Editor's Note: Watch Jennifer Pahlka’s full 30-minute profile this Sunday on CNN’s “The Next List” 2 P.M. ET. She’s the founder and executive director of Code for America in San Francisco. She lives in Oakland, California, with her daughter, Clementine, and their chickens.
Why you might know her: Her TED Talk has over half a million views for starters, and she is also founder of Code for America, which teams web developers, designers and entrepreneurs with local governments to help make cities more efficient and create positive change.
Quotable Pahlka: “We proudly use the word ‘geek.’ We call ourselves a Peace Corps for geeks… there’s just something about that word that most of us embrace.”
Why she matters: Pahlka has created a prestigious fellowship that pulls the smartest people from the tech world and has them work with local governments to make them more efficient. She believes that government should run as smoothly and as open as the Internet. A web site or app that might normally take a city several years to plan and millions of dollars to execute can be done by her fleet of geeks in just months at a fraction of the cost.
When's the last time someone told you about something they heard on the radio?
In an age of constant connectivity, social media and instant-access video, radio seems to literally be old news – a relic of past generations.
"Being on the Internet has only increased our reach and the number of people who consume public radio," says Ira Glass, who hosts NPR's "This American Life," arguably the most popular radio show currently produced.
The Internet has transformed radio into live streams and podcasts. The inherent nature of radio has transitioned from ephemeral to enduring.
Think about it. A podcast by its very nature is permanent. It has an address – a url. It can be searched and, more importantly, downloaded. Listeners can 'own it,' play it repeatedly and share it with friends.
Traditionally radio has also been a social binder – families gathered around the radio to listen to the lastest news, fisted-clinched sports fans listening with eager ear to last inning of the ballgame. But today its digitalization is making radio a more personal experience.
"When you're on a podcast you're deep into someone's ear canal. Maybe they're on the subway, maybe they're jogging, or maybe they're just sitting there," says Jad Abumrad, co-creator and host of Radiolab.
"Somehow you own them in a way you don't on the radio," says Jad Abumrad about how his work can engage his audience more deeply. "So subconsciously that gives us permission to do all kinds of things."
By Doug Campbell, Special to CNN
“Would they be cool with us launching a rubber chicken into Space?”
A group of excitable characters are volleying ideas around in a gritty but colorfully decorated warehouse. A disco-starfish stands sentry next to a bear wearing a fez. A giant banana and a stuffed monkey hang from the ceiling. A conversation is underway.
“We can do it with fluid dynamics, by tinting layers of oils as they react to the data.”
“Thermal imaging should give us an accurate read of the audiences facial temperatures...”
“Either way, we should use robots... and the paint cannon.”
The brainstorming session resembles a dream in which Salvador Dali is teaching a class at the MIT Media Lab and everyone has ADHD. But this is real. And this is work. And this happens almost every day here at Syyn Labs.
It’s a humorous alternate reality, one where engineers demand creative fulfillment and artists have no fear of circuit boards. But how did we gather such a group of quirky innovators? It all started back in 2008 when I met a hacker who was demo’ing an installation at an LA tech event. The event attendees were invited to send a word, via text message, to a phone number. Then Flickr images that were tagged with that word burst on to the projector. The images started innocently enough with “puppies” and such but since it was anonymous, the imagery soon degenerated into the inevitable body parts and profanities.