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Sandra Tsing Loh at the LA Times Book Festival

The  comedian, writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh speaks with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books about If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now, her first novel. It tells the story of a frustrated couple, Bronwyn and Paul, who live in a shabby Los Angeles suburb, far from the Hollywood glamor they secretly long for. Dissatisfied with the fraying Bohemian chic that they used to admire, they seek status and — I’ll let Sandra take up the tale.

This interview is the first of three that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The other interviews, to follow, are with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, the host of Bookworm, and with Arianna Huffington.

Posted on October 29, 2014 in Front Page, Literature, Public Media
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New Writing Group Launched on Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill has it all, we like to think. Its own chiropractor, its own pharmacy, its own chocolate shop. And now, it even has its very own writers’ circle.
The brand new Beacon Hill Writing Group held its first-ever meeting this past Wednesday. Its goal is to provide a warm, welcoming environment that will motivate its members to write each week, and to share their work in a safe, non-critical setting.

Beacon Hill Writing Group
Beacon Hill Writing Group

So far, most members are from the neighborhood.
“I’ve lived on Beacon Hill for the past 14 years,” said Jenny Attiyeh, one of the group’s founding members. “I’m a journalist, and I’m happy as a journalist, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer with a capital W. So I thought, why not start a writers’ group? That way, I won’t be all on my own. I’ll have some support and encouragement as I try to do something that’s new and challenging.”
The camaraderie is key. Meetings are planned for Wednesday evenings at members’ homes, and will rotate among those who can accommodate the group.
“There are so many opportunities for writers today with digital media alongside traditional magazines, newspapers and hard copy books,” said Gigi Cockerill, a founding member.
Writing of any kind is an art form that requires practice and skill. Having relationships with other aspiring writers will be a real source of inspiration for me.”

— The Beacon Hill Times, February 18, 2014

Posted on February 18, 2014 in Literature, Poetry, Public Media
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Online Education at Harvard – a new advance for democracy?

Distance education. Online learning. We’ve been hearing a lot these days about this new tool for teaching, this new way of leveraging technology to spread access to education as widely as possible, with as little effort – it must be said – as possible.
Harvard Extension School has been one of the pioneers in using the Internet to reach its ideal audience – adult learners who might not have been able to attend an Ivy League college, but who have the intelligence and curiosity to benefit from top-notch instruction, albeit virtually.

This Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, is with Henry Leitner, the associate dean for Information Technology and Chief Technology Officer at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education, and a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard. Leitner also oversees the Distance Education initiative at the Extension School, and we spoke in a control room there, where many of these online courses are recorded.
What’s more, Leitner’s played a role in launching edX, a Harvard-MIT venture in online learning that’s gathering steam. It represents the MOOC  or massive open online course model, which can reach even greater numbers across the globe. These free online classes have the potential to penetrate closed societies and break down barriers, be they physical, psychological, cultural or – yes, educational.

Posted on August 9, 2013 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Ideas, Internet, Public Media
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EdX President Anant Agarwal’s Plan to Change the World

Note: this interview was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station.

You’ve heard the news. Online education is the next big, disruptive thing. It’s taking on the establishment, and the hidebound, bricks and mortar institutions of higher learning must change – or shrink.

EdX, Coursera, Udacity and the like are the future – promising us a better educated and better employed nation of newly empowered citizens.

Or –  they’re the tool that leads to the firing of second rate, redundant professors across the land, to the retreat of non-virtual classrooms, those sacrosanct spaces where real students interact with real professors.

Or perhaps they’re both? These cultural and marketplace issues will work themselves out over time. But if we look farther ahead, what will be the political impact of “free education for all,” across the globe? (Albeit for those with a high speed internet connection!)

Anant Agarwal

ThoughtCast spoke with Anant Agarwal, formerly the Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and currently the very first President of edX, in their spanking new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An entrepreneur and an intellectual, Anant is perhaps also a visionary.

Will his visions for edX come true? Take a listen, and judge for yourself!

Click here:   (12 minutes).

Also, for extra credit –
What does the “X” in edX stand for?
Click here: (1 minute).

Posted on July 8, 2013 in Ideas, Internet, MIT, Public Media
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Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a hero, or a villain?

In this sixth installment of Faculty Insight, produced in partnership with Harvard University Extension School, ThoughtCast speaks with Allan Ryan, the director of intellectual property at Harvard Business School Publishing, a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on the First Amendment and Media Litigation, and an instructor at Harvard Extension School.

The subject is a sensitive one for journalists: Is Julian Assange one of us? Does WikiLeaks serve a legitimate news-gathering purpose, or is it a dangerous, possibly illegal website that spreads official secrets without due diligence or consideration of the consequences?
Let us know what you think!

Posted on August 14, 2011 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, Politics, Public Media
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The Promise of Open Media

(Note: This program is featured on the Socialbrite and P2P Foundation websites — thanks for that!)

At the first ever Open Video Conference, held at New York University in Manhattan, participants pondered the significance of the open media movement, at a time when its tools are being put to use by protesters in Iran.  The social networking tools Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have revolutionized communication, and impacted events as they unfold.

ThoughtCast spoke with  Xeni Jardin, of Boing Boing fame,  Peter Kaufman, the CEO of Intelligent Television, and Dean Jansen with the Participatory Culture Foundation, among others, about the potential of this movement to effect social change.

Posted on June 25, 2009 in Politics, Public Media
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