Old Media

Leonard Nimoy Influenced Us All

As Spock, Leonard Nimoy played a pivotal role on the original Star Trek series and movies. Star Trek painted a picture of diversity - different races, cultures, and species working together to make things right in the universe.  It served as a great example of the power of science fiction, especially as a young African American geek that struggled to see diversity in other forms of media that I love. 

Sci-fi author Cerece Rennie Murphy had a great point about the power of sci=fi on the latest Black Girl Nerds podcast:

 "It's all about what it means to truly be human, or to truly be a part of a community. What it means to stand alone and stand together. It's all this stuff that we are grappling with - cut straight to the chase. There may be aliens and space chases, but that's all window dressing. Science fiction is all about who you are, discovering you are, finding a way to be who you are in a world that's telling you to be something else.

That's something that we can all identify with. It can be hard to truly find yourself .Nimoy's characters always excels at displaying that struggle, whether as Spock or William Bell.

Even modern astronauts are influenced by this, especially given the international cooperation required in projects such as the International Space Station.

NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke and ESA European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano reflect on the inspiration that actor Leonard Nimoy's character Mr. Spock in the television series Star Trek had on scientists, engineers, space explorers and fans around the globe. For a high-resolution version: https://archive.org/details/150227LeonardNiimoy720p

Check out some other great images shared on Twitter to celebrate the passing of Leonard Nimoy.

Last Night a #Cosmos Saved My Life

Last night the series premiere of Cosmos, a miniseries exploring the universe, debuted on Fox. Its a reboot of the original 1980s series which was hosted by astronomer Carl Sagan, and is one of the most widely watched miniseries in history. I saw part of the original series in the mid and late 80s, but I was still young and didn't fully appreciate it.

Last night, a Cosmos saved my life.

After graduating college, my good friend Raymond told me about Sagan's book Cosmos, which was made after the TV series gained in popularity. I immediately recognized the name as the series that I watched so many years before, but I did not know that the book would become one of my favorites of all time. OF ALL TIME.

Sagan has a way of describing complicated topics such as the length of time since the big bang in terms that can be grasped by a variety of folks. His Cosmic Calendar - where the entire history of the universe is placed in a calendar year - remains one of my favorite ways to explain exactly how new humans are to the universe. All of recorded history takes place at the very, very end of the calendar. Puts things into perspective.

I had so much fun watching Cosmos and participating in the discussions that followed on and offline. Be sure to check me out on Twitter (@ShareefJackson) every Sunday at 9pm Eastern as I tweet about Cosmos during the show. A sample of my tweets from the premiere are shown below via Storify.

In the Realtime Web, Old Can Be Awesome

Old News - canon rebel t2i

In this world of realtime information when things are deemend "old" after hours or even minutes, if we miss something as soon as it drops it can get lost forever. There's so many awesome science things happening on the internet that it's almost impossible to keep up with everything.  I love when I find out something that may be days, months, or even years in the past but still awesome. This is one of those times, thanks to the twitter stream from @omaflinger.

Scientists are just normal folk following their passion like anyone else, and the blog The Protein Strangler had several scientists discuss this in a blog series entitled Meet a Scientist. This resulted in two great videos . The first is 3 minute collection of tweets from the #IAmScience Twitter hashtag. On Jan 27, 2012, people tweeted about why they became scientists - check it out! 

The second, much longer video (30 minutes) is from a film "I'm a Scientist" that delves a bit deeper into why scientists do what they do. This video was uploaded to YouTube on Sept 16, 2011 - an eternity in terms of the realtime web.  But still great!

These old videos were included on a Protein Strangler post from Jan 2012. I'm sure there's other awesome things that I've missed over the years. Don't only depend on the latest news and links because you'll miss out on some jewels!

Are We Ready to Pay For Electronic News?

i do a lot of reading on my tablet - from newspapers to novels to comic books. For a while, The Daily was also in the mix - a completely digital newspaper backed with the resources of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Well, that's come to an official end, as News corp is shutting down the Daily. Does this mean that we're not ready to pay for electronic news?


The Daily was built off of a subscription model, which needs to be justified by interesting content. Unfortunately, The Daily's content was a mix of interesting op-eds and tabloidish material.  There were often one or two gems, but never enough to keep me going back to the app. I pay to subscribe to the New York Times electronic edition because it is the source of record for enough original content that I can't get anywhere else. Not so with The Daily.

As I mentioned in a March 2011 post, the app is not impressive from a technical perspective - it's slow and not intuitive.  It had a seemingly great option - the ability to download the current issue via WiFi so that you can read it on the go while offline - but this feature strangely left certain parts of the newspaper inaccessible and did not improve load times.  It shouldn't take me a long time to flip through a digital newspaper that is supposedly downloaded onto my device.

With that said, someone had to be the trailblazer and put a lot of money and resources into a new technology.  Even though News Corp has to bite the bullet on this, they did push the idea forward. Let's hope that other media players, old and new, take this idea and do it right. People will pay for good content. The Daily didn't nail it, but someone else will.

Slow Down and Enjoy your Tech!

Tech comes out every day. The early adopters among us will grab new products only to dismiss them when the next hot thing comes out. My advice? SLOW DOWN a bit and enjoy what you have!.

I'm a victim of this when it comes to the iPhone and the iPad. I always sell the old version and get the new version, even if the feature set isn't quite justifiable. I've seen this most recently with my incremental upgrade from the iPhone 4 to the 4S. In retrospect, the 4 was perfectly fine for me - why didn't I stay with it? I'm missing out on forming the same relationship that haberdasher with my Double Dragon Tiger electronic game from the late 80s? My TI-83 calculator from 95? My minidisc player from 2000?

Podcasts that cover tech tend to suffer the most. They tend to be practically disposable, even ones that are incredibly funny and / or interesting. One of the most fascinating sites I've run into on the net is Previous Pod, a site that reviews old episodes of the Engadget podcast. I follow any of the former Engadget editors at The Verge, and it's interesting to go back in time to see their views on products that have since become obsolete, such as the Palm Pre.

Is it that current tech is made with this disposal culture in mind, so that they only last a few years (I'm looking at you, Dell Computer)? Or is it that we are throwing out perfectly good products for little reason? Whatever the reason is, SLOW DOWN!