Saturday, October 29, 2005

I wish there was some good news

Photos by Mark Lynas,

At the Poptech conference last week British journalist Mark Lynas gave one of those presentations that leave you rather depressed.
Global warming is certainly happening, and I keep hoping someone would come up with a bit of good news, like, they've found out that it's not so bad after all. But every time I listen it seems to be getting worse.

Mark Lynas has travelled the globe, documenting the already visible effects of the changing climate. Among other places he went to the Peruvian Andes where his father had worked as a geologist in the 1980ies. He had his dads' old photos from the glaciers there and took new photos in the exact same spots. The upper photo is from 1980, the lower from 2004. Uhh!

A big beautiful whale blowing

Wonderful, I went to Iceland on business. In the science-park we have an artificial Geysir that erupts 18 meters into the air.
I figured it might be fun to have a live webcam showing the REAL geysir next to ours, as part of our attempts to explain visitors how a geysir works.
So on my way back from Boston I made a stopover and had a great day with my counterpart at the Geysir. Oh Iceland, it’s incredibly beatiful.

The shots here show part of what’s going on; hot and cold meeting in the 40 meter deep hole, pressure building up till suddenly... BOOM!

Then the boiling waters flows back into the hole with a deep sucking sound. You clearly get the sense that the earth is a big, living creature. Rumbling and pumping like a heart beating, drawing air, exhaling, steaming and sweating. Maybe we’re standing on top of a big whale.
Maybe it’s whales all the way down...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fremtids arkæologi

Sorry, this is just for the Danish speaking:
Jeg har det sidste halve år haft en artikel serie i Samvirke med titlen "fremtids-arkæologi".
Jeg har lagt 6 artikler på mit website, den 7. følger om en måneds tid.

The hands from the trains of Bombay

Suketu Mehta is an indian born journalist who grew up in New York. He went back and spent two and a half years in Bombay – with his wife and two small kids – and he wrote the book ”Maximum city” about this incredible place.
Lots of it seems very depressing, but he offers this beautiful image of why he, despite all the problems, believes that Bombay is a city of the future and how the people living there show a way forward:

”If you are late for work in the morning in Bombay, and you reach the station just as the train is leaving the platform, you can run up to the packed compartments and find many hands stretching out to grab you on board, unfolding outward from the train like petals. As you run alongside the train, you will be picked up and some tiny space will be made for your feet on the edge of the open doorway. The rest is up to you. You will probably have to hang on the door frame with your fingertips, being careful not to lean out too far lest you get decapitated by a pole placed too close to the tracks. But consider what has happened. Your fellow passengers, already packed tighter than cattle are legally allowed to be, their shirts already dreanched in sweat in the badly ventilated compartment , having stood like this for hours, retain an empathy for you, know that you boss might yell at you or cut your pay if you miss this train, and will make space where non exists, to take on more person with them. And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable or whether you were born in this city or arrived only this morning or whether you live in Malabar Hill or New York or Jogeshwari (...). All they know is that you’re trying to get to the city of gold, and that’s enough. Come on board, they say. We’ll adjust.”

Big box mart - crap ain't free

JibJab have produced another masterpiece. Among many other funny and deep videos they produced the hillarious ”this land” parody about Bush and Kerry using Woody Guthries old song.
Now take a look at the ”Big box mart”- video.
Uhh, very funny, very frightening. Are the chinese taking over – or are we driving ourselves into the ground?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Marxism and open source

Though he didn’t point it out directly, Yochai Benkler’s talk yesterday at Poptech got me thinking about how the open source paradigm relates to the good old marxist analysis of the power of controlling the means of production.
Marx showed how capitalism tends towards ever larger players as each company has to invest in ever more advanced and more expensive machinery in order to compete.
To finance this increasing investment the companies need to expand their market and this gradually presses out the smaller players who lose out in the escalation of investments.
So, in this way capitalise leads to fewer producers, more expensive means of production and a very clear distinction between those that have the means to produce and the masses that consume.
We see this in places like the production of micro processors, cars, or LCD screens. There’s only room for a handfull of players in these industries – you cannot make chips as a cottage industry.

But then a completely different kind of technology comes along. With PC and networks, suddenly the means of production are in-expensive, they’re in the hands of millions, they are suited for networking, co-laboration.
So the lines between producer and consumer blurrs, and it spreads as more industries see a rising part of what they produce becoming information, digital content.
Obviously, the next step will be when actual physical manufacturing gets into the hands of the masses as 3D printing makes it way into everyday reality.
We’re in the middle of a clash of economic paradigms. In fact the clash extends much further – but that’s a very long story.

From broadcast to conversation/ co-creation

Very interesting new browser coming up, from some of the folks that were involved in firefox. It’s called Flock.
What it seems to do is take another major step towards turning the web into a massively multiplayer conversation.

It makes blogging extremely fast and easy in so far as it speeds up quoting and referring to stuff on other websites. You simply cut and paste what you want to show in your blog. It even automatically insert a link to the original source.
And it has a window for adding tags right at hand.
In fact tagging or marking places of interest and sharing your preferences with others is completely integral to the way you use it – as is RSS feed reading.

For me the significance is the way it from the start treats the web as a place for conversation and remixing. We’re really leaving broadcasting with flock.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The time line is on line

My latest project is a timeline on Danfoss Universe' webpage.
The timeline runs from the year 1700 and by navigating back and forth and clicking on milestones you can learn about the major technological inventions, historical events in world history and in Denmark – and of course, milestones for the Danfoss company. The timeline is launched as part of the celebration of the 100th birthday of Mads Clausen, the founder of the comapany.

It’s been a major effort coordinating a lot of very good people writing, coding, translating, gathering pictures – and IMHO it’s turned quite nice.
For me, the project has yielded a few interesting historical insights: We may feel that we are living in a time when technological development is at ist fastest and most radical ever. But take a look at the fifty years from 1875 to 1925. Among the inventions of that period are:

moving pictures
Light bulb
AC motor
solar cells
time zones
x-ray photography
coca cola
Relativity theor y

...How’s that for technological change?

MIT press bookstore - ah, the temptations

Of all the wonderful bookstores on earth the MIT press bookstore at Kendall square in Cambridge is probably the one I like the best.
Small, compact, packed with way too much interesting information – so much I’d love to know. I can easily spend an hour browsing – and even swing by again the next day.

What I got:
Felice Frankel; Envisioning science
O’reilly’s magazine Make
Vital signs 2005 from Worldwatch institute
Sean Carroll; Endless forms most beautiful – the new science of evo devo
John Thackara: In the bubble

There was much more, I could have gotten. It takes tough discipline and prioritizing. I have to carry it home, and I have to read it. And who knows what other great books I may stumble upon in the coming days?