Thursday, June 30, 2011

A day with Google+

Do we really need another social media website?

Google apparently thinks so with their recent release of Google+.

I got my hands on an invite yesterday evening (through contacts on facebook, interestingly enough) and so far I'm quite ambivalent about it.

First of all, I enjoy the interface. It is clear and simple. Add to that the concept of circles (basically user-created groupings of your friends), and you have a recipe for something that might actually work. I loved organizing my hip and trendy contacts (all four of them) into categories. I've had issues on Facebook attempting to figure out how to hide particular posts from certain people, so this is just wonderful.

Another interesting aspect is Sparks, a feature through which Google recommends personalized content for any given interest. So a Spark called 'cycling' should provide information largely related to just that.

One extra bonus for me was the fact that it nicely integrated with previously googlized elements of my life, without feeling invasive (I'm looking at you, Buzz).

By far the largest negative was the fact that no one I knew was on. I'm aware of the fact that we're right now in a closed, invite-only test run, but damn it I need critical mass. Looking at my stream right now (Google+'s newsfeed), the last four posts have been from me... And there are only five posts total. Being connected to four people is boring and sadly, most of my Facebook friends are not early adaptors.

Which leads me to a previous ill-fated voyage of Google's infamously known as the Wave. Part of my problem with the Wave was that no one of importance in my life used the damn thing for more than a week or two. Add to that, we simply didn't know what to do with it. I really hope Google doesn't keep this recent endeavor in its crib for too long. If they do, it may very well suffer the same fate Wave did.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Why did we have to buy this book?" -- Thoughts on the Value of College

If you've been paying attention to any 24 hour news channel, I'm sure you've seen segments questioning the value of a college education. Given the current hostile economic environment recent grads find themselves entering, it is a discussion worth having. After a few weeks of watching critics lob verbal bombs at an institution I've invested the last two years of my life in, I decided to share an article on Facebook. The responding debate involved people who recently graduated but couldn't find a job, people who graduated years ago and treasured their educational experiences, and folks like myself who were beginning to feel their hearts fill with dread at the thought of their degree not being 'good enough'.

If you have found yourself anxious about the future prospects of your hard-earned college diploma, read this article from the New Yorker. Louis Menand, the author of the piece, offers a few answers to a question he received from a student when he taught at a public institution. From there, he takes his readers on a journey to understand the historical development of the role higher education has played in America.

Personally, I found it helped to calm down my worries. It reminded me of why I've spent and will come to spend all those long hours in my school's library. It reminded me of why I drag myself to class when all I want to do remain in my bed and sleep. As Menand noted, there is more at stake for students like myself -- this is my chance to get a financial, social, and personal bite of the apple afforded to those with much more fortunate backgrounds than myself.

Lastly, in case you're wondering, the question that served as the striking force for this article was "Why did we have to buy this book?". I have half a mind to ask it to my professors once school is back in session.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Google Debuts New Mobile Payment System Google Wallet (Say Bye To The Leather!)

Google attempts to revolutionize the payment system with Google Wallet
Today, Google announced its brand new venture in completely digitizing our lives, Google Wallet.

The concept is actually pretty simple; your mobile phone becomes your wallet. With the use of near-field communication hardware (NFC) and a Google-designed app, your phone replaces your debit, credit, and store cards at the cash register.

Google teamed up with Mastercard's PayPass technology, which allowed consumers to hold up their plastic with special embedded chips to a device to pay, instead of swiping their cards.

This time around, however, they are holding up their phones instead.

Using PayPass has allowed Google to have their new service working with many, many merchants across the country. The hardware, on the other hand, isn't quite ready yet. The only phone to be equipped with Google Wallet at launch is the Nexus S 4G, currently on the Sprint network. They do say that other phones will be available soon.

As crazy as this sounds, I actually REALLY like this idea. Carrying my wallet around campus is a unnecessary hassle, and if my phone (cough, cough, Apple, cough, cough), could act as a wallet for me, since I carry it around with me all of the time, that would really be amazing.

It would be even better if they allowed users to manage their credit card balances and consolidate all of the information to help with budgeting. It could totally revolutionize how people handle their finances!

Do you think Google Wallet could take off, or is just a disaster waiting to happen? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Start

Wow Brandon -- way to set the bar high. As if there isn't enough stress in deciding what to write in a first post. Asshat.

Anyways lets get on with it, shall we?

I would like to welcome everyone who reads this to Like Brandon touched upon in his earlier post, we aim to have this blog be some strange intellectual lovechild, situated at the intersection of tech, politics, and pop culture.

Why those three? Well, it is because after two years of college, those are the three areas of interest we both agreed are critical to our lives. As students, as individuals preparing to go out into the world, hell just as people, those three aspects of life have influenced us. Who we are is in part due to their impact on our lives and as such, it seems fitting to have a blog dedicated to chronicling just that.

My hope for is that it provides a place for folks our age to come and comment on what we see going on around us. I believe that it is important to critically analyze what affects us, as we transition from childhood into what is aptly called 'real life'. Yet above all, I want everyone to have fun. I want everyone to enjoy themselves while they're here. After all, isn't that when the best conversations take place?

So take a deep breathe, relax, and keep an open mind as Brandon and I jump down the rabbit hole.

We'll see you on the way down.

Welcome to!

Hey everyone,

Welcome to, a blog about that follows pop culture, politics, and technology through the eyes of the college student. Read the news that affects us, the reviews of what we love, and the commentary on the crazy world we've inherited and continue to build everyday.

I started blogging back in 2008, with my own pop culture blog BWU, which I am proud to say is in its third year. Back then, I was inspired to write because I had a lot to say about what was happening in the pop culture world (and I still do). It was primarily about what I had to say alone. What I've realized is that I am at my strongest, both personally and professionally, when I am collaborating and working with others.

I realized this while reconnecting with my best friend Ryan Mason just yesterday in Manhattan. We've been friends since elementary school, and even though we don't see each other for months at a time, everything is still the same when we meet up. I quickly remembered how well we worked together, and how I became a stronger person with his help. It was a no-brainer for me to combine our strengths; his technological sensibilities and analytical mind with my pop culture sensibilities and creative mind.

In that combination births

I hope that you are able to join us in discussing what we truly care about in today's world, and have some fun along the way. Please leave comments and subscribe to keep up with the latest from us. And keep a look out for Ryan's introduction. Trust me, it will be a riot.