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Writer and comedian John Knefel reaches for his glasses as police pull him away during an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City yesterday. This really great photo was taken by Jessica Lehrman in the lobby of Winter Garden, a building owned by Brookfield Property, the same company that owns Zuccotti Park. To get a different view on the same scene, check out a video that someone else was filming at the same time. You can see Knefel falling down around 6:30.

The photo and video bring up something interesting. Knefel is a writer and comedian, one of the many people documenting OWS from the inside while trying to navigate the very grey boundaries of journalist and participant in the age of Internet journalism. Personally, I think this conflict is pretty interesting. If I can get all "journalism ethics class" for a minute here, I think OWS is drawing attention to the already existing need for new definitions of who constitutes "media" and who doesn't. Why is this more confusing than you might thing? Let me use Knefel as an example.

Knefel doesn't work for a major media outlet. But he's also not just some random bystander. He's got a political podcast with new episodes three times a week. Do we only call someone a journalist if they have enough page views? Do they have to have a journalism degree? What's the line?

Knefel is a biased source of information. But so are a lot of mainstream commentators. We'd call someone from Fox News a journalist. We'd call someone from Reason magazine a journalist. We'd call somebody from Mother Jones a journalist. Having a clear political angle to your coverage doesn't make you not a journalist. Except when it does. So what are the actual criteria?

Knefel didn't have a press pass. But, as Xeni has pointed out, the press pass system in New York is incredibly convoluted and contradictory. So what if you can't get one? Does that mean you aren't a journalist? This is particularly problematic given the fact that the rules seem to be set up to favor long-standing publications with lots of resources that mostly just cover New York City. How does that fit into a globalized world? Why punish media entrepreneurship?

We live in an age where publishing is easy and the tools to do it are available to a much wider swatch of people. But our standards and rules for who gets protection as a member of the press are based on a paradigm where publishing wasn't easy and only a limited number of people could do it. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that not everybody who uses the Internet is a journalist, because being a journalist comes with responsibilities not just protections. I'm pretty sure my Dad doesn't want to hold his Facebook to the same standard that I use when writing here.

I don't know the answer to these questions. But I know we need to have this conversation. Occupy Wall Street just shows us what can happen when we keep applying old rules to a new world.

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Google has been testing out its self-driving cars on real roads. This is still a long way from being available for you to purchase, but it's clear that it's working surprisingly well on a technological level.

You can watch some footage, recorded in the driverless cars during their test runs, in the video above. IEEE Spectrum's Erico Guizzo (who, incidentally, says he's a lot less skeptical of Google's goals after seeing this video) explains what makes the system work.

Two things seem particularly interesting about Google's approach. First, it relies on very detailed maps of the roads and terrain, something that Urmson said is essential to determine accurately where the car is. Using GPS-based techniques alone, he said, the location could be off by several meters.

The second thing is that, before sending the self-driving car on a road test, Google engineers drive along the route one or more times to gather data about the environment. When it's the autonomous vehicle's turn to drive itself, it compares the data it is acquiring to the previously recorded data, an approach that is useful to differentiate pedestrians from stationary objects like poles and mailboxes.

The video above shows the results. At one point you can see the car stopping at an intersection. After the light turns green, the car starts a left turn, but there are pedestrians crossing. No problem: It yields to the pedestrians, and even to a guy who decides to cross at the last minute.

Video Link

Via Bryan Walsh

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Richard Feynman, God of Perfect Analogies, explains why it's not a failure or a scandal when scientists adapt and change their understanding of the world. This is a really important point, applicable in a lot of public debates over science, especially those focused on evolution and climate change. Science isn't about writing things on tablets of stone. It's about taking a theory and constantly digging deeper into it—adding layers of nuance, finding stuff that doesn't make sense, and using both to build a more complete picture. Even if the big idea is right, the details will change. That's how science is supposed to work.

Via W. Younes

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There is now an entire blog dedicated to looking at what is written on the blackboard in the background of naughty schoolgirl porn films, and evaluating it for accuracy and grade level of information. God, I love the Internet.

Here's what Blackboards in Porn had to say about the photo above.

AFTER SCHOOL:

- math

1 + 1 = 2

1*

Mathematics - university/nursery school level.

This is clearly an extremely advanced level mathematical course, focusing on the Peano axioms for the natural numbers which formalised mathematics in the late 19th century. This course would culminate with Gödel's second incompleteness theorem which shows that the consitency of the Peano axioms cannot be formalised within Peano arithmetic itself.

Alternatively, it could be that the pupil, even at her advanced age, hasn't grasped that 1 + 1 = 2, and that all the after school one-to-one lessons in the world aren't going to work. Indeed, she probably won't even understand what 'one-to-one' means.

8/10 - loses two marks for 'math'.

Disclaimer: The blog is safe for work, in so much as there is no nudity. However, it is somewhat astounding how easy it is to look at a photo of a room full of fully clothed people and know, immediately, that said photo is a still from a porn. Make of that what you will.

Via Wired. Thanks to Joel!

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On Monday, I told you about The Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., where top neuroscientists are speaking about the mind, the brain, and what it means to be human.

Now, I have some good news for those of you who couldn't play hooky this week, couldn't get tickets to the free event, and/or don't actually live anywhere near St. Peter, Minn. You can watch The Nobel Conference online.

Today's lectures will be broadcast on a live feed. You can also submit questions through the site and participate in the Q&A after each lecture. The first speaker is John Donoghue, director of the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University. Starting at 10:00 am, Central, he'll be talking about a topic near and dear to every Happy Mutant's heart: "Merging Mind to Machines: Brain Computer Interfaces to Restore Lost Motor Function."

If, for some reason, you can't start your morning off with healthy dose of cyborgs, all the lectures from Tuesday and today will eventually be archived as online videos. Right now, there's only one lecture available this way—yesterday's morning session on new therapies for autism. I've embedded that video above. But check the Conference's site for other lectures, coming soon!

Video Link

Thanks to Lisa Dubbels for pointing this out!

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