Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No, you're too fat to drive

My daughter (14 years) was talking about how she would like to have a moped or a car so she could just drive around effortlessly. We then talked about how fat she would get if she didn’t get to walk and bike.
Her solution: a moped, or Segway of sorts, that would measure your body fat index and refuse to drive if you were getting too heavy.
I could see some interesting scenes with people trying to argue with their Segway or hacking it to give ’em a ride.

Gentlemen, start you engines

Originally uploaded by Peter Hesseldahl.

It's time to get out the grill before winter strikes again.

A public private sphere

The computer screen is an interesting mix of a public and a very private space. You know the situation: Someone is showing you something on their computer or you are doing a search together, and inevitably all sorts of little private bits come up. The browser shows what other URLs have been visited, The bookmark bar gives an idea of where the person usually goes to hunt information, Google reveals what other searches have been done.
The latest version of Apples Safari browser (2.0) has a feature called ”private browsing”. This is how Apple describes it:
”When private browsing is turned on, webpages are not added to the history, items are automatically removed from the Downloads window, information isn't saved for AutoFill (including names and passwords), and searches are not added to the pop-up menu in the Google search box”.

I like that, It really annoyed me that I couldn’t control what information I revealed about myself to anyone who I might be collaborating over the screen with.
But in fact, it’s more or less just returning to how things used to be. It would seem smarter if you could opt for an in-between solution. Keeping the data, but only showing them if you specifically need to. History data can be very usefull – and very revealing.

One more thing, sort of on the same subject: I hate it when powerpoint presentations end, or when you have to skip from one presentation to the next, and the whole crowd gets exposed to the desktop clutter. It’s like seeing people in their underwear, it can be interesting, a voyeuristic thrill, but basically it damages concentration on the topic you were supposed to focus on.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Phone booth without a phone

Originally uploaded by Peter Hesseldahl.

Nice touch. Where else but in Finland would you find a phone booth in trains without a phone? Or rather: In Finland, why would you want a phone in a booth for phoning - everyone has a phone in their pocket already.
Somehow significant; the way technology changes the architecture of the space we inhabit.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bad energy forecast

Once again I walk away from a conference rather disturbed by what I’ve heard, but still professionally conscious that there are so many other schocking facts that we never really have the time to deal with.
Once again, an hour long barrage of powerpoints with curves all pointing in the wrong direction. You sit there, hoping for one of the speakers to finally pull out a solution. But no.

In this case an international conference on future energy consumption and supply at the national Danish research center Risø.
One speaker, Fatih Birol from IEA, the International Energy Agency, laid out the forecast with considerable institutional authority.

Among the conclusions of the IEA:
- Global energy cosumption will rise 60 % until 2030
- Almost all of the growth will be in the developing world
- There will be NO decoupling of energy use and carbon dioxide emmisions (in other words, the climate is screwed)
- As the oil wells of the EU and US run dry, a dramatically increasing share of the worlds energy will be supplied be a handfull of rather instabil countries, notably Saudi, Russia, Iran, Irag, and Nigeria.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Where am I?

Originally uploaded by Peter Hesseldahl.

Just a striking scene. A Danish-Japanese festival at Egeskov slot, one of the arch-typical historical castles. So here’s a women in Kimono who’s travelled from Japan to watch Danish kids playing traditional Japanese music. I realize that this mix of culture probably wouldn’t even be noticed in so many other places. In Denmark this is still a budding future.

A new kind of roadkill

Weird thought: Driving through the countryside you see the warning signs of deer and other wildlife crossing – and certainly on the roads there’s a variety of flattened animals on display.
When will they start putting up signs on the roads in metropolitan areas warning against stray robots, hurtling themselves more or less mindlessly into the traffic?

Communism 2.0.

I could see it happening at some point. So many of the technologies that we believe – on balance – promote freedom rather than control, could be turned against us as individuals, presumably for the sake of the greater common good.
Our world is becoming transparent, on record, searchable. Typically what we we’re getting is greater freedom, but greater responsibility and accountability, too. At the moment we don’t really have to think too much about the responsibility part – not in a fundamental sense, like in terms of water, energy or food.
Rather often, though, when you look ahead, the prognosis looks like major crunch. Getting through a period of true crisis could change the technological balance dramatically. If things get tight, it would seem very easy to slip in the directions of a lot more control and disciplin. Not necessarily enforced from above as such, rather a general feeling that everyone should pitch in, that we can’t tolerate hogging ressources or behaving in a blatantly anti-social way. Central planning and common standards could be enforced like never before. Hitting the wall in terms of ressources we would face an installed instrument of pervasive control. It might even work – but I’d rather that we find ways to maintain some slack in time.

Back to the middleman

I may be the last person discovering this, but just in case you haven’t heard: Sending your digital photos off to a real photo printing shop is simply vastly better than using a printer at home. You get that nice glossy and saturated quality that we used to get with film. God knows I’ve tried at home; with the best paper, fresh ink cartridges, maximum rendering quality, but it never really gets near to what sending your photos to a real printing shop can achieve. Find some service, mail you files, pick ’em up a few days later. It’s cheaper too.