Media (Part II)

Our lives are flush with media. As you read this, your cell phone, iPod, and laptop may clutter your desk while the radio in your kitchen, the TV in your living room, even the mailbox outside, burst with information. In this second segment of a two-part media issue, Quick Take examines how members of the MIT community interact with mass messaging. From The Apprentice to the New York Times, brain-circuit blogs to car-repair radio, one thing is clear—the MIT community has something to say.

Comics and Animation

Doonesbury cartoon

DOONESBURY © 2006 G. B. Trudeau. Reprinted with permission of UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE. All rights reserved.

Now at MIT, Alex Doonesbury joins Facebook
Alex Doonesbury, the main character's daughter in Garry Trudeau's comic strip, enrolled at MIT in 2006. Read her recently created Facebook page.

Live large in a WeeWorld
Celia Francis '94 is the CEO of WeeWorld, an online universe where users create avatars, deck themselves out in the latest virtual trends, and chat with abandon.

Cartooning ducks and ghosts
When Jen DiMase '01 was young, she loved Garfield and Snoopy so much that she started drawing her own comics—and never stopped. See her cartoons about computing ducks and pink ghosts on Jennifer's Comics.

Brooklynite alum blogs mini-comics
Liam (formerly Laura) Nichols '05, SM '07 maintains a semi-autobiographical, experimental comic-book blog called Jumbly Junkery that was recently reviewed by comic-book blogger Alan Doane.

Laser-pointed spitball shooting made easy
Joost Bonsen '90, SM '06 and Saul Griffith SM '00, PhD '04 created Howtoons, a collection of cartoons showing kids how to build things like stilts, laser-pointed spitball shooters, and pinwheels.

Boxers brawl and fugitives flee in alumni games
Black Ops Entertainment, a company founded by four MIT grads in 1994, has released titles for Playstation 1 and 2, Nintendo 64 and GameCube, XBox, and PC. Check out their games, such Knockout Kings 2001 (PS2) and Fugitive Hunter (PS2).

Fictitious alums populate media
The action-oriented video game Half-Life features Gordon Freeman, a fictitious theoretical physicist working at Black Mesa Research University, who earned a PhD from MIT. Dilbert, the eternally morose electrical engineer, also received a degree from MIT.


Science Programming

Alums to host new Discovery Channel series
Media Lab PhD candidate Jeff Lieberman '00, SM '04, SM '06 will host Time Warp, premiering Oct. 15. The show uses high-speed photography to turn everything from a punch in the face to uncorking a champagne bottle into learning opportunities. Also launching in October is Prototype This!, a 13-part series featuring a team of electronics specialists, engineers, and professors who will use emerging technology to create innovative products, such as an inflatable car and backyard waterslide simulator. Andrew "Zoz" Brooks PhD '07 will cohost.

MIT masterminds vault show to success
From hosting the show to advising behind the scenes, members of the MIT community have played an important role in developing and implementing the popular PBS series Design Squad, which recently won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.

Roboticists bask in limelight
The PBS show NOVA scienceNOW periodically runs profiles on inventive, extraordinary people. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that an inordinate number of those profiles feature MIT researchers who design, debug, and delight in incredible new robots.

Cynthia Breazeal SM '93, ScD '00 designs robots to communicate and interact the way people do.

Karl Iagnemma SM '97, PhD '01, an innovative roboticist, is also an acclaimed fiction writer.

James McLurkin '95, SM '04, PhD '08 is one of the world's leading designers of robot swarms—groups of robots that work together for a greater purpose.

List of NOVA notables continues

Mathematician and cosmologist Arlie Petters PhD '91 explores his take on gravitational lensing and the divide between rich and poor countries.

Neuroscience professor Matthew Wilson discusses sleep, and physics professor Peter Fisher gets into subatomic particles in a 2007 show. Read the transcript.

David Kaiser, who teaches physics and the history of science, describes nuclear chemists' quest to make an otherworldly substance.

Geologist Sam Bowring puts mass extinctions into a broader geological context.

Li-Huei Tsai, a neuroscience professor, answered viewer questions about her research with modified mice brains and Alzheimer's disease.

Reality TV and game shows

Alumnus entrepreneur triumphs in Trump's boardroom
Randal Pinkett SM '98, MBA '98, PhD '02 entered the boardroom on The Apprentice's fourth season and trounced the competition to win a coveted job with Trump.

Theremin-playing DJ discovered on YouTube
Jon Bernhardt '86, DJ of WMBR's Breakfast of Champions, was recruited for a White Castle advertising campaign after advertising execs saw him on YouTube performing "Video Killed the Radio Star" on his theremin.

Shaving lesson and wine tips avail poker pro
In 2006, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy made over poker expert and author Ed Miller '00. Miller, who writes books for people who want to make a living playing poker, sought to polish his image and be more marketable.

Ceiling-mounted Claw hooks the dough
Craig Forest SM '03, PhD '07 and his business partner were selected as one of six finalists on American Inventor last year and were given $50,000 to develop their ceiling-mounted bicycle rack called the Claw. Watch the finalist audition.

PhD candidate tapped to dance
Rhonda Jordan, an Engineering Systems Division PhD candidate and talented tap dancer, performed with Savion Glover on ABC's Dancing with the Stars last year.

Geeking out with TV beauties
In the last few years, four MIT alumni have participated in the reality TV show Beauty and the Geek for a chance to polish their images and maybe win some money. Did the experience change them? Read the Tech's interviews with Ankur Mehta '03, '04, MNG '04; Matthew Herman '06; and John Gardner '07; and watch a casting clip of Christopher Follett '07.


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A bimonthly feature created by the MIT Alumni Association relating contemporary topics to personal life, work, and MIT culture. View the archive.

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Faculty blogs

Confessions of an Aca-Fan
—By Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies Program
—Topics include anime fandom, Photoshop, and fighting evil

Furd Log/Intellectual Property: Technology, Culture, Policy
—By Frank R. Field III, senior lecturer in Engineering Systems
—Topics include Sarah Palin, memes, and downloadable textbooks

Nebulium on Neith
—By Adam Burgasser, assistant professor at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
—Topics include world travel and lightbulbs

Game Tycoon
—By David Edery, research affiliate at the Comparative Media Studies Program
—Topics include video games, writer's block, and inspired sleep deprivation

Alumni blogs

Travels with Rhody
—By Wade Roush PhD '94, chief correspondent at business and technology blog Xconomy
—Topics include iPhone hiccups and travels with his Australian shepherd, Rhody

int 0x30
—By Kyle Buza SM '08, Media Lab grad
—Topics include algorithmic art pioneers and greasemonkeys

Feld Thoughts
—By Brad Feld '87, cofounder of Foundry Group
—Topics include hiking, high-tech sales, and marathons

Dr. Lloyd Hey's Blog
—By Lloyd Hey '84, spine surgeon
—Topics include spines, patients, and adolescent scoliosis surgery

Erik J. Heels
—By Erik Heels '88, patent and trademark lawyer
—Topics include the Red Sox and licensing law

Through my eyes
—By Christina Kang '08, brain and cognitive sciences grad and Public Service Center grant recipient
—Topics include traveling in developing countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and China, and the difference MIT students are making worldwide

Traci Ho
—By Traci Ho MBA '08, Sloan school grad
—Topics include snowboarding, skydiving, and a tiny beach town on the coast of Croatia

Sramana Mitra
—By Sramana Mitra SM '95, software entrepreneur and founder of Dais, Intarka, and Uuma
—Topics include entrepreneurship, web 3.0, and India

Student blogs

Such stuff as dreams are made of
—By Kendra Johnson '09, public service fellow working with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota
—Topics include Indian rodeos, buffalo tongue, and politics

Malaika Thorne
—By Malaika Thorne '09, Sloan school grad student
—Topics include Buddhism, Jungian psychology, and muffins

—By Neri Oxman, PhD candidate in design and computation
—Topics include architecture and art

Cat in India
—By Catherine Tweedie '04, PhD candidate in materials science and engineering and member of the Public Service Fellowship India Team
—Topics include Goa, yoga, and coconut-flower wine

Send comments and questions to:

Various forms of media

Top row, from left: newspaper and coffee by Thomas Hank on Flickr, Howtoons, WMBR. Middle row, from left: blog page of Kendra Johnson '09, blogging T-shirt by antigone78 on Flickr, Doonesbury reprinted with permission © 2006 G. B. Trudeau. Bottom row, from left: microphone by hiddedevries on Flickr, Discover magazine, The New York Times. Background: © Slobodkin.


MIT educations have inspired many alumni to pursue careers in journalism. By covering scientific breakthroughs, planning initiatives, and political news, journalists can empower people with the information they need to be free and self-governing.


Los Angeles Times
Staff writer Thomas H. Maugh II '65, '66 has churned out more than 1,200 articles for the paper, including a recent one about babies and bisphenol A.

New York Times

Science reporter Dennis Overbye '66 converts complicated science news into articles fit for the masses. Read his take on solar-system swelling and nine billion-year-old dark energies.

Paul Krugman PhD '77 records his thoughts on financial blunders, fake scandals, and collateralized debt obligations in the pages of the Times, as well as in Slate and Fortune. Read his blog.

Learn about DNA profilers and cancer tests for women from Andrew Pollack SM '77, a biotechnology reporter.

Providence Journal
Bruce Landis SM '77 covers the transportation beat, which has led him to consider how the Rhode Island state transit system might be plucked from its financial hole.

Newark Star-Leger
Reporter Claudia Perry '81 has covered subjects as diverse as Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff, and top-shelf barware.

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Jennifer Frazer SM '04 won the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) award in the small newspaper category for her two-part series, "Getting to the Bottom of Mysterious Elk Deaths."

Technology Review
Senior editor Erika Jonietz '96 produced TR35, the wildly popular annual list of top innovators under age 35.

Most recently, science writer Stephen Ornes SM '06 has written about mind control and record-breaking black holes.

Senior editor Matthew Herper '99 keeps a science business blog that explores for-profit med schools and pharmaceutical buyouts, among other things.

Car and Driver
In August, automotive journalist and technical editor Csaba Csere '75 produced a YouTube video challenging Barack Obama's tire-pressure theory.


MIT's local radio station offers an array of Internet-accessible auditory delights:

French Toast, hosted by Yves, "[to] start your week off with the best in French-language music, local event listings, and the Cheese of the Week!"

Spherio, hosted by the Spherio Collective, "highlights how people are making the Americas a better place, from reviving traditions to creating new ones."

Radio with a View, hosted by Marc Stern and David Goodman, deals with "economic democracy, human rights, and other idealistic visions of the world."

KUSC classical music
Alan Chapman '70, a gifted composer and lyricist, is the host and producer of two weekend programs: Modern Times and Thornton Center Stage.

National Public Radio
Tom '58 and Ray '72 Magliozzi are household names thanks to their badgering wit on Car Talk, the NPR program about car care and repair. Listen to the podcast, and now, "watch" the brothers on TV. Their new PBS cartoon series, Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns, airs Wednesdays evenings.

Fox News
Fox News 11 in Los Angeles often features segments by reporter and producer Leelila Strogov '94, such as this piece about gang violence in LA.

ESPN Radio
Jessamy Tang '89, president and CEO of ESPN Radio Boston, says she has "always had a passion for sports—playing or watching." Tang played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse as an MIT undergraduate.

Radio clubs

The MIT UHF Repeater Association operates from an "old shack" on top of MIT's Green Building (54). They enjoy ARRL contests and great views of Boston Harbor.

The student-run MIT Radio Society participates in ARRL field days and occasionally tests experimental balloon envelopes.

Civic & Social Media

TimeTube mashes up Media Lab events
Enter keywords into the search field and the mashup tool called TimeTube will scour the Web for content and produce an interactive timeline of your query. The Media Lab version above features content from MIT's Media Lab and from an obscure California metal band by the same name.

Media Lab students are "future obsessed pioneers"
Students and researchers at MIT's Media Lab pride themselves on being innovative. Their work includes projects such as Nexi, an experimental robot that communicates with people in human-centric terms, and a new technology for creating disturbingly realistic '6-D' pictures. Watch Nexi on YouTube.

Multidisciplinary approach guides Comparative Media Studies
The MIT Comparative Media Studies program aims to think across media forms, cultural contexts, and historical periods. Recent theses topics include "Information Visualization for the People," and "Hybrid Cinematics."

How do you share and order information?
The Center for Future Civic Media, a joint effort between MIT's Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies Program, creates technical and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information.

OpenCourseWare: Media in Transition
This Comparative Media Studies course centers on periods in which the form and function of media were radically transformed, such as the Gutenberg and digital revolutions.

MIT presence on social networking sites blossoms



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