National / International News
One of the revolution's core promise was an egalitarian society. But as Cuba opens up, one of the unintended consequences may be more inequality.
Writer Gabrielle Glaser challenges the usefulness of Alcoholics Anonymous in April's issue of The Atlantic. The program's tenets aren't based in science, she says, and other options may work better.
Colorado's food and ag industries have been growing two to four times faster than the state's economy overall. Economists are getting ever more hopeful about cornering the market on ag innovation.
Many people have worried that Ebola could evolve into a more deadly virus — or start spreading through the air. A study published Thursday alleviates these concerns.
What if you could combine sports with instant gratification and make some money, while you're at it – all while never having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Generally speaking, you can't bet on sports online in this country. But what you can do is pick your favorite players and set up a fantasy team, where your win-loss record is based on how those players do in real life, not their teams, and make some money that way.
"It’s a game of skill, so you compete with other people in drafting teams," says Nigel Eccles, co-founder and CEO of FanDuel.
Well, 41 million people in the U.S and Canada are doing just that. Fantasy sports has become a different kind of national past time.
However, FanDuel is not your ordinary fantasy sports site. Most fantasy sports leagues can drag on for six-months and require a lot of commitment. And if a user drafts lousy players onto their team, the joy and interest in playing is usually gone by week four or five.
FanDuel is like the fantasy sports site for the non-committed. Users can play for one day or a weekend, whenever they’d like. In the fourth quarter of last year, FanDuel had over one million paying users.
"The game is great like that because some people love sports, they love basketball, but they are never going to be committed enough to play a seasonal fantasy basketball league. And with this you’re just committing to one evening," Eccles says.
Twitter wants us to spend more time live-streaming our lives. Their new broadcasting app Periscope went live today.
Acquired by Twitter for $100 million in January, the app allows users to live stream video from their smart phones (iOS only, for now). Interested viewers who don't catch the stream live can replay it later.
That follows what may prove to be the flash-in-the-pan success of Meerkat, which does the same thing but isn't owned by Twitter, a possibly insurmountable obstacle. Plus, Meerkat more closely resembles Snapchat: Once the stream is offline, it's gone, not to be viewed again.
The concept of the live stream isn't new, says Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. Sites like Ustream have been a mainstay of conferences, lectures and festivals for years. But this crop of new apps make it incredibly easy to turn a smartphone into a live broadcast device. One consequence is the increased ability to share moments of idleness or boredom.
Another app, YouNow, is a streaming and chat service that boasts, among other things, a hashtag called #SleepSquad. Yes, watching people as they sleep. And there's a tip system, too, so conceivably, paying to watch people sleep.
"It's curious and creepy," Johnson says. "This is the weird, Wild West days of live streaming on your mobile phone and being able to interact with people. Which is cool — but where's the money?"
Beyond the tips passed around YouNow, Twitter's Periscope and Meerkat will eventually seek ways to monetize. The site to watch for clues is Twitch, the video game streaming platform that Amazon acquired for $1.1 billion in 2014. There, gamers can broadcast and watch others. Banter, consistency, level of play, and yes, even production values, boost viewership here. Twitch's top broadcasters gain significant followings, and in some cases advertising and fans' financial support.
"Here's a number: 20 million. That's the number of viewers who watched the live stream of a video game in the first week it was released on Twitch, last year," Johnson says, adding that YouTube is reportedly developing its own video game streaming service.
These companies are betting that the growth in interest and viewership around live streaming will draw more advertisers as well. But while live streams can be intimate and personal, they are also unpredictable.
One potential consequence: a resurgence in swatting, where viewers contact 911 with a false gun or bomb threat, to direct SWAT teams to that player's house.
"For a hacker, they want to be able to play this prank on someone and have — in some cases — 55,000 people watching this guy get thrown on the ground by police," Johnson said.
No advertiser wants their banner ad plastered over a gamer in handcuffs, and so may stay away from potentially lucrative but chaotic streaming channels. In an interview with Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, Johnson asked whether the company plans to add additional controls.
"The key thing for us is cooperating with law enforcement," Shear said, adding, "Secondly, you know, honestly, not talking about it too much, because I think that there's a negative impact from giving too much attention to people who are honestly seeking attention by doing this."
Not talking about how this content may be moderated or controlled isn't a solution. So while there's growth and interest in live streaming, as well as money to be made, there are potential downsides — and etiquette — to be worked out.
A new Census Bureau report suggests many Americans would rather be driving a golf cart than shoveling a drive. Last year, Florida was home to six of the 20 fastest-growing metro areas in the nation.
Among other things, the controversial new law would allow owners of businesses in the state to deny services to same-sex couples.
Dean Smith, the legendary basketball coach for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, died in early February.
Turns out that in his will, Smith specified that every player who earned a varsity letter while he was there was to get a check for $200 along with a note encouraging them to a dinner out.
Compliments of Coach Dean Smith.