31 December 2007

Running on Oobleck! Vibrating Oobleck!

The right mix of cornstarch and water becomes a non-newtonian fluid. Like a solid under stress, like a liquid otherwise! It also behaves in a stunningly bizarre fashion when vibrated at various frequencies!

Ambani's Greenscraper

Indian zillionaire Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, is building Residence Antilia, his personal greenscraper in Mumbai, newer design on the left, older on right...

Kudos to EcoGeek (and Daily Dose...)

On the lookout for greenscrapers, I came across this EcoGeek column on Uber-Eco-Towers by Jon Schroeder at where he spotlights top-ten green skyscrapers, including this Urban Cactus in Rotterdam (more photos of Urban Cactus courtesy the Daily Dose of Architecture)... EcoGeek also showcased a great time-lapse video about the construction of a wind turbine by ecotricity in England...

30 December 2007

Baby Anime !-)

I admit that I'm a sucker for silly humor. Well, Wilkinson Sword, the razors company, made this Fights for Kisses anime pitting baby vs daddy for the affections of mommy. Ridiculous, but it cracked me up, especially the natural gas-powered baby moment. Brought forth mixed memories of my ultra-Freudian English teacher in High School...

Use the Trendalyzer, View Gapcasts...

Play with the online version of the Trendalyzer from Gapminder (although they spunout development to Google) where you can dynamically compare trends-over-time among a couple dozen dimensions over several decades...
And certainly take a look at the Gapcasts by Hans Rosling and colleagues, each a short video using the Trendalyzer to investigate some aspect of the human condition (e.g. Globalization, Urbanization, Maternal Mortality, etc).

29 December 2007

Visualizing Human Liberty, Prosperity, and Vitality Worldwide

It's useful to spotlight the different dimensions of Liberty, Prosperity, and Vitality of peoples around our planet. Just a few examples here. First the combination of the UNDP's Human Development Index together with Conservation International's Biodiversity Hotspots...
And Transparency International's Index of Perception of Corruption... And the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom compiled together with the Wall Street Journal... And the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index (4 colors Dark-to-Light Red then Light-to-Dark Green representing Worst-to-Best)... And the Freedom House Map of Freedom in the World... Finally, the real way to see all these kinds of data is with Gapminder, whose impressario of ideas, Hans Rosling, delivered an impassioned talk at TED 2007 visualizing poverty dynamics worldwide...

Really Green Buildings

Roof gardens, green walls, and other key elements making for really green buildings. We need entire vital cities filled with such structures!

Both GardenVisit and BusinessWeek imagine such a future!

28 December 2007

Afghan Entrepreneurship DESPITE the USAID...

Sarah Chayes writes in the December 2007 Atlantic Monthly an article entitled Scents & Sensibility, about her experience starting and building Arghand, an Afganistan-based soap and body-oil business gainfully employing Afghans and locally-sourcing materials, and how she "overcame the incompetence of America’s aid establishment." Humorous and yet a sad testimony to the lousy judgment and misguided incentives of government bureaucrats and the international development aid industry.

Green Lungs for Vital Cities -- e.g. Al-Azhar Park in Cairo

My Developmental Entrepreneurship student Zehra Ali reminded me of the hugely important role the Aga Khan plays in global development, most especially in the areas of architecture, design, planning and above all, vital cities.

One glorious example of this sustained interest -- over several decades -- and enduring support is the creation of Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Egypt, a wonderful example of urban innovation and greenscaping. A former municipal dump has been transformed into a "green lung" for the biggest city in Africa and an inspiration for vital cities worldwide!

26 December 2007

Wiimote Projects from Johnny Lee @ CMU

Great example of what the Nintendo Wii will soon enable in the realm of consumer virtual reality. Johnny Lee of CMU shows how simple hardware plus clever code turns everyday display into a VR display with depth! Great video about his Wiimote...

24 December 2007


This is the season for Howtoon-ing, learning-by-doing through play that matters!
For instance, use an Air Cannon to blow out your candles!

10 December 2007

Celebrating Development Innovations @ MIT

This coming Tuesday 12/11/07, I'm running an informal end-of-semester International Development reception at MIT.

We will serve up a buffet of tasty morsels, both veggie and carne. Our goal is to help connect people from throughout our greater-Cambridge global development community and to especially spotlight emerging opportunities in the upcoming Spring Semester.

Joining us will be members of several project teams from Fall Semester 2007 development-related courses including Digital Innovations, Developmental Entrepreneurship, D-Labs, and more. Also invited are the leaders and membership of TechLink, SEID, GSW, GPI, AfricaBusinessClub, NetImpact, and other clubs, as well as organizers & participants in the IDEAS and the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competitions and the International Development Network (IDN) at MIT. Finally, the instructors & organizers of several key IAP & Spring 2008 development-related seminars at Harvard & MIT will join us, specifically people representing ICT for Development, Global Health Delivery, Wheelchair Design, Water & Sanitation, Prosthetics Design & Development, Projects for Change, Nuts & Bolts of Business Plans, D-Labs, Responsive Cities, and more.

Quite cool!

06 December 2007

Exponential Innovations

Howtoons had a very nice write-up by MIT Science Writer David Chandler in TechTalk today. We very much hope to reach millions of children worldwide with DIY play and experiential learning.

Met IDEO's Tim Brown today at Andrew Collins's MITX Fireside Chat. Asked him about products which empower exploratory users to be co-designers of their own experience. iRobot co-founder Rod Brooks was in attendance and his Roomba open-access interface is a live-case study of just such user-empowerment. Also in attendance were MIT Sloan's Jim Utterback, Dave Weber, and multiple Sloan Fellows. Google's Rich Miner was especially interested in the role of voice interfaces; Tim admitted that most designers were ignorant of that dimension (!) Uber-blogger Dan Bricklin was on-duty and captured the essence of things. Technology Review's Kathleen Kennedy was in the house, as was old compatriot Bruce Journey.

Earlier this evening, xconomy.com hosted a fascinating panel on building billion dollar ventures in New England. Chief Xconomizer Bob Buderi rallied Tim Greeley of IDG Ventures to moderate, Christophe Westphal of Sirtris (and Alynylam, Polaris, et al), Frank Moss of Media Lab (and Infinity, Tivoli, et al), and Helen Greiner of iRobot to hold forth on how-why-when we might giga-venture.

Lots afoot. I co-founded MIT's Developmental Entrepreneurship initiative so we could really dial things up, including granting travel moneys for students to field-test their venture plans over January. The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition Judging is soon and will be announced next week December 13th, 2008.

More happening. New startups. Cluster crafting. Ecosystem engineering. All is going exponential.