In Defense of Noise

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Last week’s episode of OTM featured an interview with Nate Silver discussing some of the central themes and ideas in his new book,The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail but Some Don't. Silver suggests in the book’s introduction that the problem of discerning signal from noise is one of particular importance in an age of “Big Data,” an era of increasingly powerful publishing and communications technologies. “[If] the quantity of information is increasing by 2.5 quintillion bytes per day,” he writes, “the amount of useful information almost certainly isn’t. Most of it is just noise, and the noise is increasing faster than the signal.”

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The Loudness Wars

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back in December of 2010, OTM reported on the passage of “CALM,” the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act, by the U.S. Congress. The act requires broadcasters to measure and regulate the loudness of the commercials they air in very particular ways so that a program with dramatic whispered dialogue isn’t interrupted suddenly by blaring advertisements. It’s been more than a year since CALM was approved, and that means there’s not much time left before the FCC begins enforcing a new set of loudness rules on broadcasters. If all goes well, by December 13th, 2012, audiences will be spared harsh and jarring transitions into and out of commercial breaks. But is there no one who will speak up in defense of blaring “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” advertisements before they’re muffled?

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On Siri (or “Operator? I Hardly Know Her!”)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brian Horne assesses the complicated relationship that iPhone users have with "personal assistant" Siri and what she (it?) hearkens back to.

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Why Are All the Religious References in "Innocence of Muslims" Dubbed? [UPDATED]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I had been avoiding watching the inflammatory video posted on YouTube that has sparked anger and violence in Egypt and Libya this week (I had no interest in giving the nonsensical film any more attention than it has already been getting). But we are a media analysis show, and here at OTM we started doing some of our own digging into how this little known movie by a guy in California managed to get the attention of people on the other side of the world. As part of that research, one of my colleagues asked me to compare the original English trailer with a version dubbed in Arabic. Clips of the Arabic version had been shown on Egyptian television, and we were trying to see if the translation was accurate. From the clips that I saw, the translations seemed fine, but what I discovered was far more interesting than an inaccurate translation.

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On Max Headroom

Friday, May 25, 2012

This week OTM reflects on a night twenty five years ago when two Chicago television stations' broadcasts were interrupted by the someone posing as the fictional computer generated host “Max Headroom.” But of all the faces available to hide behind, why Max Headroom's? What was it about a disembodied computer program that appealed to the Chicago signal hijacker?

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