Archive for the ‘News Media’ Category

The Red Couch Project: A Student-Run Production Collective for Independent Artists

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
The Red Couch

The Red Couch

Being an independent artist (read: not affiliated with a department) isn’t easy on this campus. Space and resources are  slim pickins, and even if you manage to know the right people to book a venue and get the right gear, it’s tough to get students to commit to come out. We’re all spread a little too thin, and sometimes you even have miss your best friend’s performance.

This is where the Red Couch Project (RCP) comes in. RCP is a student-run production collective that will handle this whole mess. Can’t find a venue to perform at? We’ll find it for you or we’ll work with you to create one (i.e. impromptu outdoor session – Stanford is a beautiful campus). Worried people won’t be able to make it? We’ll record it for you and spread the word online. We’ve been capturing performances of independent musicians for almost three years now, and we’ve accumulated more than 65 videos of Stanford-affiliated musicians performing their work. Check out our videos.

So where does the ‘Red Couch‘ component come from? To us in RCP, it’s an icon that symbolizes how performances should always feel – intimate, personal, informal – like you’re sitting in your dorm room playing for your friends. In the past, we’ve had artists perform on the Red Couch because of the symbolism and, well….because it’s kind of just hilarious. Currently, the Red Couch lives in a little venue called Do.Art Galleria in the Mission in San Francisco. We moved the couch to provide Stanford artists with an opportunity to meet and perform with city artists who are doing art (in various forms) full-time.

And in case you’re easily bored by the constraints of furniture, we’ve started new “Off The Couch” sessions. In these sessions, we hop off the couch and explore some unique and unusual collaborations rather than capturing live concerts. You can check out the latest one below – it involves a dancer improving to the music of a cellist and guitarist in an empty yoga studio. 

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As we all know (but apparently the rest of the world doesn’t), Stanford is not just a tech-startup incubator with a football team. There are a ton of passionate and talented artists of all kinds on this campus, and RCP is here to support them in ways that the university currently isn’t.

Red Couch Project on Facebook

Wanna get involved with RCP? Contact Danny Smith at dsmith11@stanford.edu

Shame on you, Nicholas Thompson.

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

This article is a response to an article on the New Yorker website.  The ideas expressed here are the opinions of the author alone, not an official opinion of the University or this publication.

Dear Mr. Thompson,

This morning you published an article entitled, “The End of Stanford?”  It is one of the most sensationalist and unsubstantiated pieces of journalism I have ever read.

“Anyone can create, edit or contribute to any page.”

You are misinformed about the Stanford of today, but you didn’t make an effort to learn more about it.  Of your 14 hyperlinks, 9 of them referenced articles from your own website.  The only reference to the stanford.edu domain was that of Synergy’s website, which publicly displays the password for its own wiki page.  See the screenshot from Synergy’s webpage at right.

You may not have done your research, but I have, and I would like to clarify some of your points.

We are no mere tech incubator.  Stanford University is ranked #1 in the world for its arts and humanities programs.  85% of our undergraduates as of the last academic year are in non-engineering majors.  Our political science, psychology, economics, English, history, and sociology graduate schools all rank in the top 5 in the nation.  Our business school is #1.  Our law school is #2.  Education is #5.

“It is for you to know all, it is for you to dare all.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m no zealot for the start-up culture myself, but it must be contextualized to be understood.  At a school with 6,999 undergraduates and  8,871 graduate students, 12 students dropping out to form a company is hardly statistically significant.  While you may not approve of Stanford’s start-up culture, I dare you to deny its efficacy:  companies formed by Stanford alumni create $2.7 trillion in revenue annually and have created 5.4 million jobs.  We have the world’s 10th largest economy.

In your article, you ask, “Shouldn’t [a great university] be a place to drift, to think, to read, to meet new people, and to work at whatever inspires you?”  We wholeheartedly agree, and this is exactly what our curriculum seeks to do.  This is why our new, introductory course sequence (mandatory for all students) is called Thinking Matters.

I’m mostly puzzled by your article because I don’t understand your motivation.  You’re a Stanford graduate.  Why are you taking such inaccurate hits at your alma mater?  To take us down a notch?  It seems like your deliberately controversial article is just a ploy for page-views.

I invite you to visit Stanford as it is today.  Heck, I’ll give you a tour.  Join me in seeing Stanford not as we appear to the uninformed eye, but to those who engage in its true academic culture.

I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kristi Bohl, Stanford ’13

Gangnam Style, Global Citizenship, and the (Secretary) General

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As Stanford students, we have been charged – by the Stanfords themselves in the Founding Grant – with the responsibility of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”  The words that Leland and Jane wrote down over 120 years ago in honor of their late son still ring true today, for fuzzies and techies alike.  Whether you are applying for a visa to study abroad or someday praying for favorable trade relations so that you can expose your product to a new market, international relations matter.  So if you’re curious about IR or just wondering why there were police dogs outside of Dink yesterday, read on.

Today, the UN has 193 member nations.

Crash Course: Meet the U.N.

Founded in 1945, the United Nations was born out of the need to address global hostility post-World War II and the League of Nations’ failed attempt at creating an international body that could effectively address international issues.  Despite starting afresh, the formation of an international regulating body still did not sit well with some countries, and after the Soviet Union turned about-face on first Secretary General Trygve Lie due to the UN’s role in the Korean War, the UN was almost doomed to the same fate as the League of Nations.

Like a boss.

Fortunately, Lie’s fellow-Scandinavian successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, strove to prevent the UN from disappearing altogether.  However, the UN has had its share of drama, from the Soviet Union’s desire to create a troika to replace the Secretary General to the Annan family’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

Despite the issues that have arisen, the United Nations remains the predominant world body persistently working to maintain peace between nations and provide aid to those who are hungry, oppressed, illiterate, and ill, deploying approximately 120,000 peacekeepers from over 110 countries and feeding over 90 million people a day.  In the words of current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “we [- the UN -] deliver more humanitarian aid than anyone.”

BMOC: Ban himself

The man with a plan

This Thursday afternoon, Ban Ki-moon came to address the Stanford community and discuss the role of the UN in our rapidly transitioning world.  Expressing his excitement at being able to speak on campus, Ki-moon joked that “Stanford has subtly made its mark on the world…… and that is just your football team.”  But beyond voicing his appreciation for California and joking that after a trip to America as a teen, he “was the 1950s equivalent of PSY” because he was so popular when he got home, Ban Ki-moon emphasized a need for American citizens to help address the profound global change that our world is facing today.  To make his point clear, Ki-moon elucidated three primary ways to navigate our changing world – his points are as follows.

1) Sustainable Development

First, Ki-moon urged individuals to be more conscious of their consumption of Earth’s resources, as “there can be no plan B… because there is no planet B.”  Asserting that “we cannot drill or mine our way to prosperity,” Ki-moon explained his goal for 2030: that everyone in the world will have electricity, solving a current dearth of energy for 1.4 million individuals.  His environmental stance reflects current initiatives at Stanford that you can get involved in, from the Stanford Solar Car project to the Green Living Council.  As Ki-moon said himself, “I know you understand – after all, Stanford’s mascot is a tree.”

2) “Dignity and Democracy”

Focusing on civil unrest in Syria and Mali, the Secretary General illuminated the main concerns for addressing international conflict, including funds, access, and political divisions.  He wants to provide certainty to young people who have uncertain futures, and uphold the human rights of those who can’t defend themselves.

3) Women and Young People

Similarly, Ki-moon argued that women and young people are the “most under-utilized resource” in today’s world.  He called for “more women in the Cabinet, more women in the Parliament, and more women in the boardrooms,” and is proud that South Korea has its first female president(-elect).  Because “half the world is under 25 years of age,” Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy on youth, who will hopefully be a proponent for children and young adults around the world.

“We Are the World”

In sum, Ban Ki-moon discussed a variety of pressing issues that he and his peers in the UN need our help to address.  It is in this vein that Ki-moon wrapped up his talk; rather than talking about how the youth are the future, he argues that it is time to recognize that young people “have already taken their leadership role today.”

So, Stanford students, let’s take Ki-moon’s advice.  Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to recognize the importance of international cooperation and impartiality.  It is time to be global citizens.

Breaking the Fall: 2012 Autumn Course Guide

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Ah, summer. One minute you’re shotgunning a beer celebrating with friends after your last final, the next, you’re waking up and rolling over to find that two months of beaching, traveling, summer-schooling, tanning, grilling, working, and/or your resume-building b****work meaningful internship experience have flown by and it’s already August. Which means it’s time to maybe, possibly, conceivably consider what you’ll be studying in the fall. Even at Stanford, summer doesn’t last forever, and eventually we’ve got to come to grips with  all of our first-world problems – namely, enrolling in classes at the happiest place university on earth. But, fear not – I have spent the last fortnight scouring every course in every department this school has to offer (upon reading this line, my proofreader claims that I “need to get laid a life”), with the hope of delivering the BEST list of classes to get you STOKED to come back to campus. It combines all the things I love most in life: cool classes that don’t physically drive me to tears (yes, I’m talking to YOU, “Inventing Classics“), excessive linkage, personality stereotypes, semi-snarky commentary, giant over-generalizations and massive assumptions, and most importantly: THE MUPPETS.  In any case, I hope the article piques your interest in something you might have otherwise overlooked, missed, or been to lazy to go look up.  And if not, all I can say is that I hope it makes you laugh (if only in pity). Other than that, here’s to the remaining MONTH of summer (suck it, Cal) and the boredom and restlessness that will inevitably accompany it. Cheers.

 

Autumn 2012 classes for…

the wise-guy

Old Guys Rule.

AMSTUD 140: Stand Up Comedy and the “Great American Joke” Since 1945

I took this class last fall. Actual (read: more or less deeply paraphrased) quote from the prof: “Hey, Hennessey – I’ve got an idea for a class. It will involve abundant sexism, racism, elitism, lewd and scatalogical references, innappropriate behvaior, excessive profanity, and – above all – some of the most brilliant and observative writers, performers, and anthropologists of our time.  What’s this class called, you ask? Well, it’s Stand Up Comedy and the Great American Joke”. Take this class. It’s awesome.

MUSIC 36N: Humor in Music

My visions of this class involve Steel Panther, Weird Al, and Parry Gripp.

Thank God I’m not teaching it.

 

the romantic

Living up to his name like an absolute champ

HISTORY 33A: Blood and Roses: The Age of the Tudors
Mystery, murder, sex, and scheming? And you thought your family was dramatic.

ATHLETIC 39: Fencing: Beginning
So you can do THIS.

ENGLISH 154: Mapping the Romantic Imagination
The map of MY romantic imagination involves horseback trips through the Florin countryside with Wesley, a sunset on the bow of the (intact) Titanic with Jack, the California coastline in Benjamin Bradford’s convertible, getting stuck on an island in the Caribbean with Cap’n Jack Sparrow, Patrick Verona’s paintball park, and wherever Ryan Gosling is currently located (though, preferably here). To my great disappointment, however, I believe this class refers a bit more to the English romantic poets and novelists and the sublime countrysides they envisioned. Then again, is anything quite as lovely and romanticized as curling up with a little Keats and Byron?

 

the hipster

This muppet is actually called Harry the Hipster. You've probably never heard of him.

ENGLISH 121A: Tattoos, Scars, Marks and American Cultures of Inscription

I feel bad for the poor sucker of a TA who has to read 60+ papers on “Why the dolphin/butterfly/Chinese symbol for “peace”/shooting star/infinity sign/angel wings/song lyrics/Bible verse on my ankle/lower back/shoulder blade/neck/wrist/sideboob/part of my hip that totally gets gets covered by a bikini is a unique artistic expression of my inner self”.

ARTSTUDI 131: Sound Art I 
Because taking just “music” was too mainstream.

FILMSTUD 301: Fundamentals of Cinematic Analysis 
Take this class so that the next time you’re giving your pretentious opinion about the latest film showing at INSERT NAME OF UNKNOWN THEATER HERE, you’ll be able to reference a little-known technique/genre/style/paradigm/buzzword that your professor mentioned once in class.

COMM 182: Virtual Communities and Social Media
This should prepare you well for your vague “job” in the vague cross section between “media” and “social networking” at that start-up no one has ever heard of.

 

the history buff

I want that blazer.

HISTORY 95C: Modern Japanese History: From Samurai to Pokemon
Samurai…. Pokemon. SAMURAI… POKEMON. I’m not quite  sure what’s between these two poles (the history of sushi?!?!) but it’s guaranteed to be awesome.

COMM 125: Perspectives on American Journalism
I don’t know enough about journalism or, frankly, television to confidently explain why “The Newsroom” sucks and “The Wire” is the bestest thing ever since Ike’s Menais a Trois. Admittedly, I should probably take this class and many others on this list. In any case, if you believe the slow death of the newspaper is a genuine travesty or that Cronkite and Murrow could give Colbert and Stewart a run for their money, then this might be the class for you.

HISTORY 103F: Introduction to Military History
It’s like the Military Channel… sans couch.

HISTORY 243G: Tobacco and Health in World History
Not to get all Nick Naylor on you guys, but I’m genuinely curious how one-sided this class is.

HISTORY 59S: The Digital Historian’s Toolkit: Studying the West in an Age of Big Data
From my quick read of the course-description,  it seems like this class involves old documents, scanners, and many a rubber glove. That said, if you like seeing history immortalized and like to wonder “what did they think back then?” and “how did that really happen?” then this is the class for you.

EDUC 116N: Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History’ and the Quest for Historical Truth
If you’re reading this section, theres a decent chance that you identify yourself as a history buff. Howard Zinn was the guru/godfather/mack-daddy of all American history buffs. Student, meet the ultimate teacher.

HISTORY 308D: Pre-Modern Warfare
I’m not exactly sure at what point/what contraptions fall under the heading of “Modern Warfare”, but if you’re telling me that I get to take a class on how to use the history of ninja stars, crossbows, catapults, and broadswords, then SIGN. ME. UP.

CLASSGEN 103: The Greek Invention of Mathematics
My sole incentive for taking this class would be figuring out exactly which Greek mathematician to fantasize about brutally torturing  whilst in the middle of my Math 52 midterm.

 

the patriot

Coming Soon: Muppets take 'Merica.

CSRE 51K: Election 2012

I should really, REALLY take this class. Seriously, because – besides Obama – I’m not really sure who’s actually still in the race.

COMM 162: Campaigns, Voting, Media, and Elections 
See above comment.

COMM 164: The Psychology of Communication About Politics in America 
I’d like to think that, to the individuals who plan to lead my country and allegedly have my best interest at heart, I am more than just a number and that my opinions and behaviors are more than just statistics.

ECON 18: The Washington Debate About American Competitiveness
If I take this class, will I get a job?

PUBLPOL 170: Political Corruption
It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.

PUBLPOL 154: Politics and Policy in California
Let’s hope that by the time this class is over, Michael Tubbs will have a place in its curriculum.

ECON 25N: Public Policy and Personal Finance
Something about tax-brackets… maybe. I expect to see a lot of pitchforks and raised fists.

HUMBIO 120: Health Care in America: An Introduction to U.S. Health Policy
Obamacare. And other stuff. Probably.

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Resonance: More Than Just Background Noise?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Stanford's next Pandora?

Chances are if you’ve been listening to music online lately your browser has been stuck on Resonance. Created by current Stanford seniors Chris Seewald, Zach Weiner, Matthew Crowley, and Michael White, Resonance is as if Pandora and Youtube had an child that was raised by Spotify. Originally intended to reduce the time that it takes to find good music, Resonance allows users, focused around geographical areas, to add music to an online queue. Listeners can then rate the music their peers have uploaded and are provided with a stream of continuous songs that play alongside their respective YouTube video.

Co-Founder Chris Seewald claims that since their recent inception at Stanford they’ve had “several thousand visits from a couple thousand users.” More impressive however, is how much those users have taken to the site, as “users have added more than one thousand of their favorite songs.” In response to the positive feedback they’ve received from the Stanford campus they’ve decided to expand geographically, moving into Austin and Boulder due to the large student populations there and personal connections. While for the time being they’ll staying on college campuses, in the future they plan to expand into cities as well, with San Francisco and New York in their sights. Seewald is also excited for the potential of different playlists throughout the nation and thinks that there’ll  be “unique music taste differences across different regions,” which is a pretty cool concept when thinking about how say, Kansas City might compare to Seattle.

I will say that for my particular tastes the Stanford Resonance channel seems a bit too random at times, jumping from Bob Dylan to Skrillex. Also, a friend of mine who originally introduced me to the site said she liked the recommended songs more before Resonance started gaining popularity, claiming that the site took much more of a “dance-party” type of feel as more people started contributing. That being said, while listening to the site while typing this article I didn’t skip the majority of songs that came up.

There’s no doubt that Resonance is entering an extremely crowded market, but given this all-star team of co-founders (with full-time offers (correction: Chris’ offer from BCG is for a summer internship) from Apple, Square, and BCG) and their already growing base of users, they might just be on to something here. What do you guys think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Be Thoughtful About KONY 2012

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Joseph Kony, an African warlord leading the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has become an international sensation thanks to Invisible Children, a group of human rights activists. They been able to successfully wield social media to make people care about their cause. Kony is now famous because the world wants his arrest and prosecution for his “crimes against humanity.”

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YouTube DirektKony 2012

I watched the KONY 2012 video. I clapped at moments of triumph for people in Uganda and didn’t allow myself to hide my eyes at the images of mutilation or abduction. Even though I’m the last person to follow major trends, considering the gravity of the idea and the sheer number of people attempting to share it through Twitter and Facebook, I understood  that it is something that I shouldn’t ignore.

After finally seeing the video for myself I learned a few things:

  1. Everything about the video was created to appeal to the youth of developed nations. There were cute kids, horror, and a mission deeply seated in social media and activism. Anyone watching that video can help by sharing it.
  2. This is a 9 year old problem, with circumstances that may or may have changed since the video was produced.
  3. There was both the Mumford & Sons and dubstep in the same video. And it worked. Both reflect the way the filmmaker appealed to the culture Gen Y knows and loves. It made it seem like the video wasn’t coming from a major stuffy organization, or a ragtag group of freedom fighters – it came from one of us. Or, at least, it was meant to feel that way. (more…)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Meanwhile, at Stanford...

Anyone know the scoop on Mr. Fire and Brimstone here? Freedom of speech debate aside, you have to give him credit for the sign…

The Original Tebow Returns to Stanford

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

We really should call it "Rodin-ing"

How do you transport a pricelesss piece of art weighing more than a ton? Very carefully.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the crown jewel of Stanford’s Rodin collection has returned to its rightful home after a 2 year loan to the North Carolina Museum of Art. One of twenty-two original casts, our version of Rodin’s “The Thinker” was presented as a gift to the Cantor Arts Foundation in 1988. Since then, it has spent time in front of Meyer Library and in the Cantor Arts Center’s Diekman Gallery. (more…)

GameDay Signs

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Continuing the day of coverage, I thought I’d share some of my favorite signs.  “Oregon-ized Crime Doesn’t Pay.”   “Say No to Quack!”  “I Like My Duck Confit.” “I Had A Smart and Clever Sign But Oregon Fans Wouldn’t Get It.”   There are tons of great ones, so if I didn’t mention yours doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic.  Share your faves in the comments!

College GameDay = Crazy

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Hey y’all, Sasha here to update you on the ESPN GameDay madness. And madness is exactly what it is. On the plus side, Stanford students have showed up in mass. On the not-so-plus side, about a thousand of them cut in front of me in line…. On the plus side, I have a press pass sooooo it really doesn’t matter.  On the not-so-plus side, for  all of you who showed up bright and early at 4 AM only to not even get into the Pit, life sucks sometimes.  Also on the not-so-plus side, how could GameDay not foresee the massive problem that is people cutting in line?  Unclear.  Back on the plus side, the Pit is filled.  On the not-so-plus side, it took them long enough.  For a little while I thought this might be the first GameDay in which the Pit wasn’t filled…because GameDay took too long letting people in.   But all is bright and shiny now.  So be at peace Stanford fans.  College GameDay is here for the very first time.  We are going to beat Oregon to a pulp later on (fingers crossed).  And we go to STANFORD.  Life is good.  Want more updates?  I am here with one of our very own (Stanford-wise and TUSB-wise) who is tweeting for Scout.com.   Follow him @ksawhney1. And keep checking for more updates!

 

Stanford Tree Stars in ESPN Spot

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

This is SportsCenter, Cardinal style. Starting tomorrow, ESPN will air a hilarious spot featuring the Stanford Tree and Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. The clip was shot in Bristol, CT in October 2010, and Jonathan Strange from the LSJUMB flew in from Palo Alto to represent the Card. See the full video below:

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USC Fraternity Email goes Viral

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Our Kappa Sigs aren't the only ones who've hit a rough patch

I was sitting at Stern Dining last night in an attempt to keep myself awake to study. That location is a pretty mixed bag when it comes to people working quietly, laughing with their friends, or just grabbing a bite to eat from The Dish. Last night was one of the particularly noisier times and one subject repeatedly surfaced amongst different groups. I first noticed a rather obnoxious animated group of freshmen boys behind me gather around a laptop, laughing about some “hilarious” email that got leaked at USC. A few minutes later, the girls at a table to my left started talking about a link shared on Facebook about USC’s chapter of Kappa Sigma being under investigation. It came full circle when the friend I was sitting with read aloud from one of the most vile and offensive emails I’ve had the displeasure of seeing.

The intent of the email, reportedly sent by an unidentified member of the fraternity, was to start a “Gullet Report” about which girls are most willing to have sex and which brothers are getting the most action. One of the earliest lines in the email reads:

Note: I will refer to females as “targets”. They aren’t actual people like us men. Consequently, giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.”

And it just gets worse and worse from there. The author runs down a list of key terms, describing different types of “pie” (vaginas) and the various methods to be utilized to “take down” certain targets. One such example is the Loop n’ Doop: (more…)

Video Games Have Soundtracks?!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

As many people have heard, Christopher Tin, Stanford Alum, recently won a Grammy for his song Baba Yetu.

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It’s an amazing song, with lyrics translating to the Our Father prayer in Swahili. It was released on his 2009 album named Calling All Dawns. But it first gained note as the main theme song to Civilization IV in 2005. It may have taken the world 6 years to uncover this gem, but some PC gamers have appreciated the song for quite a while now. Isn’t that a shame?

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How Stanford is Redefining Cool

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The $2.8 billion tank top? High-grossing Avatar brought Stanford's "cool cachet" to the silver screen.

Stanford has pretty impressive street cred.

I started to catch on to this when I watched Avatar for the first time.  James Cameron’s carefully-crafted CGI masterpiece may be one of the most meticulously constructed cinematic works of our generation.  Which is why I was so surprised to encounter a truly glaring instance of product placement: Sigourney Weaver‘s avatar wears a bright red Stanford tank top.

It’s easy to write this off as clever marketing (though the University was in no way involved) or simply an homage to Weaver’s alma mater.  But it’s not actually that simple.  Stanford has unquestionable purchasing power: not just as a highly-valued institution, but as a cultural symbol of an almost paradoxical confluence of brainpower and, well, coolness.

In this instance, Stanford is identified with the environmentally-conscious “good scientist,” with a confident and powerful female protagonist who is literally trying to save her world.  To those familiar with the Farm today, these are certainly resonant themes on campus which validate our claim to  “coolness.”

But Avatar is only the tip of the iceberg….  (Get it?  James Cameron directed Titanic….)

The Ubiquitous Stanford T-Shirt:

Just like Weezer, we're doin' things our own way and never giving up.

Primed by the Avatar incident, suddenly I was seeing Stanford T-shirts everywhere.  This is almost no surprise, as few universities have a T-shirt design as consistent and uniquely identifiable as ours.  But the numbers are staggering: there are 828,000 Google hits for “Stanford T-shirt” and only 269,000 for Harvard and 694,000 for Princeton.  Google doesn’t lie.

The cultural icon: The Blues Brothers shows how the Stanford T-shirt's cool power spans generations.

The unifying theme I noticed was the context in which the shirts appeared: Stanford T-shirt wearers are cool.  In the case of Sigourney Weaver, it’s a badass scientist working with state-of-the-art technology to revolutionize the way we interact with the world.  In The Blues Brothers, Mr. Stanford Shirt and his fellow concert attendees are, by and large, a bunch of young, fun-loving twenty-somethings rocking out for charity.  (Dance Marathon, anyone?)  The presence of the Stanford T-shirt in Weezer’s “Troublemaker” music video is yet another perfect distillation of Stanford’s pop culture power.  In the video, Weezer and their fans seek to break numerous world records, pushing the boundaries of the possible and having a blast while doing it – a parallel to Stanford’s prominence as a research institution.  On a more obvious level, the lyrics of “Troublemaker” can be seen as an analogy to the Stanford entrepreneurial attitude.  As the bold West Coast foil to the traditionally-grounded Ivies, we are indeed “doin’ things [our] own way and never giving up.”  You’re right, Rivers Cuomo.  “There isn’t anybody else exactly quite like [Stanford].”

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Spokeo knows your secrets – or does it?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

So, if you haven’t heard, Spokeo.com is a new website that aggregates your online data. At this point, I’ve personally been sent messages on Facebook and through multiple chat lists. But back to the main topic – in layman’s terms, Spokeo is an online phonebook that tells anyone who looks up your name where you live, your phone number, etc. Yet that comes with a big if. Many web users, when they hear of the site, have a moment of panic. Anyone in the world can find out where I live? They have a picture of my house from Google Maps? This is horrifying!

John Doe might be the generic character that no one can identify, but Spokeo can find him. And the 15,918 who also share his name online.

Except, it isn’t. The first time I looked myself up on Spokeo, I could barely find anything. Yes – my name and email address exist on the web, but I didn’t dig up anything damaging or security-threatening. Although people are worried about their privacy, Spokeo is an aggregator meaning it only collects what’s already out there. That means if Spokeo is somehow able to post your address, and phone number, that means you’ve stored private information somewhere public. Meaning, that it’s not thanks to Spokeo that everyone can find out information about your life – it’s thanks to you.

So the first step in dealing with Spokeo is really simple: take your page off of the web. While Spokeo is a little bit creepier, because it gathers all the information together, it’s really not that much different from Googling yourself (which I advise all of you to do). After you get rid of your Spokeo page, the next step is to actually make sure that information you would prefer to be private is actually inaccessible! I admit to putting too much of myself out there in the heydays of Myspace and when I first got a Facebook but  it’s different now.

In recent times, people are worrying more and more about internet privacy. With aggregator sites like Spokeo, PiplIntelius, and more (no, Spokeo was not even close to being the first site) the first step in protecting your identity online falls in your own hands. So please stop freaking out about Spokeo. I can’t say anything about  the information that can be bought (although some of the websites listed above claim that its for the most part inaccurate), but the way  people conduct themselves online is the main issue here. We’re not victims. If you want to protect your privacy, do it.