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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Technology
4:55 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: Game Developers Conference

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 10:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This week marks the beginning of the Game Developers Conference, the world's largest and longest running event for those in the gaming business. Some 23,000 professionals, from designers to programmers to producers, are expected to attend.

For a sneak peek, NPR's Laura Sydell joins us now from the floor of the conference in San Francisco. Hey there, Laura.

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All Tech Considered
2:57 am
Thu March 21, 2013

On Its 7th Birthday, Is Twitter Still The 'Free Speech Party'?

Egyptians use their mobile phones to record celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the popular revolt that drove Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. Twitter was often used to record happenings during the Arab Spring.
Mohammed Abed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 9:23 am

It's hard to believe, but seven years ago no one had ever heard of a tweet. Thursday is the anniversary of the first tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. It wasn't profound. He wrote:

Since then the social media company has been an important communication tool in everything from the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, to its use as a megaphone for celebrities. Over the years, its relationship to its free speech principles has changed.

From Trivial To Global Town Hall

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Music News
5:14 am
Sat March 16, 2013

Arhoolie Records: 50 Years Of Digging For Down-Home Music

Strachwitz and Ry Cooder backstage at Arhoolie's 50th anniversary celebration.
Mike Melnyk Arhoolie Records

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 1:41 pm

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Law
5:39 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Reuters' Web Producer Indicted For Conspiring With Anonymous Hacking Group

A deputy editor for social media at Reuters has been indicted by the Justice Department for helping the hacker group Anonymous gain illegal access to the Tribune Company's servers. During the period in question, Matthew Keys had just been fired from a Tribune-owned TV station.

Technology
5:36 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

3-D Printing, Cat Videos The Hot Topic At SXSW Interactive Conference

This week is the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. It's where the big thinkers of the tech industry get together; this year's hot topics include 3-D printing and cat videos.

All Tech Considered
4:41 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Controlling Your Computer With A Wave Of Your Hand

Festival attendees experiment with Leap Motion technology.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 8:48 am

If you've had wrist and shoulder pain from clicking a mouse, relief may be in sight. This spring, a new motion sensing device will go on sale that will make it possible for the average computer user to browse the Web and open documents with a wave of a finger.

The Leap Motion Controller is on display at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, for the first time. It's one of the most talked about startups at the conference, where some 26,000 people have gathered to see emerging tech companies.

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Technology
4:43 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: SXSW Interactive

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:34 pm

Audie Cornish talks with Laura Sydell for a preview of South by Southwest Interactive. The tech event, one of the most popular showcases for tech startups and emerging technologies, starts later this week in Austin.

Business
6:31 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Law Change Makes It Harder To Unlock Cellphones

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 9:41 am

Maybe you don't like your mobile phone carrier, but you like your phone and you want to keep it but change providers. An obscure change in federal law makes it illegal to switch without permission from your carrier.

If you have, for example, AT&T, in order to switch to T-Mobile you have to unlock the phone, and AT&T can now stop you from doing that.

The change in the copyright law has some people upset, and they're petitioning the White House for a fix.

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Business
6:24 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Comcast To Complete NBCUniversal Buyout Early

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 6:42 am

Comcast Corp. said Tuesday it will complete its buyout of NBCUniversal from GE for about $16.7 billion, ahead of schedule. Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, has owned 51 percent of NBCUniversal since their $28 billion merger in 2011.

Technology
5:55 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: Driverless Cars

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 10:29 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: First up, our look ahead at the week's tech news, and we're going to focus on Colorado, where lawmakers will begin debating a bill that would allow driverless cars in the state. NPR's Laura Sydell joins me now to talk about it. And, Laura, Colorado is one of several states to take up legislation on driverless cars. Why now?

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