3Qs: Is a ‘brand’ new game emerging online?

Last week, Internet brands including Google and Wikipedia launched a cam­paign in response to two bills regarding online piracy: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Pro­tect Intel­lec­tual Prop­erty Act (PIPA). Thou­sands of web­sites par­tic­i­pated in a 24-​​hour protest of the leg­is­la­tion, and encour­aged web users to sign a peti­tion and con­tact their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. We asked mar­keting pro­fessor Bruce Clark to dis­cuss the impact of com­pa­nies using their brands to take a stand on such issues.

3Qs: Gay rights and popular culture

Carole Bell, a post­doc­toral teaching asso­ciate in com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies in the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design, con­ducts research on how the gay com­mu­nity in por­trayed in pop­ular cul­ture. She wants to find out how the media’s framing of gay rights issues com­pares with society’s stance and how the media’s spot­light on homo­sex­u­ality con­tributes to the public con­ver­sa­tion on gay rights. We asked Bell to explain some of the fac­tors that drive her research.

3Qs: Style and statement

The race for the Repub­lican pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion is heating up and com­mu­ni­ca­tion style will play no small part in deciding a winner. We asked Richard Katula, pro­fessor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies and expert in polit­ical rhetoric, to explain why com­mu­ni­ca­tion is so impor­tant and ana­lyze the com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills of the 2012 GOP pres­i­den­tial candidates.

3Qs: What will come from new leadership in North Korea?

Enig­matic North Korean leader Kim Jong-​​il died last weekend at the age of 69, and he will be suc­ceeded by his youngest and untested son, Kim Jong-​​un, who is largely unknown to the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Given North Korean’s his­tory as an iso­lated and mil­i­taristic state, the tran­si­tion of power presents many ques­tions about the country’s future. We asked Natalie Bor­mann, an aca­d­emic spe­cialist in Northeastern’s Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence, to dis­cuss what’s next for North Korea.

3Qs: The market for gift giving

Whether you cel­e­brate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, gift giving is a part of most hol­iday tra­di­tions this time of year. Many fac­tors go into selecting and pur­chasing hol­iday gifts. We asked Tony Gao, assis­tant pro­fessor of mar­keting in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, to explain some gift-​​giving trends and what moti­vates con­sumers’ gift-​​buying behaviors.

3Qs: Searching for the “Holy Grail” of physics

Researchers at CERN, the Euro­pean Center for Nuclear Research, reported this week they are get­ting closer to dis­cov­ering the Higgs boson, a sub­atomic par­ticle that sci­en­tists believe will explain why every­thing in the uni­verse has mass. The Higgs boson is con­sid­ered to be the “Holy Grail” of par­ticle physics, and finding it would be a great sci­en­tific advance­ment. We asked Emanuela Bar­beris, asso­ciate pro­fessor of physics, to explain the Higgs boson and what its dis­covery would mean to the world’s sci­en­tific community.

3Qs: What elections mean for Russia

Fol­lowing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Russia on Sunday, protests broke out across the country this week amid alle­ga­tions of voter fraud. The elec­tions kept Prime Min­ister Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party in power, but revealed a drastic decline in sup­port for the party and sig­nif­i­cantly decreased its number of seats in Par­lia­ment. We asked Harlow Robinson, Matthews Dis­tin­guished Uni­ver­sity Pro­fessor and an expert in Russian and Soviet cul­tural his­tory, to ana­lyze the situation.

3Qs: The legacy of Andy Rooney

Ear­lier this month, leg­endary jour­nalist and “60 Min­utes” com­men­tator Andy Rooney passed away at the age of 92, just weeks after announcing he would retire from making weekly appear­ances on the pro­gram. Viewers across the country will miss Rooney’s witty rap­port and unique reporting style. We asked Dan Kennedy, asso­ciate pro­fessor of jour­nalism, to com­ment on Andy Rooney’s legacy and his impact on tele­vi­sion journalism.

3Qs: Evaluating Europe’s economic crisis

Amid the eco­nomic crisis plaguing Europe, the prime min­is­ters of Greece (George Papan­dreou) and Italy (Silvio Berlus­coni) resigned last week. They have since been replaced with the appoint­ments of Lucas Papademos in Greece and Mario Monti in Italy — men with back­grounds in banking and eco­nomics. We asked North­eastern Uni­ver­sity com­mu­ni­ca­tions studies pro­fessor Richard Katula, an expert on Greek cul­ture and Euro­pean affairs, to ana­lyze the eco­nomic and polit­ical tur­moil in Greece and Italy and its impact on the Euro­pean Union.

3Qs: Is America’s transportation network on the right track?

Trans­porta­tion spending is a hot-​​button issue in Con­gress. House Repub­li­ca­tions have pro­posed a six-​​year, $230 bil­lion exten­sion of the sur­face trans­porta­tion bill to fund projects including roads, bridges and public transit. In the Senate, Democ­rats have pushed back with their own two-​​year, $109 bil­lion bill, arguing that the Repub­lican pro­posal would cut trans­porta­tion spending across the board. We asked busi­ness pro­fessor and infra­struc­ture authority Joseph Giglio to examine the state of America’s infrastructure.