April 12, 2013

Gardening Technology

What color is your thumb…green or black? This hour on Focus, we talked with Eduardo Torrealba who has been working on a project to help you if you answered “black” and Sandy Mason, UI extension horticulture expert. 

an unmanned aerial vehicle
April 04, 2013

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Calling them unmanned aerial vehicles sounds just as scary as calling them drones, but what do we really mean when we talk about this technology? This hour on Focus, we talked about drones, how they are being used and how they’re not. We also heard from an Urbana man working to advance the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in journalism and to inspire high school students to study math and science.

people working at computers in a library
Wikimedia Commons
March 28, 2013

Cyber-Security a Growing Concern

Cases of computer hacking have been in the spotlight lately, especially since President Obama made cyber security one of his key priorities in this year’s State of the Union Address. But who is doing the hacking and why? Today on Focus we talked about cyber-security and what we’re doing to protect against cyber criminals.

December 11, 2012

Computers, Tablets and More

Jim Eyrich of the University of Illinois and Bobbi Hardy from CITES join us. Jim works for the National Center for Supercomputering Applications and Bobbi is a User Services Specialist at the CITES Help Desk. Whether you’re looking for a new computer or tablet, have questions about online security, or need some troubleshooting advice, they’re happy to help.

November 05, 2012

The Future of the Publishing Industry: Print, Digital or Both?

According to the Association of American Publishers, last year, for the first time, e-books garnered more revenue than any other format of adult fiction. Overall, net sales revenue for electronic books more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010, and there’s every reason to believe that transition will continue here in 2012 and beyond.

Meanwhile, the industry has felt the effects of the bankruptcy and closures of Borders stores nationwide, another signal of a rapidly changing industry.

As more people download novels to their Kindles and Nooks, what’s to become of the publishing industry? Could we see a day when actual physical books are no longer printed? Is what’s happening with the newspaper and magazine industries a harbinger of things to come for books?

September 27, 2012

Your “Permanent Record”

Jules Polonetsky, Director and Co-Chair, Future of Privacy forum

Frances Harris, Librarian, University Laboratory High School, Urbana

Host: Craig Cohen
Filing Cabinets

As we share more and more of our lives on sites like Facebook and Twitter, privacy questions naturally arise. But so does the issue of how long this material will stay around - perhaps much longer than any of us had originally intended. In an age of social media and digital archiving, can we escape from what we have posted or written online? Is the internet compiling a "permanent record" of our lives, the one grade school teachers and principals have been warning students of for decades?

September 11, 2012


Garret Keizer, contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, contributing writer to Mother Jones, recent Guggenheim Fellow

Host: Craig Cohen
Privacy Book Cover

In his book Privacy, Garret Keizer begins by noting how the word “sharing” today has almost everything to do with personal information, and almost nothing to do with personal wealth. Keizer sees a link between shrinking personal privacy and a growing gap between rich and poor. He maintains privacy has long been thought of as a value that came along with the growth of the middle class, and now that the middle class is shrinking, so, naturally, is privacy. We’ll discuss what privacy means in 21st century America – and just what sort of impact political, economic, or cultural influences have on it. From concerns over security to the rise of technology designed to make our lives easier, but requiring more and more access to information we once considered personal, is there even room for such privacy anymore?

September 10, 2012

Can Technology Serve Social Justice?

Virginia Eubanks, Department of Women’s Studies at the University at Albany, author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age

Host: Craig Cohen

As the online world developed in the 1990s, so did a belief that such technology, if distributed evenly across communities, could be a vehicle for social equality – that if everyone had the same access to the same information, it would put everyone on an equal footing.

Virginia Eubanks believed that, and saw the web as that great equalizer, and a fundamental social justice issue in American cities. She built her career around the idea. By the early 2000s, she concluded she was wrong. We’ll welcome your questions for Virginia Eubanks, author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Digital Age. Eubanks will present a free lecture on this topic at the Champaign Public Library on Wednesday, September 12th at 5:30 p.m. (That event is sponsored by the proposed Center for Digital Inclusion at the Graduate School for Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois).

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