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The Signal Podcast

For the past several months my friend Jill Duffy and I have been developing a podcast. On Sunday we recorded and released the pilot episode of The Signal, a discussion show about news, technology, and culture.

We put a lot of thought and consideration in to what The Signal podcast could be, and we cycled through various formats. We settled on a (reasonably) succinct weekly discussion show about the news. We will produce an initial season of four or five episodes, then take a small break to assess what works and what does not. Episodes will focus a newsworthy topic, run for approximately one hour, and feature guests and interesting experts.

I have a long history with podcasting and am excited to co-produce a new show with a good friend. While podcasting has always been noisy and fun, I’m pleased to see it emerge as a unique and legitimate medium. The Signal approximates a hobby more than professional endeavor, and it will take many weeks to iron out the rough edges. As the name implies Jill and I would like the show to be interesting and useful, rather than blabby and rambly.

Episodes of The Signal will always be available for download here. The show is also on YouTube, Soundcloud, and soon iTunes.

Ping us any time. Because The Signal is a passion project, your feedback is particularly important. As the show evolves we’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about the news, suggestions for future topics, and critiques.

Thanks for listening.

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BreakingModern Content Strategy

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For the past several weeks I’ve been working with Gina Smith and HTC to produce a website called BreakingModern.com. BreakingModern is an editorially-independent lifestyle blog. HTC serves as an underwriter and strategic partner. Our small team built the site and produce content – text posts, video shows, and podcasts – about technology, news, music, and culture. While the site, the content, and even the design continue to evolve, both Gina’s team and HTC have been a lot of fun to work with. Each day I learn something new and have the opportunity to develop neat stuff with smart and talented folks. BreakingModern is an interesting venture in content strategy and I’m excited to see where the experiment takes us!

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The Iron Pipeline: Investigative Reporting with Contently Dot Org

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I recently had the opportunity to work with Contently and StudioAtGawker on a long-form investigative story about gun trafficking on the so-called Iron Pipeline, a stretch of Interstate 95 that connects a number of major east coast cities. The reporting work was in conjunction with the launch of Contently Dot Org, a not-for-profit platform in support of investigative journalism.

For two months our team – editor Brad Hamilton, data journalist Sam Petulla, and Contently’s Sam Slaughter – conducted research, interviewed sources and experts, and crafted a story that attempts to humanize the realities of gun trafficking. I was the primary writer and reporter.

Angels of Death

Tiana never saw herself as a killer.
The daughter of a prostitute, she grew up in an inner city housing project surrounded by crack cocaine, day-time shootings and illicit money making. Hustling was in her family’s blood. Her grandmother ran an after-hours booze business from their apartment, selling bottles of beer and pints of liquor until three in the morning.

For Tiana, who was determined not to follow her mother into the sex trade, guns became the hustle.
Buying weapons for the men in her life—a practice that police call straw purchasing—was easy money.

“I hung out a lot with guys because I didn’t figure that women could teach me anything,” she told me. “Guys taught me … to deal with the street. And part of that was guns.”

Read the full story.

Learn more about Contently Dot Org.

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Kinja: Writing on StudioAtGawker

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This spring I wrote a few posts for Gawker’s content studio, StudioAtGawker. Part of Gawker’s Kinja platform, StudioAtGawker is an experimental blend of editorially-generated native advertising.

  • From Phone Phreaks To The NSA: A Brief History of Modern Hacking
    • Lulzsec, lifehacks, script kiddies, and The NSA: hacking is now totally ubiquitous in media and culture, and it has changed much of our behavior, both online and off. Gamers in particular have been informed by hacker history since the days of Konami, and hacking is one of the most creative ways to problem-solve, meaning the difference between victory and failure in tough gaming situations.
  • Being Your Own Boss Made Easier: Five Ways to Maximize the Cloud
    • Being your own boss is great: you set your own schedule and work on projects you love, whether you’re at home in your pajamas or suited up in a meeting. But managing the business, keeping track of receipts, and staying organized can be tedious — unless you use the cloud to maximum advantage. Microsoft’s OneDrive is a platform for business and personal use, and an excellent place for everything in your life. It works with a number of apps made specifically to help freelancers and small-business owners stay efficient and organized. Here are a few.
  • How Stephen Courtney and the Dyson Team Invented the DC65
    • While the promise of jetpacks has yet to be delivered, engineers like Dyson’s Head of New Product Innovation, Stephen Courtney, are inventing sophisticated machines that bring future-thinking technology to the home. His latest Dyson model, the DC65, is the product of relentless testing and provides a glimpse into how people like Stephen Courtney and the rest of the Dyson team will design the future.

 

 

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Hacking Explained: Jack Rice and Dan Patterson on Progressive AM 950


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Jack and Dan discuss a brief history of hacking, explain how the NSA captured personal user data from major internet providers, and provide a few essential security tips for the web and mobile on Minnesota’s progressive talk station, AM 950.

Learn more about about the NSA from expert James Bamford, and security from host Steve Gibson.

Thanks for listening to Jack and Dan.

Stay tuned.

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Sudan Stories with Jack Rice and Dan Patterson on Progressive AM 950

Recorded on AM 950 in Minneapolis as commentary on media training conducted by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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jack_rice_dan_patterson_am950In which I join talk radio host, former CIA agent, and public defender Jack Rice to share stories on 950 AM in Minneapolis about storytelling, reporting from Cairo, and digital journalism in conflict regions.

Learn more at AM 950 Progressive Radio and on Jack’s website.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Sudan Stories: Language, Guns, & Phones – Media Training In Cairo

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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cairo_skylineFrom an ad-hoc classroom through the bustling streets of Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza, this is an audio journal of stories and  thoughts recorded while working with Small World News to train Sudanese media makers in March of 2014.

Our hotel was located down a busy, dusty ally in downtown Cairo. Each day our team scribbled on charts and whiteboards in a top-floor classroom with windows that opened to the noisy clanking of perpetual construction. For two weeks over coffee and sheesha with our Sudanese colleagues we used Android devices to review the techniques of telling stories that deeply resonate with people.

Our group was remarkable, and individually live fascinating lives in different regions of Sudan. Each day was an opportunity to learn more about family, music, language, and culture. With the help of great translators listened to personal stories, asked questions, and recorded audio. As with my prior trip to Sudan, I also occasionally recorded short audio journal entries of our activity. Far from an official report, this is a narrative that tries to capture the essence of the people of Sudan, as well as the sounds of Egypt.

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In this episode you’ll hear a number of captivating stories:

  • The story of a mother awake in a storm anxiously awaiting the return of her son.
  • The impact of the Egyptian revolution on tourism at the Giza Pyramids.
  • The impact of violence and systemic marginalization on language, music, and dance in Kordofan.
  • How mobile phones are empowering disenfranchised groups.
  • The pop music of Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

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Notes: 

The experiences shared in this story are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet these experiences are shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

The stories shared in this episode were conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Sudan Stories: The Story of N – Imprisoned and Blinded

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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cairo_sunsetN is from a city in Sudan. I met her during our training course in Cairo. N was a media student for two weeks and I had to opportunity to know her well. In Sudan, N has a reputation as a hard-working and warm-hearted activist. Her loud voice was heard and noted by the UN and the international community, but was largely ignored by the Sudanese government. Until she witnessed corruption and spoke too loudly.

For the crime of witnessing and reporting corruption, N was imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement. She placed in a stark cell and kept alone for months. Her only company was the bright light that shone perpetually, keeping her awake for days at a time. From time to time she was removed from her cell and forced by her captors to stare in to a blinding light during brutal interrogations. 

Then, just prior to Ramadan for reasons still unknown, she was released. She’s worried about government surveillance, her family, and her safety. She wanted to learn to make media as a form of empowerment. Over coffee and cheap cigarettes N shared her story as we sat and looked at the Cairo sunset.

The experiences shared by N are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet N’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

Notes:

The experiences shared by N are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet N’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

This interview was conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Sudan Stories: The Story of M – Sell a Kidney or Make Bombs

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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sudan_thumbs_in_cairoM is a Sudanese activist living in Cairo. As a young man in Sudan M was kidnapped, forced to join the military, and punished for refusing to learn bomb-making tactics. Years later M was released and built a life in Sudan. Yet he was seized again and tortured by the government. He bribed his way to freedom, sold his house, and fled to Cairo. Now he’s running out of money. M faces a choice between selling a kidney and becoming a suicide bomber.

I was introduced to M by friends in our Sudanese training program. On the final day of training our translator tugged my sleeve while I was busy checking the encryption on a mobile device. M – shy, short, with a strong voice but sympathetic disposition and dressed in Western clothing – was was introduced as a Cairo resident friend of our group. M shared his story as we sat together on cracked brown couches in the bright, smoke-filled lobby of a small hotel in downtown Cairo.

Notes:

The experiences shared by M are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet M’s experience is shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

This interview was conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Top Five Records (of 2013); And: Music Culture As Self-Identity

This is a list of the music I enjoyed this year.

We (read: I) used to take music very, very seriously. In our youth we look for emotionally-charged ways to articulate abstract ideas about ourselves, our friends, and our role within culture. Often music becomes a proxy for self identity, and the culture of music – your ‘scene’, their aesthetics, and the politics – serves as an important interpretative and priming role within social groups. Listing what we ‘like’ becomes confusing: do we appreciate the politics of a band, yet hate their sound (eg, every Fugazi fan ever)? Do we love the sound (‘Call Me Maybe’, maybe?) but are ashamed of what our friends will think by starring it in Spotify? Qualifying subjective taste using an

An Structured List
Structured List

is a loaded proposition.

As a passionate but sober and ambitious bastard, in my 20’s I wanted to transform my emotional musical self-identity into a progressive career identity. I took music and music culture very seriously because both represented who I was, and who I thought I would become. I began  my on-air career in college and FM rock radio, worked low on the chain for Capitol Records and Warner Brothers Records, managed a few bands, started a publishing company (Creepy Sleepy Music, ASCAP), and learned to cut two inch tape at Serious Recording Studio(s).

Fortunately, I was not one bit successful in the record industry. I learned a lot, but building a career in the music business during the early 2000’s was a particularly weird experience (think: P2P, Napster, and the first iPod). My self-identity eventually became more nuanced and I opted to return to school, explore the tech industry, and eventually (though unintentionally) become a journalist. As I suspect happens to many an aged punk-rocker, maturity, experience, and a few years working in Not The Music Business has provided space to enjoy the music my ears and brain like, not the music that might express my identity and place within my peer and professional group.

To that end, 2013 was a kick-ass year for wonderful earworm music. Here are my Top Five Records of 2013:

5) Lorde – Pure Heroine: Hype, ubiquity, and teen-pop youth be damned, this record is spotless, clever, unpretentious, and catchy as hell. White Teeth Teens are out and are a lot of fun.

4) Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe: We can intellectualize this record by stating that the saccharine synthpop hooks do a great job of obfuscating The Bones of What You Believe‘s smart lyrics and weird introspection. But that’s bullshit. We all know that, like, the entire L train has been rocking Recover for months. You know who you are. ;)

3) Lucius – Wildewoman: Sincere, sensitive, and mostly-acoustic. Ug. I hate it already. In this age of diluted rocknroll I need another singer-song writer record almost as badly as another ‘Blurred Lines.’ Yet Lucius can charm the pants off (literally, I’m sure) the Too-Cool set, sell out the Bowery Ballroom, and are loved by Paul Krugman (really). Smile and join the gang on the chorus of Two of Us on the Run:

2) Haim – Days Are Gone: I can recall no record since Is This It (which really was) as hyped pre-release as Days Are Gone. And just as The Strokes’ debut was like listening to the sounds of the LES pre-Bloomberg, Haim’s freshman set sounds better than the 405 without traffic. Yeah, the pop is blubbly and transparent. Yet in contrast with Arcade Fire’s cynically constructed dull dud Reflektor, Haim’s pop  – especially The Wire – is more rocknroll than any other record released in 2013.

1) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories:

DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK
DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK
DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK DAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNKDAFTPUNK

And: Pharrell. Seriously. Also, this happened: 

Leave your favorite records of 2013 (or whenever) in the comments below.

Kthxbairok.

- DHP