Brian Brushwood is an award-winning American magician, podcaster, author and comedian. A regular on the college circuit, he is best known for his display of bizarre magic and fire-eating performances. He is the author of The Professional’s Guide To Fire Eating and the host of Revision3’s Scam School, a web series that features quick ten minute tips to get free drinks at bars and to impress friends, and TWiT.tv’s NSFWShow, a comedic podcast he co-hosts with Justin Robert Young. Brushwood has performed on The Food Network, CNN and The Tonight Show, as well as performing special demonstrations at The University of Texas. Brushwood was also interviewed on episode 205 of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Brushwood grew up living in California, Colorado, Norway, and Texas. In 1993, he started at the University of Texas in Austin doubly majoring in “Plan II honors program” and history. He performed a magic show as a “creative writing” senior thesis. He began touring with the “Bizarre Magic Show” full-time in 2000. Brushwood also works as a writer and makes appearances on the lecture circuit. Brushwood categorizes himself as a libertarian.
Hossein Derakhshan, also known as Hoder, is an Iranian-Canadian blogger currently imprisoned in Tehran. He is credited with starting the blogging revolution in Iran and is called the father of Persian blogging by many journalists. He also helped to promote podcasting in Iran. Derakhshan was arrested on November 1, 2008 and sentenced to 19½ years in prison on September 28, 2010. Derakhshan started out as a journalist writing about Internet and digital culture for a popular reformist newspaper, Asr-e Azadegan in 1999. Later, when this paper was closed down by the judiciary system, he moved to another newspaper, Hayat-e No, in which he continued to write about the same topic. His column there was called Panjere-i roo be hayaat (A Window to the Life, a reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window), and later expanded to a weekly page on digital culture, Internet and computer games.
Robert Elliot “Bob” Kahn is an American Internet pioneer, engineer and computer scientist, who, along with Vinton G. Cerf, invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the fundamental communication protocols at the heart of the Internet. While working on a satellite packet network project, he came up with the initial ideas for what later became the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which was intended as a replacement for an earlier network protocol, NCP, used in the ARPANET. While working on this, he played a major role in forming the basis of open-architecture networking, which would allow computers and networks all over the world to communicate with each other, regardless of what hardware or software the computers on each network used.
Eli Pariser is the former Executive Director of MoveOn.org, and the organization’s current Board President. Pariser’s rise to prominence as a political activist began when he and college student David H. Pickering launched an online petition calling for a nonmilitary response to the attacks of September 11th. (At the time, he was working as a program assistant for the national nonprofit More Than Money.) In less than a month, half a million people had signed the petition and in November of that year, Moveon.org founders Wes Boyd and Joan Blades asked Pariser to join their organization. During the 2004 US Presidential Election, Pariser co-created the Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest and raised over $30 million from small donors to run ads and back Democratic and progressive candidates. Writing for The New York Times Magazine in 2003, journalist George Packer referred to MoveOn as the “mainstream” element of what “may be the fastest-growing protest movement in American history.” Pariser noticed a pattern of differing responses to search engine queries based on a user’s past Internet search history, such that people with a liberal orientation would get one set of responses while conservatives might get an entirely different set of responses, if a person used Google or Facebook or Yahoo to search for a specific phrase or term on the Internet. For example, a liberal typing “BP” might get information about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, while a conservative typing “BP” might get investment information about the oil company. This led to his development of the concept of a filter bubble which he described in a book in which he argued that there was a danger that people would not get exposed to viewpoints different than their own.
Jonathan Coulton is an American singer-songwriter, known for his songs about geek culture and his use of the Internet to draw fans. Among his most popular songs are “Code Monkey”, “Re: Your Brains” and “Still Alive”. A former computer programmer employed at Cluen, a New York City software company, and self-described geek, Coulton tends to write quirky, witty lyrics about science fiction and technology: a man who thinks in simian terms, a mad scientist who falls in love with one of his captives, and the dangers of bacteria. Rare topical songs include 2005’s “W’s Duty”, which sampled President George W. Bush, and 2006’s “Tom Cruise Crazy”. Most of Coulton’s recordings feature his singing over guitar, bass, and drums; some also feature the various other instruments Coulton plays, including accordion, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and glockenspiel. Coulton graduated in 1993 from Yale, where he was a member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs and the Yale Spizzwinks. He is now the Contributing Troubadour at Popular Science magazine, whose September 2005 issue was accompanied by a five-song set by him called Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms. He was also the Musical Director for The Little Gray Book Lectures.
Leo Gordon Laporte is an American technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur. Laporte studied Chinese history at Yale University before dropping out in his junior year to pursue his career in radio broadcasting, where his early radio names were Dave Allen and Dan Hayes. He began his association with computers with his first home PC, an Atari 400. Laporte said he purchased his first Macintosh in 1984. He operated one of the first Macintosh-only bulletin board systems, MacQueue, from 1985 to 1988. Laporte owns and operates a podcast network, TWiT.tv. It is available on iTunes and other podcast subscription services. Before the expansion to new facilities in 2011, Laporte said TWiT earns $1.5 million annually on a production cost of only $350,000. In a 2012 Reddit posting, he commented that revenue is approaching $4 million. Laporte calls his audio and video shows “netcasts,” saying “I’ve never liked the word podcast. It causes confusion … people have told me that they can’t listen to my shows because they ‘don’t own an iPod’ … I propose the word ‘netcast.’ It’s a little clearer that these are broadcasts over the Internet. It’s catchy and even kind of a pun.”
Jason McCabe Calacanis is an American Internet entrepreneur and blogger. His first company was part of the dot-com era in New York, and his second venture, Weblogs, Inc., a publishing company that he co-founded together with Brian Alvey, capitalized on the growth of blogs before being sold to AOL. As well as being an angel investor in various technology startups, Calacanis also keynotes industry conferences worldwide. Calacanis’s biggest success to date is Weblogs, Inc. which got sold to AOL in 2005. Before forming Weblogs, Inc., Calacanis was founder,CEO of Rising Tide Studios, a media company that published print and online publications. Amongst them was the Silicon Alley Reporter, a monthly paper that featured New York’s Internet, Web and new media industries. During the dot-com boom, Calacanis was active in New York’s Silicon Alley community and in 1996 began producing a publication known as the Silicon Alley Reporter. Originally a 16-page photocopied newsletter, as its popularity grew it expanded into a 300-page magazine, with a sister publication called the Digital Coast Reporter for the West Coast. Calacanis’s tireless socializing earned him a nickname as the “yearbook editor” of the Silicon Alley community. The company organized as well conferences in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on the same focus on the Internet/web/New Media. With the end of the Dot-com bubble, Silicon Alley Reporter failed. The company’s flagship publication was folded and the company was sold out of bankruptcy to a private equity firm.