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Reuters

Summly CEO Nick D'Alisio

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Got a tech idea and want to make a fortune before you're out of your teens? Just do it, is the advice of the London schoolboy who's just sold his smartphone news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million.

The money is there, just waiting for clever new moves, said 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, who can point to a roster of early backers for his Summly app that includes Yoko Ono and Rupert Murdoch.

"If you have a good idea, or you think there's a gap in the market, just go out and launch it because there are investors across the world right now looking for companies to invest in," he told Reuters in a telephone interview late on Monday.

The terms of the sale, four months after Summly was launched for the iPhone, have not been disclosed and D'Aloisio, who is still studying for school exams while joining Yahoo as its youngest employee, was not saying. But technology blog AllThingsD said Yahoo paid roughly $30 million.

D'Aloisio said he was the majority owner of Summly and would now invest the money from the sale, though his age imposes legal limits for now on his access to it.

"I'm happy with that and working with my parents to go through that whole process," he said.

D'Aloisio, who lives in the prosperous London suburb of Wimbledon, highlights the support of family and school, which gave him time off, but also, critically, the ideas that came with enthusiastic financial backers.

He had first dreamt up the mobile software while revising for a history exam two years ago, going on to create a prototype of the app that distils news stories into chunks of text readable on small smartphone screens.

He was inspired, he said, by the frustrating experience of trawling through Google searches and separate websites to find information when revising for the test.

Trimit was an early version of the app, which is powered by an algorithm that automatically boils down articles to about 400 characters. It caught the eye of Horizons Ventures, a venture capital firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, which put in $250,000.

That investment attracted other celebrity backers, among them Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, British broadcaster Stephen Fry, artist Ono, the widow of Beatle John Lennon, and News Corp media mogul Murdoch.

That all added up to maximum publicity when Summly launched in November 2012, but the backers brought more than just cash for an app that has been downloaded close to a million times.

"It's been super-exciting, (the investors) found out about it in 2012 once the original investment from Li Ka-shing had gone public," said D'Aloisio. "They all believed in the idea, but they all offered different experiences to help us out."

His business has worked with around 250 content publishers, he said, such as News Corp's Wall Street Journal. People reading the summaries can easily click through to the full article, driving traffic to newspaper websites.

"The great deal about joining Yahoo is that they have a lot of publishers, they have deals with who we can work with now," D'Aloisio said.

He taught himself to code at age 12 after Apple's App Store was launched, creating several apps including Facemood, a service which analysed sentiment to determine the moods of Facebook users, and music discovery service SongStumblr.

He has started A-levels - English final school exams - in maths, physics and philosophy, and plans to continue his studies while also working at Yahoo's offices in London. He aims to go to university to study humanities.

Although he has created an app worth millions, D'Aloisio says he is not a stereotyped computer geek.

"I like playing sport," he said. "I'm a bit of a design enthusiast, and like spending time with my girlfriend and mates."

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Talk about a whirlwind day. Yesterday started out like any other for Dallas native Parrish Ruiz de Velasco. The 21-year-old freelance graphic designer and photographer was headed to work on a carpentry job in Ovilla, Texas, when he decided to ignore his GPS.

“As soon as I saw the swirling clouds, I knew it was going to be something cool. I went ahead and took the left turn instead of the right turn, just to chase it down and see if it turned into anything,” he says. “It ended up being a pretty big tornado that unfortunately messed up a lot of peoples’ homes.”

Ruiz de Velasco followed the storm for what he estimates to be about 15 miles, up I-35 toward Route 20, getting in front of the storm, before he did a u-turn. As always, he had his camera with him. He took a photo.

He didn’t end up making it to work. After submitting his picture to the Dallas Morning News via the paper’s website, the young photographer was called into the office, where he would spend the rest of the evening dealing with requests for the image. By the next day, the picture would have appeared on the front pages of 17 newspapers from the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post to papers in Montreal and Buenos Aires—and it will appear this coming week in TIME.

“They were pretty mad at me,” he says of his carpentry employers, to whom he had to make excuses on the day of the storm, “until this morning when they saw the newspaper.”

Ruiz de Velasco had never experienced a tornado before—and his home and family made it through yesterday unscathed—but he says he wasn’t scared, just excited, an excitement that persists even now that the weather in Texas is sunny and clear.

“It was pretty stupid. I had a lot of adrenaline going on,” he says. “It’s the crazy power of nature. I really wanted to capture that.”

Parrish Ruiz de Velasco is a Dallas-based photographer and designer. Check out his Facebook page here.

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Stacy Kranitz

The Other

play this essay

 

My project engages with history, representation, biography, personal narrative, and otherness in the documentary tradition. Each year in Pennsylvania, 500 people come together to reenact the Battle of the Bulge. During the reenactment, I portray Leni Riefenstahl and behave with soldiers, as she would have. I am intrigued by the complex story of a woman with a problematic set of morals. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage, and contemplate the camera’s ability to re-imagine history.

Much of our conception of history is based on images. Historical images have been filtered through media and propaganda. These images become history as generations pass. Images are the dominant force that shape the public imagination. My images of the reenactment are part of the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history.

The next phase of this project will explore Riefenstahl’s life between 1962-1977 when she lived with the Nuba in Sudan. I will visit the same Nuba tribes to focus on the disjunction between her fetishized images and my own exploration of the Nuba’s complex modern reality. The Nuba were victims of genocide during a recent civil war and it has deeply impacted their culture. They were forcibly relocated to camps and Islamicized. Hundreds of thousands died from warfare and starvation.

My project asks how we live in a world where genocide takes place in continuum? It reflects on the history of the documentary tradition as it poses new ways of expressing identity in relation to ‘otherness’. This project deconstructs the notion of the photograph as document, its power as a tool of propaganda, as a witness to history and a call for change.

 

Bio

Stacy Kranitz studied film and photography at New York University. Her work focuses on the ways we express aggression and violence in our daily rituals, habits and pastimes. Additional themes in her work include the relationship between music and culture, the emotional growth of children and environmental racism. She is interested in the theoretical underpinnings that bind together the evolution of the documentary tradition. Her work looks to explore important social issues while commenting on this tradition and challenging its boundaries.

Her clients include Adbusters, Dwell, Elle, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Fortune, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, Metropolis, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, People, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vice, Wall Street Journal and Wired.

She was awarded a Young Photographers Alliance Scholarship Award and also received a Story Project Grant from the California Council for the Humanities. She has shown her work at galleries in NY, CA, LA and FL.

 

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Stacy Kranitz

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Saxophonist Benny Golson played his composition “Whisper Not” in his neighborhood, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, on a warm day earlier this month.

Wall Street Journal reporter Marc Myers speaks with Jazz legend Benny Golson prior to his series of shows at New York’s Jazz Standard.

All photographs by Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal.

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In 2003, Ian Welch was on his first combat tour in Iraq. As his battalion waited to storm the Diyala Bridge and seize Baghdad, an artillery shell struck the vehicle behind him, killing two soldiers and knocking Mr. Welch unconscious. When he came to, he was disoriented. His vision was blurred. Blood dripped from his ears. He helped gather the remains of the dead before heading out to take the bridge. He returned to Iraq twice more on combat tours.

Mr. Welch was later diagnosed with chronic PTSD and traumatic brain injury. He now lives in Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend and government-paid caregiver, Katie Brickman. Every day, he faces the long-term effects of PTSD: bouts of amnesia, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and vomiting.

Photographer Brandon Thibodeaux spent two months chronicling Mr. Welch’s struggles and with Wall Street Journal photo editors Matthew Craig (Executive Producer) and Kate Lord (Associate Producer), created the video below. This is Mr. Thibodeaux’s account. To read the story and see the complete interactive, click here.

* * * * *

I’ve come to think of Ian’s way of dealing with PTSD as a protective moat–a barrier he crosses only for doctor’s appointments, haircuts and other necessary outings.

When I was first assigned the story, I was planning on still photographs. But in the end we decided that the complexity of the story required much more, and I needed a different approach. I quickly learned that I needed ample time, as well as video and audio equipment to best tell Ian’s story.

Ian is someone who rarely steps outside of his structured life, so it was essential to gain his trust. In the end, Katie, his girlfriend, was key. She acts as his protector, making sure to blunt potential triggers to his PTSD. Katie studied photography and knew of the work of Tim Hetherington and other war photographers. She convinced Ian The Wall Street Journal project could be therapeutic.

Before I was assigned the story, I knew of PTSD as a combat disorder. After spending days with Ian and Katie, I learned of its long and tenacious grip on everyday life.

I felt it only fair to reveal my own vulnerabilities since Ian exposed so many of his. As a teenager, I underwent chemotherapy for a rare case of lymphoma cancer. While I didn’t face enemy fire or lose friends in a battle, it gave us a patch of common ground. I faced attacks from my own body. And when he described his anxiety and mood swings, it stoked memories of friends I had met at the hospital. I often wondered why I was allowed to survive and they were not. Even Katie’s role with Ian was reminiscent of how my parents must have managed, juggling appointments and providing support.

Once he allowed me access to his home, Ian, Katie, and I spent a lot of time together. It was important to become a part of his routine. Many days were quiet with little to photograph. Since Ian and Katie stayed up late, it made sense for me to stay overnight sometimes.

To understand his deeper, more personal thoughts, I asked Ian to read his journals, and to describe what he recalled from the injury on April 7, 2003. I felt horrible asking to hear such difficult memories. One night, as we finally felt comfortable enough to go over his combat experience, I had to help him walk back into the house. Katie didn’t know how to react when she saw how weak he was. It was a powerful reminder of how difficult it was for him to revisit the most painful parts of his past.

When the project was over, Ian was inundated by phone calls from loved ones. Katie couldn’t thank us enough for spending so much time with Ian and for capturing such an honest portrayal. Ian also talked about the project a lot and was more open to discussing his PTSD. I hope his story and video helps him hear those inner thoughts with better perspective. And I hope his story reaches and comforts others like him.

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The future of gaming is the intersection between virtual worlds and the real world. Just look at the resurgence of MMOs, the rise of hardcore social games, the proliferation of location-based mobile games, and Blizzard's Diablo 3 Real Money auction house.

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New Yorkers remember the victims of Sept. 11, plus a community mourns a high school basketball star and Union Square gets a new sculpture. A look at the week’s best images from around Greater New York.


Police officers from the United Kingdom marched in formation across the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday, Sept. 11. The group walked from downtown Brooklyn for the memorial ceremony at Ground Zero. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Children and young adults took part in a citizenship ceremony at Citi Field before the Mets game on Wednesday. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


A 37-year-old Verizon worker was electrocuted Wednesday morning in Brooklyn as he worked on lines connected to a utility pole, officials said. Here, the scene at the corner of Christopher Avenue and New Lots Avenue. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


A woman lit a candle at a memorial at the entrance to the Grant Houses complex in Manhattan on Monday, following the murder of 18-year-old high school basketball standout Tayshana Murphy. Ms. Murphy was shot in the hallway of the public-housing project on Sunday. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


A selection of whiskeys are on display at Whiskey Park, at 100 Central Park South in New York, N.Y. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


One hundred dancers gathered around the Revson Fountain at Lincoln Center on Sunday morning to perform ‘The Table of Silence Project,’ a public tribute to the events of 9/11. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


David Shih and Christine Toy Johnson rehearsed a scene from ‘Crane Story’ at the Cherry Lane Theatre. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Grilled Octopus, organic lentils and potatoes at Bocca East, 1496 Second Ave. at 78th Street. (Nick Brandreth for The Wall Street Journal)


The members of Squad One in Brooklyn’s Park Slope assembled to observe a moment of silence at 9:45am Sunday. The company lost 12 firefighters ten years ago at the World Trade Center. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


A demonstration kiosk was set up on Wednesday in a pedestrian plaza south of Madison Square Park for a news conference announcing a bicycle-sharing program New York City plans to launch next year. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


A 26-foot tall bronze sculpture, ‘Elefrandret,’ by artist Miquel Barceló was installed in Union Square in Manhattan. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Members of the press stood in the newly opened Memorial Plaza at Ground Zero during the opening of the National September 11 Memorial on Monday. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Leigh Keno, the host of the popular television show, ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ inspected a chair of Wall Street Journal columnist Ralph Gardner at his home on the Upper East Side. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Lifeguard Randy Dodd, center, carried a memorial wreath out to sea during a memorial service at Long Beach, Long Island, Sunday. Mr. Dodd and about 300 other surfers held a ceremony in the water, forming a circle and joining hands. Each surfer wore an armband with the name of a Sept. 11 first responder from Long Island. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Inside of the offices and manufacturing floor of the Lee Spring company, a tenant in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Third-grade teacher Tavares Bussey read out loud to his students during the first day of the school year at Brennan-Rogers, a K-8 public school in New Haven, Conn., on Sept. 1. (Jesse Neider for The Wall Street Journal)


Maggie Jewell, 6, created a makeshift memorial to her second cousin, Joseph G. Hunter, a firefighter who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011, during a memorial service on the tenth anniversary of attacks at Lido Beach on Long Island on Sunday. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)

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