The New And The Next
4:09 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Blowing Away The Limits Of Convention

Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 5:34 pm

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.

This week, Watson talks with host Arun Rath about a Tunisian inventor with a new design for wind turbines and why HBO's True Detective is so "seductive." They also discuss how Square, a device that enables smartphones and tablets to easily process credit cards, is changing the way people tip.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Again, if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. It's time now for The New and The Next.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, great to be with you.

RATH: So, you know, something that's always struck me as funny about wind power, it's supposed to be the energy of the future, right, but it uses this primitive technology, these big, giant turbines. So I was excited to hear about this genius in Tunisia that you featured in Ozy who's really come up with a new way.

WATSON: An absolutely incredible 36-year-old Tunisian inventor, Anis Aouini, created a much more effective bladeless, wind turbine. They're curved and kind of a sail-shaped turbine that recently won the innovation prize in Africa. And their bet is that instead of converting about 60 percent of the energy in wind into electricity, that he's ultimately able to create about 80 percent and roughly costs only about half as much to make.

RATH: Wow. Because - I mean - and that 60 percent limit of only being able to get 60 percent of energy out of the wind, that's a hard limit for those old big propeller ones. And this guy's has just blown past that.

WATSON: Correct. People are talking about it now not only in Africa but over here in the States because while only about 3 percent of our energy comes from wind, there are a handful of states who are starting to be a lot more aggressive. And some of them are creating electricity using wind north of 10 percent at the time.

RATH: So moving on to culture now. Just three episodes in, and I'm already hooked on the new HBO series "True Detective." You're here to tell me my addiction is something I should be proud of, right?

WATSON: Without a doubt. Here comes HBO striding back on the stage with a wonderful new twist on the classic buddy detective story called "True Detective" starring a couple familiar faces - Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.

RATH: Yeah. And it's got this peculiar quality of being, you know, sort of stories within stories. They're talking about this crime story that happened almost 20 year ago and cutting back and forth. It's really hard to turn your eyes off of.

WATSON: It's crazy. And part of what's interesting here is so many buddy detective stories, the guys are good friends, they stick together. But here, the stranger they both become, the less they trust each other. Very seductive new piece from a former academic, Nick Pizzolatto, who grew up in New Orleans and taught fiction and lit but felt like he had a special story to tell that was as much about the two characters and their relationship and not just about this case that they're pursuing many years down the road.

RATH: So moving on to, let's say, commerce. People are using smartphones and tablets to replace all kinds of devices, whether it's a guitar tuner or a teleprompter. But their use as cash registers has kind of caught the eye of Ozy this week. It's changing how people are tipping.

WATSON: So one of the hottest companies in the country today is a company called Square. The idea is that whether it's a taxi driver or a coffee shop, that instead of using a regular kind of credit card dispenser, this is a simpler way to go. But it uniformly is asking you how much do you want to tip? Our own Rachel Levin noticed that she was tipping far more than usual or ending up with really awkward conversations, and so...

RATH: I should say awkward because you're there with a screen with a person you're doing the interaction with who's seeing you're either tipping nothing or whatever. It's right there.

WATSON: Correct. Because there are kind of a bunch of established norms about - or have been - about who we tip and when we tip. And now, the fact that Square is used by a much wider range of service providers, part of what Square is finding is that they're seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people who are tipping - almost 40 percent more - and an average tip rate of about 16 or 17 percent.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we talked about at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Arun, great to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.