Black Panther Series Teaches Kids STEM Skills via YouTube

Black Panther series

Inspired by Wakanda, educator and maker Netia McCray engages the next generation of designers with free software and a dynamic Black Panther series. For many young students, STEM careers might sound like a boring nine-to-five in a stale office environment. However, MIT grad Netia McCray has been working for the past eight years to motivate and connect young students with STEM and design. In early 2018 she and Erica Nwankwo launched a four-part Black Panther–inspired series on YouTube. Each episode includes tips for re-creating some of the film’s exciting artifacts, such as Queen Ramonda’s crown and Nakia’s ring blades. Highlighting the many intersections between art and technology, the projects and interviews inspire kids to design with technology. As the founder and executive director of Mbadika, Netia McCray uses partnerships and educational outreach to inspire young people in creative STEM fields. Mbadika is Kimbundu (a language prevalently spoken in the northern region of Angola) for “idea.” Though        …read more

VR Headset Buying Guide: Which One Is Right for You?

VR headset

With a growing number of high-quality options to choose from, which VR headset is right for you? Virtual reality has grown from the stuff of science fiction to a tangible reality. Over the past few years, virtual reality headsets have started to flood the market, giving techies and gamers a myriad of options to choose from. If you’re interested in the burgeoning technology, which VR headset should you spend your hard-earned dollars on? That’s what we’ll explore in this VR headset buying guide. And the answer varies depending on your interests and current devices. A word of caution: Chances are if you’ve walked through the electronics section of a department store recently, you’ve seen VR headsets from companies you’ve never heard of, often for bargain-basement prices. Here’s the thing, though. Spending money on a knockoff VR headset is not worth it, no matter how low the price. Virtual reality is        …read more

Ethereum: The Birth of a Digital Renaissance?

Ethereum

What’s the future of the public experiment known as Ethereum? In the late Middle Ages, Italy was composed of various city-states: small, independent merchant republics dependent on commerce and trade to acquire wealth and power. No centralized political structures represented Italy as a whole, and each city-state boasted their own form of currency. In the banking powerhouse of Florence, it was the florin. In maritime-focused Venice, it was the Ducato. All transactions were carefully recorded through an innovation known as double-entry bookkeeping, allowing city-states to abandon feudalism for early capitalist principles. And through the realization of financial and cultural autonomy, these regions were able to fuel artistic advancement, leading to the birth of the Renaissance. Today our new version of double-entry bookkeeping is blockchain technology. Using this advancement, anyone with the know-how can declare possession of their own city-state, with the opportunity to create a currency, engage in commerce and        …read more

Worried about Privacy? 5 Reasons to Leave Google for DuckDuckGo

Unlike Google, the DuckDuckGo search engine doesn’t track you. In 2006 Gabriel Weinberg sold a company for millions. A year and a half later, he founded his next project with the money: an alternative search engine named DuckDuckGo. Initially the goal was to make it more efficient and compelling than Google by cutting down on spam and providing instant answers, similar to a Wikipedia or IMDb. The project launched in 2008, bringing Weinberg’s brainchild into public consciousness. But Weinberg didn’t realize at the time that the main reason people were wary of Google wasn’t the user experience but how the search engine tracked its users. Being the astute entrepreneur that Weinberg is, he instantly saw this as an area for opportunity and a way to compete with one of the largest companies in the world. As a result, DuckDuckGo became the go-to search engine for privacy — long before the        …read more

Top 6 Free Art Apps to Help You Create Anything

free art apps

These free art apps can help you realize your vision, whether you’re into screenwriting, audio production, music, design, animation or video editing. When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of brand-name items in the house. We drank cola, not Coke or Pepsi. We blew our noses on facial tissues (or paper towels), not Kleenex. When we got sick, we took cold medicine, not NyQuil. So when I became interested in screenwriting in high school and asked my parents for Final Draft, the industry-standard screenwriting app, I wasn’t surprised to learn they weren’t going to buy it for me. Back then, I wasn’t aware of any free art apps. The cost of Final Draft at the time was several hundred dollars. Suffice it to say, I learned script formatting the hard way. Then I discovered that someone on the internet had created templates for Microsoft Word to        …read more

Is It Time for an Internet Bill of Rights?

internet bill of rights, United States Constitution

If military officials are technically in my computer, aren’t they in my home without my consent? And more questions that deserve answers. When our founding fathers set out to ratify the U.S. Constitution, many were concerned about the amount of power being granted to the government over the individual. They expressly feared the threat to freedom and prosperity that a strong centralized power could become. And so, to address these concerns and ultimately prevent the government — or any entity — from becoming too powerful, the Bill of Rights was created. Proposed by James Madison, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were intended to protect human beings from the tyrannical rule of an all-powerful central authority. These rights were ratified in 1791, but the ideas behind them go as far back as the Magna Carta in 1215. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-0_0cI_DXE Basically, by being born human, you have a right to        …read more

#DeleteFacebook to Begin the Purge of Surveillance Capitalism

delete Facebook

Deleting your account is a micro-rebellion. Let’s talk big picture. As the story goes, the political data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to conduct “unprecedented data harvesting” through the use of Facebook and a third party’s personality quiz. The survey in question was deployed by a British research company called GSR for academic purposes in line with Facebook’s terms of service, yet the data was later acquired by Cambridge Analytica and stored on their servers. In the end, it was said to have affected more than 51.3 million Facebook users. Keep in mind that Cambridge Analytica already has a treasure trove of data on almost every American citizen. Through their extensive personality profiles, the company offers politicians the service of “psychographic targeting” based on personality types. It’s a business model called “surveillance capitalism,” in which the goal of the company is to collect, share and exploit user data. Of course,        …read more

Why Blockchain Will Change Everything

blockchain

Blockchain is the technology of an entirely new internet. Right now we’re in gridlock. The human race wants to move forward with the Internet of Things — to really push the boundaries of what we can do with our digital connectivity and possibly create an entirely new (and hopefully cooperative) world — but a few major problems stand in the way. First, our economic, legal and political systems are practically stuck in the Stone Age, using paper contracts and proof of identity in a slow-as-sludge bureaucracy. Second, history online (and on paper) is far too easy to delete, and “fake” information is abundant, making it difficult to know exactly what happened and when. Third, cybercrime is out of control, with companies and individuals simultaneously spending a fortune on security and losing their valuable currency (data, information, money) to hackers every day, with damages set to hit $6 trillion by 2021.        …read more

Simulation Theory: What If Elon Musk Is Right & We're in the Matrix?

simulation theory

Any takers for ‘the blue pill’? Simulation theory explained. Once upon a time, the notion that we were living in some kind of dream world was the stuff of fanciful novels and Hollywood blockbusters. Fast-forward to our age of VR computer games, deep data, large-scale automation and social media algorithms, and it no longer seems so improbable. At least some of us think so: cofounder of internet money innovators PayPal, chief executive of electric car company Tesla, and the man behind SpaceX, Elon Musk is a household name. But he’s more than just a robot junkie; he’s a budding posthumanist. When he’s not investing in research directed at protecting us against an I, Robot (2004) fallout, he’s working toward fulfilling his vision of humanity 2.0 in a multiplanetary society of intergalactic colonization. It’s unsurprising, then, that he recently came out in support of the so-called “simulation argument” during a Q&A        …read more

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies for the Tech Challenged

cryptocurrency market

Everyone’s talking about Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market lately. Get in on the conversation with this brief intro. Cryptocurrencies, crypto-assets, crypto-trading, the cryptocurrency market… It’s practically a whole other language, and questions abound. How does it work? What is it backed by? Is it a government trap in disguise? Does it make it easier for someone to steal my money? Is paper money dying? Every time I’ve gone to a party or gathering recently, these questions have hovered over the conversation like a heavy cloud. So in an attempt to help you sound like the smartest person in the room, I’m gonna try to break it down for you in humanspeak. Steal at will. What the hell is cryptocurrency? You might’ve heard that cryptocurrency is the “currency of the internet” or “email for money.” Some even call it electronic cash or digital gold, which is fine. It’s also regarded as        …read more