O VIDEO GAMESIN FLUX(PAGE 3) FUTURE OF3D PRINTING(PAGE 8) SNAPCHAT ASPERFORMANCE(PAGE 10)
TUFTS OBSERVERDECEMBER 9, 2013VOLUME CXXVII, ISSUE 7
THE GAME PLAN2
The Observer has been Tufts student publication of record since 1895. Our dedication to in-depth reporting, journalistic innovation, and honest dialogue has remained intact for over a century. Today, we offer insightful news analysis, cogent and diverse opinion pieces, creative writing, and lively reviews of current arts, entertainment, and culture. Through poignant writing and artistic elegance, we aim to entertain, inform, and above all challenge the Tufts community to effect positive change.
COVER BY: Hongye Wu
THE STARTUPS ON THE HILL by Anika Ades
by Gracie McKenzie
PETRICHOR by Montana Miller 12
WELLNESS MATTERS by Kumar Ramanathan
6 MODERATION IN REGULATION by Justin Kim
featureThe Game Plan by Gracie McKenzienewsModeration in Regulation by Justin KimnewsPrinting for the Future by Moira LavelleopinionTo Make a Long Story Short by Jamie Moorepoetry & prosePetrichor by Montana Millerphoto insetFaces of the Futurepoetry & proseItalian Wedding by Emma TurnercampusThe Debt Advocates by Sahar RoodehchiopinionWellness Matters by Kumar Ramanathanarts & cultureGoing Viral by James Davisarts & cultureSuper Who? by Nika Korchokoff campusThe Startups on the Hill by Anika Adespolice blotterBy Moira Lavelle and Aaron Langerman
Sofia AdamsRiley AronsonMia GreenwaldLily HerzanMadeline LebovicBecca Leibowitz
Mary Shea MaloneyLeah Muskin-PierretCharlotte ReaCatherine RosemanAndrew Terrano
EDITORSeditor-in-chiefMolly Mirhashemmanaging editorNicola Pardy
production directorBen Kurland
asst. production directorBernita Ling
section editorsAnika AdesJustin KimAaron LangermanMoira LavelleGracie McKenzieAlison PinkertonKumar RamanathanNader SalassEvan TarantinoFlo Wen
publicity directorStephen Wright
photography directorKnar Bedian
photography editorAlison Graham
art directorRobert Collins
lead artistsGriffin QuasebarthEva Strauss
lead copy editorsLiana AbbottSarah Perlman
copy editorsGeorge EsselstynEve FeldbergBrett MeleKatharine PongMT SnyderNate Williams
design assistantsSahar Roodehchi Anastasia AntonovaConner Calabro
staff writersEllen Mayer
December 9, 2013 Tufts Observer, since 1895
Volume CXXVII, Issue 7Tufts Student Magazine
TABLE OF CONTENTS
COVER BY: Hongye Wu
DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 54 TUFTS OBSERVER DECEMBER 9, 2013
Welcome to everyones least favorite part of the semes-ter. Suddenly, after a restful Thanksgiving break with friends and family, were thrust into the whirlwind of reading period and finals that just seemed so comfortably far off. All the tests, papers, and projects that were daunting from a distance are now right in our faces. As a result, many of us put our blinders on and plow through to the finishwhich is only natural.
All too often, finals period is the season of cramming and frantic catch-up. Its real-izing what youve put off or coasted through, and being forced to pick up your own slack. While there is so much talk at many liberal arts colleges about reading critically and writing skillfully, many of us (during this time especially) read and write without in-tention. We skim, underline, and highlight, to coax the main points out of our readings, and we get little out of it.
There are a million technological in-novations that allow us to do everything quickly. We can gather information and spread it faster than ever before, as every me-dia critic has repeated countless times. This is all well and good; progress is crucial. But for the most part, we should read more slowly.
Now, Id like to clarify, Im not saying that no one reads carefully at Tufts. And, more importantly, Im not saying all things truly deserve to be read carefully. What Im advocating for is simple: we should try when we can to read more slowly, with more de-liberateness, and with more thought. Finals period is not necessarily the best time to
start, but its the time that most clearly un-derscores the problematic way that many of us read. We read for a purpose that is other than reading itself: to synthesize, analyze, or summarize.
I am not claiming anything revolution-ary in this idea: a Slow Reading Manifesto already exists on its own website, articles penned in The Atlantic and The Guardian have made similar pleadings, entire books have been written on the subject. But I dont want to toss around any blame for this problem. I wont argue about how the Internet is shrinking our time spans, or that we no longer possess an appreciation for classical literaturethese things may or may not be true.
What I will say is this: find what you like to read, and read those things intention-ally. Pay attention, and enjoy them. Reading for leisure is seemingly unheard of during college, but it doesnt have to be. I joined the Observer, and stayed with it through long nights and early mornings, because I care about the writing that makes people read in this way. Over the last three and a half years of midterms and finals, there have been times when I lost sight of this intention, as we all have. Ive read entire books in one sitting before a class discussion, or skipped readings altogether when time was tight. I spend too much time reading to continue it in this way; it sucks all the enjoyment out of it.
With that in mind, here is the final issue of the Observer for the semester. I hope that youll find something in these pages that in-terests you and take the time to read it slowly.
Letter from the Editor
Molly Mirhashem, Editor-in-Chief
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THE GAME PLAN
64% of Americans play video games according to a 2012 study by Magid As-sociates. Let me put that into perspec-tive: Wikipedia says thats the same proportion of us who are overweight. Its not everyone, but thats what makes this next statistic even more sig-nificantin 2012, video games were number two in entertainment expen-diture, second only to Internet and cable, which are counted together (no fair). So, even though we dont all play video games, as a country were will-ing to spend money on thema lot of money. 14.8 billion dollars, in fact, were spent on game content in 2012.
Yet, just five years ago, we spent $22 billion, even before figuring in inflation. And the percentage of Americans who play games is inex-plicably dropping by the year. This is despite a consistently more acces-sible video game market courtesy of smart phones and social media appli-cations. If you even sporadically play
Candy Crush, Words With Friends, or Farmville, you are a gamer by this model. Still, marketing research firm NPD Group found that between 2011 and 2012, the number of people who reported at least occasionally playing video games dropped 5 percent to an estimated 211 million.
In a feature article for Imagine Games Network, journalist Colin Campbell investigated the missing 12 million gamers reasons for quitting cold turkey. While he entertained the possibility that its entirely due to the 2011 decline of either Zyngas Farm-ville Facebook application or Nin-tendos Wii console, the likelihood of these single events having such a great impact is low. While its impossible to know for sure, he eventually conclud-ed that 1 in 20 gamers were enamored with one game in particular, such as Farmville or Wii Fit, and instead of moving on to a different game when they tired of that particular one, they abandoned gaming completely.
Overall, as Campbell explained, its also very difficult to collect accu-rate data about video games; although NPD Group surveyed 8,000 Ameri-cans, they did so online. However, a recent Pew Research study found that 15 percent of Americans dont use the Internet at all. Wouldnt it make sense that these less technologically con-nected citizens also dont play video games? But this is all speculation.
Maybe we cant trust the num-bers exactly, but the trends they show us are clear: the video game industry is facing an impending crisis. Even those gamers who do remain are gravitating away from the $500 Xbox One and $60 games from Best Buy, opting instead for free Internet games and mobile applications. It seems log-ical. Weve entered an age in which, for video games, anything more than free seems expensive.
The issue is that we, as consum-ers, continually want newer and bet-ter games to play. For example, when
By Gracie McKenzie
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Infinity Ward recently released Call of Duty: Ghosts, the tenth in the highly successful Call of Duty series, buyers expected something new, if only be-cause the company had started a new story arc separate from Modern War-fare and Black Ops. When not much had changed, people were extremely disappointed. Games in Asia reviewer C. Custer concluded, Call of Duty: Ghosts is not a revolution, or even an evolution, for the Call of Duty se-riesIts hard to know what caused thiswas it a genuine lack of inspira-tion? A cynical cash grab?but for consumers, it doesnt matter. Heres the bottom line: dont buy Ghosts.
In even more recent news, this holiday season the gaming commu-nity expects a showdown between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Sci-ence website Phys.org game reviewer Troy Wolverton, however, argued that any debate between the two is irrel-evant because neither shows any real innovation on the level of their com-petition from the Wii and the Kinect, which pioneered motion-controlled and controller-free gaming. Further-more, he said, The new consoles, at least to my eye, just dont seem as compelling as their predecessors. The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 were the first game machines that could display high-definition games, and the PlayStation 3 was the first console with a built-in Blu-ray player.
We feel entitled to constant im-provements, but these cost money. How can the companies continually update these games and consoles if no one is paying for them? The in-dustry as a whole has already hit on one strategy: just like with Hollywood blockbusters, making a sequel to an already successful game guarantees money. In fact, all 20 of 2012s top-selling console games were part of previous franchises. Theres only one Angry Birds, but there are seven dif-ferent special editions and one spin-off, called Bad Piggies. But, as Call of Duty: Ghosts proves, the simple
release of a new edition is not neces-sarily creative enough to please the consumers.
This is not to say, however, that all of these follow-ups are unoriginal. The fifth edition in the Grand Theft Auto series, released in September, has been lauded for its innovationsGamestop reviewer Carolyn Petit called it an outrageous, exhilarating, sometimes troubling crime epic that pushes open-world game design for-ward in amazing ways.
But as The Atlantic tech journal-ist Taylor Clark wrote, It needs to be said: video games, with very few ex-ceptions, are dumb. And theyre not just dumb in the gleeful, winking way that a big Hollywood movie is dumb; theyre dumb in the puerile, excru-ciatingly serious way that a grown man in latex elf ears reciting an epic poem about Gandalf is dumb. Aside
from a handful of truly smart games, tentpole titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Black Ops tend to be so silly and so poorly writ-ten that they make Michael Bay mov-ies look like the Godfather series. In addition, also similar to Hollywood, this dominance of sequels and spin-offs leaves little room for indie game success in the mainstream.
People are looking to change that, though. Game designer Jonathan Blow struck it rich with his time-warp platform game Braid, despite having independently financed the $200,000 for its development. Within 2008, its first year, Braid sold several hundred
thousand copies through Microsofts Xbox Live Arcade servicea far cry from Wii Plays industry-high 5.28 million that year but still a coup for an indie game. But beyond that, Braid, with its stunning graphics, in-geniously complex concept, and rich story complete with plot twist, proved to the gaming community (and the world) that video games could be more than dumb.
I think the mainstream game industry is a fucked-up den of medi-ocrity, Blow told The Atlantic. There
are some smart people wallowing in there, but the environment discour-ages creativity and strength and rigor, so what you get is mostly atrophy.
Now, Blow is turning his signifi-cant fortune towards financing The Witness, a game that he hopes will spur the video game industry to start making games that can be taken se-riously. This works when it comes to bankrolling the nontraditional, but its not realistic for industry-wide change. The bald-crowned Blow may appear to be a new-age Daddy War-bucks, but we cant expect him to swoop by the orphanage in his Tesla and singlehandedly save us from me-
We feel entitled to constant improvements, but these cost money. How can the companies continually update these games and consoles if no one is paying for them?
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diocrity. If we want to use video gam-ing to its fullest extent and get what we seem to want out of it, its neces-sary to expand the preferences and engagement of the mainstream to match the way the industry seems to be heading.
Im not worried about the falling percentage of participation; gamers are still more than 200 million strong, and that provides a lot of space for different people with their own dis-tinct preferences. Put away your pre-conception that the average video game player is a lazy college kid with a box of pizza at his sideaccording to the ESA, the average gamer is ac-tually 30 years old, just five years less than the national average age. NPD claims, in addition, that almost half of all Americans over 50 also par-ticipate. With 91 percent of children from age 2 to 17 playing games, the downward trend mentioned earlier is unlikely to continue.
And why should it? While video games may get a bad rep for their productivity-killing power, studies have found that they actually pro-vide many learning, health, and social benefits. And, just as in the games, the control(ler) is in our hands. That power gives us a choice; either we can play dumb games, or we can call for something new. A change in the industry needs to happen because otherwise were at a stalemate: with-out money there are no new games, and without new games, no one will spend money. Im not saying we should all go out and pay $60 for Call of Duty, but I do know that causing this revolution requires us to come to terms with spending more than noth-ing on a game.
And the companies are making this transition easier for us; a new alternative to the traditional upfront flat fee is the micro-transaction, or optional small charge in an otherwise free game. Think of in-app purchases
on your iPhone or gift cards to Farm-ville. But micro-transactions extend beyond indie games and mobile or social applications. While multiplayer online battle arena League of Legends is free to join, the games 32 million assassins, mages, and marksmen have the option to use real-world money towards advantages in the game.
If that change happens, the fact that our video game spending is go-ing down wont be an issueit will be a fact of life. Indie games are, after all, less expensive than your average blockbuster: GTA V also runs $60, and you need the right console to play it. In contrast, a PC version of Braid may be purchased on eBay for $2.88. And, if the process of transform-ing the industry has already started, which seems likely, the inexplicable statistics make sense. As Eric Savitz wrote for Forbes, The loss of some players at the margin suggests a ma-turing industry in transition.
Indie video games like Braid and The Witness are different from whats out there in the mass market, and these are just examplesthe options for gamers outside the mainstream are virtually endless. Engaging the average gamer in a more diverse game pool could go even further, pulling in new players who previously thought video games werent fun or who abandoned gaming with Farmville. This would be beneficial both for the industry and for video game players themselves.
One particular company goes further, allowing customers to ac-tively do good in the world. Humble Bundle sells PC game packages each week through a unique transaction process: the customer pays what they want and splits up that money be-tween the developers and two previ-ously selected charities. For less than $6, the buyer gets access to just four of the six games, but above that cut-off, the price is completely up to them. While the games are worth more than
two lattesthis week, over $70the average Humble Bundle customer paid just $3.83. Then again, some donated up to $300. Overall, as of December 1, 2013, the company has given more than $29 million to vari-ous charities, from the Red Cross to GamesAid. Its not $14.8 billion, but this is definitely better for the world than repeatedly running over the same virtual pedestrians, and better for the market because independent game designers get their products on consumers laptops.
Film critic Roger Ebert famous-ly argued in 2008 that video games can never be art by the traditional definition used for music, paintings, books, film, and more, because you can win a game. He believes (along with Plato and Aristotle) that art is an interpretation of life with no objec-tive or levels to achieve along the way. The video game industry is changing, though, and were beginning to recog-nize that, regardless of fine-art status, these digital media have become an integral part of the modern world, one that has the power to enact posi-tive change.
And who knows? Someday, they may be considered art. But Im not sure that fitting in with that tradition-al definition of art is the goal, or that arguing that they do is a constructive use of our time. Games are different for a reason. Xbox Worlds Michael Gapper wrote in an opinion piece on Computer and Video Games, Games move too fast and any comprehensive definition of what games are is too vast for your argument to have mean-ing so long as youre playing by the rules established by books, paintings, and movies. Ebert was rightby his terms games arent art, so lets define our own. For now, theres no reason for video games not to be well-made, productive, and satisfying for the 64% of usand probably more, in the futurewho are game to game. O
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MODERATION IN REGULATION
O n November 4, 2013, the US Depart-ment of Justice announced that it had reached a settlement with SAC Capital Advisors to the tune of $1.2 bil-lion for insider trading violations. With $15 billion in assets under management, the hedge fund has been a power player on Wall Street for decades. However, it will no longer be able to manage money for outside investors now that it has es-sentially admitted to criminal activity. While authorities were able to indict the
firm, they failed to produce any lasting charges on Steven A. Cohen himself, the funds sole owner and founder. Cohen still maintains a net worth of over $9 billion and is free to utilize his firm to invest his own money. While the fine is undoubtedly a large amount, it appears to be insufficient to rattle someone like Mr. Cohen.
Since the financial markets crashed in 2008, the entire banking industry has been characterized as the enemy of
the people. In the publics perception, Wall Streets culture advocates duping hardworking citizens, taking their sav-ings and gambling away millions like a drunken night in Vegas. Firms like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns have served as symbols of the industrys ar-roganceinstitutions once thought to be too big to fail ultimately succumb-ing to their own greed. The government, too, was blamed for pushing a culture of deregulation and blindly leaving Wall
by Justin Kim
ART BY ROBERT COLLINS
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Street to its own devices, armed with an arsenal of extremely easy, cheap credit. Knowing very well that the public wanted blood, President Obama successfully ran on a campaign platform promising to implement harsh regulations and strict penalties on any misconduct stemming from Wall Street.
And to an extent, the President has delivered on his promise. In addition to settling with SAC Capital Advisors in November, the US Department of Jus-tice reached an agreement with JPMor-gan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to pay a whopping $13 billion fine for mislead-ing investors and selling toxic mortgage-backed securities prior to the crisis of 2008. The settlement was the largest the American government has ever enforced on any single company. It has been hailed by many as a landmark achieve-ment for proper regulation, achieving an amount seemingly large enough to deter firms from engaging in the type of reck-less financial imprudence that led to the crisis in the first place.
To make matters worse for Mr. Di-mon, his firm announced last month that it had set aside $23 billion in legal fees to deal with not only the aforementioned settlement but also a multibillion-dollar trading loss (now known as the London Whale), accusations of manipulating en-ergy markets in California, and improp-er practices regarding the hiring of po-litical figures children in China. Given that in 2012 JPMorgan Chase secured a net income of $21 billion, it is not hard to see that these penalties and fees are not negligible, even for the largest bank in the United States. It has also armed critics who have long called for Mr. Di-mons dismissal from his current posi-tion for failing to uphold his fiduciary responsibility to his shareholders as the head a of a publicly traded company.
While these fines imposed on Wall Streets behemoths are meaningful, they appear to be little more than a good start. SAC Capital Advisors has strong relationships with nearly all of the other banks on Wall Street and still has over $9 billion in Mr. Cohens personal hold-ings to manage. Moreover, the seeming-ly mammoth impact of the fines on J.P. Morgan is negligible. According to The Huffington Post, the firm is well on its way to erasing its losses in record time after a surge in stock price, and is on pace to completely recoup the $13 billion by the first week of December. While the costs have led to the firms first loss in nearly a decade, profits for the year are still nearing $13 billion. The banks repu-tation seems to be largely untouched by the entire ordeal, and experts still revere Mr. Dimon as one of the best executives in the world.
Nevertheless, the fine does set a precedent. Since 2010, banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Bank of America have paid fines totaling almost $90 billion in order to settle lawsuits, deal with criminal investigations, and dismiss civil cases. However, many of these fines were previously criticized by many for being little more than super-ficial slaps on the wrist in an attempt to appease the bloodlust of the public. With this new fine, it is clear that the government is now adopting a strategy that seeks to directly affect the bottom line, a marked shift from when just nine months ago. US Attorney General Eric Holder let it slip that these banks were so big that they were difficult to prosecute.
It is important to note that these fines are coming at a time when the banks under prosecution are finan-cially robust. The banking industry as
a whole has posted two straight quar-ters of strong earnings, and the Federal Reserves quantitative easing policy has turbocharged asset prices in capital markets for a particularly conducive in-vestment environment. Consequently, critics remain unsatisfied and will con-tinue to demand heavier fines and even criminal charges for those responsible. In their eyes, higher fines logically rep-resent a higher likelihood of preventing repeat behavior.
Banks are striking back, character-izing these fines as part of a witch-hunt designed to serve as some sort of ca-tharsis for those who want to see Wall Street burn. Stephen Cutler, General Counsel for J.P. Morgan and former Chief of Enforcement for the Securi-ties and Exchange Commission, called the governments prosecution as based more in art than science and warned that at a certain point people become immune to numbers. Mr. Cutler has also made it clear that he intends to raise the issue of misconduct among federal regulators in the future. Media outlets are already picking up on the narrative; the New York Posts head-line for the J.P. Morgan fine was Uncle Scam: US Robs Bank of $13B.
This sort of back-and-forth between Wall Street and federal prosecutors is sure to continue. As fines escalate and in-vestigations deepen, it is important that a middle ground is reached to ensure fairness and maximize effectiveness. In other words, it would be catastrophic if valuable government resources were misused to punish firms simply because of the publics long-standing bloodlust. At the same time, the government would be remiss to fail to seize this golden op-portunity to foster a much-needed cul-ture of strict but fair regulation of the financial sector. O
WHILE THESE FINES ARE MEANINGFUL, THEY APPEAR TO BE LITTLE MORE THAN A
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PHOTO BY MOIRA LAVELLE
O n December 3rd, General Electric de-clared it was 3D printing day. They en-couraged people to tweet at them using the hashtag #3DPrintMyGift for a chance to win a small 3D printed gift designed by a celebrity such as Al Roker. The promotion allowed the corporation to tout its design-ers and show off its future in the growing, highly-hyped field of 3D printing.
A 3D printer, a machine that often re-sembles a giant glue gun, creates solid objects by layering material (usually plastic) one layer at a time. The 3D printing processis a way of manufacturing products individually so that they can be made quickly and in a person-alized fashion. The technology was created in the 1980s by American Chuck Hull, who founded 3D systems. Initially it was used by engineers to instantly create prototypes in-
shop, speeding up the process and allowing them to keep their designs secret. Today a professor at the University of California is working on printing and building an entire house. Engineers today are also looking to use the technology to build lighter plane and helicopter parts. The Center for Technology and Teacher Education asserts that in a few years every classroom in America could have a 3D printer. A paper recently published by the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Cali-fornia predicts that 3D printing will be the next big boom in manufacturing. And on the consumer level, 3D printers are available at Staples or at other smaller companies today for about $2,000. It seems that 3D printing is creating a strong current in the wave of the future. But almost everyone involved in the industry seems focused on the distant future,
rather than transforming that future into the present reality.
One of the most exciting fields in the world of 3D printing is bioprinting. Bio-printers print cells, usually in a liquid or gel, and craft organs. The hope is that someday doctors will be able to print out new hearts and lungs for those in need. But right now the biggest advancements are being made in cartilage. Printing a whole heart or a whole bladder is glamorous and exciting. But car-tilage might be the low-hanging fruit to get 3-D printing into the clinic, explains Dr. Darryl DLima of the orthopedic research lab at the Scripps Clinic, who has been working on just that. DLima recently made bioartificial cartilage in cow tissue using a modified Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 500 from the 1990s. (The team initially started with a
printing for the future
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modern printer, but the resolution was too high and the nozzles too small for cells to fit through.) Cartilage is the easiest biologi-cal material to print because it doesnt need the same nutrients to stay alive, and contains no blood vessels or nerves. Nevertheless, this does not make it an easy jobcartilage in the knees and hips has several complex layers that the team is still working on figur-ing out. Other companies such as Organovo have already been able to print small pieces of human liver tissue, and are working on the implications for amputees. The technol-ogy is far from complete, but doctors hope to someday be able to print custom organs and limbs directly onto patients.
3D printing could also be the answer to issues of hunger. The Systems & Materials Research Corporation recently received a $125,000 grant from NASA to create a pro-totype of a 3D food printer. The head of the corporation, Anjan Contractor, has come up with the idea for a printer that would combine nonperishable food powders (one for sugars, protein, carbohydrates, etc.) with water, and print meals. This printer would be ideal in outer space, as the powders can last for yearsor as long as a mission to Mars. Contractor hopes that eventually the printers could help aid in the fight against hungerthere would be zero food waste, and the sources of sugar or protein could come from non-traditional sources such as kelp or insects. Printing our food may be a quick way to preserve resources and mini-mize waste. But once again, the technology is a long way from being actualized.
Today 3D printing is most prevalent as a hobby. There are various websites that al-low people to send in their own designs and custom print jewelry, phone cases and desk toys. The technology has become invaluable to car buffs or photographers who can cus-tom create missing parts at a fraction of the cost. People have even begun creating adapt-ers for train sets, Legos, and camera parts that allow them to fit pieces of technology together that were never intended to work in tandem. Shapeways is one such website. Their home page offers a set of dice that look like they have been crafted out of thorns, a piece of plastic that you can clip onto a cup to turn it into a vase, and an intricate
snowflake ornament. Greg Shutack recently worked at Shapeways overseeing orders, and before that he was the assistant to the CEO at Makerbot, a startup that sells 3D printing machines. He explained that working in the 3D printing business now is working on the cutting edge of technology.
This past spring, as general call of alarm sounded throughout the media, when plans for a 3D printed gun landed online; Shape-ways was in the midst of the controversy. A law student at the University of Texas, Cody Wilson, announced that he planned to upload the blueprints for what he named the Liberator online so that anyone with access to a 3D printer could print and con-struct their own firearm. A metal firing pin and household nail are both needed for the gun to work. In order for the gun to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, and be recognizable to metal detectors, however, it needs at least a six-ounce piece of steel.
The Liberator opens yet another av-enue for people to illegally own and carry firearms, and critics maintain the obvious worry that having open-source instructions will lead to dangerous levels of prolifera-tion. People have been creating home-made firearms for years with household materi-als from their local hardware store, but the Liberator would allow anyone with ac-cess to a computer to push a button and in-stantly have access to a functional firearm. Shutack explains that the company caught a few gun designs, or gun pieces before they went to print. He feels some people were simply trying to prove they could 3D print a gun rather than actually use it.
We spoke to Shutack concerning what his predictions were for the future of 3D printing. He explained that in his experi-ence people were happy to throw money at 3D printing despite the fact that the technology is still fairly crude. Its really popped in the past couple of years, but these companies like 3D systems have been around for the past 20 years, reflect-ed Shutack. I think the reason the tech-nology is still on the cusp is that the only people that can make the use of the tech-nology now are architects and designerspeople that know how to make 3D models. The other thing, too, is that the final prod-
uct isnt that spectacular yet. Some models are really detailed and really beautiful. But when you put those models in front of a panel, that doesnt really wow the crowd, because jewelry has been handmade for years. The change is going to be when it be-comes a consumer objecteither the ma-chine or product. Shutack cited startups such as Formlabsfounded here in Bos-ton,and Makerbot, both of which sell the actual printers, and Autodesk (which vends the design technology) as possible avenues to bring 3D printing to the gen-eral public.
But until schools can have their own printersa dream of the Makerbot found-ersdoctors can print new organs, or 3D printers can help feed those in need, the technology is likely to remain in a nascent stage. While the technology may be 20 years old, it seems that 3D printing is doomed to be called the next big thing until it can be actualized in the present. O
the change is going to be when it becomes a consumer objecteither the machine or the product.
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Seeing Snapchat asperformance art for
the Information Age
To Make A LongStory Short
Certain forward-thinking historians have begun calling our current era the Information Age. While this idea may be a little over the top, it isnt en-tirely without merit. Its fair to say that the average person living in our time has access to more information than those living at any other period in history. Moreover, the technology that delivers that information also makes it available to us at any time we want. In the end, we are positively drenched with information. Your TV gushes audiovi-sual data into your living room like a faucet. Your computer is more like a bathtub, im-mersing you in information at your leisure. Your smartphone, though, is a saline drip, feeding you data at a constant rate, whether you like it or not.
Of course, I have to add the caveat that more information isnt necessarily bet-ter; what matters is how we perceive that information, consciously or unconsciously. Perception of information controls what we do with it, how much value we assign it, and how we consume it; perception determines where we place certain information within the greater social context.
Perception, though, is tricky. It can be influenced or even flipped on its head by the smallest of ideassometimes those that are not even fully grown, ideas that are embryonic. Those kinds of thoughts can
be so small that they take you by surprise. This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was riding a train. I was talking to a friend the way that friends do, covering anything and everything. The conversation turned, as they tend to do, to something random: Snapchat.
A quick primer on Snapchat: its an image-sharing app that is currently respon-sible for the vast majority of the worlds self-ies. Its similar to a plain old picture mes-sage, with key changes: Snapchats can be captioned with one line of text or drawn on in MS Paint style, and most importantly, they disappear after a set amount of time from three to 10 seconds.
Our conversation started out by break-ing down how different people we knew used Snapchat in vastly different ways, and then worked its way to the topic of Snapchat as a whole, cohesive means of communica-tion. I was somewhat less than bullish on its future potential, especially considering the recent decision of its founder to decline massive buyout offers, including two from Facebook and a rumored $4 billion one from Google. After all, Snapchat is relative-ly useless as a practical means of commu-nication. Without that core of practicality, I figured it would pretty quickly fall out of favorits enterprising creators should have taken the money and run.
Then, my friend tossed a small idea out there: maybe Snapchat is a form of perfor-mance art that isnt supposed to be a prac-tical communication tool. Thinking back, I can actually almost see the idea as a physi-cal thing, a gift-wrapped box sitting on the linoleum floor, waiting to be picked up. We quickly moved on past the subject of Snap-chat, but the idea stayed with me.
Snapchats limited nature is the most important thing that sets it apart from the rest of the information trickling out of your phone. When you sends a snap, you are sending something that they controlled en-tirely and which the recipient cannot hold onto or interrupt. Regular communica-tion involves a back-and-forth unpredict-ability, creating the chance that something you didnt want to reveal may be revealed. Someone using Snapchat, though, sends out something stylized and controlled that they think or hope will produce a certain response or create a certain mental image of themselves for the recipient. This, in turn, explains why people have their own idio-syncratic Snapchat styles; they are trying to express a certain image of themselves. They are performing.
Like other forms of performance art, Snapchat doesnt encourage conversation with the creator. It doesnt store old mes-sages, and it forces you to converse by cre-
by Jamie Moore
GRAPHICS BY BEN KURLAND DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 11
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OPINIONating discrete, non-continuous statements. A conversation conducted via Snapchat is closer to a dance-off or a series of dueling musical numbers than an email chain or phone call: limited statements, wherein re-plies are based only on the memory of past statements.
Snapchat also is a performance art in the way it forces you to send out discrete packets of information. A sent snap is gone, finished. This is analogous to how at the end of an individual performance of a play, the audience understands that what they just saw will never be replicated, as each perfor-mance has its own minor differences that add up to a unique result. The audience for tomorrows show may see the same play, put on by the same actors and read from the same script, but the discrete piece of perfor-mance will necessarily be different. Similar-ly to Snapchat, you, the sender, have created something unique and not reproduciblean attempt at reproduction would imme-diately create a new work, with a different context, open for different interpretations.
What is so important about this per-ception of Snapchat? Changing your per-ception, or at least acknowledging the ex-istence of different perceptions pertaining to some particular piece of information, can hold explanatory power for what other people do with that information. It can be nice to have some idea why people act the way they do. Perhaps, like my friend on the train tacitly suggested, people use Snapchat in different ways because they view it in completely different lights.
On a grander scale, thinking about Snapchatlowly, uncouth Snapchatas performance art for the Information Age gets me thinking about what else has been flying under the radar, perception-wise. What other technologies of the modern world have been limited by perception? An example of this that I have come across is one of those applications of existing dis-coveries that seems plainly obvious in ret-rospect but also has a sort of parsimonious genius to it. I recently read about engineers in the Netherlands who had the idea to use
existing LED and wireless charging tech-nology as the basis of smart roads, high-ways that blink out signals to drivers, warn of foul weather, and even recharge the bat-teries of electric cars.
Think about that for a minute. LEDs are scattered all around our living spacesa fun game to play is to look around your bedroom and see the constellations of LEDs. Wireless chargers also exist in the realm of small electronics; theyre common enough that you can find them in most Star-bucks coffee shops. Using them to smarten up highways was just a matter of applying a technology of inches on a scale of miles, of seeing those already developed technolo-gies in a different light. The same goes with Snapchat, that perception can put old ideas like picture messaging or electronic displays up to new tricks. Snapchat isnt just about selfies and sexting, but rather represents a new way to perform and create art. In the right hands, it can be an opera without a stage, an orchestra without a conductor, a painting without paper. O
June September November
Snaps sent per month (millions)
Valuations of Snapchat
$0(Institutional Venue Partners) June
Facebook Purchase Offer September
Facebook Purchase Offer November
Tencent Holdings November
2013 2013 2013
70%of snapchat users are women
50%use the new feature: stories
GRAPHICS BY BEN KURLAND DECEMBER 9, 2013 TUFTS OBSERVER 11
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so heres to your graham cracker smileyour sweat-soaked hands that left the pages hydrated.i didnt know then that dandelions were ever anything but deador that our eye-closed, all-breath wishes were already six feet below.
we split a cigarette, feeling alive by toying with deathbut we only pretended to inhale.i didnt know then about the migratory flight paths of affection.or that grass stains dont come out of khaki.
under the sheets we made shadow stories out of sleepand locked our pinkies to a promise.i didnt know then about insomniaor that even paper cuts can cause infection.
your dress shoes will always be a size too smallbut patent leather never suited you.i didnt know then what breathing absence would feel like.or that no animal can see in total darkness.
i will never know why the black checker starts firstor why the number hands tire after twelve.but im still stepping over cracks in the cementAnd searching for clarity in kaleidoscopes.
ART BY ANDREW TERRANO
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faces of the future
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TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT: BECCA LEIBOWITZ, MARY SHEA MALONEY, CHARLOTTE REA, LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET, MARY SHEA MALONEYBOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: MARY SHEA MALONEY, CATHERINE ROSEMAN, LEAH MUSKIN-PIERRET
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TOP TO BOTTOM: MADELINE LEBOVIC, SOFIA ADAMS, LILY HERZAN
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She stares at him with such disgust,it turns out to be loveMaybe shes preparing for his deathI watch the couple fall apart during the receptionLuna bella repeats the groom,Are you afraid of growing old together?The mans an artistMeatballs shaped as hearts were served Model left his studio with her kneescovered in white paintBambi legs curving in with each stepBride saw her on the street Together they made one magical bodyAn ocean, but a very shallow onewalkable from shore to shoreNights thighs wrapped around the brideshe couldnt resist dipping her handunder her smooth marble dress,cupping a bit of moon, rippling with her release.
Italian WeddingBy Emma Turner
PHOTO BY RILEY ARONSON
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The lives of students seem to be consumed by debt. From student loans to money borrowed for a weekend out, it seems students
always owe something to someone. Amidst all this, it is often easy to forget the alarmingly heavy federal debt that has crippled the nations economy. Re-cently, the federal debt has become even more important, from the sixteen-day government shutdown in October to the frequent news coverage of the new fiscal plan. Regardless, it seems that this ever-growing problem sometimes flies under the radar at Tufts, especially compared to the many social and political issues discussed on campus. However, a new group on Tufts campus, Up to Tufts, has made it their mission to inform Tufts students about the long-term federal debt.
Up to Tufts is one of 24 local chap-ters of the nationwide organization Up to Us. Each chapter is dedicated to rais-ing awareness and creating a dialogue on campus about federal debt with a non-partisan, apolitical perspective. Up to Us also has a competitive edge, as each chap-ter competes to raise the most awareness among its respective student population. Each chapter is given a stipend of money from the organization and is judged on its ability to use its money and time to best inform the student population as a whole.
Up to Tufts was founded by Tufts se-niors Jake McCauley and Josh Youner. After spending countless shifts at the Rez discussing the state of the economy and exchanging ideas, they jumped at the op-portunity to get involved in something they believed in so strongly. They both felt that long-term federal debt is a topic that isnt frequently seen on campus but the bigger part of the whole issue, and they saw the importance of spreading the message of this issue. Advised by Professor McHugh of the Economics Department, McCauley and Youner set out to put Up to Tufts together, eventually bringing together a group of six extraordinarily passionate students. After being approved in September of this year, the group wasted no time in beginning to plan a campaign for next semester.
By Sahar Roodehchi
The Debt AdvocatesTufts students band together to engage the campus community on the ever-growing federal debt crisis.
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The groups campaign is to take place in late January and will last about five weeks. Workshops have been planned for the campaign and speakers will come to Tufts to discuss the issues at hand about long-term federal debt. Up to Tufts will not only create social awareness, but also foster an environment in which students can discuss the issues and even provide feedback. Though Tufts is a considerably smaller school than some competing larg-er state schools, Youner believes that Tufts is small enough where people can come together but big enough where people will actually do something about it. Through educational workshops, speakers, and so-cial events, Up to Tufts hopes to spread awareness about the federal debt through-out Tufts campus.
In fact, something that Up to Tufts emphasizes is creating awareness and de-bate on campus. According to McCauley, the idea is to educate our generation. We have the power to do something about it, whether its meeting with senators or just discussing the issues. A campus as politi-cally and socially vibrant as Tufts has all the means necessary to make a campaign like Up to Tufts immensely successful. With ideas of active citizenship playing such a big role in the education of a Tufts student, Up to Tufts could prove to be an efficient way to become involved in the community and in society as a whole.
Youner comments, My vision for the campaign is to really engage people who normally would not be engaged in this is-suepeople who arent political science or economics majors. A main goal of the campaign, then, is to create dialogue among all the different students of Tufts. Up to Tufts aims to create an open forum in which students can bring forth thoughts and ideas, and the nonpartisan, apoliti-cal standpoint of the group is especially important for this. Rather than getting caught up in the issues of party politics, Up to Tufts will create an atmosphere that encourages open discussions.
The issue of federal debt is an im-mensely important issue that calls for awareness. Youner says, Debt is the is-sue that brings all the other smaller issues together. It bridges the gap between eco-
nomics and public policy. It affects peo-ple from every class and every walk of life. According to Youner, The federal debt is in the trillion dollar range. No matter where you are in the economic range, itll affect you. As students who are about to enter workforce, we are especially affect-
ed. For example, according to McCauley, not only is the debt in the GDP important to our nations government, but also to our everyday lives because its something well be dealing with and paying off for the rest of our lives. Debt is a wide-rang-ing issue, and it permeates all aspects of life. Therefore, it is immensely important, now more than ever, to be aware of these issues.
The six founding members of Up to Tufts have been hard at work planning this debt awareness campaign. Though a relatively small group, they are always looking for new members who share their goals and are interested in the is-sues. Up to Tufts aims to provide people with the basic information they need to be informed citizens, as well as to make them aware of how the federal debt af-fects their lives. We hope to educate and inform, but in that, make it a fun process. We want it to be something that students want to participate in and learn more about, McCauley asserts. With enough support, Up to Tufts is also hop-ing to put together a petition to send to government representatives as a call for action from Tufts students. With more awareness of the issues, Up to Tufts can initiate the dialogue to promote real change. O
With enough support, Up to Tufts is also hoping to put together a petition to send to government representatives as a call for action from Tufts students.
PHOTO BY CREATIVE COMMONS
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Earlier this semester, Tufts released its 10-Year Strategic Plan, the result of a project spearheaded by Provost David Harris over the past year. While the initiatives of the plan reveal a great deal about the University and outline many new goals that are worth discussing on their own, what is absent from the plan is as interesting as what is present.
The end of the Plan outlines Tufts ten Core Commitments. By and large, the first nine Core Commitments per-vade the Strategic Plan at various points. Global perspective is reflected in an en-tire quarter of the plan around theme of Creating Innovative Approaches to Lo-cal and Global Challenges. The commit-ment to Sustainability is evidenced in a well-outlined initiative to create physical spaces consistent with strategic initiatives and sustainability goals. Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity are buffeted by the plans to create a new interdisciplinary Bridge Professorships program and to create new collaborative physical spaces. Conspicuously absent from the rest of the plan is the tenth commitment, Wellness.
Wellness, under the definition in the Plan itself, covers physical and mental health, communal and spiritual well-being, and work-life balance. At Tufts, this includes the work of Health Services, Health Educa-tion, Counseling and Mental Health Servic-es (CMHS), the Office of Equal Opportuni-ty, the University Chaplaincy, the Academic Resource Center, and the Office of Campus Life, among others. It also includes efforts on campus to help students navigate be-tween academic and work commitments and to help the community at-large live and work in healthy environments.
Apart from the list at the end of the Plan, the one other place where the term wellness turns up is in the introduction for the section on Enabling and Integrat-ing Transformational Experiences. Here, a mention is made of the institutional sup-port that many students find to supple-ment their academic lives through Tufts commitment to wellness. However, the subsequent initiatives listed under this theme deal with providing greater re-sources to faculty, hiring a coordinator of transformational experiences, increasing
commitment to gap year programs, and engaging alumni. What that commitment to wellness means and how it will be devel-oped is nowhere to be found.
This absence troubles me, and it should trouble you, too. We do not live in the idealized world of admissions brochures where we successfully juggle academic, ex-tra-curricular, and work obligations while still managing to lounge on the lawn with our surprisingly diverse group of friends. Real life at college is complicated, and the web of obligations and commitments can often be exceptionally difficult to balance. As students, we know all too well that the cost of education is becoming exorbitant, that part-time jobs are increasingly neces-sary, and that the obligation to add intern-ships on top of everything is growing. In this rapidly changing context of what col-lege means, ensuring a university-wide, strategically-planned commitment to well-ness is a necessary prerequisite to many of the other core commitments and initia-tives laid out in the Strategic Plan.
A core component of wellness is health. The Strategic Plan waxes lyrical about all of
Why Tufts Must Strategically Plan For Wellness
by Kumar Ramanathan
PHOTO BY ALISON GRAHAM
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the opportunities that Tufts provides for its students, but juxtaposed with the increas-ing cost and stress of a college education, our physical and mental health is crucial if we are going to access those opportuni-ties in the first place. The data clearly shows increasing demand for mental health re-sources: a quarter of students seek coun-seling or mental health support of some kindCMHS reported in 2012 that 20% of students seek out their resources annually, and 5% of students seek off-campus treat-ment. Of the Class of 2012, 41% reported having used Tufts mental health resources, up from 28% in 2007.
It is crucial that we understand why and how this rise is happening, and ensure that we are adequately meeting the needs of our community. CMHS is dedicated to doing this work and has expanded its offerings in recent years, but there is still a lack of pub-licly available data tracking and exploring patterns. More individuated problems also continue to exist, such as how the night-time counselor-on-call service through the TUPD hotline is reportedly not available to Boston and Grafton campus students. We have yet to have a serious conversation about Tufts relationship to mental health at a university-wide level.
Furthermore, wellness issues affect people of different identities differently, often to the effect of further marginaliz-ing already-marginalized populations. The Council on Diversitys preliminary report, citing Senior Survey data, stated that LG-BTQ students are more likely to perceive a problematic campus climate in regard to eating disorders, sexual harassment, homophobia, alcohol abuse, and racism. Its analysis of existing survey data also showed that students of color at Tufts per-ceived a higher public stigma about mental health than average. These findings, and a wealth more of data compiled in the re-port, show how the unique experiences of these populations on campus affect their health and wellbeing. If a commitment to wellness means maintaining an environ-ment in which we can all thrive, then we must explore and address the structural implications of wellness for students of dif-ferent identities.
Wellness also concerns the safety and security of our community. Rape culture and sexual harassment influence peoples
lives on campus every single day. Citing a study of first-year students conducted by the Health Education department, the Council on Diversitys report states 10% of respon-dents in 2012 reported receiving unwanted sexual attention during their first week on campus. This is a startling, terrifying fact that reveals how far we have to go in ensur-ing the wellness of our community. These issues are starting to be addressed by the administration strategicallyearlier this semester, President Monaco launched the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force, partially in response to student activists concerns. But neither that Task Force nor any other similar initiatives to strategically address wellness, are present in the Plan.
Despite the positive efforts of many individual departments, Tufts still has se-rious institutional problems with wellness. For example, a little-known but troubling issue is the tuition insurance program currently offered by Tufts through Dewar Insurance, under which a student (with in-surance) who withdraws due to illness or injury will receive 100% of their tuition for the remainder of the semester. But if a stu-dent has to withdraw for mental/nervous/emotional reasons, then they only receive 60% of their remaining tuition. This is un-just, stigmatizes mental illness, and further increases the financial stress that students face. These are the kinds of problems that need to be exposed and addressed by a strategic look at wellness.
In all these aspects of wellness and more, strategic planning could move Tufts forward leaps and bounds. For example, one of the better practical impacts to arise out of the Plan already is the increase in the compiling of different sources of data, as seen in the Council on Diversity report. Various kinds of data about wellness exist already, such as the Healthy Minds sur-veys conducted in 2007 and 2010, and the data that institutions such as CMHS and the Academic Resource Center naturally gather in order to do their work. Lets start compiling the data we have on various kinds of wellness and trying to look at the big picture. Analyzing this data could re-veal where we should direct our resources next or uncover problems we havent spot-ted yet. At the very least, it would give the Tufts community more to work with in having a conversation about wellness.
That conversation is essential, both for the Universitys resource allocation and for the communitys wellness itself. For those students who feel alienated by the pristine images in admissions brochures, an explic-it commitment to understanding, address-ing, and working on wellness issues from the University can open up more spaces for us to have conversations about those issues with the larger community. This ac-knowledgement and commitment could make students who dont feel represented by the image of Tufts feel more welcome and less isolated during the complicated journey that is college.
Wellness isnt some item on a check-list that we will magically find a solution to in the next ten years. It requires constant work, regular re-evaluation, and collabora-tion across the university. But this is pre-cisely why we should be thinking about it strategically, planning for upcoming chal-lenges, and improving our infrastructure. We can always do better at encouraging the wellness of our community, and we must pursue that possibility aggressively. For that, we need more than just words. We need strategy. We need planning, at a university-wide level, to support existing resources and grow new ones. The Strate-gic Plan has failed so far at capturing this need, but we can and must pursue it, and we must do so now. O
Wellness in all its forms, through our policies and
programs, from the physical and mental, to the communal
and spiritual, maintaining an environment in which we
can all thrive. An essential component of well-being
is balance, within ones academic and work lives, as
well as between personal and professional commitments.
Core Commitment #10, Tufts T10 Strategic Plan
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Charlie bit me! Since the video in which this phrase is featured was uploaded on May 22, 2007, it has racked up over 609 million views on You-Tube. It has become so popular that any kind of reference to the video in conversation would almost certainly be met with some recognition.
Though video sharing has been around since the mid-1990s, the idea of a video that everyone has seen and can recognize did not truly blossom until the advent of video sharing websites. While sites like albinoblacksheep.com hosted videos, like The Ultimate Showdown, which were popular among frequent In-ternet users, the idea of the viral video we know today only fully came to fruition with the creation and rise of YouTube. Since its inception in February of 2005, YouTube has become the third most visited website in the world on a daily basis, second only to Google (the company that owns it) and Facebook.
But this raises the question: What makes a video viral? Many of these videos tend to be one-offs that grow popular based on a distinct quality, usually something highly amusing, adorable, or emotional. But these basic categories alone are not what guarantee the popularity of a video. According to a study conducted by an undergraduate student at Elon University, other factors such as brevity of the video, an element of shock value, and a display of some sort of talent can all contribute to a videos massive popularity. But the list goes on. The study, which analyzes Time magazines top 20 viral videos, explores specific factors like whether the video has children in it or whether it features someone laughing. Though small trends exist, most of the data is inconclusive, suggesting that viral videos are often completely random. However, one categorythe presence of some kind of ironywas found in 90 percent of these videos. The definition of irony the study used was that the video dis-played an element contrary to what was expected.
Though this is a very broad definition, it does shed some light onto important characteristics of viral videos. For a video to be viral, it has to surprise the viewer in some way, either by challenging a previous conception or by showing them something theyve never seen before. For example, the video about Ted Williams, the Man with the Golden Voice, showed a homeless man whose voice was as crisp and resonat-ing as any professional radio or TV announcer. Though this video features true events, it is surprising in the way it chal-lenges viewers perceptions of a typical homeless man. Much in the way some hit movies or TV shows are not predictable or hackneyed, viral videos tend to feature something highly memorable and unique.
However, the presence of these factors does not guaran-tee that a video will go viral. Besides having broad appeal, the video must also spread. Many times, a video becomes popular by riding on the coattails of a previously established trend. For example, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel produced a video in
ART BY MIA GREENWALD
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which a womans clothes catch fire while she is trying to imitate the popular dance trend twerking. Though the video was not promoted in any way, it rapidly became viral, evidently because of the slapstick comedy involved along with its apparent sat-ire of the twerking pop culture craze. For a video to go viral, it must be noteworthy enough to be mentioned outside of the website it is hosted on. Because videos about twerking were al-ready so popular, this new, unexpected addition was immedi-ately chewed up by viewers. Often, these videos first gain popu-larity on media sharing sites like reddit.com. From there, they are shared through wider social media and messaging channels like Facebook and e-mail, eventually making their way to TV news channels.
These videos are also significantly meaningful to modern culture and economics. In a world where advertisers try more and more desperately to reach out to consumers, a video that millions of people are watching every day seems like the ideal opportunity for an advertiser to reach the mass market.
Volvos most recent ads for its trucks dynamic steering, featuring Claude Van Damme performing a split between two moving vehicles, has racked up 55 million views in just over two weeks. Rather than trying to make an ad that is unique enough to be viral, Volvo simply tried to make an interesting video that had the potential to become viralone that just so happens to feature their product. Though the intention of the video is to create interest in their product, the fact that its a Volvo commercial is not what makes it viral, but rather the amazing flexibility of Claude Van Damme.
The Volvo commercial demonstrates a new kind of thinking when it comes to creating commercials. Instead of making a one minute and 14 second video showing the various interesting fea-tures of their vehicles new dynamic steering, Volvo instead chose to use a startling and amazing display of a gymnasts ability to stir up interesting in the video itself, which the product is featured in. From an advertisers point of view, the commercial is a success if it compels a viewer to purchase the product. The fact still remains: Though marketing teams oft think otherwise, people tend to buy what they want to buy rather than what they are told to buy.
The viral video has proven itself a revolutionary way to reach out to people. Whether we like it or not, the techniques of viral videos are increasingly being used by advertisers. This raises the possibility that advertising as we know it will change drastically in the subsequent decade. Instead of com-panies trying to advertise their product during commercials of popular TV shows, a successful advertisement might in-stead try to blow up your Facebook feed. Regardless of how advertising transforms, it is undeniable that viral videos have become a staple of modern Internet culture. Gangnam Style, Chocolate Rain, Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits, and Charlie Bit Me, display the potential of videos in the Internet age to rapidly become overnight sensations. O
By James Davis
ART BY MIA GREENWALD
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Superheroes have long embodied ev-erything that young men and women of America aspire to be. From the strong, and brainy Peter Parker/Spi-
derman to the demi-god Thor, countless blockbusters and remakes of these heroes tales show Americas fascination with the concept of a hero saving society from itself. Yet amidst the flurry of science-experi-ment-gone-wrong-turned-beautiful-man-gone-right stories, there is a startling under-representation of the diversity of Americas population in the various leagues of justice that exist in the universes of Marvel and DC Comics. Even more so, in a general sense of superhero depictions, when women or mi-norities are featured, their roles are typically supportive at best or gross stereotypes of the various groups to which they belong.
Societies from ancient Egypt and Greece to modern day America have con-structed tales of glory and gore, and at the centers of these epics are men who em-body every desirable virtue, providing the masses with an aspirational moral goal. Superheroes, however, with their godlike powers, became popular with the rise of the comic age in the 1930s, when Amer-ica needed strong role models to look to during the Great Depression. World War II provided a battleground on which su-perheroes were equipped to fight and save America. Captain America, on the cover of his first issue, was pictured punching Hit-ler in the jaw, complete, of course, with the compulsory starburst drawing of the pain that America was delivering to all those who opposed truth and justice.
Meanwhile, the women in these com-ics were portrayed as accessories. Tied up to train tracks, locked up in buildings about to explode, or simply held hostage in the grasps of villains, women were portrayed as powerless victims. While the ingenuity and charm of superheroes leading ladies were many times the only thing that got them out of sticky situations, for the better part of 50 years women in comics were only there to make the men look better.
Today, there are plenty of strong fe-male superheroes who are not just popu-larized. Spider-Woman, the daughter of a scientist in a terrorist cult, has similar physical abilities to Superman but com-pletely different moral dilemmas. Zatanna is an illusionist who uses magic to take
down her enemies while using humor rather than cynicism to deal with strife. Manhunter, whose real name is Kate Spen-cer, is a former federal prosecutor who takes justice into her own hands when the criminals she detains try to evade the le-gal system. Manhunter has appeared on the CWs Arrow yet how many young girls know about her? Not enough, if any at all. Because while nearly all children who have watched television could point to a picture of Superman, Spiderman, or Batman and identify them, its almost impossible for them to recognize a picture of a strong female crime fighter and identify her by name. This isnt new.
From the beginning of the comic age, women have been depicted as hy-per-sexualized, helpless damsels in dis-tress. Even when women demonstrate strength, intelligence, and power rival-ing that of their male counterparts, they still remain sidekicks. Modern day cine-ma might try to deny this, but how much screen time did Scarlett Johannson get in the Avengers when she took down aliens and saved Iron Man as the Black Widow? Surprisingly, she received the third most out of the superhero team, with a total of about 33 minutes and the most unbroken dialogue scenes. Yet the Black Widow is still not the central character of the story. While some could argue that movies like Catwoman depict female superheroes in a positive way, their plot lines tend to fo-cus on how well the women wear leather pants and not on how they choose to fight crime.
Minorities are another underrepre-sented group in the flurry of adoration and money that is thrown at superhero mov-ies. Its not as though theres a shortage of African-American or Latino or Asian su-perheroes to choose from. No, wait, thats exactly it. Araa, the new Spider-Woman is alive on the pages of Marvel comics but has yet to see the big screen, as does Miles Morales, the new African-American/Cu-ban next-generation Spiderman. There are hardly any superheroes of color and the few who exist are minor sidekicks.
If American children are supposed to envision superheroes as aspirations of character, people to emulate, whom are young girls or young children of color sup-posed to look up to?
Perhaps, Hollywood needs to re-evaluate the superhero movies that it chooses to make. Consider Art Spiegel-mans Maus for example, an anthropo-morphized tale of the Holocaust told through the struggle between cats and mice, that as a graphic novel won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize. By making the main characters mice, racial identity is elimi-nated and the struggle of a mouse to survive in a world of cruel cats becomes universal. Every man and woman could relate to the smallness the mouse feels, the powerlessness and fear.
Not every new superhero movie can or should be about mice, but Art Spiegelmans model of using a neutral canvas to allow universal accessibility to a story that is easy to sympathize with but not always easy to understand should be emulated. Modern superheroes serve the same purpose, giv-ing the hard lessons, sometimes dealing with impossible odds and rising above. But graphic novels like Maus, or even the more modern Walking Dead, present characters without extraordinary supernatural gifts but strength of character. While Wonder Woman is admirable, so too are the female mice in the stories of Maus who sacrifice so much to save loved ones and the strong black characters in Walking Dead who take on leading roles in the story. What greater gift can a comic book hero give than show-ing a young girl or a young child of color that despite impossible odds, for a char-acter that is very much like them and not just their white male friends, success and triumph are possible?
If the point of a superhero is to em-body what young children should look up to, then those role models need to be people with whom everyone can identify. Too often, superheroes are all white men. By limiting superheroes to this demo-graphic, comics narrow the scope of what it means to be a hero. Instead of heroism being characterized by masculinity, com-ics such as Maus reveal the potential for a heros character to take precedence over all else. By doing so, comic book heroes can transcend the constricting demographic of white males and become accessible to all, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Creating a new Justice League that has universal ac-cessibility would be a super-feat that Spi-derman himself would envy. O
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Alex I quit what was a wonderful job for someone my age [at Bezinga]. I had way more responsibility than Id get anywhere else, and huge growth potential. To start my company, I went two years without any sort of salary. I devoted myself to my startup completely during my junior year, so I didnt have much time to explore much else (which is what college is supposed to be about exploration). I also gave up my senior year when I left school, which included giving up my ROW A Michigan football season tickets!
THE STARTUPS ON THE HILL
O: Tell us a bit about your experiences in tech, entrepreneurship, and startups.
Alex I was one of the earliest employees at Benzinga (a finan-cial media site), which I left right around when they were funded by Lightbank (a prominent venture capital firm) in 2011. After my Blackberry erased a years worth of notes from my phone, I tried finding something better. So I set out to solve that issue with Fetchnotes. We take the same conventions on social networks (hashtags, @-mentions) and apply it to note-taking and to-do lists, and you can keep all that in sync with the people those notes and to-dos actually involve.
Foster My first experience was freshman year when, for a final project, I created an iPhone game from scratch and saw it have some mentionable success on the App Store. Since then, I have been involved in three personal ventures, and between April 2012 and August 2013 I worked on 12 contracts with startups and busi-nesses in Boston designing and developing their iOS applications.
Jack Growing up with a stutter, I always wanted a way to take my speech therapy practice home with me so I could continue to improve my fluencybut there werent any options, and therapy was expensive and inaccessible. So when the App Store launched in 2008, I set about creating Speech4Good and later Fluently, two speech therapy apps that help people in speech therapy through proven tools, such as delayed auditory feedback.
O: What risks did you have to take to make your product a reality?
O: Describe the startup scene in Boston, and how you fit into it.Alex Bostons scene has lots of health care, ed-tech, mobile, and big data. That diversity is really quite amazing. What I really love is that its a huge ecosystem, so there are tons of great resources, mentors and institutions to help youbut its small and intimate enough that you can stand out and take advantage of them. Its the right balance, in a lot of ways.
Foster After living in the San Francisco area for just a few months, its very clear to me that everyone and their mother has some kind of start-up. Conversely, there are so many smart people coming out of Boston schools, it seems almost stupid that there arent more budding companies absorbing this talent and putting it to good use on new ideas.
Jack The startup scene is Boston is incredibly tight-knit and caring. Ive been to NY and SF, and there are great companies being built in those two cities. But theres also an element of tran-sience, especially on the West Coast, I believeeveryones build-ing or writing about the next big thing, whereas Boston has been building meaningful products for decades.
Foster I started working in the summer before senior year, and continued through the entire school year with contracts, and finally closed the business at the end of this past summer, only because I was hired by Apple. Working during the school year was difficult because I really enjoyed working on these projects, much more than doing schoolwork. Its especially tough when I was getting paid for my work and conversely paying to do my schoolwork!
Jack I think there was very little risk involved actuallyI put some money in, my parents and extended family put some money in as donations, and I worked another internship during a summer to finance the development of the product. In the end, the bigger risk wouldve been letting my idea pass me bybut by taking the first step, I can honestly say its changed my entire perspective and path in life.
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Talking with young talent on the Boston tech scene
O: Why do you think Boston has been such an epicenter of tech innovation recently?Alex There are big anchor companies to provide veteran talent to up-and-coming startups or to provide founders. Also, people here seem to have a chip on their shoulders from everyone leaving to head out West, so everyone wants to help each other out.
Foster My guess would be that Boston has typically been a traditional city built on older foundations and, literally, older companies. You can see this in the financial district in South Boston. Cities like San Francisco are newer, and the people are comfortable diverting from older business traditions. With the previous and current generation going through college and seeing the success of famous start-ups like HubSpot (Boston based) and countless others in the West, its only natural for us to be curious.
Jack Well, historically, its always been an epicenter. Most recent-ly, I guess you could say post-Facebook (Bostons biggest missed opportunity), theres a feeling that Boston is building meaningful companiesyou go to the Valley if youre in social or mobile, but for enterprise, life sciences, education or robotics, Boston holds clear advantages.
O: How has your university education (or lack thereof) helped you as an entrepreneur?Alex Fetchnotes came out of a class at Michiganalbeit a very unconventional class. I also took a lot of entrepreneurial classes that did end up paying dividends in terms of laying a base foun-dation of knowledge. However, most of the stuff I learned during my time at Michigan was extracurricular. The biggest thing that universities do to further entrepreneurship is by creating an en-vironment where talented, smart people can find each other and build cool things.
Foster I minored in Entrepreneurial Leadership at Tufts, and it may have been the best decision of my entire college expe-
rience. The professors were incredibly knowledgeable and willing to discuss ideas that went way beyond the topics wed cover in class.
Jack As a Political Science major, I wouldnt say my conven-tional education has advanced my entrepreneurial endeavors. I think Tufts could come a long way in promoting student entre-preneurship. The biggest thing Ive been able to do is seek out classes that interest my entrepreneurial ideasfrom taking a few computer science courses to a design course at the SMFA, to a child development course on technology tools for learning. A liberal arts education has allowed me to explore a bunch of new ideas.
O: How would you respond to speculation that the recent growth in the tech sector is actually a bubble?
Alex Honestly, I think the whole debate is silly. The only people worried about bubbles are price-sensitive investors and that old guy we all know complaining about how its tak-ing young people out of the productive economy where we can be miserable and mediocre like he is.
Foster Theres no doubt in my mind that there will be a bubble burst of some kind. If you look at this country's economic his-tory its almost impossible to miss. The sad truth is that very, very few start-ups get off the ground, and even fewer remain afloat for long.
Jack Short answer: no. I dont think were necessarily in the traditional bubble that people saw in the late 90s before the dot com bust, but we are seeing other inexplicable trends. The cost of starting a company today is so minuscule from 15 years ago that venture capital needs to adapt, and I think one way of adapting is investing earlier in seed deals and following on in Series A or B rounds for companies with soaring valuations [larger, later term investments to provide continued support to successful companies]. O
About the ContributorsJack McDermott: A Tufts Senior who has produced two speech therapy apps to help people who struggle with stutters.
Foster Lockwood: A recent Jumbo Alum (A13) who recently began working as an iOS Automation Engineer at Apple after years of local experiences in app design in Boston.
Alex Schiff: In the true startup spirit, Schiff dropped out of the University of Michigan and moved to Boston to focus on his app, an interactive organi-zation system called Fetchnotes.
Reported by Anika Ades
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Two girls reported to the attendant working the front desk at Jackson Gym that one of their bags was miss-ing. The front desk attendant recalled seeing a male leaving the building ear-lier with a womans bag. A few min-utes later, the same male reentered the gym, though without a bag. The attendant asked if the male had previ-ously walked out with a bag. The male denied the accusation and when the attendant asked him to wait for the police to come, he sprinted out of the building. A chase ensued as the front-desk worker chased the suspect until TUPD cornered him at the rotary. The suspect was apprehended and charged with larceny. The attendant spoke ex-clusively to the Observer, reporting that she was straight up frazzled by the in-cident.
TUPD received a call about a male who was acting strangely in the lobby of Wren Hall. When officers arrived, the male admitted he was not a Tufts student but that he was visiting his friend. Officers asked for the friends name. Much to the officers surprise, the student could not produce a name. Obviously drunk, TUPD sent him to the hospital. After further inquiry, TUPD discovered the male was a lo-cal Medford High School student who perhaps didnt have any Tufts friends at all.
On the same night, the weekend before Thanksgiving, a total of nine Tufts stu-dents were TEMSed. According to his friends, one of these students was hos-pitalized after having 16 or 17 drinks. What better way to give thanks?
Nov, 19, 8:30 pm
The Great Chase
Nov. 23, 12:53 am
Nov. 23, Late night
By Aaron Langerman and Moira Lavelle
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TUFTS OBSERVERSINCE 1895
* COVER.pdf00-01 Table of Contents02 Letter to the Editor03-05 Featcha06-09 News10-11 Opinion12 Poetry13-16 inset17 Poetry18-19 Campus20-21 Opinion22-25 ArtsCulture26-27 Off-Campus28 PoBlo29 parting30 back cover doe