Arts + Letters

Meet the “Pro-Piracy” Professor Who Studies ‘Game of Thrones’ Downloads

It wasn’t long ago that we all watched television on a bulky, cathode-ray TV connected to a pricey cable or satellite service. Now televisions are flat and the pay-TV industry is fading fast as consumers switch to online streaming on a plethora of digital devices. But the companies that pump out the content are still dependent on outdated business models and stubbornly ignore the transformational effects that fan fiction and even piracy could bring, says Abigail De Kosnik, an associate professor of new media studies at UC Berkeley.

WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

The Longest-Running Friendship in Comics

Comics writers aren’t generally household names these days, but Matt Groening is close. For those who can’t quite place the name, say, “The guy who made The Simpsons,” and they’ll usually respond, “Oh, yeah!”

Debugging the Novel

When Vikram Chandra started writing his best-selling novel, Sacred Games (2006), he knew it was going to be a big book. And he was right: All told, the novel is 947 pages, includes over 100 characters, and spans a 60-year timeline. To make the writing process smoother, Chandra set out to find a software program he could use to store, organize, and keep track of the details of his novel. But no off-the-shelf program met his needs.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

Five Questions for Joyce Carol Oates

There may be one thing that you and Donald Trump agree on: Both of you seem to love Twitter. Since October 5, 2012, you have tweeted nearly 58,000 times and have a staggering 180,000 followers. Why do you find Twitter such a compelling medium for self-expression?

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

An Entomological Etymology

Over the centuries, bug has become an astonishingly versatile little word, with roughly six common meanings and 170 slang uses. But why? Where did the word come from and how did it manage to so infest the English language?

The question was buggin’ me, so I called up Geoffrey Nunberg, renowned linguist and professor at the Berkeley School of Information, to see what he could tell me.

From the Fall 2017 Bugged issue of California.

A Disruption in The Force: Peter Nicks’s New Documentary Has a Hella Big Plot Twist

Pete Nicks thought he knew what he was getting into when he started filming the Oakland Police Department in the fall of 2014. The department had long been under the thumb of a federal judge due to a series of lawsuits exposing poor management and pervasive abuses, but the OPD had a new chief who seemed poised to reform the troubled department.  

Spirited Away: the Life of the Ghostwriter

The year was 1986, and Barbara Feinman Todd was a writer in disguise. Her mission? To crash a party— the 45th wedding anniversary of the director of the CIA, being held at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. No press was allowed, but it was her job to find out who the guests were.

From the Summer 2017 Adaptation issue of California.

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