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Showing posts from June, 2009

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 of 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 connec…

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 Alvis Brigis j…

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 funding.


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 Alvin Toff…

Using 'Declarative Technology' to Scale 3d Models and Accelerate Rich Simulation

Now this is what I call serious capability-enhancing STEM Compression:

Prosumer Takeaways: Soon we will all be creating simulations on par with DreamWorks and Pixar (high end personal computers can already match the renderings their server farms were busting out years ago). And as the simulation phase space expands, so too will our economy and intelligence.

Annotating the Physical World - How Much Augmented Reality Cake Will Layar Take?

Imagine pointing your iphone at different locations around you to reveal geographically pertinent annotations and/or other media that people have deposited there. Now there's an app for that.

In futurist circles, this basic world-as-web scenario has been discussed for years (I even worked on one such forecasting project), if not decades. The simplest version of the concept has always been an application that intuitively and instantly blends real-time first-person physical world experience with the valuable data contained Wikipedia, Yelp or other websites, allowing you to instantly access stats about restaurants, concert venues, parks, car dealerships, schools, businesses, etc, that you encounter in your view. Such an app could, for example, provide information about a certain shrub in your yard, allowing quick access to species data, historical photos and related ads from the local lawncare services. Now, thanks to the convergence of smart phones and real-time geo-sensing, a …

Mark Zuckerberg Getting Hip to the Mandate of Kevin

Recent public statements by the socially awkward (but getting better now that he's feeling more comfortable in his own nerdy skin) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have at last convinced me that the second-largest and most-valuable social network is increasingly growing cognizant of its dependency on the prosumer. Zuckerberg's updated thoughts on decentralization (understanding the inevitability), monetization (finding the right niches) and democratization (a big theme in his recent interviews and statements) should serve to pacify those in the blogosphere who have been calling for his head in light of internal drama, digital rights debacles and a totally debunked revenue crisis.

Decentralization (above):"We're big believers in the idea that over time the value will decentralize from just being on Facebook to being spread out over the eco-system. Ultimately I think that's a really good thing. I think that's it's good for the web to have all of that function… - Actually Useful Real-Time Image Search

For the first time I have encountered a somewhat useful real-time visual search engine. Thanks to a timely tweet by friend & documentary filmmaker Graeme Lowry, I'm now aware of PicFog, a relatively new service that scours recent twit-pics for tags. It's particularly relevant for current events and regional search results, offering a quickly digestible snapshot collage of real-time coverage and reactions.

For example, check out the huge volume of PicFog results concerning "Iran" (thanks to Graeme for the link) right on the heels of the Ahmadinejad's re-election. Clearly, such results and/or streams will play an interesting role in near-future of media, particularly as 1) pic volume increases (as a square to affordability of input devices and total planetary info), 2) the results incorporate Creative Commons licensing, and 3) the results begin to include HD video.

We are the media mob.

Update: Jorgen Chee also recommends comparable service, sayi…

U.S. Debt Will Nearly Equal Annual GDP in 2011

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget projects that in 2011 our national debt will equal 97% of the country's yearly GDP. This will diminish national value stores and influence unless we can use the pressure to redefine our values, empower human capital and develop prosumer opportunities.

That news is especially scary considering the context of 1) steady and massive increase in Social Security payments due - MORE $ PRINTED / INFLATION, 2) impeding peak oil production and consumption - HIGHER COSTS, 3) potentially necessary investments in disconnected conflict regions such as North Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, African Nations, perhaps even Mexico, - INCREASED EXPENDITURES and 4) growing pressure to replace the dollar as the primary international reserve currency - DROPPING $ VALUE, DECREASED MARKET INFLUENCE, INCREASED SECURITY COSTS?.

Silver Lining: The socio-economic environment is more attuned to powerful, scalable solutions. Web-based innovation, collaboration and pr…

Praise the Lord of the Web! Google Finally Launches Creative Commons Image Search

To date, whenever I've needed free-to-use Creative Commons 2.0 or 2.5 images for blog posts or other projects I've been relegated to either Wikipedia or Flickr for my image searches. No longer will that be the case, thanks to a typically simple, yet broadly important announcement via the Google Operating System blog: Google Image Search added the option to restrict the results to images that are licensed using Creative Commons, a list of flexible licenses that allow content creators to share their works with the world.

The options aren't yet available in the interface, but you can use the search box [here] to find images that are licensed using some of the most popular Creative Commons licenses. The new CC search is already turning up great results and will clearly be an invaluable prosumer resource for years to come. It's certainly going to make this blog more visually appealing, entertaining and just plain weird (sometimes the image results are just too funny to not in…

And the Largest Social Media Site on Earth is... China's QQ - Not Facebook

Here's an interesting tidbit for ya.  According to recent Alexa and Google Trends stats compiled by web marketer Vincenzo Cosenza, China's QQ site (this must be how the rest of the non-english speaking world views Facebook and Myspace) reigns supreme as the most trafficked social networking site on the planet, boasting 300+ million monthly unique users (that's nearly as many as this blog).  The knowledge serves as an important reminder that the rest of the world is just as interested in the web and that competition, cooperation and disruption will increasingly come from different directions, especially as human resources and markets are equalized in the coming years.  
Wildcards: Look to shifts in currency value, robust real-time translation tools and emerging micro-credit and service/good-barter markets to even out the international value of prosumers. 

Adding Avatars to Email Increases Response Rates

Social web design aficionado Joshua Porter reports that Rypple, a client of his that manages enterprise idea feedback systems to increase workplace creativity and productivity, noticed a 15-20% increase in email response rate when users personalized their messages by including basic avatars representing themselves.
Joshua commented: That’s some food for thought…there aren’t many ways to increase response rates that much that easily…this also adds another data point to the importance of avatars in social design.Combine this data point with Seriosity's finding that basic email token systems can dramatically increase the rate of email consumption and it becomes clear that 1) there is still great room for improvement in our email systems, which bodes well for new forms of messaging like the potentially breakthrough Google Wave, and 2) much of that innovation will occur through systems that can most quickly provide the email consumer with a rich snapshot of data (micro-topsight) that co…

Hands-Free XBox and Wii Interfaces Will Give Microsoft and Nintendo a Data Collection Edge

On the heels of Google's potentially revolutionary Wave announcement, Steve Ballmer's Microsoft has dropped a future bomb of its own: a hands-free, emotionally responsive XBox control system that could disrupt and expand the video game industry much like the Wii did eons ago in 2006.

Unveiled yesterday at E3, the new Natal system has been evoking rave reviews arcoss the blogosphere. Some choice phrases: "game-changer", "seminal moment not just in video games, but in technology too", "disabled gaming revolution?", and the more cautious "seems to hold a lot of potential, with some possible technical limitations".

Particularly interesting is Natal's ability to scan objects, such as a skateboard, and bring them into the game, as demonstrated in the promo video below:

Not to be outdone, Nintendo has also announced a lighter-weight hands-free control interface for the Wii, releasing this workout demo on the heels of Microsoft's big anno…