Posts tagged with "Alix Abbamonte"

TV2 illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Behind the Wheel: Truck Week

All next week, NewsNation will be hitting the road with an all-new series of stories from the eyes of the American Trucker for “Behind the Wheel: Truck Week.” NewsNation will take an in-depth look at the industry that is driving America—moving more than 72% of the nation’s goods. These are the real stories about the dedicated people who are helping to drive the American economy by delivering goods and creating new job opportunities. Viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at what life is really like on the road for a trucker and get a preview of the newest technology that will steer trucking into the future.

NewsNation is proud to take a moment and send a ‘trucker salute’ to the men and women who keep our country moving, even through challenging times.  Available to discuss what they have discovered on the scene throughout America is NewsNation’s  Senior National Correspondent Brian Entin and NewsNation’s Dallas Bureau Correspondent Markie Martin.

On Wednesday, April 20, NewsNation will be releasing their latest poll with Decision Desk HQ, topics will include Covid, Supply Chain and Truckers. Additional highlights from the week’s programming are below. 

Monday, April 18th: The Importance of the Trucker to the American Economy

NewsNation’s Kelsey Kernstine takes viewers behind the scenes to see the challenges Americans face through the eyes of the trucker. As consumer demand for fast delivery grows, we ask truckers how job shortages, inflation, and gas prices are impacting the country.

Tuesday, April 19th: Truckers Wanted: Job Crisis

Truck drivers are the backbone of American transportation infrastructure, but the industry faces a growing job crisis. NewsNation’s Nancy Loo looks to uncover why it’s hard to recruit and explores topics like having more women and teens behind the wheel.   

Wednesday, April 20th: Life on the Road

NewsNation’s Brian Entin goes on the road from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to understand the life of a truck driver. He speaks with truckers about challenges on the road—from lack of parking to fatigue and loneliness—sharing stories from those who work behind the wheel.

Thursday, April 21st: Truckers Get Rich

Trucking can provide a comfortable living after only a few short years on the road. NewsNation’s Nancy Loo reports on the financial aspects of this lucrative industry.

Friday, April 22nd: The Future of Trucking

As technology advances, and self-driving vehicles become more of a reality, NewsNation’s Markie Martin reports on what trucking may look like in the future. Reporting from a 70 mile ride in a driverless tractor, he looks to uncover how the industry can embrace technology to compete with companies like Tesla.For more information on Truck Week, click HERE.

Truman NFT via Pace Public Relations for use by 360 Magazine

How the Metaverse Could Save Cultural Institutions

By: Chris Cummings, CEO & founder of Iconic Moments

Museums and cultural institutions are in trouble. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these institutions learned that the typical business model of earning revenue through in-person ticket sales, event rentals and once-a-year galas was too fragile to be sustainable. In March 2020, it was estimated that 15 percent of the world’s museums would be forced to permanently close. By spring 2021, this number reached 37 percent, and today, 25 percent of U.S. museums have less than four months of funding to survive.

So how can the ‘Metaverse’ help? The ‘Metaverse’ provides cultural institutions a way to step outside the traditional four walls, providing them with the tools to explore and expand their reach in a digital environment. The result? Increased revenue and a chance to avoid permanent closure. 

What is the ‘Metaverse’?

The ‘Metaverse’ refers to a host of virtual worlds encased in a technology called blockchain. And while the ‘Metaverse’ is referred to as an ‘emerging’ space, it’s simply a rehash of a concept that has been around for a long time: a virtual world that includes the ability to create a virtual self and interact with others in this world.

The ‘Metaverse’ became increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as audiences turned to digital worlds rather than the physical. And although much of the world is living in some sort of ‘post-pandemic’ society, the use of virtual worlds (and ‘Metaverses’) can continue to encourage engagement in new ways.

‘Metaverses’  function using blockchain technology, a distributed digital database that stores information about any transaction that’s taken place in its network. A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a type of token exchanged within this network that can store information about assets such as artwork or artifacts. We can use this distributed database as a resource to authenticate tokens and identify who owns a particular NFT—which is really just a receipt or certificate of ownership. A blockchain provides a decentralized means to store these receipts. 

‘Metaverses’ provide a playground in which to display and exchange NFTs. These NFTs could represent digital assets, such as pieces of virtual land or artworks that could be displayed in a virtual gallery. In other words, ‘Metaverses’ present NFTs in their natural (digital) environment.  

Solving A Problem

The ‘Metaverse’ allows us to create a new model to support the culture & heritage industry. Through it, heritage organizations, museums and cultural institutions can engage new stakeholders digitally, while showcasing the stories of archival assets, creating sustainability within the industry and preserving history permanently on the blockchain.

This combination of digital ownership and online interaction highlights an opportunity for museums. Iconic Moments guides cultural institutions into this space by asking them to rethink the museum experience and provide a new digital and creative environment for audiences to explore the collections.

We also support cultural institutions in creating an alternative dynamic revenue stream through NFTs. This will give institutions the much-needed income lost during the pandemic. NFTs will also provide audiences with a way to own and interact with different pieces of history and culture.

Two examples of cultural institutions and organizations looking to the ‘Metaverse’ to generate revenue through NFTs are the National Broadcast Museum in Chicago and the Universal Hip Hop Museum planned for Brooklyn. The National Broadcast Museum holds assets of the most meaningful moments in television and radio in our country’s history. Iconic Moments is working with this museum to create NFTs of significant broadcasts that can be sold to patrons and consumers, such as President Truman’s radio address announcing the end of World War 2. 

Meanwhile, Iconic Moments is working with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to explore alternative methods of fundraising, as this much talked about institution is employing an NFT campaign to raise the capital needed to build the museum. Because Hip Hop is itself a multifaceted experience involving both music and art, the NFT is an ideal format.

As the museum industry continues to explore the ‘Metaverse’ and benefit from NFT technology, consumers will find new ways to engage with the culture and history that is meaningful to them while providing much-needed financial support to the institutions they cherish.

Kids Spark Video via Reb Czukoski for use by 360 Magazine

Transforming Theatre Kids into Citizen Artists

By: James Wallert

In April of 2018, I brought five high school students to an early morning event sponsored by the New York State Education Department. 200 educational leaders representing 27 school districts from all across the state were there to begin the process of creating integration plans for their districts. New York State has the most racially and socio-economically segregated schools in the nation and New York City Public Schools are more segregated today than they were before the landmark 1954 U. S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in which the Justices ruled that “Separate but Equal” schools were unconstitutional. These students were invited to perform their original thirty-minute play, Laundry City, an exploration of the effects of educational segregation. A facilitator from the state squawks a few barely audible words of introduction via a microphone plugged into a portable speaker, “Please welcome Epic Theatre Ensemble”. Jeremiah, a high school senior wearing a T-Shirt with the words, “I am Epic” written across the front, steps into the center of the room, without a mic, and speaks directly to the audience:

JEREMIAH

School segregation,

That systematic placement,

Race and class, don’t make me laugh. 

That shit goes deeper than thin cloudy glass.

Right past society’s foundation, 

Back to America in the making. 

The original sin: Race.

The performers weave through the audience performing scene after scene, transforming from character to character. The show culminates in a town hall. The students had done meticulous research to craft a scene that made room for dozens of nuanced perspectives on this complex issue.

LIV

I’m not really sure what we mean by integration. What I’ve seen when we talk about integration, it is about Black and Latino kids going to white schools to become better. That isn’t integration, that’s, in my view, assimilation.

NASHALI

I consider integration when you do the hard work of valuing what each person brings to that setting. Integration is where we learn to understand each other and appreciate each other and nobody’s story or history is more important than another’s.

JEREMIAH

I think that’s racist. I think it’s classist. I don’t believe in the savior complex- that you need to have folks swoop in and save the poor Black and Latino children. I believe that Black and Latino folks have agency and power that have been untapped.

NAKKIA

For me, it’s not that certain communities are less powerful; it’s that certain communities haven’t been given the floor. How do we give people the floor? Segregation was intentional. Integration has to be intentional. Segregation was forced. Integration has to be forced.

DAVION

If integration made money somehow, America would do it.

The five actors portray 18 different characters throughout the course of this last scene, but the final question of the play is delivered by the students as themselves.

ENSEMBLE

Is separate but equal fair?

The five citizen artists join hands and bow. The crowd rises for a standing ovation. After taking in the love, the students gesture for the audience to retake their seats.

JEREMIAH

At Epic, we have a conversation after every performance and we always ask our audience the same first question: Imagine that two weeks from now, one morning you wake up and find yourself thinking about Laundry City. What is it that will be going through your mind? A line, a character, an idea, a question? What do you think will resonate with you over time?

The post-show discussion runs an hour—twice as long as the play that sparked it. The facilitator jumps back on the mic to thank the students and direct the district teams to return to their work sessions. I gather the cast to take them back to their school (it’s a weekday). A superintendent from Upstate comes over and asks the students if they can come by his table to take a look at his district’s integration plan and share their thoughts. They do. We start to head out again when a superintendent from NYC’s Upper West Side asks for some feedback from the students about her district’s plan. The students go over to her table. After several more invitations are proffered, we are eventually invited to stay through lunch so that the cast could review and respond to each of the 27 district integration plans. I make a quick call to their Principal who agrees to excuse them from the rest of their morning classes.

About an hour into this process of consultation, Jeremiah asked if he could speak to me in the hallway. “Jim, I feel like an activist,” he says, “I mean, I feel like I’m in a room full of people who can actually change things and they’re listening to me.”

Since 2015, the plays of Epic’s youth ensemble have received 225 performances (in-person and online) for 56,000 audience members including government employees, policy researchers, and legislators.

Large-scale cultural change is always led by young people and artists, but funding for in-school and after-school arts programs are often the first casualties of state and local budget cuts. We need to invest in arts education to cultivate the next generation of citizen artists. We need to champion the creation of youth art that is relevant, representative, and affordable for everyone. We need to proudly assert the value of art-making by demanding that young artists from historically marginalized communities get paid a reasonable wage for the work they make. We need to challenge oppressive systems by placing youth and their art in front of people with power. And once everyone has had a chance to experience the art, we need to provide the time and space for people to talk to one another about what it means to them and what actions they want to take next.

About the Author James Wallert is a Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Epic Theatre Ensemble and author of Citizen Artists: A Guide to Helping Young People Make Plays That Change the World.

Hammerhead lifestyle via Hammerhead for use by 360 Magazine

Prioritize User-Driven Problems For Big CX Gains’

By: Jess Braun

In the product world, companies tend to release updates and new models sparsely. And it makes sense. A product is made available to customers, those buyers give feedback, which is collected to inform the next major offering. What if, instead, companies made small, sometimes seemingly unnoticeable changes? That’s what Hammerhead does. It’s intentionally invisible, easily interactive, and ultimately achieved when research, strategy, technology, and user experience collaborate to simplify the complex and make the lives of our users easier in a way none of our competitors can match.

Like all products, the initial idea comes from creating a solution for a particular customer base. In our case, that’s cycling. From our own experiences, we were frustrated that the digital technology in cycling was still so far behind the material technology. Bikes used in competitive cycling boast carbon fiber, titanium, and technological advancements and are tested in wind tunnel and aerodynamic settings. By contrast, traditional cycling computers are far behind other consumer technologies, adapted from a paradigm built for car GPS units a decade ago. Clunky and difficult to use, they don’t do cycling justice.

The resulting product, called the H1, was a bike head unit clipped onto handlebars and used simple light patterns to guide cyclists. That has since transformed into the product we have today—the Karoo 2—which is based around the Android operating system. It’s that unique capability that allows the micro-change approach to CX to come to life.

While hardware takes time to develop and produce in a factory, the software can mold and change quicker. Even so, you will see major companies following the traditional model of collecting tons of data over months and years before releasing a major software update. Understandably, they want to take as much information to make the best decision possible. So instead, we take feedback in real-time and constantly iterate software updates. And that commentary comes from all of the customers, from our professional athletes and our more casual riders.

We take all the feedback from our pro cyclists, ambassadors, and customers, and we sort and filter it. From there, we’re able to identify themes and areas of opportunity. The product team uses this data to inform their product roadmap directly and what projects they develop and work on next. And those features get rolled out to all of our customers, including our professional athletes. When the user experience is well-thought, designed, integrated, and tested, every customer’s choice is instinctively the right one.

For example, when Chris Froome was training to return to the Tour de France, he asked for more detailed left-right power data. The product team developed the exact specifications that he was looking for. Not only did Chris get the benefit of having that data, but everyone now has access to that same data. We did something similar for Chris and his fellow ISN team cyclists Mike Woods and Dan Martin. They—some of the best climbers in the world—wanted more data on upcoming climbs for the Tour de France. We built a software feature called CLIMBER that was launched just ahead of the Tour so that not just the team but all riders around the world were able to use it. We even made some tweaks during the event as we got real-time feedback, and we continue to iterate and expand upon the feature.

Now, not all updates can happen in real-time or as quickly as those mentioned. But it speaks to our focus as a company to iterate rather than continually making a few major updates. Our competitors will release major upgrades about twice a year. It might get their customers talking, but we’ve found that this unheard-of rate of iteration allows our customers to be part of the conversation. They’re not simply giving one-time feedback on a feature and have to wait to see if their voices were heard. Instead, we’re hearing them—pros and all—and making changes in real-time.

Even with CLIMBER—which had a bigger release with a long lead time—we just released an iteration as a different way of introducing more data within the feature. It’s learning from the real world. The more people, the more information, the more quickly we can act to enhance CX. Ultimately, the best product teams fall in love with problems, not solutions, and our interactions with our customers help us uncover problems that if solved elegantly can significantly improve a rider’s overall experience.

It’s also a lower-risk approach. Since we are making small changes, we can quickly identify how and if that impacts the user experience. If the customer doesn’t like the change or it creates unforeseen bugs, we can revert before it gets paved over. But, if they like it, we can build on it. 

We understand the software is fundamentally what our customers experience from day today, and we want to make that experience the best one possible. As customers’ wants and needs change from day to day, we should also adapt our product to suit those requests if possible. It might not be a big, flashy announcement all the time that gets everyone talking (for better or worse). But these micro-changes have proved to make for big CX gains.

illustration bv Samantha Miduri for use by 360 Magazine

ANNOUNCING HVS CONSERVATORY

A New Post-Secondary School for Vocalists  

In DTLA’s Historic Garland Building   

A NEW KIND OF VOCAL EDUCATION  

PREPARES THE NEXT GENERATION OF ARTISTS  

FOR A CAREER IN LOS ANGELES’ COMPETITIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY http://hvsconservatory.com  

Auditions will be held this fall for February 2022 enrollment. 

HVS Conservatory: Where today’s students become tomorrow’s stars.   

Hollywood Vocal Studios and Adreana Gonzalez are proud to announce the founding of Hollywood Vocal Studios (HVS) Conservatory—a post-secondary school for aspiring professional vocalists—located in Los Angeles’ historic Garland Building.   

HVS Conservatory seeks to fill a major gap in modern music education. There are a number of music schools across the East Coast that cater to classical techniques and musical theater performance, but none are dedicated to the modern solo vocalist. Singers interested in honing their skills in the competitive recording industry currently have no blueprint to success, nor opportunities for group mentorship and instruction. HVS Conservatory aims to fill these gaps and has partnered with a number of esteemed recording industry professionals to bring world-class music education to the epicenter of the business—Los Angeles, CA.  

HVS Conservatory students will be taught, mentored, and critiqued by a who’s-who of prominent music industry professionals dedicated to helping develop and nurture young voices. Utilizing the preferred vocal technique of luminaries like Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, the HVS Conservatory faculty will combine their cutting-edge technical knowledge with years of real-world experience in order to help young artists develop both strength and savvy. Jeffrey Skouson is one of the industry’s preeminent vocal coaches and founder of the Institute of Vocal Advancement and will be heading the vocal department. Skouson counts Imagine Dragons, The Killers, and Panic! At The Disco among his regular clientele. Director of Performance Ron Harris is a renowned producer, coach, and A&R rep, who has helped shape the careers of stars like Fergie, Christina Aguilera, and Grammy-winning producer Trevorious (Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You).  

“The modern music industry is a challenging business to navigate, HVS Conservatory will be the place to learn not only how to navigate it… but how to do so successfully.” Founder Adreana Gonzalez goes on, “It’s time Los Angeles gives as much in education to its rising leaders, as it does to the stage of entertainment and we’re so happy to lead the way.”   

HVS Conservatory was founded by Adreana Gonzalez—an esteemed and multitalented professional, who has spent the past two decades working with professional vocalists. She is a fixture of the Hollywood scene and counts a wide range of industry insiders as friends and colleagues. She has worked with celebrities like Will Ferrell, Jessie Reyez, Graham Patrick Martin, Lexi Ainsworth, and many more. Now, she hopes to take the knowledge and experience she gained both as a performer and teacher, and use it to help inform the futures of the world’s top vocal talents.  

Visit the HVS Conservatory website for more information.

illustration by Samantha Miduri for use by 360 Magazine

Ransomware: Piracy on the IPs

By: Casey Allen with Concentric 

Where there is commerce, thar be pirates! The techniques, tactics, and procedures of modern-day pirates have expanded significantly since the Lukkan buccaneers first raided Cyprus back in the 14th century. The practice of maritime piracy is still alive and well, but as technology has advanced from bronze to blockchain the booty of choice for 21st-century corsairs has evolved from gold to Bitcoin. Data has become the world’s most valuable commodity, and the submarine communications cables that form the backbone of the internet are the shipping lanes for trillions of dollars worth of global commerce. With so much at stake, it should come as no surprise that cybercriminals continue to raise the Jolly Roger in digital form. 

Ransom has been a staple of the pirate’s playbook since Teuta, the Pirate Queen of Illyria, captured the Epirus capital city of Phoenice in 231 BCE. Queen Teuta was successful in holding the city hostage long enough to force the Epirotes into paying her a ransom to release their citizens and vacate its borders. The extent of Queen Teuta’s means, the sophistication of her organization, and the insatiability of her greed made her an “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT) to victims all over the Mediterranean. As cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and organized, they too have become APTs, with their reach extending the entire breadth and depth of our information superhighways. 

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that infects information systems with the goal of making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid in exchange for restoring the victim’s access. Such a disruption can be crippling for an organization, often leaving leadership with no other choice but to submit to the ransomer’s demands in order to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. Information security professionals and government agencies agree that paying these ransoms is incentivizing future attacks, and should only be done as a last resort. However, without adequate alternatives, the average cost of downtime remains 24 times higher than the average ransom amount, resulting in ransom payment being considered the most expedient and cost-effective solution for the victim. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced in October of 2020 that companies facilitating payments on behalf of ransomware victims may be in violation of federal law if the cybercriminals are on a list of sanctioned entities identified by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control). Several states have followed suit and begun drafting legislation that would criminalize paying these kinds of ransoms. There is significant debate in the security community as to whether or not this outright ban on paying ransoms would cause more harm than good. Banning ransom payments would almost certainly result in the creation of another black market to facilitate these transactions and discourage victims from reporting ransomware incidents to the authorities. A similar position was taken by the USG in response to hostage ransom payments by families. Ultimately, however, punishing the victim was determined to be an ineffective—and unethical—deterrent, nor did we see ripples of that preclusion within the international hostage-taking market. The Treasury Department’s recent involvement in cyber extortion response, specifically their success in returning $2.3M of the $4.4M ransom paid for the Colonial Pipeline extortion event, is a significant demonstration of the benefit of including the USG in extortion response efforts. 

The scale and sophistication of ransomware attacks have been steadily increasing since Joseph Popp—widely credited as the father of digital ransom—first attempted to extort victims of the PC Cyborg Trojan he authored nearly 30 years ago. Once a system had been infected, Popp’s malware asked victims to send $189 to a post office box in Panama in exchange for a repair tool. By comparison, the largest single payout for ransomware to date was made in May of 2021 by CNA Financial in the amount of $40M worth of Bitcoin. 

The final step in any sales funnel is always the completion of a financial transaction. One of the major enabling factors for the profitability of cybercrime has been the proliferation of cryptocurrency. $40M worth of pirate booty would weigh around 1,370 pounds in the form of gold, or just over 880 pounds in the form of $100 bills. Bitcoin, on the other hand, weighs absolutely nothing. Not only is cryptocurrency easy to store and move around, but it’s also hard to track and easy to launder. While this is advantageous for the attackers it can present additional challenges for their victims. 

Many organizations that fall victim to ransomware don’t have the liquidity to pay such ransoms, let alone cryptocurrency assets on their balance sheets. Ransomware attacks typically involve a ticking clock intended to create a sense of urgency in victims. The time factor compounds victims’ panic by threatening to delete their data permanently if the ransom isn’t paid by a certain deadline. For organizations who don’t have any backups of their data, this could be the iceberg in their hull that sinks them for good. For organizations who have the means and foresight to maintain robust backups, attackers will often threaten to publish their sensitive data and invaluable intellectual property if their ransom demands aren’t met; this trend is called “double extortion”. For victims scrambling to make ransom payments, getting their hands on enough cryptocurrency can be a challenge. Cash is still king in terms of liquidity. Even Bitcoin—easily the most liquid of all cryptocurrencies—isn’t anywhere close to fiat currencies in terms of its liquidity. The popularity of Bitcoin has led to dramatic increases in the volume of transactions, which can lead to significant delays in conversions and transactions. When evaluating the risk ransomware poses to your organization it is critical to consider these secondary and tertiary risks beyond the inability to access your data. 

If your organization maintains digital assets of any significant value, the possibility of falling victim to a ransomware attack should be high on the heatmap of your risk assessment. However, there are steps individuals and corporations can take to ensure that an extortion-level event does not become an extinction-level event. So, what can you do to not be a victim of piracy on the IPs? 

  1. Prepare. Conduct a business impact assessment to understand the impact a cyber extortion event could have on your organization. This should include a financial analysis for potential ransom responses and techniques for ransom payment, if necessary. Develop a robust incident response plan and conduct table-top exercises on a regular cadence to build muscle memory, test its efficacy, and identify gaps. 
  2. Prevent. Use a password manager and long, strong, unique passwords in conjunction with multi-factor authentication wherever possible. Keep systems up-to-date to limit vulnerabilities and restrict access to information systems according to the principle of least privilege. Educate your workforce with engaging security awareness training, especially with respect to identifying and reporting phishing emails.
  3. Partner. Experts in the cyber crisis field can assist you prior to and during these extortion events. All too often ransomware victims wait to reach out until after the breach has occurred. For best results, it is highly recommended to establish a relationship with a trusted partner prior to an incident occurring to enable efficient and effective solutions.