Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Google explains what a browser is

We talked earlier this week about how it's easy to get lost in cool new technology while forgetting the basics.

Well, Google apparently agrees, as they started a new initiative to explain what a Web browser is. They did a series of man on the street interviews asking people what a browser is, and less than 8 percent of those interviewed knew the answer.

Google then produced this excellent 1 minute video to explain the concept of a browser:

They also produced an accompanying Web site, WhatBrowser.org. I marveled at the need for these things in 2009, but it's a great reminder that I think applies to a lot of things in life: keep it simple. You need these building blocks in place to be able to do bigger, greater things. Not everyone else will always understand things the same way you do.

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Loving the Next Thing

Several of us went to San Francisco this weekend for an online journalism conference. We learned a lot and had some great discussions about how the news business is evolving and how to better deliver the news to the public.

I'm not sure that I ever need to talk that much about Twitter over the course of three days again, but one thing I came away with was a reminder not to overcomplicate things. As someone who's both an overthinker and who always likes trying out the Next Thing, it's tempting to want to say that this Next Thing is going to come along and be our messiah, but that's just not the case.

It hit home with me during a discussion where one of the most buzzed about products, Google Wave, was being discussed. People were talking about how these other problems we were having were going to be moot because Google Wave was coming and would wash over us with its awesomeness.

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The term 'artistic integrity,' which I'd heard on NPR

I had the chance to hear author Donald Miller speak in Hollywood last night as part of a book tour promoting his new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. He's best known for his memoir Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, which is being made into a motion picture.

When he started working on the film, he was told that certain changes would have to be made to his life story in order to create a compelling film. (Unfortunately, I think this is true of my own life as well.) In a line from his book which also made its way into his live act, he talked about how he felt about the changes being made to his life story, noting "I used the term artistic integrity, which is something I'd heard on National Public Radio." He had me at "artistic integrity."

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Steve Martin brings bluegrass tour back to LA

Steve Martin is coming back to Los Angeles as he continues to tour following his recent bluegrass album, The Crow. I had the chance to see him perform when he came through town in May, playing Club Nokia. I went with a friend who is more of a bluegrass connoisseur than myself, and we were both impressed with Martin and his touring band, the Steep Canyon Rangers.

The show kicked off with an interview segment where columnist/author/humorist Dave Barry spoke with Martin about his career and the album. Martin still has the dry wit that made him famous, and he peppers that throughout his performance.

I knew he'd played banjo for a long time, but you go in and see The Jerk up there and when you start hearing virtuoso musicianship coming from his hands, it can take you aback. There's a sprinkling of comedy in his songs with lyrics, but it's largely serious, quality music that's still joyful.

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Breaking the bubble

It can be easy as a news junkie, particularly working for a news organization, to get stuck inside a bubble where it seems like everyone cares about the same things you do.

I was reminded of the fact that this isn't actually true when I came across this blog post. Wait, what do you mean not everyone knows about ACORN, Glenn Beck, and the Baucus health care bill?! You mean not everyone is hitting refresh on the New York Times and the Drudge Report homepages constantly? Scandalous! (And I'm thinking that the numbers of people who actually care about these things and haven't just heard about them is much lower.)

Hopefully at KPCC we do what we can to provide you with information that's interesting, important, and relevant to your lives – but please let us know when we need to burst our bubble.

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