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
5:09 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 5:30 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
2:05 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 5:23 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
1:38 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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Music
3:18 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Apple Jumps Into Music Streaming Business

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 4:37 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
1:37 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 4:47 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
1:23 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 9:19 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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The Record
2:42 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Tiny Music Royalties Add Up, Unexpectedly

An image from a video made by photographer Aaron Mischel which featured the song "Happy" by the band Secrets in Stereo.
Aaron Mischel YouTube

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 7:14 am

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All Tech Considered
2:24 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 2:55 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
4:29 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 7:40 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
7:22 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 9:01 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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