W PalmPilot and a color successor. They day SHU gave me an iPad, I carefully collected all the cords and manuals and put my Palm away in its original box. I still feel a little guilty that I didn’t even bother to synch it one last time. Less dramatic was the decline of my relationship with digital voice recorders. I…

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Younger Americans and Public Libraries

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Some 43% report reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age…

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Apple Watch is ugly and boring (and Steve Jobs would have agreed)

I am not feeling the love for Apple’s iWristBrick. What do most contemporary smartwatches have in common? They’re mostly squarish, clunky, bulky, flat things with a screen that go on your wrist. They mostly do things your phone does, and they mostly rely heavily on your phone for a good portion of their functionality. They’re fairly expensive, and it’s not really clear that they do anything amazing that your other…

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Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines in the Limelight on Stage and in Society

A thoughtful overview of robots in culture, addressing the fear and hope that go hand-in-hand when humans reflect upon, fictionalize, and create our relationships with with mechanical workers of all stripes. Aaron Dubrow, National Science Foundation media officer, includes his perceptions of a panel on robots in theater, where I brought up the legacy of the 1920s Czech play that introduced the word “robot.” Theater is not an arena where the NSF…

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Fantasy football and the cold future of robot journalism

For fantasy football players, the service is a clever added bonus that keeps people on site longer. It’s like having a hometown beat reporter covering your fantasy team: analyzing your draft picks, providing fun recaps of games, and insightful game-day analysis. But Automated Insights, and contemporaries like Narrative Science, are having a major impact outside the realm of fantasy football. Such prominent news organizations as Associated Press are trialing this…