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Showing posts from 2009

Is Facebook Graph a Counter to Google Wave Federation? Absolutely.

From Beta, to Alpha to Roadmaps - recent moves by Google, Facebook and Twitter demonstrate that platform release is accelerating. Facebook and Google have me convinced that they're among the most foresighted of companies in the social media space.  Understanding the value and nature of prosumers, developers, structured content, open source, and broader tech-info convergence, the gargantuan yet speedy pair (+ quickly growing thirdborn Twitter) are jockeying to connect to more data, brains and meaningful partnerships.  The result is fierce, healthy competition that's accelerating the pace and manner of social software platform releases. Yesterday, Facebook announced a set of smart maneuvers clearly spurred on by Google's aggressively open strategy, including one called Open Graph (you can tell just by the name that this is a Zuckerberg baby) that will allow website builders everywhere to build Facebook-style pages , complete with many of the platform's bells and whi

Google Navigation = I'm Getting a Droid

I've been sitting on the iPhone:Android fence for a while now, but no longer.  The impending release of Google's100% free, absolutely rocking Navigation System has tipped me in the direction of the Motorola Droid . The new service is an awesome demonstration of the potent products that can spring from Google's rich, structured data core.  Could the company monetize this directly?  Absolutely.  But they won't because it's even more important for Google to 1) encourage Android phone purchases by offering this amazing feature (expect this to last a short while then migrate to iPhone as well), 2) popularize a new platform that sucks in structured data (much like the free and similarly sweet 1-800-GOOG-411) and 3) generate good will toward the G-Brand. Expect increasingly more babies from Google's fertile data womb in the near future. 

Facebook Keeping Pace With Google's Open Platform Maneuvers

Not content to simply rely on its explosive growth curve (as MySpace did under NewsCorp prior to the shakeup), Facebook yesterday made three big announcements aimed at wooing more high-end and low-end developers:  Facebook Platform: A rich and well-thought out suite of developer-facing support code, information and services including a heretofore unprecedented 6-month developer roadmap and a major focus on simplicity (similar to Google's maneuvers). Open Graph: Part of Facebook platform, a vague announcement about a new API that will allow website builders everywhere to build Facebook-style pages, complete with many of the platform's bells and whistles.  A logical follow up to Google Friend Connect, this lines up with Mark Zuckerberg's January comments on the decentralization of the platform and follows Google's strategic open API lead, reinforcing that walled graden large scale social media is on its way out. Developer Access to User Email Addresses: A minor m

Carving Up the Social Graph Turkey

After much deal-making and jockeying in the previous quarters, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google at last revealed their near-term Social Search plays at today's Web 2.0 Summit . Facebook announced the impending launch of its own social search platform + a deal with minority investor Microsoft that brings FB status updates to Bing.   Google announced a new Social Search capability that pulls friend-relevant data from most core social networks with the notable exception of Facebook + a deal with Twitter to bring real-time tweets to the search engine. Microsoft announced the Facebook/Bing deal + a Twitter deal virtually identical to Google's. Twitter stuck to its open-expansion-uber-alles strategy, announcing it's willing to play nice with anyone who will help it fend off Facebook from its niche. The moves clearly demonstrate the increasing value of structured social data (aka the emerging social graph) to search services and should silence skeptics that have com

Control Over Perceived Environment (COPE)

What is intelligence? "Intelligence" is a pervasive and useful, yet problematic term with no true measure, despite the fact that psychologists and other cognitive scholars having been working on this non-stop for roughly 150 years.  It's a readily understood, good-enough meme that helps us put labels on brains and to organize them, yet remains a crude, dull operating tool that leads to much confusion, miscommunication and errant simulation among its bipedal, meme-hoarding user junkies. The highly elastic meaning of the word is especially irksome in technical discussions.  Note how difficult it is to ascribe definitions of intelligence to various systems:  individuals - are we talking about g , social intelligence or Gardner's multiple intelligences? groups - is the group stifling individual excellence? how can one effectively measure crowd wisdom? are cultures more or less intelligent in different environments? AI - when does an AI truly become intelligent

Finland: Connectivity is a Human Right

Following in the footsteps of the French, Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications has decreed that as of July 2010 every Finnish citizen will have"the right to a one-megabit broadband connection" as an intermediary step toward 100 Mb/person in 2015. If one views brains as supercomputer-equivalents critical to the convergent growth of technology, information, communication and human capabilities, as I do, it becomes obvious that such national policies are beneficial and necessary -- and maddening that we've not made more progress on these issues here in the United States. Connectivity is not just a stabilizing social force, as Thomas Barnett has pointed out, it is a glue that's critical to convergent growth.  It's now high time for more nations to get hip to the idea that their full network of brains makes possible regular value creation and should be optimized for higher use.  Hopefully emerging models of individual/social "intelligence

Google's Long Prosumer March Continues as Building Maker for Google Earth is Unveiled

As usual, Google is keeping it's eye on the (rapidly expanding) prosumer prize, this time strengthening the base of its Geo-Quantification efforts through the public release of Building Maker , a program w/ complementary toolkit that encourages citizens like you and me to add renderings of buildings to any of 50 designated Google Earth cities. We like to think of Building Maker as a cross between Google Maps and a gigantic bin of building blocks. Basically, you pick a building and construct a model of it using aerial photos and simple 3D shapes – both of which we provide. When you're done, we take a look at your model. If it looks right, and if a better model doesn't already exist, we add it to the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth. You can make a whole building in a few minutes. Here's a demo video from the Google beta: Google lists some additional consequences of participating in the program: Building Maker is an online tool, and it runs entirely in your w

Laser-Generated 3D Maps

Great Britain's national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey , has posted a beautifully detailed 3D map of Bournemouth that was generated through the use of accurate laser technology .  The organization says this map "is made from 700 million individual points of light." Take a look at the elegant results:   Experts at Ordnance Survey are optimistic that geographic laser scanning technology will "revolutionise the future of personal navigation, tourism and the planning process as well as aiding architects, and the emergency and security services", but I'll be watching to see how their technology scales and performs versus competitors, particularly Google Earth's flesh-out-our-scaffolding approach. It's also interesting to note that this forward step in 3D quantification is being pushed through a government agency.  Expect increasingly more governments to get serious about such initiatives because of the short and long-term value they can prod

Web-Mediated Learning Found More Effective Than the Classroom

A comprehensive new report asserts that web-mediated learning has been found to be more effective than face-to-face learning. New York Times: Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. My initial reaction is that both learning settings are critical and that students empowered with laptops in a classroom setting, such as in Maine, would probably outperform both groups. That said, it certainly does open the doors wider to distance learning and, hopefully, sweeping educational reform.

Holograms You Can Touch

Shinoda Lab presents "touchable holography" that measures where your hand is in relation to an object, then uses ultrasonic transducers to create pressure at the appropriate points. The result is the simulated sense of tactile interaction with a virtual object.

Mattel Releasing Augmented Reality Toy Line to Support Cameron's Upcoming AVATAR Movie

Virtual Worlds News reports that toy manufacturer Mattel has teamed up with AR company Total Immersion to add an augmented reality component to AVATAR action figures. Each figure in the new line will come with a 3D web tag, or i-TAG, which consumers scan using a home computer's webcam. Scanning will reveal additional content on-screen such as biographical information or animated models which corresponds to the purchased product. Here what it'll resemble, as seen through your computer screen while being captured by your webcam: Go here for some cool product example vids, including their AR Topps Baseball Cards, by Total Immersion.

Augmented Reality iPhone Apps

The first of the augmented reality apps hit the iPhone: Though these may be light-weight, they clearly demonstrate a changing relationship with the world around us.

Twitter House

As we continue down the yellow brick road to the internet of things , intelligent infrastructure and, ultimately, total systems quantification , we're bound to see more examples such as The House that Tweets . And, of course, IBM technology will play a big role as we develop this Smarter Planet .

Facebook Will Do "Billions in Revenue" Annually by 2014 Predicts Marc Andreessen

Core Facebook investor Marc Andreessen believes that Facebook will easily clear $500 million in revenue in 2009 and "billions" annually in 2014, reports Reuters . "This calendar year they'll do over $500 million," Andreessen said in an interview, noting that Facebook has more than 225 million users, so revenue per user is still small. "If they pushed the throttle forward on monetization they would be doing more than a billion this year," said Andreessen, who made the cover of Time Magazine as founder of the world's first Web browser company, Netscape. "There's every reason to expect in my view that the thing can be doing billions in revenue five years from now," Andreessen said. Barring sudden cataclysmic disruption or legal action, Andreessen's forecast seems pretty reasonable to me considering that 1) upwards of 1 billion more humans may well be online by then, 2) server costs will continue shrink, and 3) CPM rates will c

The Rise of Community Genomics

My dad, a Latvian World War II vet, liked to compare human behavior to that of insects. "We're all just ants," he would often say. I didn't really grasp his full meaning until I swung into the social psychology kick of my early twenties. But then, when I did, I realized that this metaphor extended further into all biological systems. My current position is that we're not just humans, or ants, we're a biological mesh of knowledge generating organisms. So it's interesting and a little bit validating to read that scientists are now (at last - due to reduced technological limitations) exploring community approaches to genomics, in this instance the "genomes of 17 different ants , fungi and bacteria that eat through hundreds of pounds of leaf matter a year could ultimately lead to new techniques for making biofuels." Over time, the findings will help to paint a more accurate picture of how interdependent life systems cooperate and how exactly we hu

Simulating How Incompetence Flows Through Hierarchical Organizations

The bulk of the world has long understood that large organizations = bureaucracy = inefficiency. Social historians Strauss and Howe have amassed evidence demonstrating how this occurs cyclically in national systems . But, still, it's been awfully difficult to quantify how and why this entropy consistently builds up over time... until now. New research by Alessandro Pluchino and team at the University of Catania (talk about a flattening world), reported in Technology Review , confirms the conventional wisdom that incompetence can spread through a business as " individuals [are] promoted until they reach their level of maximum incompetence." In other words, social climbers that can best navigate a system that fails to understand the diversity of human competency in different areas gradually, but steadily contribute to inefficiency in large organizations that can no longer rely on direct performance oversight. Pluchino's research is based on a simulated agent-based mo

Here Come Floating Prosumer Probes... Or Not...

Remember the floating Imperial probe droid (images) sent to the surface of the ice planet Hoth to systematically check for Rebel activity? Like many other speculative sci-fi concepts, it is proving to be a harbinger of things to come, especially now that steady hovering humming-bird-inspired flight has been prototyped and is actively being developed: AeroVironment video showing progress with testing of a tiny flapping-wing "nano air vehicle" (NAV) designed to fly indoors. Testing culminated in a 20sec flight of an interim test vehicle, called Mercury, which demonstrated controlled hovering flight using a pair of flapping wings for propulsion and control. AeroVironment is now building a prototype for DARPA that will be samller, lighter and will closley resemble a hummingbird. As such devices drop in cost they will dramatically expand the physical phase space for sensing devices (video, thermal, radar, sonar, networked, etc - all also quickly dropping in cost). No doubt peop

Google Continues to Add City Simulations to Its Growing Roster

Interactive 3d simulations of cities continue to proliferate: Google Blog: Warsaw, Prague and Oslo have joined the growing list of phototextured cities in the 3D Buildings layer o f  Google Earth . Like other major cities these 3D models are predominantly autogenerated, yet they also contain a number of  Google SketchUp  models generated by the user community. While the autogenerated models are good quality, user-generated models are often better because ground-based photos can produce a higher quality model than ones generated using aerial imagery.

A Computer Screen That Recognizes and Shields Data From Unauthorized Users

Just as technology makes it easier to access more information, it's also enabling new ways to protect and segment that information. Case in point is a clever new computer system that recognizes unauthorized eye-contact and jumbles/encrypts the view of the screen from that person's POV. Pretty cool concept. It'll be interesting to see how this technology develops and is applied. I could, for example, see it working with large digital billboards working in concert with smartphones transmitting real-time geospatial coordinates. You'd be able to, in theory, turn one generic sign into 50+ custom messages.

YouTube's Expanding Prosumer Pipeline

It is no surprise that the growing number of camera-equipped mobile devices, particularly the new iPhone 3G, is catalyzing an explosion of video content to YouTube . YouTube reports : In the last six months, we've seen uploads from mobile phones to YouTube jump 1700%; just since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS came out, uploads increased by 400% a day. Particularly interesting is Google's cognizance of this trend, as reflected in their efforts to facilitate / reduce barriers the flow of mobile video content to YouTube and then to social networks. This growth represents three things coming together: new video-enabled phones on the market, improvements to the upload flow when you post a video to YouTube from your phone, and a new feature on YouTube that allows your videos to be quickly and effortlessly shared through your social networks. It takes just a minute to connect your YouTube account to your Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader accounts. Complete a simple, one-time c

Education in a Transforming World - Futurists Von Wolfsheild, Vita-More and Brigis (That's Me) On FastForward Radio Tonight

I'm happy to announce that I've been asked to appear as a last-minute fill-in on the first episode of FastForward Radio's The World Transformed series (TONIGHT) alongside accomplished futurists Reichart Von Wolfsheild (awesome name) and Natasha Vita-More (pretty cool name too). The episode will focus on education and the role we expect it to play in a world dominated by accelerating change. It is Part One of a riveting Ten-Part series that will include some of the biggest names in the forecasting field. More info on that later as host Phil Bowermaster releases details. Here's the information about tonight's program as posted by Phil: The World Transformed begins its landmark 10-week run on FastForward Radio with a discussion about the role that education, both formal and otherwise, has to play in preparing us for the astounding transformations to come. Is your thinking future-ready? Find out as futurists Reichart Von Wolfsheild, Natasha Vita-More and Alv

Wikipedia is Finally Upgrading to Video

After 8 years of steady growth Wikipedia is finally upgrading to video : Technology Review : Within two to three months, a person editing a Wikipedia article will find a new button labeled "Add Media." Clicking it will bring up an interface allowing her to search for video--initially from three repositories containing copyright-free material--and drag chosen portions into the article, without having to install any video-editing software or do any conversions herself. The results will appear as a clickable video clip embedded within the article. I'm sure it's going to be awesome, very useful and empowering for prosumers. But, still, what the fork took them so long? Answer: Funding. Counter: So why not sell ads? Counter: But we're a non-profit. Counter: So what? And when will the foundation implement other powerful web 2.oldschool features such as dynamic comment threads, geospatial data and basic social networking? Answer: When they have the necessary fundi

Social Graph on Your Sleeve - A Memory Shirt that Combats Forgetfullness

Former President Bill Clinton was notorious for knowing the name of everyone he ever met. He accomplished this by directing aides to quickly screen people he was about to meet and then whisper that information to him just prior to the handshake moment. Now, thanks to an innovation called the " Memory Shirt ", most of us will soon have the ability to appear socially cognizant of the people we meet, especially those we've already met before, thus amplifying our physical social networking and avoiding some annoyingly awkward situations rooted in memory discrepancy. Very cool product, but, personally, I think I'll wait for the contact lens version, which shouldn't be very far behind. :)

The Simulation Era

Simulation, aka the ability to generate knowledge maps in various formats and languages, resides at the heart of the convergence that is expanding human capability and driving the systemic creation of knowledge . It is absolutely critical to accelerating change in information, technology, problem solving, etc, and deserves a more central role in our models of economy, intelligence, society and living systems. Accordingly, it is no accident that the market for humans who generate complex simulations is growing, as reported by the NYTimes earlier this week: "Bill Waite, chairman of the AEgis Technologies Group, a Huntsville, Ala., company that creates simulations for various military and civilian applications ... estimates that 400,000 people make a living in the United States in one aspect or another of simulation. His company employs close to 200 people, with an average salary of $85,000." Of course, thinkers such as Richard Florida, Rise of the Creative Class , and A