The Legacy of Sylvia Robinson

Publication: The New York Times

Title: Sylvia Robinson, Pioneering Producer of Hip-Hop, Is Dead at 75

Article by: James C. McKinley Jr.


Singer, songwriter and record producer Sylvia Robinson, who formed the pioneering hip-hop group Sugarhill Gang and made the first commercially successful rap recording with them, died on September 29 at age 75.

In the 1950s she and Mickey Baker formed the due Mickey & Sylvia, and had several this including “Love is Strange”, which was a No. 1 R&B song in 1957.  In the 1960s, Ms. Robinson became one of the few women to produce records and she and her husband founded All Platinum Records during that time.

One of her most well known achievements was her decision to record a rap single for Sugarhill Gang called “Rapper’s Delight”- the first hip-hop single to become a commercial hit.  The New York Times reports:

“Using Joey Robinson [her son] as a talent scout, she found three young, unknown rappers in Englewood — Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee — and persuaded them to record improvised rhymes as the Sugarhill Gang (sometimes rendered as Sugar Hill Gang) over a nearly 15-minute rhythm track adapted from Chic’s “Good Times.””

Under the newly formed label Sugar Hill Records, “Rapper’s Delight” was produced. Selling more than 8 million copies, it reached No. 4 on the R&B charts and No. 36 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and opened the gates for future hip-hop artists.

Ms. Robinson went on to sign artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and in 1982 she produced the song that shaped them, “The Message.”   According to the New York Times,  “It was groundbreaking rap about ghetto life that became one of the most powerful social commentaries of its time, laying the groundwork for the gangsta rap of the late 1980s.”


Kutcher Promotes Tech Investments on “Two and a Half Men”

Publication: Mashable

Title: Ashton Kutcher Promotes His Tech Investments on “Two and a Half Men”

Article by: Ben Parr

Ashton Kutcher has been an avid investor in many social media tech startups.  He’s also one of the most influencial celebrities on Twitter.  He’s now been using his new spot on “Two and a Half Men” to give some exposure to these companies.  On the last episode of the show, he had stickers all over the cover of his laptop from companies such as Foursquare, GroupMe, Hipmunk, Chegg and Flipboard.

It’s likely that these social media startups were hoping for this sort of mainstream exposure when they made deals with Kutcher.  However, it’s been reported that CBS didn’t like him promoting these companies for free.  They’ve responded that for future episodes these stickers will be obscured.

Neiman Marcus to Host Scavenger Hunt via Foursquare

Publication: Mashable

Title: Neiman Marcus to Give Away Clutches via Foursquare Hunt

Article by: Lauren Indvik

High-end retailer Neiman Marcus is hosting a Foursquare challenge on Saturday that ties in with its annual shoe and handbag event this weekend.

Neiman Marcus is hiding 15 Nancy Gonzalez clutches at 15 of its stores.  When shoppers check in to Neiman Marcus they’ll see a message that tells them if they’re in the vicinity of the clutch, and if they are, where to search for it.  The first people to find the clutches get to keep them.

Although scavenger hunt mobile hunts are not new to the retail world, Neiman Marcus smartly decided to host an event that drives people into their retail stores, so even if they don’t win, perhaps they’ll stick around and shop.

If shoppers turn out and use Foursquare for this event, there will likely be more scavenger hunt events in the future.

Companies Change Their Electronic Devices Policy

Publication: The New York Times

Title: More Offices Let Workers Choose Their Own Devices

Article by: Verne G. Kopytoff


Some corporations are starting to ease up on their electronic devices policy.

From a management standpoint, the hope is that the more comfortable and familiar workers are with their mobile devices, the more productive they will be.  As the New York Times reports, the corporate tech market is sort of being turned on it’s head as this trend progresses.

“The phenomenon is upending the corporate market, which has traditionally hinged on electronics makers cultivating tight relationships with I.T. departments. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, have long dominated the workplace, but Apple and its consumer-friendly blockbusters — the iPhone, iPad and MacBook — have made major inroads.”

Of course the major concern is still security.  There are some industries, such as banking, where this policy is just too loose to work.  And from an IT standpoint, that means IT departments need to be able to service all kinds of devices.

Some companies have taken to giving employees stipends for laptops or mobile devices, and if the employee wants something that costs more than their stipend, than that means they’ll have to pay out of pocket.  If employees are allowed to use devices they already have for work purposes, that may also mean that they will have to take their device to be repaired on a weekend, on their own time.

Either way, it seems that companies will have to be more flexible as more employees insist on working with a particular brand or device.  But at the same time, employees will have to comply with paying for some servicing or expensing (if they’re using the device for personal reasons as well).

Twitter Saves the Day for an “Amazing Race” Team

Publication: The New York Times

Title: Twitter’s ‘Amazing Race’ Assist

Article by: Brian Stelter


In the 19th season of “The Amazing Race”, Twitter users saved a team from being eliminated from the show.  Kaylani Paliotta and Lisa Tilley, the team saved from elimination, narrowly escaped the chopping block when Kaylani left her passport at a gas station.  Luckily for them, Ryan Storms, a graphic artist and photographer who is an avid Twitter user, saw it at a gas station after they left.  He had just given directions to another “Amazing Race Team.”  He tweeted about the passport and an anonymous fan of the show in Georgia, who was monitoring all things “Amazing Race” on Twitter, replied to Ryan Storms, “She’ll need her passport! Can you get it to LAX?”

Producers in Taiwan were monitoring these messages, and sent word to LA, that the team might end up being saved.  Ultimately, Storms made it to LAX in time to return the passport and saved the team from elimination.

This story is sort of amazing in itself.  The speed with which these messages were sent, received, monitored and reported is pretty spectacular.  And, as a bonus the whole situation made for exciting and engaging television.

It’s Official: The Nets Are Now the Brooklyn Nets

Publication: The New York Times

Title: Jay-Z Makes ‘Brooklyn Nets’ Name Official

Article by: Howard Beck


Jay-Z officially announced that the New Jersey Nets will now be the Brooklyn Nets today in Downtown Brooklyn.  Jay-Z who is part owner of the franchise, made the announcement  in front of the construction site across Atlantic Avenue that will soon be known as the Barclays Center and the Nets home beginning this Fall.

The announcement was not surprising, but it did put rumors of  possible rebranding to “Brooklyn Ballers” or “Brooklyn Knights.”  There is some concern over being called the “Brooklynettes”…



Burberry Shows Media Savvy

Publication: Mashable

Title: Burberry’s Evolving Role as a Media Company

Article by: Lauren Indvik

Last week Burberry truly showed how it has become equal parts fashion house and media house.  At a fashion show in London last week, Burberry staged a “Tweetwalk” in which they showed every look on Twitter just before the models walked the runway.  This moments-before sneak peek generated a lot of buzz on twitter- both #Burberry and #ChristopherBailey trended worldwide on Twitter

Mashable notes that part of the success of the Burberry “Tweetwalk” came from “Twitter Takeovers” on Burberry’s global accounts.

“Among the participants were Işın Görmüş, editor in chief of Elle Turkey, who tweeted on behalf of @Burberry_Turkey; Daria Shapovalova of Vogue Russia for @Burberry_Russia; and Julia Juyeon Kang, editor in chief of Elle Korea who tweeted for @Burberry_Korea.”

Mashable reports that:

“When Burberry debuted a 3D holographic runway for a show in Bejing earlier this year, Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey said that “Burberry is now as much a media-content company as we are a design company” — something, we feel, became even more apparent at the runway show Burberry staged this week.”

These multi media events have allowed Burberry to deliver its story in directly to consumers on multiple platforms.  This ultimately allows Burberry to lead its community of followers and set up a real dialogue with their followers.

According to Mashable:

“When asked if there was any clear brand benefit in positioning Burberry as a digital pioneer, Bailey said that it had little to do with positioning. “Digital communication and technology are part of the way everybody lives. We’re a 155-year-old company, but a very young team. It would almost be weird if we didn’t do it,” he said.”