Steve Henn

Steve Henn is NPR's technology correspondent based in Menlo Park, California, who is currently on assignment with Planet Money. An award winning journalist, he now covers the intersection of technology and modern life - exploring how digital innovations are changing the way we interact with people we love, the institutions we depend on and the world around us. In 2012 he came frighteningly close to crashing one of the first Tesla sedans ever made. He has taken a ride in a self-driving car, and flown a drone around Stanford's campus with a legal expert on privacy and robotics.

But Steve's favorite technology stories are the ones that explain how little-understood innovations can change the way millions of us behave. Why do people buy cows in Farmville? Why are video games so compelling and why do some people have such a hard time setting Twitter aside? He is fascinated by how digital companies attempt to mold our behavior and study our every move in a world where we are constantly interacting with connected devices.

Prior to moving to Silicon Valley in 2010, Steve covered a wide range of topics for the public radio show Marketplace. His reporting kicked off the congressional travel scandals in late 2004, and helped expose the role of private military contractors at Abu Ghraib.

At Marketplace, Henn helped establish collaborations with the Center for Public Integrity and the Medill's School of Journalism.

Steve spent his early life on a farm in Iowa where his parents, who are biochemists, hoped to raise all their own food and become energy self-sufficient. It didn't work. During college Steve hoped to drop out and support himself by working in the fishing industry in Alaska. That also didn't work. After college he biked around the country with his sweetheart, Emily Johnson. He then followed Emily to Africa, volunteering at Soweto Community Radio. That did work out. He and Emily are now happily married with three daughters.

Steve graduated from Wesleyan University's College of Social Studies with honors and Columbia University's Graduate school of Journalism.

Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn't always been this way.

A lot of computing pioneers — the people who programmed the first digital computers — were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.

What happened?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Minecraft is deceptively simple video game. You're dropped into a virtual world, and you get to build things. It's like a digital Lego set, but with infinite pieces.

Its simplicity makes it a big hit with kids, like 10-year old Will Davidson. Last year, Will built a Spanish mission for a school report. He modeled his off the Santa Cruz Mission. "I made a chapel over here," Davidson says. "I also have a bell tower."

The Westfield Valley Fair Mall straddles two cities. One side of the mall is in Santa Clara, but walk a few feet down the mall, and you're in San Jose. In 2012, San Jose voters agreed to raise the city's minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour.

Philip Sandigo manages a shoe store on the $8-an-hour side. When San Jose raised the minimum wage, he lost about half his staff.

They went to the stores on the side of the mall that paid $2 an hour more.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: