Demystifying Media Reflection – Week 5

John Capouya – Soul Music

Last Thursday (February 8th, 2018), the Demystifying Media class got to hear a presentation from University of Tampa Associate Professor of Journalism John Capouya. Professor Capouya was talking about and promoting his book Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band. I was interesting in the discussion, because I am taking a Civil Rights Movement history class this term, so the Movement has been frequently on my mind.

The music of the Civil Rights Movement is not something that has come up often in the class, and I thought Professor Capouya’s presentation was both informational and refreshing from an academic perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed how he incorporated the actual music from songs in to his presentation. We as the audience got to enjoy many Soul classics, but we also learned about a lot of the meanings at play behind the songs.

I was especially interested in Professor Capouya’s discussion of Marvin Gaye. Gaye, had started off as a crooner of love songs and songs we think of as typical soul, but as his career progressed, so did his activism. His 1971 album What’s Going On is the perfect example of blending fame and activism. The album deals with non-stereotypically African American issues like the environment. It also included tracks concerning the Vietnam War. This was a major departure from typical soul music.

I have been very critical of the guest lecturers for class so far, but I really don’t have anything to criticize about Capouya’s work. I was impressed that he took a subject that is not in the mainstream mindset, and discovered a story about one of the most important times in American history (the Civil Rights Movement). Although Capouya could have just done an anthology about Soul music, his decision to focus on the effects of the genre on the movement was very inspiring to me. I am a big fan of journalistic storytelling that doesn’t victimize the subjects, but also tells an uplifting and powerful story.


An article that caught my eye on TechCrunch this week was about how the academics who are using computing power to crunch data in the search for extraterrestrial life are losing their computer power to those who are mining cryptocurrency. A lot of the same methods that are used to crunch the data from radio telescopes and traditional astronomical data are used to mine cryptocurrency. The price of ASIC miners and graphics cards have risen in recent years as more and more people have started mining. Along with the rising costs of hardward, the allocation of resources has moved from extraterrestrial programs to mining. The shift of resources, and the increase of price have slowed down the processing capability of academics doing that kind of research. The story is interesting, because it shows how slow the market can be in compensating for stark changes in the technology sector. There is some relief on the way with Samsung creating ASIC hardware, but it’ll be slow going until the hardware comes to the market.

In another interesting article, TechCruch writes that there is a huge demand for “blockchain talent” in the blockchain space. According to the article, almost $3.7 billion has been raised in initial coin offerenings in the U.S. The article does not include statistics from other countries, but it can be assumed that blockchain giants like Korea and China have also accumulated a considerable amount of capital from recent ICOs. TechCrunch notes that, “Blockchain-related jobs are the second-fastest growing in today’s labor market; there are now 14 job openings for every one blockchain developer.” I found that statistic interesting, because there seems to be relatively little information in traditional media about the glut of blockchain jobs. The job trend is excited for the blockchain space, because as more money flows in, more jobs will become available, and hopefully, the space will gain more mainstream acceptance.

The last article that I found interest was about a company called SignAll that is creating a sign language interpreter software. Using similar technology to movie graphics creation, SignAll is compiling a database of existing American Sign Language movements and creating a platform that will enable users to sign to the platform and receive a translation. This project is fascinating, because it is taking a visual language and enabling people to interact with a machine that understands that language. The implications for sign language users are huge, because it will enable those who don’t have experience with sign language to interact with those who do. This kind of interaction will be similar in how Google translators (among others) enable a native speaker of a language to communication with a non-native speaking. I love technology projects like these, because it’s hard to argue that there is a motive beyond helping people communicate better.

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