Upcoming Event: Exploring Future Reality

exploring Future realityIs the age of virtual and augmented reality, long anticipated, finally upon us? Exploring Future Reality is a full day event with virtual and augmented reality faculty researchers and industry experts delivering lightning talks, presentations and interactive demos. The discussion will focus on the impact of VR/AR on the media and technology industry, including best practices for storytelling, prototyping, and distribution.

Hosted by Viacom NEXT and organized by NYC Media Lab, #ExFR16 will present a program featuring over 20 media executives and faculty researchers for a full day event detailing the impact of virtual and augmented reality. The conference will explore all areas of VR/AR, ranging from what’s in the lab, what’s being commercialized by technology companies and startups, and what’s being developed by industry. The event will also include interactive demos created in NYC universities, lightning pitches from early stage startups and a workshop led by Verizon.

Speakers include:

Ken Perlin, NYU
Chris Hercik, Time Inc.
Kelly Alfieri, New York Times
Marc Maleh, R/GA
Javier Molina, NYU Integrated Digital Media
Sowmya Gottipati, NBCUniversal
And more!

exploring future reality2Panels and programs include:

What is Reality?
Columbia University’s Steven Feiner, NYU’s Ken Perlin and Viacom NEXT’s Chaki Ng will sit down with Ben Johnson, the host of Marketplace’s tech podcast Codebreaker, for an abstract and imaginative discussion: How will VR/AR technologies change society and the world?

Advertising and Marketing
How are new VR/AR hardware and platforms being positioned in the market? Panelists including Marc Maleh of R/GA, Brett Leary of Digitas and Resh Sidhu of Framestore will discuss.

Technical Horizons
As VR/AR hardware breaks into the consumer market, panelists Winslow Burleson and Mark Skwarek of NYU will highlight the research agendas of leading faculty and device manufacturers.

And more!

Interested in the event and want to receive a media advisory? Contact Alexis Avedisian, NYC Media Lab’s Communications Manager at alexis@nycmedialab.org.

Student prices are $25.

For more information click here!

If you are interested, make sure to register now!

Job Alert! Open position at The New York Times

jobs      nyt-t-logo

Assistant to Nick Kristof and Charles Blow

There is an opening for an editorial assistant to Nick Kristof and Charles Blow. This guild position entails research, fact-checking, social media and clerical duties. It is a wide-ranging role.

This candidate will assist with news details in the Editorial Department by performing functions that will include, but not limited to, the following:

• Keep abreast of the news in the field covered and suggest ideas for columns;
• Conduct research as needed for the Editorial Department using standard reference materials, including online resources;
• Verify and/or correct the accuracy of the information contained in draft columns and write summaries as necessary.

Internal and external candidates:

If interested, send us a resume at editorialjobs@nytimes.com

The New York Times is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s sex, age, race, color, creed, national origin, alienage, religion, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation or affectional preference, gender identity and expression, disability, genetic trait or predisposition, carrier status, citizenship, veteran or military status and other personal characteristics protected by law. All applications will receive consideration for employment without regard to legally protected characteristics.

Young Adult Fiction: Not Just For “Young Adults”

The Fault in Our Stars Book CoverJulie Strauss-Gabel, publisher of Dutton Children’s Books since 2011, is known for her harsh editorial letters that tear an author’s work to shreds. She is also known for her knack of spotting talent and transforming it into the next breakout star of young adult fiction. (In this week’s New York Times young adult best-seller list, five of the ten spots are held by novels she edited, including John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns.)

In 2014, revenue from adult fiction and nonfiction sales fell by 1.4 percent, while revenue from young adult and children’s books rose by a whopping 21 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, adults aged 18-44 made up 65 percent of young adult fiction buyers, purchasing the books for their own reading pleasure.

“We’re in an era where the definition of a young adult book is completely up for grabs, and people are willing to reinvent it,” says Strauss-Gabel. “There’s no one saying ‘You can’t do this in a book for children.‘”

Julie Strauss-GabelJulie Strauss-Gabel, pictured here with John Green.

To read the full New York Times article on Julie Strauss-Gabel and the future of YA publishing, click here.

Jacqueline Woodsen and Watermelon Jokes

Jacqueline Woodsen has written a number of books that address sensitive themes, such as race, gender, sexual identity, and societal history. She recently received the 2014 National Book Award in the “Young People’s Literature” category for her memoir “Brown Girl Dreaming.” Below is an article she wrote for the New York Times Opinion Pages, in which she addresses the racially-charged correlation between African Americans and watermelons, and exposes the false assumption that racial divide is a thing of the past. Woodsen speaks out at a time where change is happening, but is not fully realized. Click for original posting

9780399252518_custom-924dd4d31f7bb7eb200cdc4ab20453f8fa19d7e1-s99-c85
Source: NPR

As a child in South Carolina, I spent summers like so many children — sitting on my grandparents’ back porch with my siblings, spitting watermelon seeds into the garden or, even worse, swallowing them and trembling as my older brother and sister spoke of the vine that was probably already growing in my belly.

It was the late ’60s and early ’70s, and even though Jim Crow was supposed to be far behind us, we spent our days in the all-black community called Nicholtown in a still segregated South.

One year, we bought a watermelon off the back of a man’s pickup truck and placed it in our garden. As my grandfather snapped pictures from his box camera, we laughed about how we’d fool my mother, who was in New York, by telling her we’d grown it ourselves. I still have the photo of me in a pale pink dress, beribboned and smiling, sitting on that melon.

But by the time I was 11 years old, even the smell of watermelon was enough to send me running to the bathroom with my most recent meal returning to my throat. It seemed I had grown violently allergic to the fruit.

I was a brown girl growing up in the United States. By that point in my life, I had seen the racist representations associated with African-Americans and watermelons, heard the terrifying stories of black men being lynched with watermelons hanging around them, watched black migrants from the South try to eke out a living in the big city by driving through neighborhoods like my own — Bushwick, in Brooklyn — with trucks loaded down with the fruit.

In a book I found at the library, a camp song about a watermelon vine was illustrated with caricatures of sleepy-looking black people sitting by trees, grinning and eating watermelon. Slowly, the hideousness of the stereotype began to sink in. In the eyes of those who told and repeated the jokes, we were shuffling, googly-eyed and lesser than.

Perhaps my allergy was actually a deep physical revulsion that came from the psychological impression and weight of the association. Whatever it was, I could no longer eat watermelon.

In the midst of observing the world and coming to consciousness, I was becoming a writer, and what I wanted to put on the page were the stories of people who looked like me. I was a child on a mission — to change the face of literature and erase stereotypes. Forever. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was dreaming of the Pulitzer Prize. By the time I was 45, I had won just about every award one could win for young people’s literature. Just this month, I received the National Book Award in the young-adult category for my memoir, “Brown Girl Dreaming.”

As I walked away from the stage to a standing ovation after my acceptance speech, it was the last place in the world I thought I’d hear the watermelon joke — directed by the M.C., Daniel Handler, at me. “Jackie’s allergic to watermelon,” he said. “Just let that sink in your mind.” Daniel and I have been friends for years. Last summer, at his home on Cape Cod, he served watermelon soup and I let him know I was allergic to the fruit. I was astonished when he brought this up before the National Book Award audience — in the form of a wink-nudge joke about being black.

In a few short words, the audience and I were asked to take a step back from everything I’ve ever written, a step back from the power and meaning of the National Book Award, lest we forget, lest I forget, where I came from. By making light of that deep and troubled history, he showed that he believed we were at a point where we could laugh about it all. His historical context, unlike my own, came from a place of ignorance.

“Brown Girl Dreaming” is the story of my family, moving from slavery through Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, and ends with me as a child of the ’70s. It is steeped in the history of not only my family but of America. As African-Americans, we were given this history daily as weapons against our stories’ being erased in the world or, even worse, delivered to us offhandedly in the form of humor.

As I interviewed relatives in both Ohio and Greenville, S.C., I began to piece together the story of my mother’s life, my grandparents’ lives and the lives of cousins, aunts and uncles. These stories, and the stories I had heard throughout my childhood, were told with the hope that I would carry on this family history and American history, so that those coming after me could walk through the world as armed as I am.

Mr. Handler’s watermelon comment was made at a time of change. We Need Diverse Books, a grass-roots organization committed to diversifying all children’s literature, had only months before stormed the BookCon conference because of its all-white panels. The world of publishing has been getting shaken like a pecan tree and called to the floor because of its lack of diversity in the workplace. At this year’s National Book Awards, many of the books featured nonwhite protagonists, and three of the 20 finalists were people of color. One of those brown finalists (me!), in the very first category, Young People’s Literature, had just won.

Just let that sink in your mind.

I would have written “Brown Girl Dreaming” if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my own children pulled out one day to find a tool for survival, a symbol of how strong we are and how much we’ve come through. Their great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. Their great-grandfather, Hope, and great-grandmother, Grace, raised one of the few black families in Nelsonville, Ohio, and saw five children through college. Their grandmother’s school in Greenville, Sterling High, was set on fire and burned to the ground.

To know that we African-Americans came here enslaved to work until we died but didn’t die, and instead grew up to become doctors and teachers, architects and presidents — how can these children not carry this history with them for those many moments when someone will attempt to make light of it, or want them to forget the depth and amazingness of their journey?

How could I come from such a past and not know that I am on a mission, too?

This mission is what’s been passed down to me — to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of. To give young people — and all people — a sense of this country’s brilliant and brutal history, so that no one ever thinks they can walk onto a stage one evening and laugh at another’s too often painful past.