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Tech Week That Was: Video Gaming, Bitcoin And Landlines

There's a growing market for digital currencies like Bitcoin. A Sydney pub, seen here, is taking Bitcoins as payment for drinks.
Cameron Spencer
Getty Images
There's a growing market for digital currencies like Bitcoin. A Sydney pub, seen here, is taking Bitcoins as payment for drinks.

Wow, suddenly we're at the end of the week already. If you missed the conversations about digital life and technology in the headlines and on NPR, here's a look back.


The new gaming console releases gave us a good reason to choose video games as our theme week, and it was a fun one. Sami Yenigun showed us how real-life sports announcing is making video games come alive, Steve Henn explored how an upcoming game aims to teach kids empathy and Noah Nelson wondered about the surprising cultural stamina of Pokemon. We launched our NPR Plays Tumblr, which celebrates games, gaming and gamers. And our digital producer pal Steve Mullis kicked off his soon-to-be-weekly indie game analyses. As for the consoles themselves, here's a roundup of Xbox One reviews, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

Also from NPR this week, the decline of landline phones (though not everywhere) and the increasingly icy relationship between tech companies and the NSA. And for our weekly innovation we chose a Russian subscription e-book service that the creators hope will slow down illegal downloading.

Big Conversation

It's been a big week for Bitcoin. The digital currency's value hit an all-time high on Monday (you can track the latest price here) and it got its first Senate hearing, as lawmakers consider whether to regulate it. Steve Henn covered the hearing for Morning Edition. Elsewhere in Washington and across the states, HealthCare.gov's woes prompted looking back — more document dumps and hearings on the Hill — and looking forward — I profiled a federal procurement reform bill that's gaining ground in Congress, after the health care insurance rollout mess.

Other Curiosities

Slate: Obama's Secret Plan to Ban Cellphone Unlocking, While Claiming to Support It

Thanks to a recent release from WikiLeaks, it appears even though the Obama administration says it supports copyright reform, it's not on board with letting people freely jailbreak cellphones.

The Washington Post: How plain, old Wi-Fi will revolutionize the cellular industry

By using Wi-Fi networks, small cellular companies could shake up the business dominated by the big four phone carriers, charging much lower monthly fees.

GeoGuessr: Let's explore the world!

Linda Holmes, NPR's Monkey See blogger, first turned us on to this, warning it was a perfectly good way to waste our day. The site lands you on a random Google Street View and rewards you with points for guessing the location. (At least you can get the hemisphere right, OK?)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.