Radio News: Whirlwind week for technological change
Mar 31, 2015 10:49 pm
The revolution may be televised after all, just not in the way Gil Scott-Heron considered in 1970. Instead, everyone will be transmitting from their personal hand-sized computer. Last week Periscope joined Meerkat in the race to establish a generic platform for livestreaming through Twitter accounts. Both are quick, easy-to-use apps that allow anyone with a cell phone to turn it on during their local town council meetings, or school board meetings, potentially radicalizing small town politics. Of course, it will mostly be used at concerts and by tourists walking around exotic locales. But, in the past week, the number and quality of technological breakthroughs that could be used for good by all wired citizens soon, was breathtaking. Micron and Intel announced new 3D NAND technology, stacking layers of flash cells vertically to increase density. Now, "2.5-inch SSDs could come in 10TB capacities, compared to the 1TB drives most laptops max out at today," according to Wired magazine. So computers and tablets and phones are about to hold many more apps and songs and videos, and are also about to work faster, as 5G standards get adopted. The Economist says that new 5G "networks will need to have a 'latency' (ie, response time) of about one millisecond. The speed at which two devices can begin to communicate with one another over today’s 4G networks is about 50 milliseconds, and around 500 milliseconds for the still widely used 3G services." Some of the shiny new roll outs can be scary too. Slate reported last week about StringRrays, devices which pretend to be cell towers so mobile devices will be tricked into connecting to them and revealing their data, and manufactured by the Florida-based Harris Corp. There's also a cheaper version called a KingFish, and both can skim call and messaging logs, geolocation data, and handset information. Some of the new innovations, though, are meant for good. The Freedom of the Press Foundation released a new version of SecureDrop last week, their open-source whistleblower system for media organizations to communicate with anonymous sources, and receive documents from whistleblowers. The Toronto Globe and Mail and Gawker Media are among the early adopters for SecureDrop. Others harnessed the new breakthroughs for their own purposes. On March 30, Jay-Z launched a streaming music service called Tidal with Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Kanye, Arcade Fire, and Rihanna as co-owners contributing exclusive content. Tidal reportedly has higher artist royalties then Spotify, and definitely costs more with subscriptions at $20 for high-definition streaming and $10 for regular quality, and no free ad-supported option. The sound quality is said to be similar to Neil Young's Pono app.