We know about the planets within the Milky Way Galaxy, but what about planets outside of our neighborhood? We talk to Dr. Donald Goldsmith about “exoplanets” and where science stands on the issue of life thriving somewhere else in the universe.
Dr. Donald Goldsmith, author of Exoplanets: Hidden Worlds and the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture–what’s new and old in entertainment.
It used to be that when you were watching sports, you were only watching with the people in the same room as you. Maybe your family gathered around to watch Sunday Night Baseball, maybe you went to a friend’s Super Bowl party. Either way, you discussed the matchups amongst yourself, relying on the person next to you to pick up on any subtleties you missed.
Now, sports have become the gold-standard for entertainment that demands a second-screen. Watching a game is aided immensely by having your phone or a tablet at your fingertips. You can look up in-game stats, you can track scores of other games, or you can look through your Twitter timeline to share in the agony or ecstasy of your team’s failures and successes with a host of other fans and analysts in real time.
No longer do you have to sit at home and watch a game independently. Now, you’re at a bustling sports bar for every game, and the entire internet is sitting alongside you. The NBA Finals, World Series, and Super Bowl all completely take over the social media world, dominating the trending charts with hashtags and relevant players and coaches names. Within minutes of last year’s NBA Finals Game 1 ending, already the internet was full of memes making fun of the moment LeBron James yelled at JR Smith for not knowing the score in a crucial situation down the stretch.
It’s not all memes, though. The internet can also truly illuminate what’s happening on your TV screen. Have a question about a particular penalty or play? You can submit it to your local newspaper’s beat writer and occasionally get a response. Think Drew Brees looks slightly off in the third quarter? You can make that observation on Twitter and see if others agree or disagree with your assertion.
Management and coaching staffs have analytics guys crunching numbers to decide who starts and who sits. Now, us fans have social media, where we can parse through that same information to second-guess our teams every step of the way. Gone are the days when you have to watch a live event in the dark. Now, QB ratings, field goal percentages, and trade rumors are constantly just a click away, and as soon as the game your watching is over you can trust that social media has all the highlights you need to see from the other games you missed.
Video games are often considered child’s play, or at least something below “real” art. Author Andrew Ervin argues that’s not true, and that video games are now big-business for TV networks and advertisers, as well as a source of true artfulness.
Andrew Ervin, author, Bit by Bit: How video games transformed our world
As technology evolves, more and more of us are relying on credit cards, debit cards and even apps like Venmo or Zelle to make payments. Gone are the days of physically cashing your check, now almost all of us use all direct-deposit. So what is the future of cash? We talk to one expert who lays out some of the nefarious uses of bills and coins.
Kenneth Rogoff, professor of economics at Harvard University and author, The Curse of Cash
Thanks to online shopping, internet banks and social media, our information has never been more vulnerable to theft. We explore what exactly is in all of those privacy agreements we often agree to without reading, and how we can try to reclaim our privacy in a digital world.
Julia Angwin, journalist and author, Dragnet Nation: A quest for privacy, security and freedom in a world of relentless surveillance
William King, adjunct professor of law at ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law and clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
With the increased use of advanced technology and constant access to social media, many people have started to question their right to privacy, and what that even means, when all their personal information has become public. Jennifer E. Rothman, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, explains that in recent years, people have become more willing to put their information on social media accounts that are accessible to the public. However, this does not mean that people do not want to have control over the information. Rothman states that many social media sites take the information and pictures posted by the users and sell it. While this seems like it would be illegal, users often consent to this when they agree to the terms and conditions. There are many laws out there working to protect social media users from having their information used by the sites, but many people do not know how these laws works.
In today’s digital age, Rothman believes that we should be most worried about the right of publicity which grants a person control over the commercial use of their identity. She explains three aspects in particular that can most affect us. The first is transferability which articulates that by making something into a piece of intellectual property, the rights can be taken away from the individual. Another important aspect to note is the impact on free speech which can hinder the ability to produce or limit stories and information about real people. Finally, she expresses the conflict with copyright laws. It is important to understand the ways in which these laws work in order to be better prepared to navigate social media and understand how these sites use the information provided to them.
With technology constantly changing, new ways of documenting stories are being used to allow people access to reading them. These new inventions have led many people to wonder just how storytelling happened in the past, and what changes have allowed for stories to continue to be told over time.
Storytelling has always been an important part of human communication. In the past, stories relied on oral communication. Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization explains that before written word, stories had to be able to withstand being told from one generation to the next by remaining relevant. He also explains that there were rare exceptions to this rule, in which some stories were lost and then rediscovered, a feat that Dr. Puchner says is very lucky. The only way to ensure that a text survived from one generation to the next was to continue to verbally communicate the story.
Since then, many technologies have been created that increased the accessibility to written text. These developments have allowed for new writing techniques to surface. One of these elements of modern writing that Dr. Puchner explains is introspection, which was not always important in literature, but emerged about a thousand years ago when the first novel was written, and since then, it has become an important aspect of storytelling. The written word has had many other significant impacts, not just on the way humans write, but also on how humans understand the world.
Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization