Ubaldo Vitali doesn't neatly fit into our current crop of 'Next Listers' who are on the cutting edge of technology. He doesn't program robots or create interactive art. In fact the machinery and techniques he employs are centuries old.
Vitali is a master artisan – an alchemist. In layman terms, a silversmith. And his artistic output is split into two categories: uniquely contemporary creations and conservational restoration.
Vitali was born in Rome, Italy in 1944. He's part of a family of goldsmiths, reaching back four generations. While studying sculpture at an Italian college, he fell in love with an American girl and followed her back to New Jersey. Since then he hasn't left New Jersey and set up his workshop in the small town of Maplewood. Though an ocean away from his family, he's managed to create unparalleled works that have been recognized by American conservationists.
"He represents a moment in American craft history that's past, and yet he represents a standard that I hope just yet won't evaporate," said Ulysses Dietz, the Newark Museum Curator of Decorative Arts.
The pieces Vitali creates are breathtakingly beautiful, each containing a consciousness of the old world wrapped within contemporary modernist designs.
In 2011, Vitali received a phone call from the MacArthur Genius Grant committee with news that he was being honored with their top award. A prestigious honor in which the recipient receives $500,000 with no strings attached to continue their work.
"The committee who chooses the MacArthur Grant [recipients] look for people who are doing innovative research or looking at things in a new way, and pushing the field forward," said Janet Zapata, a former Tiffany & Co. archivist. "To me Ubaldo is one of the foremost silversmiths in this country, if not in the world."
The Next List is proud to present our profile of this kind soul and wonderful craftsman – Ubaldo Vitali.
Ubaldo is on The Next List as an "agent of change" because, in a world where the speed is stuck on run – he's teaching us to stop, listen, and look at unparalleled pieces of art. As new technology permeates our daily lives, Ubaldo Vitali is working hard to push forward a centuries old practice while emphasizing interaction with "real objects."
Tune into CNN Sunday at 2 P.M. E.T. to see the full profile of Ubaldo Vitali.
By Mark Milian, CNN
New York (CNN) – That a popular video-sharing website is retooling its layout to highlight, of all things, the video on each page seems like a head-slapping idea.
But that's exactly what's happening at Vimeo, an online video site with an artsy fan base.
Vimeo, which is owned by Web media giant InterActiveCorp, began welcoming some subscribers and nonpaying users to a test version of its new site Tuesday morning. The website is painted in pastels, with large fonts and videos.
The revision was conceived of in 2009, the company said, and development has been going on for more than a year, Vimeo CEO Dae Mellencamp said in a recent interview here at the company's headquarters. FULL POST
His enthusiasm for the ukulele is infectious. His mastery of the instrument is jaw-dropping. Hawaii-born Jake Shimabukuro was chosen to be our first musical "Next Lister" – not only for his virtuosity on the four-stringed instrument but also for fundamentally altering how the instrument is perceived by millions of people.
You don't have to look too far to see that the ukulele's popularity is on the rise. Underground ukulele clubs are popping up. Bands are being formed. Even celebrities like Warren Buffet, Eddie Veder and Francis For Coppola have found solace in the ukulele's simplicity. A quick search for 'ukulele' on Youtube will yield tens of thousands of creative covers and original diddies that inspire and delight. Search 'Jake Shimabukuro' and you'll find that several of his videos have been viewed by millions – a testament to his skill and popularity.
Shimabukuro truly believes the 'uke' is an instrument of peace, hence the title of his new album: "Peace, Love, Ukelele." And, indeed, Shimabukuro's amiability personifies the album's credo (although, his quick and volatile hands while rapidly strumming his uke seem anything but peaceful).
Shimabukuro's approach to songs on the ukulele often shatter convention. There's an unexpected sophistication that defies the instrument's perceived limitations. His musical palette is eclectic – encompassing rock, jazz, old 'uke' standards, and covers of songs no one would ever think to play.
Watch The Next List's profile of Jake Shimabukuro, and you'll see why he's another one of our agents of change.
By Mark Milian, CNN
(CNN) – Of all the digital bells and whistles that Comcast put into its next-generation cable box, executives were surprised about one hum-drum feature that was most popular during testing.
"They love being able to check the weather," Tom Blaxland, a senior director for the company's Xfinity TV digital platform, said in a recent interview. "That's actually the most popular app we have."
"They say it's amazing," he added. FULL POST
By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - With all the buzz about SOPA and PIPA you may have missed another important acronym: OPEN.
The OPEN Act is being touted by its sponsor as the moderate alternative to those other two anti-piracy bills, which are causing all kinds of controversy in U.S. Congress and on the Internet. Sites from Wikipedia to Google and - you're on the Internet, you've already seen all this - were protesting those other two bills by blacking out or altering their sites on Wednesday.
The reason I bring up the OPEN Act is not because it's a stellar piece of legislation. It may or may not be. But what it definitely represents is a new way of thinking about the legislative process - a Wiki-ed out, crowdsourced, digitized version of bill writing. FULL POST
Everyone knows the host of CNN's The Next List, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is a multi-talented individual. He's a neurosurgeon, a television show host, an author and scuba diver. But now you can pencil in 'fire eater.' Yes, you read it correctly, fire eater.
Out in L.A. filming a profile on the highly creative artist collective Syyn Labs Dr. Gupta had the opportunity of sampling a fiery feast presented to him by Eric Gradman, a lead engineer. Hardly a stranger to extreme challenges Dr. Gupta took to fire eating like an pro, extinguishing the flames in a single gulp.
Stay tuned to CNN's The Next List, airing Sundays at 2 P.M. E.T. on CNN, to see more with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And coming soon we'll have an extraordinary show on the eclectic bunch who make up Syyn Labs.
By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - Got a question? A new Q&A site called Beepl already knew that.
Not only will the site give you an answer to the question that's on your mind, it claims to know what types of questions you're likely to ask before you ever type them into the site's question-answer interface.
"Beepl ... understands the topics that questions relate to and users’ interests and expertise so that questions automatically reach the best people to answer them," the company said in a blog post on Monday, as the site went live to the public after three months of private trials. "It achieves this by employing natural language processing and machine learning to create a real-time network of experts in which questions are re-routed and matched to the most relevant users, marking Beepl out from similar Q&A sites." FULL POST