TIME Cuba

Google Boss Eric Schmidt Leads a Visit to Cuba

The New Digital Age - 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt speaks during the 2014 SXSW Festival in Austin on March 7, 2014 Heather Kennedy / Getty Images

The visiting team spent two days in the Cuban capital to encourage an open Internet

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has visited Cuba to promote “a free and open Internet,” the country’s independent online newspaper 14yMedio reported on Saturday.

Company executives Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter and Dan Keyserling also joined the trip, said the news site, which is run by dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.

The visiting team reportedly “met with officials,” spoke “with youth at polytechnic schools” and visited the University of Computer Sciences.

According to AFP, Google’s visit was not reported in any official Cuban media.

In her blog, Generation Y, Sanchez wrote, “We didn’t ask him any questions, and we didn’t want any answers, we just told him who we are and what we are trying to do.”

U.S.-based Schmidt confirmed the business trip in a Google+ post and criticized the U.S. embargo on the Latin American country.

“Cuba will have to open its political and business economy, and the U.S. will have to overcome our history and open the embargo. Both countries have to do something that is hard to do politically, but it will be worth it,” he wrote.

Only government-approved professionals and specialists can access the Internet from their homes in Cuba.

[AFP]

TIME

This Is the iPhone’s Incredible Evolution Over the Past 7 Years

Huge changes

Apple; Gif by Joseph C. Lin—TIME

The first-generation iPhone debuted on June 29, 2007, forever altering the landscape of mobile devices. It helped propel the shift from traditional cell phones to smartphones and helped make Apple one of the most sought-after and valuable brands. Take a look back at how the company’s signature product has changed over the past seven years in the GIF above.

TIME Social Media

Facebook Totally Screwed With a Bunch of People in the Name of Science

Facebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming Week
The Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in San Francisco, Dec. 7, 2011. David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you feel down on Facebook, it could have a lot to do with what your friends are posting

Did your Facebook News Feed seem a little too happy, or perhaps a little too depressing, for one week in January 2012? That may have been because researchers were experimenting with your News Feed to figure out more about how humans’ emotions work when we’re physically apart.

By tweaking the Facebook News Feed algorithm and studying nearly 700,000 Facebook users’ posts, Facebook’s data scientists and researchers found that emotional states can be transmitted between people without face-to-face interaction, according to a study published earlier this month.

For the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analyzed over 3 million posts containing over 122 million words and used an algorithm to characterize the language as positive or negative. Facebook’s data team then adjusted the amount of positive or negative Facebook language users were exposed to on their News Feeds to see how they would react.

Researchers Adam Kramer, of Facebook; Jamie Guillory, of the University of California, San Francisco; and Jeffrey Hancock, of Cornell University, found that when users were exposed to fewer positive posts, they would themselves produce fewer positive posts and more negative posts. The reverse was true when they were exposed to fewer negative posts. In other words, verbal and textual cues have a big impact on our emotions, even if we don’t hear a person’s tone of voice or see their body language.

“These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods,” said the team in the study.

The data was analyzed by computers, so it’s not like a scientist was poring over your Facebook posts. And if you feel weirded out about Facebook looking at your posts without your consent — well, you’ve already given your consent. You just haven’t read Facebook’s privacy policy, which gives the company permission to carry out studies like these.

In any case, the next time you feel your mood changing while you’re on Facebook, it might have something to do with what your friends are posting.

 

TIME Companies

Aereo Just Disappeared for Good

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPad Mini, on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

If the streaming television company does manage to return from the dead, it won't look anything like it does now

Chet Kanojia, CEO of the streaming television service Aereo, told his customers the bad news in an email Saturday morning: After the Supreme Court decided this week his company’s business methods violate copyright law, Aereo has decided to shut down. Kanojia insists that Aereo’s pressing “pause,” not “off,” but it’s unlikely the service will return in any recognizable form.

That Aereo is unlikely to come back from the grave is a simple matter of math. The Supreme Court ruled that Aereo, which streamed broadcast television to subscribers for about $8/month, was operating illegally because it didn’t pay so-called retransmission fees to broadcasters–something cable and satellite companies are required by law to do.

Aereo could return to the straight and narrow by working out a deal and ponying out the fees that the broadcasters–who originally brought the suit against Aereo in 2012–demand from cable and satellite companies. Those fees, however, are incredibly expensive. Cable companies can afford to pay them because they’re charging viewers plenty for their service–the average cable bill is now over $64 a month, per the Federal Communications Commission. Aereo can’t swing those fees by charging customers only a few dollars a month.

The most obvious survival path for Aereo would be to pass those fees onto its customers by increasing its subscription rates. But here’s the thing: The broadcast content that Aereo provides is free to anyone who wants to set up their own (cheap!) antenna on their TV or home.

Why? A big part of the government’s job in tech policy is regulating the invisible spectrum on which our wireless gadgets rely–cellphones, radios, broadcast television, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, they all rely on spectrum to work. Back in the day, the government licensed broadcasters their spectrum–a limited and thus valuable resource–on the cheap, provided they meet certain conditions. Among those requirements was that the broadcasters’ over-the-air signals remain free for anyone within range to access with an antenna.

While most of Aereo’s customers might have seen $8/month as a reasonable fee to pay for the convenience of watching broadcast content on their laptop, smartphone or tablet, it’s unlikely they’ll pay much more for content that’s really free for them anyway.

So, for Aereo, it’s lights-off for now while they figure out what to do next — perhaps shift into cloud storage, or sell itself to a broadcaster, even. If it ever returns, though, it’s not likely it’ll look anything like what it does now.

Watch the above video for more on Aereo and the Supreme Court.

TIME Technology & Media

Aereo’s Turning Off After Big Loss at Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rules Aereo Violates Copyrights
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia holds one of the company's small antenna, May 22, 2014. Lane Turner—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Aereo's TV service will be defunct Saturday morning as the startup plots its next move

Controversial TV streaming startup Aereo said Saturday it’s shutting off its services after a Supreme Court ruling against the company’s methods dealt it a major setback from which it may not recover.

Aereo’s cloud-based antenna services will be inaccessible after 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. CEO Chet Kanojia told customers in an email that the shutdown would be temporary while the company determines how to proceed.

“We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps,” Kanojia said.

A Supreme Court ruling Wednesday found that Aereo should be subject to the same rules as cable and satellite companies, which pay broadcasters expensive fees to retransmit broadcasters’ content — something Aereo does not do. Because Aereo doesn’t pay those fees, the Court found its service, which provides $8-per-month streaming of broadcast television, violates copyright law. Aereo could theoretically return if it begins paying the broadcasters, but it’s not likely it can afford to do so without shifting that cost to its customers, who may be unlikely to pay more for a service that’s theoretically free.

Aereo argued before the Court that it was simply providing a remotely located antenna, making it easier for people within range of broadcasters to access the signals they could already get for free by placing their own antenna on their television or atop their house.

“The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud,” Kanoja said Saturday.

Aereo Email to Customers

The New York City-based startup said it will refund its customers for a month’s worth of subscription fees following its loss at the Court. Kanojia’s full letter is embedded above.

TIME Documentary

Aaron Swartz Documentary Steers Clear of Suicide Conversation

Aaron Swartz
The programmer Aaron Swartz on Aug. 19, 2009. Sage Ross—picture-alliance/dpa/A

A new documentary about a young man who took his own life while facing charges on computer crimes skips a much-needed conversation about suicide

The Internet’s Own Boy is a new documentary out Friday with a controversial premise: It theorizes that laws designed to protect us online — and those who pen, pass and implement them — are not only failing to keep us safe, but they may have the power to kill. The film posits that such failings contributed to the suicide of activist Aaron Swartz in January of last year, when he was just 26 years old.

Swartz suffered from debilitating ulcerative colitis — a bowel condition — as well as crippling depression. His depression only worsened as he and his family spent millions defending against felony charges and a steep prison sentence he faced for downloading millions of academic articles via The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s computer labs. Swartz’s family called the incident “an alleged crime that had no victims.”

The film reinforces what The New Yorker’s Larissa Macfarquhar, in her engrossing profile of Swartz, calls the family’s message that Swartz was “murdered by the government.” Macfarquhar says that the family deployed that idea in the aftermath of Swartz’s suicide to “direct public sadness and anger to political purposes,” though she writes that while the family doesn’t believe this, they have publicly stuck to it.

In any other era, finding enough footage and photos of someone who lived such a short life would be challenging, but Swartz lived online from the start—it was the space he preferred most. The film is rich with visuals documenting his existence, rendering him sympathetic and lovable to those who never met him.

Swartz helped developed and later sold Reddit, then pioneered political activism organizations that worked to fight the anti-piracy Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as well as catalyze Elizabeth Warren’s Senate bid. He harbored political aspirations, and the film suggests he could have been among the first politicians to understand the Internet well enough to keep us from censoring it or destroying ourselves with it. Swartz’s capacity for kindness and idealism inverts the stereotype of the tortured coder. He accomplished more in a couple of decades than most people hope to in a lifetime.

This flattering portrait of Swartz sets up one of the film’s major takeaways that hews to the family’s message—that bullying, overreaching prosecutors pursing too harsh a sentence, coupled with a silent university, bear responsibility for Swartz taking his own life. The film derives its title from this idea.

“He was the Internet’s own boy, and the old world killed him,” says Swartz’s former partner, Quinn Norton. It’s a galvanizing theory, but it’s also dangerous for viewers or admirers of Swartz to believe this to be the only reason for his death. It’s too simplistic, too rote. The film would be even more dynamic and challenging if it had questioned this hypothesis.

While the harassment by the justice system seems unjust and even abusive, Swartz’s death should not only compel us to question our law enforcers and lawmakers, but should encourage us to examine the blight of suicide more closely. We otherwise run the risk of settling for what famed Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls a single story — one that’s flat and dimensionless because it’s the only one we hear.

Suicide is an epidemic; one million adults attempted suicide and more than two million planned to attempt suicide in 2012, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Men account for nearly 80% of these deaths. Someone leaps from the Golden Gate Bridge approximately every two weeks. Alcohol, opiates (including painkillers) and access to guns are all known risk factors for suicides, which comprise two-thirds of all gun deaths. No two suicides are alike, and yet every individual who takes his or her own life has something in common.

Suicide is increasingly reported in the news, particularly when the victim is young and there is bullying is involved. Bart Palosz, Rebecca Sedwick, Karyn Washington and Cora Delille all took their own lives in the last year and a half since Swartz’s death and were the subject of news stories. Discussion of blame is common—who’s at fault for such overwhelming pain, such unexplained horror. Families often blame themselves, according to research from Nassau Community College. In the cases of Phoebe Prince and Rebecca Sedwick, law enforcement initially fingered and pursued prosecuting high school bullies. But blame, while a natural inclination, can rupture a community, as it did in the cases of Prince and Sedwick, and ruin even more lives in its wake.

Swartz’s internal struggle in the months leading to his death, recounted by friends and family in the film, is tragic. They said he was “terrified” and became increasingly “isolated from friends and family.”

“He didn’t want to be a burden to people,” said partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman.

While Swartz’s death may very well be explained in part by “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” as his family said in a statement released after his death, butit’s dangerous to only frame the tragedy that way because while it starts an important discussion about preserving our liberties as Americans, it halts another valuable one about suicide, its myths and hard truths and how we might help keep each other and those we love safe.

Yarrow is a TIME contributing writer and journalist living in Brooklyn.

TIME Innovation

How Well Do You Know The iPhone?

On the 7th birthday of the smartphone that changed phones forever, see how knowledgeable you are about Apple's revolutionary device

TIME Innovation

7 Years of the iPhone: An Interactive Timeline

It's been seven years since the very first iPhone was sold on June 29, 2007, and now, the smartphone is ubiquitous: Here are the highlights from iPhone's seven sensational years

TIME Video Games

6 Interns’ Amazing Journey to Make a PlayStation Game

In front of thousands of spectators, six recent college graduates debuted their first game during PlayStation’s lavish, high-spectacle E3 presentation. The small independent team, named Pixelopous, was on stage rubbing shoulders with industry professionals showcasing their multi-million dollar projects to the world. Not only that, but their game, Entwined, came as a complete surprise to the thousands of spectators at the press conference; a true testament to secrecy in an industry plagued with insider leaks.

“So [for] all of us, [it's] our first game after college … and to announce a launch at the same time as E3 is such a dream come true for us,” Entwined designer Jing Li said.

But where did this secretive game come from in the first place?

Sony has built a reputation for itself as always looking out for the little guys, and Entwined is just the latest example of that philosophy. The game and the Pixelopus studio are both products of Sony’s PlayStation incubation program; an initiative that looks to foster young talent in the gaming industry. The program started in 2006 when Allan Becker, now head of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios Japan, struck up a relationship between Sony’s Santa Monica studio and the University of Southern California. That endeavor lead to the creation of ThatGameCompany, the studio responsible for Flower, a title that many critics cite to argue that gaming is an art form.

Jump forward six years to the budding game program at Carnegie Mellon University, of which Sony is a sponsor. The sharpest students from that first graduating class were brought on as interns in Sony’s San Mateo Studio in California. Three months later, six of them were hired and formed the Pixelopous team responsible for Entwined.

As a group in Sony’s incubation program, the Pixelopus team received unprecedented access to professional support and were given considerable freedom to dream up something fresh and new.

“We would have never dreamed up Entwined,” said Scott Rohde, PlayStation’s head of product development. “This came out of a group that hasn’t been working on third-person action adventure games for the last eight years. It’s a fresh perspective.”

Sony then added two industry veterans to the Pixelopus team, art director Jeff Sangalli and Creative Director Dominic Robilliard, to give the team’s dreams a sense of direction.

Now that Entwined has released on the PlayStation 4, the Pixelopus team will begin working on their next project while remaining in the incubation program.

“We’ll probably go back to prototyping, see what sticks around with us … and then make that into a full game,” Entwined Programmer Jitesh Mulchandani said.

The San Mateo incubation program is just one of the many that PlayStation is setting up around the world. Sony opened up an a program in Singapore in 2007, and now it’s also doing the same in Latin America. All of this is a part of Sony’s larger goal to be the center of a gaming community that extends beyond the big Triple-A titles. So expect to be surprised by more incubation projects in the future from teams across the world.

TIME

The French World Cup Team Made a ‘Yo’ Account to ‘Yo’ With Fans

Ecuador v France: Group E - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Rio de Janeiro
Olivier Giroud of France applauds during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Ecuador and France Ian MacNicol—Getty Images

So it can "Yo" after every goal

Yo—an über viral new app that was programmed in eight hours, has already had a major security breach, and literally only lets people send the message “Yo”—probably isn’t the future of communication. But the French soccer team decided to take part in the cultural zeitgeist and send the message to their fans during the World Cup.

French social media agency KRDS created an “EquipedeFrance” account for the French team that aimed to say le Yo to its followers every time they scored a goal Thursday against Ecuador. (Which happened, not one time. The score was 0-0.)

“A single ‘yo’ can mean many things,” KRDS head of mobile strategy Emilien Coquard told Digiday.

Maybe fans will have a chance to unpack its many meanings when France plays again in round 16.

Now if only Uruguay’s team had made a Yo account that alerted fans every time Luis Suarez bit somebody…

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