30 June 2009

What're Howtoons? ~ Cartoons Showing "How To"

Nick & Ingrid Dragotta are dialing up our Howtoons web presence! Click and explore more! Anyone want to help translate Howtoons into other languages -- e.g. Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic, Swahili, Urdu, Farsi, Chinese, Malay, Tagalog, etc -- drop a line!

29 June 2009

Development Innovations ~ Great Post Roundup!

Wow, there's been a surplus of goodness in recent days when it comes to spotlighting Development Innovations -- those ideas which soon might or are already rapidly improving lives in emerging markets! Hearken to the data!
Let the surge continue! And please send me links if I've missed something great.

Kaguya Crash ~ Japanese Sat's Lunar Encounter

Thanks to Brad Feld for spotting the Kaguya crash video...

LOLrio Kart Kamera ~ Ask And Ye Shall Receive!-)

In my previous post, I "suggested" attaching Kameras to the LOLrio Kart. Prayers answered... Now that Gizmodo's on the story, expect Charles to be subject to all sorts of OSHA, NHTSA, FCC, USDA, and other rules & regs. Lacking helmets, who-needs-brakes, unshielded E&M interference, abuse of grocery cart, all that $#!+ will bite you in the ^$$ eventually;-)

Energy Leapfrogging ~ Scalable Consumption Too

Jonas Meckling just wrote in The Energy Grid about Leapfrogging to a cleaner energy future by developing countries learning-lessons from older rich. But cleaner energy production via solar or nuclear or cleaner carbon is only part of the leap. More scalable energy consumption is as important. "Scalable" means things which can work for billions of people tomorrow, not merely the rich millions of today. Relevant approaches include things like:
  • Developing ecologically integrated cities with greenroofs (e.g. Chicago), big garden commons (e.g. NYC or London or Singapore or Hong Kong), high density, reliable infrastructure, etc;
  • Operating dense cities with functioning mass transit instead of sprawling burbs where one needs a car to go to the corner grocery store;
  • Crafting bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-savvy cities;
  • Using electricity for urban mobility via RoboScooters, Greenwheels on bikes, and systemic electric auto solutions like Better Place;
  • Constructing energy-efficient buildings tuned to local conditions;
And so forth. Do all these (and more) and developing countries can leapfrog over all the bad urban planning decisions fueled by cheap oil and un-internalized externalities.

28 June 2009

Robotic Futures ~ Rod Brooks on Us and our Bots

Thanks to Maker Faire and Fora.tv for sharing this May 2009 talk by Rod Brooks about Remaking Manufacturing With Robotics...

Pirate Season ~ Russian Yacht's "Big Game Hunt"

Too bad it's only a hoax. Many news articles and blogblabbers alike spread the word that Russian cruise lines are offering pirate hunting trips, some specifying sensational options and extras including:
  • Minimum guarantee of at least two hijacking attempts by pirates or instant $1,000 refund upon arrival in port;
  • Free complimentary night vision equipment is included and coffee, pastries and snacks are always available on the main deck from 7pm until 6am;
  • Rent a full-auto M-16 for only $25/day with ammo attractively priced at $16 per 100 rounds of 5.56 armor-piercing.
  • Nothing gets a pirate's attention like a Barrett M-107 .50-cal sniper rifle; only $59/day with 25 rounds of armor-piercing ammo affordably priced at only $29.95.
  • Rent an RPG for only $175/day with three fragmentation rounds included;
  • On a budget? Rent a full-auto AK-47 for only $9/day with 7.62 ball ammo at $12 per 100 rounds;
The sad thing is the number of people who commented on this as "outrageous" or "unethical". It seems to me that this would be both self-defence -- with the pirates attacking first -- and well within ancient maritime tradition. And it's a clever way to get rid of verminous piratical scum. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel...

Speed & Access ~ IEET's Treder on Tech Ethics...

Nice piece by the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies (IEET) Managing Director Mike Treder on Technoprogressives and Transhumanists: What’s the difference? where he makes the case for safe, responsible, cautious, and widely accessible development of Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) technologies (the Blue Star in his chart below). But he yells at people like me who are willing to push harder and sooner for new technologies and think it is fine that in the early days such technologies are only available to the rich (the Red Dot). I think it's mostly a question of timing and can be left to the market forces of supply and demand, especially since most historical inventions of note began for the wealthy few and then later spread to the rest of us -- e.g. books, steel, autos, planes, etc. On the other hand, we both differ from the yellow luddites in the lower left...

In Vitro Meat ~ Growing Racks of Muscle in Vats?

Feeding cows and pigs food grains to fatten them up for the slaughter is certainly the time-tested method of making meat. And I think everyone should participate at least once in the full "value chain" of the meat-making process so you are fully informed and even ethically comfortable with it -- for example, watch the Dutch TV show which has you Meet Your Meat. But perhaps there's a more resource efficient way to produce meat for food? Hence the idea of In Vitro Meat -- muscle grown on racks in vats and harvested for human consumption. By culturing muscle cells into tissues in an artificial bath of nutrients and stimulating the growth of large swaths of muscle mass, we should be able to create large quantities of Grade AAA beef, lamb, chicken, pig, and other tasty delectables. Think of it as "brewing beef" instead of "raising cattle". The only real limiting factor then becomes energy input. So this is one of ways we convert the global food crisis into a global energy challenge -- and that's where we bring in solar, nuclear, and other plentiful power solutions.

Global Food Crisis ~ Nat Geo's The End of Plenty

Just picked up the June issue of my favorite monthly magazine, National Geographic, and read The End of Plenty by Joel Bourne Jr (with photos by John Stanmeyer) on the global food crisis...
"Last year the skyrocketing cost of food was a wake-up call for the planet. Between 2005 and the summer of 2008, the price of wheat and corn tripled, and the price of rice climbed fivefold, spurring food riots in nearly two dozen countries and pushing 75 million more people into poverty. But unlike previous shocks driven by short-term food shortages, this price spike came in a year when the world's farmers reaped a record grain crop. This time, the high prices were a symptom of a larger problem tugging at the strands of our worldwide food web, one that's not going away anytime soon."
Bourne then raises the spectre of a "hot, crowded, and hungry world" with a "perpetual food crisis." Faced with this predicament before, he notes that agricultural innovators...
"...helped more than double the world's average yields of corn, rice, and wheat between the mid-1950s and the mid-1990s, an achievement so staggering it was dubbed the green revolution. Yet with world population spiraling toward nine billion by mid-century, these experts now say we need a repeat performance, doubling current food production by 2030. In other words, we need another green revolution. And we need it in half the time."
But with each new invention boosting capacity or supply, the Malthusian condition is for people to breed -- or grow older -- thus pushing demand even higher. Bourne's story spotlights examples of this from several emerging markets. In the end, however, the challenge remains feeding 9 or 10 Billion people by 2050. What truly transformative technologies will make this possible?

Pimpin' Underglow ~ LOLrio Kart & Driver Takeoff

Walkin' past MITERS yesterday I saw Charles "Equals Zero" Guan......takeoff on a spontaneous LOLrio Kart road trip to and fro the extreme western tip of campus, three or four klicks total. No ride video because Charles hasn't yet figured out he should be mounting multiple kameras on the Kart! But see here an earlier ride video proving it works! Still no brakes, of course, because installing the pimpin' underglow had higher priority;-)

27 June 2009

Ageing Populations ~ A Greying World by 2050?

The latest Economist has a special report on Ageing Populations ~ A Slow-Burning Fuse spotlighting our increasingly greying world...
"The rich world's population is ageing fast, and the poor world is only a few decades behind. According to the UN’s latest biennial population forecast, the median age for all countries is due to rise from 29 now to 38 by 2050. [...by 2050] in the rich world one person in three will be a pensioner; nearly one in ten will be over 80. This is a slow-moving but relentless development that in time will have vast economic, social and political consequences. As yet, only a few countries with already-old populations are starting to notice the effects..."
There are several key infographics in the article, including this one showing the trendscape of aging over the past 60 and upcoming 40 years...
This is a theme the Economist has touched on before, including their review of the Age of Aging. For those interested in more, the special report's Sources are an excellent reference list. A key set of charts I like are these Health Percentographs (a.k.a. Survivor Plots) showing the percentage of a given cohort still living over a span of ages. Emerging developments relevant here include technologies for Extreme Longevity. And if you like to speculate about what future worlds with healthy elderly people might be like, check out The First Immortal and other SF speculative futures!

(One final point: thanks much to Philips, the consumer health and lifestyle technology global leader, for sponsoring the PDF downloads of this special report. This is a strategically clever move on their part, since Philips is one of the businesses which is best placed to grow serving this new kind of "grey market".)

26 June 2009

Joel Selanikio ~ Lemelson-MIT Sustainability Hero

Excellent to see the 2009 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability go to Dr Joel Selanikio for his EpiSurveyor, now the most widely adopted open source mobile health software in the world. Seeing that mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) were spreading quickly and dropping in price, Selanikio decided to use these handheld computers to improve the public health data collection process. He notes...
"I set out to develop software that was extremely simple to use; taking the skills, expertise and capacity that previously came with hiring a consultant and instead, put the necessary tools into the hands of the actual public health officer, nurse or physician. I was determined to make the software both free and open source, as not to raise barriers to data collection."

25 June 2009

Neda ~ A Martyr Murdered by Mad Mullah Swine

The Persian people have a rich and remarkable culture and enduring civilization. This makes the situation today that much more tragic and untenable. In response to the recent largely peaceful civic protests and demands for election transparency and basic human rights, the mad mullah swine -- the theocratic dictators currently oppressing the people of Iran -- have via their minions slaughtered dozens of citizens. But none more horrifically and totally unnecessarily than this modern martyr -- the innocent Neda Agha-Soltan...

Monique Maddy ~ Learning to Love Africa...

After finishing her Harvard Business School MBA, Monique Maddy, born in Liberia and educated in the UK and US starts up a business in Tanzania to provide telephony services. Her saga...

24 June 2009

Iko Toilets ~ Kenyan Entrepreneur David Kuria...

Dutch videojournalist Ruud Elmendorp tells the entrepreneurial story of David Kuria, owner of Iko Toilets, clean safe restrooms, minimarts, and increasingly entertainment hubs for urban Kenya...

World Government ~ Imagining Future Humanity...

Thanks to IEET Big Ideas for this video on a Systemic Theory on the Inevitability of World Government by Ohio State Political Science professor Alexander Wendt...
The question of a World Government with monopoly on the use of force is both intriguing -- a natural progression forward for democracy and human rights being equally applied everywhere -- and frightening -- imagine the mad mullahs of Iran in charge of everyone in a future terrestrial theocratic dictatorship. Social Science Fiction is a compelling vehicle for exploring such questions further and I especially recommend the Heinlein works -- for instance, If This Goes On -- and the Halperin works -- including especially The Truth Machine.

23 June 2009

LOLrio Kart ~ Dancing in the Rain! Hmm, Brakes?

MIT's own Charles "Equals Zero" Guan herewith busts forth with his latest LOLrio Kart update video! It not only lives, but rides! And, oh yeah, it's electric... What, no brakes?! This is ridiculofantasmoliciousness incarnate! Also check out his Project RazEr!

African Rail ~ Ethiopia Invests in Resurgent Ways

Excellent to read Elizabeth Blunt's piece in the BBC that Ethiopia looks to revive past railway glories. Ethiopia is one of the couple dozen African countries that had rail infrastructure originally built by Europeans back in the day. After decades of war, turmoil, distraction, and neglect, these countries are investing in a railway resurgence. The Ethiopian case is especially interesting -- it being a nascent hydro- and agri-superpower -- and so their plans are suitably ambitious...
"The government is starting to plan a completely new rail system, with a further 5,000 km (3,100 miles) of lines. It is early days yet [but] this would be a standard gauge railway, electrified to take advantage of the abundant, cheap electricity expected to be produced by ambitious new hydro-electric schemes soon to come into operation. It would be primarily designed to carry freight, and although the proposed routes are still confidential, it might -- for instance -- serve the coffee-producing areas of western Ethiopia, the light industries of the north, the commercial food producing areas south of Addis Ababa, and the fertile, but as yet undeveloped farmlands near the Sudan border."

Time Travellers' Test ~ What Are Cusp Moments?

Michael Gove in the Times asks the Time Travellers' Test...
"If you could travel back in time and intervene at one moment in history what would you do? Assassinate Hitler? Stop Lenin getting on that train to the Finland Station? Slip something in Mao's rice wine before he got the idea of the Cultural Revolution?"
Great question! My own top answers would be:
  • Getting Alexander to adopt more enduring political reforms thus accelerating East-West openness and exchange;
  • Talking Julius Caesar into pulling a George Washington and democratizing the Republic into a Roman Commonwealth instead of Empire;
  • Exposing Moses or Jesus or Muhammad back in their day as fraudulent hucksters preying on peoples irrational stupidities and emotional foibles;
  • Influencing the Hongxi Emperor and son Xuande to continue the great sea voyages of Admiral Zheng He in the 1400's thus reversing the geo-polarity of the Age of Discovery;
  • Catalyzing an industrial revolution in Timbuktu and the Songhai Empire of West Africa, thus placing it on competitive footing versus the rapacious Europeans;
Gove's own opinion?
"[Get] between Gavrilo Princip's bullet and Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Almost all the miseries of the last century can be traced to the greatest civilisational catastrophe of all time -- the First World War. There was a madness abroad in Europe in 1914, as the new Tate Modern exhibition of the war-worshipping Italian Futurists reminds us. Prewar Europe was a uniquely liberal and civilised place. And it was all swept away, in a ceremony of blood that ushered in eight decades of oppression."
See Daniel Finkelstein's Comment Central for more ideas.

21 June 2009

Housing Factory ~ Cruise Ship Cabin Modules...

Thanks to gCaptain for noting How It’s Built ~ Cruise Ship Cabins about the factory-built modules which are assembled together into a ship. I'm especially interested in both building housing in factories and the prospect for mass customization of accommodations. Check out this previous post on Tempohousing containers. And see here the Aker Yards (now STX Europe) video of their cabin builds...

Greenhabitats ~ More Design Delighters...

Click on these latest lovelies from Inhabitat... Plus these two Inhabitat items about novel building materials...

20 June 2009

Illegitimate Ayatollahs ~ We Are All Watching You

To the unelected ayatollahs illegitimately ruling and ruining Iran:
We are all watching you and will not forget your dastardly deeds. We will never surrender to you and your wretched religious tyranny. Your actions -- your crimes against humanity -- are worse than the worst behavior of the Shah. What little legitimacy you once might have had has now more than disappeared. You are evil incarnate and must go. We The People and our universal rights -- including especially freedoms of thought, belief, speech, exchange, attire, and action -- will ultimately prevail.
The protests will continue -- overtly or covertly if necessary -- until those swine, these mad mullahs -- are vanquished.

19 June 2009

Mass STEM ~ Business Leaders Unite @ MoS

I was pleased to be invited by Doug Banks of MassHighTech to attend the STEM Business Leaders Breakfast meeting yesterday at the Museum of Science. Orchestrated by JD Chesloff, the Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and colleagues, this was a rallying event to unify business leaders from the Commonwealth around the agenda of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics -- STEM. Several speakers and a panel shared their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities. I was especially impressed with Iaonnis Miaoulis, President of the Museum of Science, for his rallying cry around Technology & Engineering in addition to Science & Math. The core of the gathering was advancing the agenda in Tapping Massachusetts' Potential, namely...
"...double the number of STEM bachelor degrees, with a special focus on currently underrepresented groups, and double the number of STEM teachers, grade 7 through 12, by 2020."
The recommendations include:
  1. Rallying the Public to support STEM
  2. Motivate kids and adults towards STEM careers
  3. Improve K-12 STEM teaching
All sounds nice, but I can't help remember that the parts of my upbringing that inspired me towards engineering and coming to MIT had almost nothing to do with my teachers and my formal K-12 schooling. If anything, they were a waste of time (with, I must say, a handful of very important notable exceptions from among my elementary school and high school teachers). The overwhelmingly important things for me were my hobbies, parents who tolerated and even financially supported these hobbies, friendly neighbors, and a vacant lot across the street to play in. That kind of thing continued at MIT where the actually important things were chosen electives and extracurricular experiences. And, curiously enough, one of my driving reasons for creating Howtoons with Saul and Nick was to capture this DIY-beyond-classrooms ethos and share it with kids everywhere!

17 June 2009

Religious Apes ~ Zealous Irrational Idiotic Tribes

The Kubrick-Clark movie 2001 or Israel-Palestine 2009? Q. What's the difference? A. One group knows they are apes. The other group denies they still are apes...

Future Banks ~ Mobile Financial Services For Poor

Thanks to the BBC for spotting Africa Pioneers Mobile Bank Push, documenting CGAP's study that...
"Mobile financial services in the developing world could be worth $5bn by 2012... [...] More than one billion people in the developing world have access to a mobile phone, but no bank account. [...] The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) said it thought the number of people with access to a mobile phone, but no bank account, would to rise to 1.7 billion in 2012. It also expected more than one in five to use their mobile to access banking services, creating a market worth up to $5bn (£3.05bn)."
That's real money! And our MIT Development Ventures such as Dinube, MobilBanco/WAY Systems, Assured Labor, WiderReach/CellBazaar, Remesatel, and others are going to help lead the way!

Growing Furniture ~ Pooktre's Garden Tree Chair!

Wow, props to Diane Pham for writing in Inhabitat about Living Furniture ~ the Pooktre Tree Chair! Those who've visited my office terrarium -- a.k.a. the Greenhouse -- know I like two kinds of green: the US$ kind and the growing kind;-)

16 June 2009

Nuclear Innovations ~ Factory-Made Reactors

Very interesting to read this Technology Review piece by Kevin Bullis -- A Preassembled Nuclear Reactor ~ A new modular design could make building nuclear reactors faster and cheaper...
"A new type of nuclear reactor that is designed to be manufactured in a factory rather than built at a power plant could cut construction times for nuclear power plants almost in half and make them cheaper to build. That, in turn, could make it possible for more utilities to build nuclear power plants, especially those in poor countries. [...] The reactors are much smaller, designed to generate 150 megawatts each, but could also be strung together to generate as much as a conventional nuclear power plant. They also integrate two separate components of a conventional power plant in a single package: the reactor itself and the equipment used to generate steam from the heat that the reactor produces. As a result, the entire system is small enough to be shipped on a railcar. And because the system can be shipped, it can be manufactured at a central facility and then delivered to the site of a future power plant."
This cuts costs, boosts quality, lowers time-to-build, reduces risk, and opens markets. Great!

Better Pathways ~ Alternatives To Miss-Action...

Israel asserts asymmetric rights over Palestine. Iran declares election results are legit. North Korea nukes peace agreements. Venezuela assimilates everyone else's hard work. China goes Ostrich over Tiananmen.

All examples of boneheaded unelected -- or barely elected -- civic leaders misbehaving and acting in ways contrary to the common sensibility of We The People.

We need Better Pathways as plausible alternatives to this pervasive pattern of incompetence and irrationality.

14 June 2009

African Lights ~ Empowering Nextgen Scholars

I had an interesting chat with one of our new MIT Sloan Fellows about air transport systems in Africa. This is a wide open venture opportunity space, but one with tremendous challenges. A quick search reveals much, including this unrelated but inspiring -- and yet dismaying -- photo by Rebecca Blackwell of students in Conakry, Guinea studying under the airport lights, the only ones on... Infrastructure investments will empower and move people in multiple essential ways, physically as well as intellectually.

Nano Home ~ India's Affordable Housing Boom

The latest Economist spotlights The Nano Home ~ India's cheap housing boom, noting...
"India’s cities need at least 25m more homes, according to report from McKinsey, a consultancy, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce. In Mumbai, the commercial capital, more than 8m people now live in shantytowns, often paying substantial rent for the privilege. But buying a home of their own is way out of reach for most of them: a 70-square-metre flat in the centre of the city costs $500,000 or so. Matheran Realty is one of several firms that think they have a solution: ultra-low-cost housing. In Karjat, 90km east of Mumbai, Matheran Realty is in the process of building 15,000 flats with prices starting at just 210,000 rupees ($4,500) for 19-square-metre units. Tata, the firm that makes the $2,500 “Nano” car, is building 1,300 basic units at Boisar, about 100km north of the city, and may add more. Priced at 390,000-670,000 rupees each, they are already oversubscribed. Other firms are planning similar developments elsewhere in India."
The article goes on to quote Monitor's Ashish Karamchandani who has been a driving force articulating novel financing and business models for these developments, many of which are described in his Emerging Markets, Emerging Models report. I was delighted to meet him in person when he visited MIT earlier this year in an event organized by TiE-Boston's Raj Melville and Ranjani Saigal. Financial service innovations for the base of pyramid market are a trillion dollar global opportunity area!

13 June 2009

MIT ID-D-Drinks ~ MuddyMonday June 15 7p+

Interested folks are invited to join me and Seeding Labs founder Nina Dudnik and friends this coming Monday night, June 15th, at the Muddy Charles Pub from 7pm-onwards for our informal International Development Discussion & Drinks gathering! Come meet others thinking about science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and transformative global development! Alas, because of harshly enforced unconstitutional drinking age laws in our police state, everyone's expected to bring their Proper ID showing an age exceeding 21 years. Spread the word to those who might appreciate and add to the conversation!

Transhumanity ~ Beyond "Life Sucks Then U Die"

Mike Treder Managing Director of the IEET -- the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies -- writes Life sucks and then you die... ...but it doesn’t have to be that way!
"If we have proven anything in the last 10,000 years of advancing civilization, and especially in the last 300 years of the scientific era, we have shown an ability -- indeed a compulsion -- to kick against the pricks, no matter how painful that might be, until we break free from whatever bonds held us down. We will not be satisfied with the status quo. Life can be better, and we can make it so. We can have more freedom, more equality, more solidarity. We can do more to reduce suffering, increase education, and provide abundant opportunities for all. We can use our intelligence, our creativity, our learning, and our technology to improve on things as they are. We can, we must, and we will. Today we are finally approaching the very real potential of overcoming the greatest limitations that existence has placed upon us. We are beginning to see the glimmers of significant life extension, of healthspans that could cover centuries, if not eons. Our rapidly accelerating technological prowess may soon enable substantial reengineering of the human condition and such radical augmentation of our bodies and ourselves that we may no longer be recognizably human, but will have attained a state of transhumanity or even posthumanity."

Tree Art ~ WebEcoist Spotlights Bonsai Sculptors

Thanks to Josh at WebEcoist for spotlighting Tree Art: 6 Amazingly Creative Bonsai Artists including these delighters...

10 June 2009

MassChallenge ~ Commonwealth Venture Funds!

As I hinted at yesterday -- and first mentioned nearly three months ago -- the MassChallenge is a massive idea which is gaining momentum. Lead by MIT alum John Harthorne and colleagues Akhil Nigam and David Constantine, MassChallenge greatly dialed things up this morning when key moral and financial support from Commonwealth Governor Deval Patrick, corporate sponsor Microsoft, the venture advocacy-oriented Kauffman Foundation, and technology entrepreneur Desh Deshpande were all publicly announced. As Desh told me yesterday at MIT's Ideastream, he's a huge booster of our entrepreneurial supercluster here in Massachusetts and the MassChallenge is one great organizational way to help accelerate things!

Bike the Strike! ~ London Wheels Around Unions

Thanks to the CycleChic-sters for pointing out the Bike the Strike! -- the London Cycling Campaign's BikeTubes for dealing with their underground transit worker strike.

MIT AITI 2009 ~ Kenyan Students Code Mobiles!

A shout out to Michael Gordon and MIT colleagues with the Africa Information Technology Initiative in Kenya now teaching these smart students how to code mobile phones!

More Inhabitat ~ Green Artifacts & Greenscrapers

This has been a particularly densely delightful week of tasty morsels from Inhabitat. Clickon these lovelies...

China's Rise ~ Economic & Health Convergence

Gapminder Hans Rosling spotlights China's Rise -- a 200 year view on Chinese convergence with UK economic and health metrics...

09 June 2009

Ideastream 2009 ~ MIT Deshpande Center Event!

I was delighted to attend the latest Ideastream 2009 today run by the folks at the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. Curiously enough, I co-created the original Ideastream with Bob Metcalfe and Mark Gorenberg back in 2001! Compared to those two, of course, I'm a minion in the MIT machine, but we did articulate the core goals of engaging the Institute's technologists with the larger venture capital community and emphasizing the translation of ideas and inventions into widespread innovations. (See here my last year's Ideastream commentary.) So this year's event was great to participate in. I especially enjoyed linking with inventive and entrepreneurial MIT Professor Karen Gleason about new organizational models for running research universities, connecting with the MassChallenge leadership about big news to be announced literally tomorrow, with multiple MIT student and alum inventors about their promising startup opportunities, with Luis Barros of the Mass Life Sciences Center about the idea of Venture Fellows, hearing Shai Agassi portray a path towards a Better Place, and finally with chatting with Desh himself afterwards about the Sandbox he and his Deshpande Foundation colleagues have created in India to accelerate new product and service innovations in his home-zone in India. Ideastream indeed lives up to its own spinonym and is where ideas do stream forth!

P.S. Here's the big MassChallenge news! Support from Da Gov.

06 June 2009

Enabled ~ Changing the Playing Field... And Rules!

My MIT colleague Rich Fletcher sent me and Amos Winter this great clip of extreme athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham who does thing in a wheelchair that most humans wouldn't dare try with a bike or other vehicle... Is this guy "Disabled"? He has a wheelchair, which is a classic indicator of "disability". I would argue, however, that he is Enabled. He has mastered the tools he needs -- like all humans do, including language, clothing, etc. As MIT Media Lab director Frank Moss notes, we need a new wave of innovation to build entirely new genres of empowerment and enabling technologies!

05 June 2009

Tank Man ~ Tiananmen's Unknown Rebel Hero

Thanks to The Big Picture for reminding us of the brutal Chinese Communist dictators who slaughtered students and citizens twenty years ago at Tiananmen Square and other parts of Beijing and elsewhere in China. Many heroes emerged from this struggle for freedom, but one is especially worthy of note: In the face of an armored column, this unknown rebel -- Tank Man -- stood firm... No one knows who he really was or whether he's still alive. Thanks to Miss Cellania for pointing to The Tank Man documentary by Frontline and links by Metafilter that We Have Not Forgotten. Many of the known and visible protest leaders were killed or jailed or exiled by the regime. While there have certainly been some positive reforms in Communist China since then, the illegitimate political heirs and murderous minions of the Communist criminal Mao continue to dictate over and politically oppress the billion citizens of a remarkable culture and ancient civilization. What is absolutely amazing is that the world has let the ruling Communist dictatorship get away with not only Tiananmen, but equally brutal tyranny in Tibet, and a litany of other political and civil abuses. I was appalled last year that they were even allowed to host the Olympics, an ignominy as bad as the Nazi Games in the 1930s. By allowing narrow "economic reform" the criminal Communist leadership has largely bribed the people -- and the planet -- into silence and suppressed yearnings for freedom for the sake of "China's Rise". But it remains fundamentally illegitimate. The world's free people need to stand as one in the spirit of the heroic Tank Man to face the tyrannical tank that is the Red China state and sing out "Let Freedom Rule!" The lights of liberty must shine over all China, and indeed all of Earth...

Inhabitatable ~ Very Nice Green Developments...

Click on these latest quite Inhabitatable delighters...