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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5:12am

Thu September 12, 2013
All Tech Considered

Long Before Most, Intel Chased The Smart Watch

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 5:18 am

The Microma watch was the first watch with a liquid crystal display, but the limited technology of the time prevented Intel from achieving much else with it.
Courtesy of Intel

In the past couple of weeks, several major companies — Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm — have announced they will release smart watches this fall. As the name suggests, the gadgets do more than keep time.

The latest spate of computerized watches promise to do everything from working as a phone to taking photos and fielding emails. Smart watches have actually been around for a long time, but they've never really taken off as a product.

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5:24pm

Fri August 30, 2013
All Tech Considered

Taking The Battle Against Patent Trolls To The Public

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 7:01 pm

A group of technology and retail groups is beginning a national ad campaign targeting so-called patent trolls.
The Internet Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and Food Marketing Institute

Patent trolls — a term known more among geeks than the general public — are about to be the target of a national ad campaign. Beginning Friday, a group of retail trade organizations is launching a radio and print campaign in 17 states.

They want to raise awareness of a problem they say is draining resources from business and raising prices for consumers.

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4:58pm

Thu August 29, 2013
The Record

Can Streaming Services Make Money?

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 7:48 pm

On June 15, the day that Pandora became a publicly traded company, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange wore the company's insignia.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Every time you turn around it seems like there's a new streaming music service. Pandora was among the first a decade ago. Rdio launched in 2010. Spotify came to the U.S. in the summer of 2011. Apple and Google plan to join the fray this year. Music producer Jimmy Iovine is launching a service tied to his headphone brand Beats by Dr. Dre.

What's odd is they are all jumping into a business that, so far, doesn't seem to be turning a profit.

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5:01pm

Fri August 23, 2013
Business

Ballmer's Retirement Announcement Drives Up Microsoft Stock

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 9:12 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a surprise announcement today. He'll retire within the year after 13 years at the helm. Microsoft experienced strong growth under Ballmer. But as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, he's been a lightning rod for critics of the company and his announcement immediately drove up Microsoft's stock price.

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5:22pm

Tue August 20, 2013
All Tech Considered

How Vine Settled On 6 Seconds

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 8:53 pm

About a year since launching, Vine says it has more than 40 million registered users.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Six seconds isn't a lot of time. If you were to read this sentence out loud, by the time you finished, six seconds would be up. But the brevity of Vine, the app that lets users make and share six-second video clips, has attracted 40 million registered users since its January 2013 launch.

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6:58pm

Mon August 19, 2013
All Tech Considered

Combining The Nation's Digitized Libraries, All In One Place

The San Francisco Public Library has been digitizing its historical document collections for years, including the scrapbooks of famed homicide detective Theodore Kytka. The SFPL is among scores of libraries and archives adding their digital collections to the DPLA.
Via San Francisco Public Library

Part of a series, Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries

Buried in the archives of America's public and academic libraries are historical treasures — old papers, photos and records — that flesh out a detailed picture of our past.

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5:55am

Fri August 9, 2013
Business

FTC Receives Complaints About Learning Apps For Babies

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 12:06 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Maybe you've seen a busy parent do this - hand over their smart phone to a child with a kid-friendly app running to keep them busy. Well, yesterday an advocacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Fisher Price is deceiving parents by promoting its Laugh & Learn apps as educational.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Babies are encouraged to learn about shapes and colors on this version of Laugh & Learn apps.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGH & LEARN APP)

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5:48am

Wed August 7, 2013
All Tech Considered

Amazon Enters Art World; Galleries Say They Aren't Worried

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 11:35 am

Amazon said its new art marketplace will provide access to more than 40,000 works of art from at least 150 galleries and dealers.
Amazon.com

Local record and book shops have been disappearing as the market for music and literature moves online. In the past few years, there's been a growth in sites that sell fine art on the Internet. On Tuesday, Amazon joined that market. But in this case, many brick and mortar galleries aren't seeing the Internet as a threat.

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6:37pm

Mon August 5, 2013
All Tech Considered

Trade Case Puts Apple In Washington's Sights

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 7:08 pm

The U.S. Trade Representative has overturned a ban on the import of the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2.
David Paul Morris Getty Images

Apple has been notoriously disinterested in Washington politics. But two decisions coming from the Obama administration in the past few days indicate that Washington is increasingly interested in Apple.

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5:55am

Wed July 24, 2013
Business

Apple's iPhone Sales Up, But Profits Down

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Apple sold more iPhones than expected last quarter, though its profits are down compared to last year. Still, in a quarter were other tech companies aren't meeting expectations, some analyst's say Apple isn't doing too badly.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Apple's revenue was pretty much flat, at a little over 35 billion, and its profits were down nearly two billion. Despite a rise in iPhone sales, Samsung is still selling more smartphones.

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