Laura Sydell

Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.

Sydell's work focuses on the ways in which technology is transforming our culture and how we live. For example, she reported on robotic orchestras and independent musicians who find the Internet is a better friend than a record label as well as ways technology is changing human relationships.

Sydell has traveled through India and China to look at the impact of technology on developing nations. In China, she reported how American television programs like Lost broke past China's censors and found a devoted following among the emerging Chinese middle class. She found in India that cell phones are the computer of the masses.

Sydell teamed up with Alex Bloomberg of NPR's Planet Money team and reported on the impact of patent trolls on business and innovations particular to the tech world. The results were a series of pieces that appeared on This American Life and All Things Considered. The hour long program on This American Life "When Patents Attack! - Part 1," was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and accolades from Investigative Reporters and Editors. A transcript of the entire show was included in The Best Business Writing of 2011 published by Columbia University Press.

Before joining NPR in 2003, Sydell served as a senior technology reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, where her reporting focused on the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.

Sydell is a proud native of New Jersey and prior to making a pilgrimage to California and taking up yoga she worked as a reporter for NPR Member Station WNYC in New York. Her reporting on race relations, city politics, and arts was honored with numerous awards from organizations such as The Newswomen's Club of New York, The New York Press Club, and The Society of Professional Journalists.

American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored Sydell for her long-form radio documentary work focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists.

After finishing a one-year fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, Sydell came to San Francisco as a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.

Sydell graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and earned a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law.

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All Tech Considered
3:52 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Game Over For Nintendo? Not If Mario And Zelda Fans Keep Playing

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:09 pm

Some analysts say that Nintendo's days are numbered. Holiday sales of its new console, the Wii U, have been lackluster compared to Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

But since Nintendo still offers some of the most popular game franchises, the love of Zelda and Mario may keep the company going for a long time.

In preparation for this story, I put out a call to talk to die-hard Nintendo fans. I was inundated with responses. Among them, Brian White, 30, grew up playing the Zelda games.

Now he's got a daughter. "We named her Zelda," he says.

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All Tech Considered
1:23 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Hot On YouTube: Videos About Video Games, And Science, Too

A screengrab of a YouTube video of the game Walking Dead from the Swedish gamer known as PewDiePie. Videos of people offering commentary while playing video games are wildly popular on YouTube.
YouTube/PewDiePie

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 8:34 am

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All Tech Considered
1:04 am
Wed December 18, 2013

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 11:11 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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All Tech Considered
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Amid Cuts And Tax Hikes, Tech Companies Get Love in Ireland

Tech companies around the world have set up shop in the financial district in Dublin, Ireland.
Peter Muhly AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:47 am

Ireland is about to become the first European country to emerge from an international bailout in the wake of the financial crisis. Like other European countries, Ireland has been in a period of austerity — higher taxes and more cutbacks.

The nation's technology sector has been protected, however, as Ireland makes a concerted effort to attract foreign businesses through tax incentives and development programs.

But Ireland's methods have also been criticized — locally and internationally.

Apple In Ireland

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All Tech Considered
12:49 am
Fri November 29, 2013

For Advocacy Groups, Video Games Are The Next Frontier

A screenshot of Half the Sky, where virtual successes sometimes lead to real-life donations.
Games For Change

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 2:07 pm

Movies and books have long been used to advocate for causes, such as climate change or breast cancer. As video games become more mainstream, advocates are beginning to see how this art form can be a new way to reach out and get people engaged in a cause.

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All Tech Considered
11:37 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Will New PlayStation, Xbox Click Beyond The Hard-Core Gamer?

The Sony PlayStation 4 sells for $399.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:07 pm

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Business
2:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Judge: Google's Book Copying Doesn't Violate Copyright Law

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Google won a key victory in a nearly decade-long lawsuit over fair use of the collections of works at the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress and various other university libraries. A U.S. circuit court judge in Manhattan found Google's project to digitally copy millions of books for online searches does not violate copyright law.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Google began scanning books back in 2004, many of the works were by living authors.

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All Tech Considered
3:21 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What Today's Online Sharing Companies Can Learn From Napster

Napster founder Shawn Fanning in February 2001, after a ruling that the free Internet-based service must stop allowing copyrighted material to be shared.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:02 pm

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog and aggregated at this link, and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

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All Tech Considered
3:01 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Raising Social Media Teens Means Constant Parental Learning

The Ask.fm website has been linked to two bullying cases that led to suicides.
Danny E. Martindale Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 1:13 pm

This week on All Tech, we're exploring kids and technology with posts and radio pieces about raising digital natives. Look back at the stories and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, by email or

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All Tech Considered
12:57 am
Fri October 11, 2013

3-D Printing A Masterwork For Your Living Room

Cosmo Wenman generated this 3-D model of the Ares Borghese, based on hundreds of photos, from the Basel Sculpture Hall. Wenman publishes the scans online, so that anyone can use them to 3-D print a replica of the masterpiece.
Courtesy of Cosmo Wenman

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 10:22 am

You may never be able to get to Italy to see Michelangelo's David — but advances in 3-D printing technology are making it possible for you to create an almost perfect replica.

It's an idea that Cosmo Wenman is hoping will catch on. He's pushing the edges of how 3-D printing can be used to make classic works accessible.

I followed Wenman on an excursion to the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. These days, a lot of museums let people take photos of art, and Wenman takes a lot of them.

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