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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All Tech Considered
3:38 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Politics Overshadows U.S. Tech Firms' Hopes For Entering Iran

Customers try out cellphones and tablets in a store in Tehran, in 2012. Financial sanctions make it difficult for U.S. firms to do business in Iran, analysts say.
Vahid Salemi AP

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 1:44 pm

Iran has the potential to be a boom market for American tech companies. The majority of the population is under 30 and well educated, and over half the country has access to the Internet.

Many businesses have to wait until more sanctions are lifted, but certain tech companies can already go into Iran legally because the U.S. has lifted sanctions on various communication technology. They just aren't sure they want to.

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Business
4:17 am
Wed July 29, 2015

Twitter Faces Challenges As It tries To Balance Profitability, Popularity

Originally published on Wed July 29, 2015 6:59 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
9:32 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Twitter Takes Down Unoriginal Jokes, But All Of Yours Are Probably Safe

Originally published on Tue July 28, 2015 2:06 pm

Twitter has started taking down jokes for copyright infringement. The removals were first spotted by @PlagiarismBad, which traced the takedown notices to Olga Lexell, a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

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Remembrances
3:43 pm
Mon July 13, 2015

Nintendo CEO Iwata: 'In My Heart I Am A Gamer'

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 10:42 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The chief executive officer of Nintendo has died. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, Satoru Iwata was known for his accessibility to fans, and he's being remembered for a playfulness unusual among big company CEOs.

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Business
4:11 pm
Sat July 11, 2015

What's Next For Reddit?

Originally published on Sun July 12, 2015 1:04 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
5:36 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Apple Bets Big That You'll Start Paying To Stream Music

Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue speaks about Apple Music during the keynote at the annual developers conference.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 6:30 pm

Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Rdio, Rhapsody, Pandora — the list of streaming music service goes on and on. On Tuesday, Apple joins that lineup with the launch of its streaming service, Apple Music. Apple will give consumers a three-month trial, and then it will charge $9.99 a month.

But most music lovers still aren't sure why they should pay. Colin Barrett, 31, has tried a few of the streaming services, but he doesn't use them anymore.

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All Tech Considered
4:22 am
Fri June 19, 2015

The Legendary Mr. Miyamoto, Father Of Mario And Donkey Kong

Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto introduces Nintendo's Super Mario Maker at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in 2014.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 10:23 am

Nintendo's Mario games, in their various forms and genres have been played around the world by hundreds of millions of people. In the original, Mario is a plumber who must speed through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool.

The game turns 30 this year. Its famed creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, was in Los Angeles this week at the big Electronic Entertainment Expo video game conference to promote the latest version of the game Super Mario Maker.

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All Tech Considered
3:05 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

Gaming Industry Pushes Virtual Reality, But Content Lags

An attendee at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles plays Sony's Project Morpheus London Heist video game with a virtual reality headset and Move controllers.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 6:23 pm

Video game makers are in Los Angeles this week showing off their latest releases. Along with updates of big franchises like Tomb Raider, game developers are showcasing immersive virtual reality games. But virtual reality may not inspire love at first sight when it starts hitting the consumer market.

Even if you haven't played a video game, it's likely I could describe it to you pretty vividly because you've played other video games. But with virtual reality, there isn't much out there yet to try.

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The Two-Way
2:38 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

Apple's New Music Streaming Service Under Antitrust Scrutiny

Apple announced its new music streaming service during the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The same day that Apple did a splashy, star-studded introduction to its new Apple Music subscription streaming service, New York's attorney general posted a letter from attorneys for Universal Music Group indicating that prosecutors are looking at the streaming music business and that Apple is one of the companies being investigated.

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All Tech Considered
2:37 pm
Fri June 5, 2015

Apple's Cook Takes Rivals To Task Over Data Privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks in New York on April 30. This week, he said some of Silicon Valley's most prominent companies have "built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information."
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 5:47 pm

Apple CEO Tim Cook made headlines this week when he lashed out at rival tech companies for selling people's personal data. He didn't mention Google, Facebook or Twitter by name, but it's pretty clear those were the companies he meant. But is Apple faultless on privacy issues?

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All Tech Considered
2:23 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Live Video Apps Like Periscope Make Life Even Less Private

With the Periscope app, owned by Twitter, it's easy for smartphone users to stream their own video live.
Chris Jackson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 10:19 am

Cameras are ubiquitous — from the ones in our cellphones to the security cams in parking lots and shops. And just when you thought it couldn't get harder to hide, live-streaming video is raising new questions about privacy.

Streaming video cameras aren't new, but new apps have made it super easy to stream from a smartphone. Periscope is popular because it can be streamed on Twitter, which recently purchased the app.

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All Tech Considered
4:02 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

At The Heart Of A Watch, Tested By Time

The author, modeling her mother's watch.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 3:55 pm

When my mother passed away, I was by her side in a peaceful, sunny room at a hospice in South Florida. The sliding glass doors looked out to a flourishing garden filled with bougainvillea, rosebushes and carefully cultivated grasses. A block of sunlight, alive with swirling dust, hit the edge of my mother's bed where the tops of her small bony feet made a lump under the light cotton covers.

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All Tech Considered
5:17 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

At 50 Years Old, The Challenge To Keep Up With Moore's Law

Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore holds up a silicon wafer at Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2005. Moore's prediction 50 years ago, called Moore's Law, has been the basis for the digital revolution.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 8:40 pm

Fifty years ago this week, a chemist in what is now Silicon Valley published a paper that set the groundwork for the digital revolution.

You may never have heard of Moore's law, but it has a lot do with why you will pay about the same price for your next computer, smartphone or tablet, even though it will be faster and have better screen resolution than the last one.

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All Tech Considered
8:48 am
Sun April 12, 2015

Once The Cream Of The Crop, Zynga Zigzags To Adapt To Mobile

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus gives a presentation in 2011.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 10:01 am

Remember those days of tending rows of virtual soybeans and strawberries on your Facebook page with a game called Farmville? It was a moment, and Zynga, the company that makes the game, cashed in when it went public back in 2011.

Now, Zynga is losing money and its founder is back, to mixed reviews.

When Zynga launched Farmville in 2009, it surprised everyone with its success. It quickly became the most popular game on Facebook.

But people got bored with planting seeds on a desktop. The market had moved to mobile, and Zynga didn't keep up.

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All Tech Considered
4:15 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Artists In Residence Give High-Tech Projects A Human Touch

Artists in the residency program at Autodesk are given access to production-quality equipment in workshops, allowing them space to create at-will.
Blake Marvin Courtesy of Autodesk

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 8:39 am

You may want your kid to major in something practical at college, like engineering, so they can land one of those great jobs at a big tech company. But, you might also urge them to spend time studying the arts. Some tech companies are bringing in artists to help them work out ideas and build cool new things.

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