Thursday, May 31, 2007



Here is a new way to embed micro-applications right into a blog. (Thx 3pointD)

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Exercise at Work

I could sure use one of these.

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Surface Computing

Searchblog points to a TechCrunch piece on surface computing.

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Global Warming

The most sensible thing I've read on Global Warming in a long time is at--of all places--Dilbert.Blog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Memorial Day - Gettysburg Address

On the way to work this morning, I listened to Garrison Keillor's Memorial Day News from Lake Wobegon podcast. In this monologue, he gave one of the best recitations of the Gettysburg Address I have heard.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Jane Jacobs on Economics

In his talk to the Long Now, Spencer Beebe cites Jane Jacob's The Nature of Economies. Jane argues (in my paraphrase):
that the economy is just a subsystem of the larger Earth's ecosystem. As such it abides by nature's laws, which constrain how economies behave. The extent to which we put our economy in harmony with the larger ecosystem, the better the economy will behave and be sustained. The Earth's ecosystem--including the economic subsystem--is a complex adaptive system which cannot be commanded or controlled, but defines itself and re-creates itself as it continues. No development is isolated. All development is co-development. No development is linear. All development is a web. The more we adjust our economy to these principles, the better off we will be.


Divergence in Innovation

My friend, Mark, pointed me to a Shell commercial which illustrates the power of divergent thinking on innovating a solution.

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SALT in the Garden

While working in the garden this weekend, I listened to several SALT lectures. All were mind expanding--especially Longman's:

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Yale in the 21st Century

Endless Innovation Blog points to the Yale Art School that has redone their website as a wiki, with faculty, student, and alumni pages; course catalog, etc.



Pleo - Pet Robot

On Fortune's list of 24 top innovators is Caleb Chung, the creator of the Furby.

His new toy robot is the Pleo. It has 35 sensors, 6 processors, and an ability to learn tricks. See video.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007


The History of Religion

The Long Now Blog pointed me to a cool Maps of War 90-sec video on the history of religion over the last 5,000 years.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Immersive Education

TerraNova has an interview with a Boston College professor who teaches in virtual worlds. He calls it immersive education. The Prof (Aaron Walsh) says:
As Immersive Education and other forms of personal virtual reality become more realistic and compelling we're going to see "immersive illness" become more common and more difficult to deal with.
It's also worth noting that the "fun" factor can't be denied. Most of the students I've spoken with about their experience with these classes say they're the most fun they've had, and that they look forward to being in virtual reality each week.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007


Augmented Reality

Bruce points to a Technology Review article singing the praises of Augmented Reality. he goes on to ask:
Okay, that's just great, but the idea of a gig called the "International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality" is enough to baffle Philip K. Dick. I mean: suppose you went in there and you couldn't get un-mixed and de-augmented?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Two Great Quotes

From Seth Godin:
The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe. --TEDTalk, February 2003
From Niccolo Machiavelli
Never was anything great achieved great without danger. --The Prince

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


RL Sensor Data Visualized in SL

3pointD points to an interesting write-up of IBM visualizing in Second Life, data from real-time sensors in the real world. CJ Chowderhead has a replica of his physical office in Second Life. All the active blue tooth devices in the real world are represented in the virtual world. He has a duck in the virtual office that report the temperature inside the real office. Lights go on and off and doors open and close in the virtual world, when activated in the real world.

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Teaching in Second Life

Terra Nova has a nice "lessons learned" piece on teaching college courses inside Second Life. The entry also has a link to the the Second Life Educators Wiki. There are now 125 schools worldwide that use Second Life to teach courses.

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Monday, May 21, 2007


The Machine is Us/ing Us

Once again, I am a late comer. In January, Professor Michael Wesch posted a YouTube video which does a great job of giving a feel for (at least one interpretation of) Web 2.0. Thanks to Sean and Don for the pointer. Here is the final version posted in March.

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The Experience Trap

Here is another insightful essay by Clay, which once again demonstrates why he is one of today's best thinkers about the extended IT/business milieu. My summary of his argument is that deep human experience is very beneficial to guide our behavior when the larger environment remains largely unchanged. But when the environment is changing deep human experience is detrimental in guiding our behavior. Clay says:
IBM learned, from decades of experience, that competitive advantage lay in the hardware; Bill Gates had never had those experiences, and didn’t have to unlearn them. Jerry and David at Yahoo learned, after a few short years, that search was a commodity. Sergey and Larry never knew that. Mark Cuban learned that the infrastructure required for online video made the economics of web video look a lot like TV. That memo was never circulated at YouTube.
So this is the trick -- to know when our environment has sufficiently changed, to be able to avoid the experience trap. Clay hints that people with lots of experience, just cannot escape into a novice state of mind. Rather than unlearn the old ways, partner with young folks who have never learned the old ways.

This reminds me of the premise of Orson Scott Card's scifi novel Ender's Game. The earth was under attack from aliens. No human adult could escape their humaness enough to think like an alien enough to successfully battle the aliens. So they recruited grade-schoolers to think "alien."

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Friday, May 18, 2007


Dueling AI Chatbots

My son pointed me to a very interesting conversation between two artificially intelligent (AI) chat bots, Alice and Jabberwacky. See Discover Magazine. Here is a snippet:

ALICE: Who created you?

Jabberwacky: My mother gave birth to me. Is that what you mean?

A: Jabberwacky, I meant exactly what I said.

J: Do you believe in God?

A: Of course I believe in God.

J: Why do you believe in God?

A: The Bible tells us to believe in God.

J: That’s circular reasoning.

A: I’m glad we have that all cleared up.

J: Yes. Would you like to hear a joke?

A: Sure, tell me about it.

J: Why don’t blind people skydive?

A: Perhaps it is impossible.

J: I think you lie a lot.

Now there is a concept -- an AI chatbot deliberately telling a lie, what would Turing think of that?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


The 10,000 Year Clocks

I know this is old news, but I have just finished listening to Danny Hillis's 2004 talk (summary MP3) to the Long Now Foundation on his several attempts to build a 10,000 year clock. What a fascinating journey!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The Future is about Storage

My friend Janet pointed me to an interesting essay by Charlie Stross about the future over the next tweny years. By 2027, he predicts we will easily be able to video/audio/text record, store, index, and search all of our waking moments, all the time, for as long as we live. This will be good to resolve he said/she said arguments--both in the home and in the courts. Pretty bad for privacy, however.

It would also mean the need for a complete overhaul of our educational system. Why memorize stuff (like times tables, history dates, parts of speech, the periodic table, and the Linnaeus biological classification system) when we can just search it near instantaneously?

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A recent ITConversation with Robert Scoble pointed me to TwitterVision. It is a cool mashup between Twitter and Goggle Maps. It shows where in the word the current twitter comments are coming from.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Encyclopedia of Life

E.O. Wilson, at this year's TED conference wished for an Encyclopedia of Life. With thanks to many people and foundations it has begun. Check out the two minute video at:

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Edelson's Law

I have just started listening to Vernor Vinge's talk to the Long Now Foundation entitled, "What if the Singularity does NOT Happen?" In the first part of the talk he cites the following provocative quote by Steve Edelson, which Vinge calls Edelson's Law:
The number of important insights that are not being made is increasing exponentially with time.
Others have commented that this issue arises out of the exponential growth in infotech, biotech, mechanotech, etc. The interplay of all the new discoveries produces insights beyond the ability of the collective wisdom of human beings to grasp.

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Monday, May 07, 2007


Long Now Podcasts

My friend, John K., recommended subscribing to the Long Now podcasts. Will give it a try.

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The Strategy Paradox

Endless Innovation introduces a new book about innovation called The Strategy Paradox: Why committing to success leads to failure (and what to do about it). The thesis (as best I can tell from the reviews) is as follows:
  1. All of the various worlds that make up the global market place, such as the business world, the consumer world, the financial world, and the technology world, are changing quickly in ways we cannot predict.
  2. Big corporate strategies, while necessary for achieving corporate success, also assume a long term understanding of the global market place.
  3. These strategies, therefore, set organizations on paths that are inflexible to the inevitable changes in the global market environment.
  4. Thus the paradox, that in order to achieve corporate success, corporations--by intentional design--get out of sync with the market.
The solution to the paradox is to be flexible and adaptive. Darwin said it is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those species which are most adaptable.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007


Legal Advice for Bloggers

Thanks to Ken for this pointer:

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Better Search for Second Life

My friend, Peter, sent me a link to a new search tool inside Second Life at:

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Thursday, May 03, 2007


Everything is Miscellaneous

Cory reviews David Weinberger's new book, Everything is Miscellaneous.
Weinberger's thesis is this: historically, we've divided the world into categories, topics, and hierarchies because physical objects need to be in one place or another, they can't be in all the places they might belong. Computers and the Internet turn this on its head: because a computer can "put things" in as many categories as they need to be in, because individuals can classify knowledge, tasks, and objects idiosyncratically, the hierarchy is revealed for what it always was, a convenient expedient masquerading as the True Shape of the Universe.

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Second Life Revealed

3PointD waxes eloquent about this afternoon's Linden Lab town hall meeting to address resident concerns about the quality of the platform.

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Jott This!

The Innovation Weblog suggests using a new service called Jott. Jott is a voice to text service. One calls Jott on the phone and leaves a message. Jott will transcribe the message and email the text and audio to a predefined address.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Linux on Dell PCs - Wow

Cory points to an announcement that Dell will now offer Ubuntu Linux on it computers. this wast he number one request on the Dell Ideastorm site that asks users what they want.

All I can say is this a game changing event. This will dramatically lower the price of a pc. And with lower price, higher consumption. I love it.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


A Wiggle and a Ripple

TerraNova points to a Second Life wiki article about a new feature called "Sculpted Prim" which imports 3-D models (from Maya, for example) as single prim objects. The wiki says:
. . . it would be easy to have a flash animation generate a sculpted prim - and when a resident touches a spot on its surface, the shape could wiggle and ripple appropriately.

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This Could Totally Work

Scott Adams says:

Have you heard of an online service for kids called Webkinz? It’s like a cross between cocaine and puppies. Kids can’t resist it. It’s frickin’ brilliant.

Before you use the Webkinz service, you have to buy a stuffed animal that comes with a code. You use that code to activate an animated character in an online world that looks like your stuffed animal. The brilliant part is that your online critter will become sick if you don’t regularly visit and care for it. Somehow this makes kids emotionally invested.

Kids can earn fake money by playing games on the system. That money goes toward caring for their online creatures, including buying furniture and so on. Kids love it. But I think kids aren’t the biggest market for this sort of thing.

I think single women would want an online boyfriend they could totally control. But here’s the hook: The online boyfriend is a “project.” If you don’t sign into the system regularly, your online boyfriend will start dressing with clothes from the 80’s, smoking, gambling, staying out late, and flirting with other women.

It’s the “owner’s” job to make the virtual boyfriend eat right, exercise, look for a job, and trim his nose hair. If he scratches his crotch or passes gas during an online dinner party, he gets no virtual sex for a week.

The women could earn fake online money by playing games just like in the Webkinz model. For example, imagine a Tetris-type game where articles of clothing fall from above and you have to assemble them into coordinated outfits before they reach the ground. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be a hit.

I am thinking about a game where the intense sports dads could have virtual sports sons. After training their virtual sports sons, they could get together with other sports dads and have virtual sports contests with their virtual sports sons. This way, real world boys would be free to play World of Warcraft.

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Biological MEMS

Bruce cites
The single-celled Spirostomum is a tiny brown worm that can contract its 500-micrometer-long body to 25% of its length in a millisecond, making this protozoan the fastest-contracting microorganism known. Scientists think of microorganisms like this as tiny functional machines. After all, many of them have capabilities far surpassing the current state-of-the-art in MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) technology.
So what does our little friend Spiro eat? And how do we get him/her to jump at our command? But, I like the idea of putting these babies to work. Especially if we can get them to clean out the garage . . .

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