31 March 2010

Green Inhabitats ~ Delightspaces and Arts Vivants

Great green Inhabitat spottings! Click-on these...

Dutch Kids? ~ No, But Shows Cycling Diversity!-)

See here where Danish cycling guru and Copenhagen CycleChic impressario Mikael Colville-Andersen puts son Felix on the front rack while daughter Lulu sits on the bulldog seat on the crossbar. Just like Dutch kids!-) What a great way to go to school!

Better World ~ Accelerating From Lab to Market!

Delightful to have Antoinette Matthews, Greg Wymer, and Peter Zak from the MIT Enterprise Forum Global all join me tonight on MaximizingProgress.tv to share the latest about the Better World conference they are orchestrating all-day on Friday 30 April 2010 at the MIT Media Lab. Better World is all about Accelerating Lab to Market Innovations -- helping great ideas born from academic or corporate or even home-labs spread widely and help humanity! Three core themes anchor this conference:
  1. The Business of Innovation
  2. Learning from the Life Sciences
  3. Energy Transformations
So -- Ideas + Health + Power -- critical needs, all! Plus, of course, über-schmoozing with the worldwide leadership of two dozen Enterprise Forum chapters, key entrepreneurial faculty and alums and friends, giants from the Boston-and-beyond VC community, and more. Fantastic content and all packed into a day-long knowledge-and-connections intensive session. Highly recommended!

Smart Lighting ~ Context-Aware Illumination!

Thanks to Gregg Favalora for championing this killer demo video from the ICCP 10 conference at MIT -- great work by the team of Oliver Wang, Martin Fuchs, Christian Fuchs, James Davis, Hans-Peter Seidel, and Hendrik P.A. Lensch on a Context-Aware Light Source!

Venture Consul ~ swissnex's Pascal Marmier!

Pascal Marmier is a new kind of VC -- a Venture Consul! See the quarterly update from Switzerland's innovation and entrepreneurship impressario-diplomat here at swissnex in Cambridge!

30 March 2010

The Dutch Way ~ Bicycling To Work, For Pleasure!

Yes, indeed. Bicycling! The Dutch Way. You too should do it! Thanks to Miss Cellania for spotting this truth;-)

Partitioning Libya ~ Better World Post-Q'daffy...

Libya's Colonel-in-charge suggests partitioning Nigeria much to the bemusement and/or fury of many Nigerians! But he has an interesting idea, one perhaps quite relevant to his own land. Is now the time to partition Libya? It's such an unmanageably large country and the eastern and western wings have enough differences, nevermind the southern desert, there are clearly several districts. So, why not? Whether this reasoning is relevant to Nigeria, who knows...

29 March 2010

Imaging Ventures ~ Panel Tue 3/30 6-8p @ MIT!

For our MIT Imaging Ventures class this Tuesday night, March 30th from 6-8p, we welcome a panel of rockstar entrepreneurs and technologist leaders. We meet in the new Media Lab building, room e14-633. Interested folks are invited to join us and tell your friends too! Here's the panel...
Because of the ICCP 10 computational photography conference, these folks are all in town and it's a great panel!

SparkFun ~ DIY Founder Nathan Seidle @ MIT

Cool to have SparkFun founder and CEO Nathan Seidle speaking at MIT just now about his experience doing a DIY-startup! He described how SparkFun grew from a one-man operation, literally run out of his undergraduate apartment, into one of the largest DIY supply companies enabling engineers, designers, students and hobbyists to build new kinds of electronics. He spoke about starting on credit cards and with zero business knowledge, but with a keen social and venture ethos. SparkFun's grown to over 80 people who sell to those who...
"...play with cool electronic gadgetry" and are "all united in one common goal -- Sharing Ingenuity"
How great is that!

Global Shifts ~ Rosling on 2020 Shaping Ideas

Swedish telcoms equipment giant Ericsson is running a 2020 Shaping Ideas Project asking 20 thinkers how technology and connectivity is changing the world. See here Hans Rosling...
"The advantage of western countries is declining. Soon Asia will dominate the world economy. Professor of International Health Hans Rosling at Karolina Institutet in Stockholm crushes the misconception that there are two kinds of countries rich and poor."

Once Upon a Set ~ Attia's Homage to Leone!

What a cool hobby! Hervé Attia re-visits filming locations of his favorite movies, shot-matches, and collages them into an homage video! Here's to Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in the West...

28 March 2010

Corpus Coranicum ~ The Origins of a Holy Book

Fascinating to read Drake Bennett's Globe Ideas piece The origins of a holy book about creating the Corpus Coranicum, a...
"...central repository of imagery, information, and analysis about the Muslim holy book. Modern research into Islam’s origin and early years has been hampered by the paucity and inaccessibility of ancient texts, and the reluctance of Muslim governments in places like Yemen to allow wide access to them. But, drawing on some of the earliest Korans in existence -- codices found in Istanbul, Cairo, Paris, and Morocco -- the Corpus Coranicum will allow users to study for themselves images of thousands of pages of early Korans, texts that differ in small but potentially telling ways from the modern standard version. The project will also link passages in the text to analogous ones in the New Testament and Hebrew Bible, and offer an exhaustive critical commentary on the Koran’s language, structure, themes, and roots."
Curiously enough, as Bennett notes, in 1516 the Dutch scholar Erasmus compiled the Novum Instrumentum omne, one of the first critical editions of the Bible which so challenged the dominant Latin translation that it helped catalyze the Reformation, an important element of the intellectual revolution which ultimately allowed modern Europeans to shed ever more of the religious irrationalities of their past.

27 March 2010

easyGroup ~ Al J's Riz Khan Interviews Stelios

I admire both the easyGroup business concept and founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou's serial entrepreneur ethos. See here his One-on-One interview with Al Jazeera's Riz Khan... And here's Part 2.

Solar Quest ~ Thermal on NatGeo's Man-Made

Thanks to UniqueDaily for spotting National Geographic TV's Man-Made series and their episode Solar Quest focusing on three different kinds of solar thermal energy systems...

Green Builders ~ Eco-Design for Regeneration!

I just for the first time caught Green Builders playing on NH PBS!
"A quiet green revolution in the building world is evolving, and a first wave of innovative green design projects large and small has already hit the ground. Green Builders, a one-hour high-definition special, profiles a cast of green-building pioneers who have taken the leap into making their part of the “built environment” a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly place."
The show features a great set of builders and live case studies, including the Willow School, a paragon of going Beyond Sustainability and towards Regeneration. In ten years it won't be called Green Architecture -- it'll be called just Architecture. The owner-developer-builder focus will have shifted to lifecycle cost, not merely first-cost of buildings. And people will realize that Going Green is not only ecologically sustainable, but economically advantageous and aesthetically vital! The whole show is online...

Food Revolution ~ Chef Oliver Skewers Obesity!

English chef Jamie Oliver launches a Food Revolution on ABC, a campaign to cut obesity in Huntington, West Virginia, a place statistically one of the unhealthiest cities in the country. His mission:
"Every child in America has the right to fresh, nutritious school meals, and that every family deserves real, honest, wholesome food. Too many people are being affected by what they eat. It's time for a national revolution. America needs to stand up for better food!"
I thought it would be YACR -- Yet Another Crappy Reality TV show -- but no, it's quite good! Check out the trailer... And here's where Jamie makes chicken nuggets for the kids...

Contested Streets ~ Rethinking New York City!

Transportation Alternatives produced Contested Streets to explore the past and present of New York City streets -- the mix of and relative priorities given to pedestrians, bikes, taxis, personal cars, trucks, and mass transit -- and helps rethink these public spaces going forward...
"Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction. London's congestion pricing scheme, Paris' BRT (bus rapid transit) and Copenhagen's bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth. New York City, though to many the most vibrant and dynamic city on Earth, still has lessons to learn from Old Europe."
Copenhagenize spotted this clip out of Contested Streets focusing on Copenhagen through the eyes of architect and planner Jan Gehl...

Strict Liability ~ Cars Can Kill; Drive Carefully!

Thanks to Copenhagenize for spotting Strict Liability infovid...
"Who is at fault in bike v car smashes? In the Netherlands, it's always the motorist at fault, under the 'strict liability' law. [...] Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault."

26 March 2010

Fucking Hell ~ Pale Ale from Austrian Village;-)

Thanks to RNW for reporting this delighter...
"A German brewery has won its battle to market a beer called Fucking Hell. The European Union's OHIM trade marks agency initially rejected the name because of its sexual connotation. That decision has now been overruled in the OHIM's appeals procedure. The brewery defended its choice of name pointing out that 'hell' in German means 'pale' and refers to light-coloured ale. It also argued that the beer is produced in Fucking, a village in Austria."

Life Choices ~ Dr de Ridder on Ethics and Dying

Dr Michael de Ridder runs the emergency department in a Berlin hospital and most recently has written How Do We Want To Die? A Doctor's Plea for a New Culture of Dying and Death, in an Era of High Tech Medicine. This work addresses medical ethics at the end of life, the challenges of intensive care, and the rights of patients while in treatment. In this Der Spiegel interview, he discusses how today's...
"...medical advances are making death more complicated for patients with little hope of living. His book makes a plea for doctors to allow people to die with greater dignity."

Headlines in History ~ Kenya's Nation @ 50

Thanks to Anne Khaminwa for spotting Headlines in History, the story of Kenya's Nation newspaper over the past 50 years -- which is the story of colonialism, independence, power, corruption, and humanity...

25 March 2010

Lux Aurumque ~ Virtual Choir of 185 Performers

Thanks to Shuba Swaminathan for spotting Eric Whitacre and Scott Haines' virtual choir Lux Aurumque featuring 185 vocalists from 12 countries whose individual performance videos were synched up...

Trampe ~ Norwegian Bicycle Lift for Hilly Cities!

Bicycle enthusiasts living in hilly cities can rejoice! Check out the Trampe Bicycle Lift from Norway!
"The inventor of the Bicycle Lift and the owner of the company Design Management AS, Jarle Wanvik, is a true bicycle enthusiast. [...] Inspired by the ski lift technology, he visualized a lift design by which the cyclists could be pushed uphill without having to descend the bicycle. [...] Wanvik joined forces with the experienced mechanical engineer Stein Løvold and the electrical engineer Magnar Wahl. The local ski lift manufacturer, Protek AS, was picked to manufacture and assemble the world’s first bicycle lift."

Beer Boats ~ Utrecht's Unique Supply Scheme!

My favorite Dutch city Utrecht has a lovely center with a very famous Old Canal or Oudegracht running one floor below street level. Until the growth of motor vehicles this was the floating way to deliver goods and remove waste. But in an effort to reduce road congestion and unnecessary emissions, the boats are back -- Beer Boats -- to deliver frozen and chilled goods and perishable foods and, of course, Beer!

24 March 2010

Anup Akkihal ~ SamaanGuru Logistics on MP.tv!

Excellent to interview MIT alumnus entrepreneur Anup Akkihal on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight! Anup came through the MLog Masters in Logistics program here and has applied those operational effectiveness and supply chain ideas to building SamaanGuru -- mobile-phone-mediated inventory control systems -- targeting healthcare and pharmacy solutions in India and other "base of pyramid" emerging markets!
"SamaanGuru is a cloud-hosted supply chain management application operated by a mobile phone or web browser. It has been designed as a simple-to-use, scalable, inexpensive and useful tool for managing inventory in low-resource settings."
With an intuitive user interface, accessible to the less-literate, and on everyday mobile phones, this system is effective for SME microentrepreneurs managing their supply chains. Features include:
  • Track & Trace ~ Enabling commodity visibility;
  • Inventory Control ~ Optimization of replenishment quantities and schedules to minimize stock-outs or losses from expiry;
  • Coordination & Planning ~ Including demand analytics, network optimization for facility decisions, and scheduling/routing for transportation.
Very compelling -- and a live-case example alumco from our Development Ventures class!

Auto Smiley ~ Automagic Smile Capturing ;-)

Thanks to MIT colleague Nathan Cooke for spotting this...

Greater Aqaba ~ Jordan's Compelling Vital City!

As I've noted before, I'm quite fascinated by the tremendous prospects for Jordan's southernmost city, the historic crossroads and seaport of Aqaba! Bordered by Taba and Eilat to the west and Haql to the south, Aqaba is really quite important as an entrepôt for the country and a bridge city linking disparate communities and neighboring peoples. And given the recent growth of interest in Charter Cities, and the role of SEZ's in China and other boom zones, I'd like to spotlight Aqaba as an emergent live-case example. Indeed, in a bold move, the Jordanians back in 2001 created the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) whose Authority runs...
"A liberalized, low tax duty-free and multi-sector development zone, the ASEZ offers multiple investment opportunities in a strategic location on the Red Sea covering an area of 375 km² and encompassing the total Jordanian coastline (27 km), the sea-ports of Jordan and an international airport. [...] Striving to turn Aqaba into a world class Red Sea business hub and leisure destination. ASEZA sustains a globally competitive investor-friendly environment and optimizes the efficient utilization of entrusted resources in harmony with the Zone's Master Plan to internationally recognized standards."
While the Greater Aqaba region is an environmentally challenging development zone, because the coastal area has historic- and eco-tourism sites as well as industrial and seaport infrastructure situated quite close together, these can be addressed and resolved. To execute the plan, the government and ASEZA have started the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) chartered to spearhead central development. ADC owns the ports, strategic land parcels, and key infrastructure and utilities. The latest news is that ADC Invites Companies to Submit Expression of Interest in Port Construction Works...
"The New Port of Aqaba will replace the existing main port facility and is an integral part of ADC’s transport master plan to transform Aqaba into a leading multi-modal logistics gateway for the Levant region on the Red Sea," said Shadi Ramzi Majali, CEO of ADC. [...] The site of the current port is being turned into a beachfront leisure and tourism destination called Marza Zayed."

Sustainable Accessibility ~ Sterman @ MITWorld

MIT Sloan's John Sterman, the Forrester Professor of System Dynamics, speaks here at the Transportation @ MIT series on Sustainable Accessibility: A Grand Challenge for the World and for MIT courtesy of MITWorld...

23 March 2010

Fixing the Great Mistake ~ Re-Humanizing Streets

Velo Mondial spots Fixing the Great Mistake from Streetfilms which examines the wrong turn in early 20th Century when city planners valued automobile efficiency over people and parks...

22 March 2010

L'amour d'escargots ~ Clearly, They Are French

Thanks to Aaron Zinman for spotting l'amour d'escargots... Part of a lovely film Microcosmos by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou.

United Through Reading ~ Family Ties Via Video

Here's a fantastic idea -- parents on military duty read books via video to their kids at home, both via Skype and DVD! Sounds obvious in retrospect, but this is something that United Through Reading's Military Program enables. This 20-year old organization's mission is...
To unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together thus making it possible that all children will feel the security of caring family relationships and develop a love of reading through the read-aloud experience.
Just saw it on NBC news tonight! The USO helps facilitate this great reading and family-ties program for servicemen...

21 March 2010

Trails From The East ~ Rob Hof Seeks Humanity

Many thanks to Cambridge CCTV for casting LinkTV's travel series Trails From The East (or Sporen uit het Oosten in Dutch) Tonight, I saw Episode 7, Part 2 -- India. Fantastic! Overall, Dutch anthropologist-filmmaker Rob Hof and team go on an epic 20,000 km rail-roadtrip -- starting in Vietnam, heading west till the Balkans -- and meet and see many peoples and cultures along the way! LinkTV describes it thus...
"Trails from the East is a 13-part documentary series that chronicles a train voyage from the East to the West, through fast-changing societies, along the birthplaces of five world religions. The series tackles some of the great questions of today’s globalizing world. How do people cope with the continuing globalization? Is it a threat or an opportunity?"
All Trails episodes can be viewed online -- please say Thanks to LinkTV with your $upport -- and see here the series intro from Hof where he relishes everyday people's "ambition to participate" in globalization and celebrates being "open to the other"...

Venture Café Alpha ~ CIC @ One Broadway...

Great to see the Venture Café concept blossoming with an Alpha incarnation orchestrated by Carrie Stalder being hosted at the Cambridge Innovation Center @ One Broadway. The plan this week is to be open from 3-6p with an informal VC Salon featuring Scott Johnson of New Atlantic Ventures, Skip Besthoff of Castile Ventures, and others. All Kendall Square-area and/or entrepreneurial friends interested in venture links & thinks are invited! See here CIC's Tim Rowe's take on the Alpha!

Designing Streets ~ Livability in Vital Cities

Thanks to Mikael from Copenhagenize for spotting Gehl Architect's Kristian Villadsen speaking on Designing Streets as Public Spaces in Northern Climate Cities. He gives examples from Copenhagen, Malmo, and northerly cities, but the lessons are broad...
"Urban planning that makes attractive places to enjoy the climate naturally, improves the walking and biking conditions, and this, even when the snow hits almost all year long; why can’t we think people first? A lot can be learned from Copenhagen, when it comes to making room for everybody and bring a people-oriented approach to planning. From China to Greenland, and New York, cold climate is all about building a culture and “creating invitations” throughout the year, as emphasizes Kristian S. Villadsen, so we can meet each other in liveable streets and public spaces. Although designing streets for all its users sometimes interfere with other agendas whether they are of technical or political character, this conference is inspiring to find new ways so that visions can be transformed into reality."

Correcting Injustice ~ WWII US-Japanese Camps

Thanks to Cambridge's CCTV for spotlighting both the disgraceful injustice of the forced internship during WWII of US Citizens of Japanese-decent into concentration camps and the 1988 US legislation apologizing for this misdeed. The bill admited that "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership" occurred and authorized $1.6 billion in reparations to Japanese-Americans or their heirs. Justice can ultimately prevail -- and that's one more reason why the US is a great country!

Tango Finlandia ~ 1993 Piece by 60 Minutes ;-)

In 1993, before most people had heard of Nokia, intrepid 60 Minutes reporter Morley Safer visited Finland to investigate their curious obsession with the Tango;-)

20 March 2010

R.I.P. Bruce Graham ~ Sears Tower Architect

Just heard that Bruce Graham, the Colombian-born Peruvian-Canadian architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago -- who designed both the 100-story Hancock Center and 110-story Sears Tower -- passed away at age 84 earlier this month ravaged by Alzheimer's. Some interesting nuggets from William Grimes obituary in the NYTimes...
"His signature buildings, bold and muscular interpretations of the Miesian glass box, gave Chicago’s downtown the strong, Barrymore-like profile with which it faces the world. Buildings, he said in a 1997 interview for an oral history project at the Art Institute of Chicago, should be “clear, free of fashion and simple statements of the truth." [...] "He redefined how an architectural studio operates," Mr. Rosa of the Art Institute said. "He allowed architects and engineers to have an equal voice, and this led to innovations." With Fazlur Khan, Skidmore’s chief structural engineer, he came up with ways to maximize office space at minimal cost. The signature X braces and exterior columns of the Hancock Building, like the exterior stainless-steel columns of the Inland Steel Building, freed up interior space and lowered costs. The Sears Tower, renamed the Willis Tower in 2009, consists of nine mutually supporting square tubes, staggered in height, allowing two towers to rise the final 20 stories of the 110-story building."

Desalination ~ NatGeo on Water Challenges

The latest issue of my favorite magazine National Geographic is largely dedicated to Water and our challenges and opportunities for dealing with its supposed scarcity. One piece on Get The Salt Out spotlights desalination techniques...

17 March 2010

Leo Burd ~ Civic Media and Youth Engagement!

Great to have Leo Burd join me tonight on MaximizingProgress.tv! Currently back at MIT at the Center for Future Civic Media as a Research Scientist running the Department of Play, Leo's especially interested in educational technologies and environments for social engagement and youth empowerment. I first got to know Leo during his PhD research in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab where he was studying how community centers and relevant technologies can enable meaningful and rich collaborations among kids and adults alike. Before his MIT studies, Leo Burd brought technologies to public schools and low-income communities in his home city, São Paulo, Brazil, and most recently he was part of Microsoft's Global Learning research team.

Stata @ Commencement ~ Great Alum Innovator

Fantastic to see that MIT alumnus entrepreneur Ray Stata has been tapped as Commencement Speaker 2010! Not only have I known Ray for nearly my entire time at the Institute, but I've heard him speak several times on different invigorating subjects and have been deeply impressed with his thoughtfulness, insights, and passion for innovation and entrepreneurship -- and MIT! One of my favorite Stata-stories is that of the MEMS accelerometers which are today everywhere. But when this was a merely expensive dream, few people bought in. Ray persevered and together with colleagues at Analog Devices created not only a product line of automobile crash-detectors which trigger airbags, but an entire family of devices, including the ADXL330 accelerometer which enables the Wii Remote videogame controllers and which "mobilize" several smartphones!

16 March 2010

Metal Magic ~ Handtools Cut 1" Steel in 20 Sec

Wow, thanks to MIT D-Lab Cycles instructor Gwyn Jones for spotting these Rickshaw Bank factory workers in Guwahati, Assam, India...
"One inch solid square bar cutoff in twenty seconds with sledge hammer, chisel and anvil. No power tools needed. Highly evolved technique and skilled workers are faster and more efficient than power tools. Notice the sound of an abrasive cutoff saw cutting tubing in the background."

Howtoons Workshop ~ A Place of One's Own!

Every kid needs a place of their own to play, to craft, to create, and to, let's just say "deconstruct" things;-) Hence the Howtoons Workshop!

Infant Linguists ~ Learning N-Languages as Kids

Why not learn many languages as kids -- especially even as infants, tykes, kindergarteners? Check out these Dutch infant linguists... FYI, I learned both Dutch and English by age 5 and both are still with me -- to some extent;-) But trying to learn Spanish and Japanese as a late teenager was pure torture for me. Still irritates me that I didn't learn a dozen languages as a child -- i.e. English, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swahili for certain. Dutch for family-sake (and maybe so I can harass my Afrikaner friends;-) And then probably Japanese, Korean and German because they're so important as technosavvy countries. And perhaps Italian, because it's so vibrant, and the Scandinavian lingos, if only because the women are so beautiful, and then maybe Latin and Greek, because of their etymological legacy. Probably wouldn't hurt to know a bit of Turkish, Farsi, Hebrew, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Malay, and Tagalog. Not sure I can wrap my tongue around Finnish or Khoisan, but I'd try just because the people are so cool! My point is that ALL of those languages are a helluva lot easier to learn when we're kids than as adults. So why does standard educational orthodoxy insist on waiting till kids are 10 years or older to start language classes?

15 March 2010

ClarosDx @ FluidicMEMS ~ 1st Innovation Soiree!

It was great to see the mixing tonight between ~50 members of our Boston-metro FluidicMEMS community -- i.e. academics, entrepreneurs, research scientists, business development folks, and more. We were generously hosted tonight by Microsoft NERD and financially supported by MIT EE Professor-Emeritus Stephen Senturia and his portable spectroscopy venture Polychromix. In addition to compelling connections, we were fortunate to have Claros Diagnostics founders, COO David Steinmiller and CTO Dr Vincent Linder, share their experience with commercializing their microfluidic quantitative immunoassay blood tests from both business and engineering perspectives.

ICCP 10 ~ Computational Photography @ MIT

Register now for the IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography (ICCP) held at the MIT Media Lab on March 28-29-30, 2010! Excellent three-day Program featuring compelling speakers showing how imaging technologies will prove transformative.

Zthere ~ Smartfone for Distance Demo & Collab

Nice to see Scott Kirsner's Innovation Economy piece Zthere turns smartphones into a collaborative tool about newco founded by MIT alum entrepreneur Matthias Wagner and Dan Ostrower. Kirsner quotes Ostrower...
"The idea was born out of frustrations that Matthias and I have had during years of hardware development and entrepreneurship. For example, flying people to Asian manufacturers to solve problems we felt there should be a way to solve remotely. ...We started asking ourselves, 'How could you show a tech in a factory how to use a thermal camera without sending him to training and without having someone next to him showing him what to do?'"
Check out the rest plus view the embedded demo video showing how to voice-annotate pictures or collaborate live-linked...

14 March 2010

Prevent vs Cure ~ Dutch Infant Health Centers

Our MIT Media Lab Social Health Initiative is very focused on consumer and preventative health -- on avoiding getting ill and on improving ones lifestyle and family's health. So it is interesting to look around the world at the spectrum of health and development practices. Here's RNW's story on the relatively unusual case of the Dutch Infant Health Centers which are focused on up front investment in prevention (as opposed to later, greater expenses for cures)... Anyone curious about the overall healthcare and insurance system in the Netherlands might view this video.

Market Solutions ~ Kenya's Shikwati and IREN

MIT alumnus entrepreneur Craig Doescher spotted this very compelling discussion by Kenyan James Shikwati, founder of the IREN -- Inter Regional Economic Network -- on Commercializing African Entrepreneurship For Wealth Creation, discussing...
"...some of the pitfalls of foreign aid, but more importantly he spoke about the initiatives that individuals are taking to improve their lot in life without waiting on the government."

Paris Zoom ~ 26 Gigapixel Photo of Vital City!

Thanks to Pablo Jenkins for spotting Paris 26 Gigapixels, one ginormous photosynth of over 2,300 individual images! Check out the project blog plus, of course, the interactive site...

13 March 2010

Cargo Bikes ~ Interesting Appendages & Opinions

I've written before about Cargo Bikes here in Cambridge, including this piece on Work Bikes. Here's a few examples illustrating a few appendages and specialty cycles, including a couple "outlier" opinions and experiences;-) First, David Hembrow's View From the Cycle Path on the Wandertec Bongo trailer... Second, Amsterdamize comments I Hate Cargo Bikes on popularity and dislikes of what are called "bakfietsen" in the Netherlands and spotlights this RNW videointerview... And if that wasn't enough, check out this 2009 Danish Cargo Bike Race!

Social Evolution ~ MIT's Madan on Memes...

See here my MIT Media Lab colleague Anmol Madan from the Human Dynamics group speaking about his Social Evolution research (and be sure to see Anmol's PhD thesis defense on Wed 17 March 2010)... FYI, another colleague Ben Waber posted info about cell phone data collection examples and resources.

Cycling Blue ~ Practical Kenyan Bike Workshop

Thanks to AfriGadget and Uvumbuzi Club's Jagi Gakunju for spotting Cycling Blue, a collaboration all about Cycling Out of Poverty...
"Cycling Blue Kenya workshop is providing courses, micro credit for (modified) bicycles and creating of employment, it is aimed to reduce poverty. In the workshop bicycles will be modified to create bicycle carts (for instance bicycle ambulances) for sale. Who buys them? Garbage collectors, local entrepreneurs who want a (modified) bicycle to generate income such as the Cool coolbox, bicycles with extended carriers for transport of cabbages."

Transgenic Trout ~ Enhancing Fish Muscle Mass

The Daily Mail's Sara Nelson writes Meet Arnie, the Terminator Trout with the physique of a body-builder about Rhode Island professor Terry Bradley's work in fisheries and aquaculture to engineer enhanced transgenic trout with 15-20% more muscle mass...

12 March 2010

Black Boxes ~ Safety & Improvement Systems

Zipcar and GoLoco co-founder and MIT alumna Robin Chase opines today in the NYTimes about Driving by the Numbers, making the case for access to vehicle informatics, and specifically for...
"...simply more transparency. Indeed, there is a relatively easy solution that would help identify problems before they affect thousands of cars, or kill and injure dozens of people: allow drivers and carmakers real-time access to the data that’s already being monitored. Current federal law requires annual emissions and safety inspections for all cars. A mechanic plugs an electronic reader into what’s known as the onboard diagnostic unit, a computer that sits under your dashboard, monitoring data on acceleration, emissions, fuel levels and engine problems. The mechanic can then download the data to his own computer and analyze it. Because carmakers believe such diagnostic data to be their property, much of it is accessible only by the manufacturer and authorized dealers and their mechanics. And even then, only a small amount of the data is available -- most cars’ computers don’t store data, they only monitor it. [...] But what if a car’s entire data stream was made available to drivers in real time? You could use, for instance, a hypothetical "analyze-my-drive" application for your smart phone to tell you when it was time to change the oil or why your "check engine" light was on."
Excellent idea! And I think part of a larger movement to have the equivalent of airliner flight-recorders -- a.k.a. Black Boxes -- much more widely deployed -- in cars, all vehicles, certainly fleets, in our houses, our offices, on our pets, and certainly on our selves and loved ones. Spyware? No, think of it as a booming Improvement Informatics venture opportunity domain.

11 March 2010

Microsavings ~ Expanding Microfinance Services

Excellent to read The Economist piece on A better mattress ~ Microfinance focuses on lending. Now the industry is turning to deposits. For the very poor...
"...the problem is often not just a low income, but an unpredictable one. Living on $2 a day frequently means living for ten days on $20 earned on a single day. The task of smoothing consumption is made more complicated if there is nowhere to store money safely. [Change is afoot, including support from Gates Foundation encouraging microfinance organizations to...] "help broaden the microfinance business model to include savings". It will take more than good intentions and a recognition that the poor want places to deposit the money they squirrel away to make microsavings work. Part of the problem with trying to mobilise deposits from poor people is simple economics. It is hard to make a profit from customers who make lots of tiny deposits without massively trimming transaction costs. The widespread use of mobile phones by poor people in developing countries may provide one answer..."
Very compelling financial service innovations indeed!

Sauri Successes ~ Millennium Village Update...

Thanks to MIT alumna Anne Liu for putting the shout out about Jeffrey Gettleman and James Hill's Sauri Journal update in the NYTimes Shower of Aid Brings Flood of Progress...
"Agricultural yields have doubled; child mortality has dropped by 30 percent; school attendance has shot up and so have test scores, putting one local school second in the area, when it used to be ranked 17th; and cellphone ownership (a telltale sign of prosperity in rural Africa) has increased fourfold. There is a palpable can-do spirit that infuses the muddy lanes and family compounds walled off by the fruity-smelling lantana bushes. People who have grown bananas for generations are learning to breed catfish, and women who used to be terrified of bees are now lulling them to sleep with smoke and harvesting the honey."
As the article goes on to note -- and as I've written about before -- these Millennium Villages have their detractors, but I think technology testbeds and exploratory microcosms of effective, orchestrated development are quite compelling things to pursue.

Flushograph ~ Canadian Water Patterns ;-)

Hilarious -- and quite illustrative of grid dynamics under real-world social conditions! This is the Edmonton water utility EPCOR's chart of water consumption while up to 80% of Canadians were watching the 2010 Gold Medal Olympic hockey game;-)

MEMS Accelerometers ~ Surprising Market Shifts

Nice little info nugget from iSuppli that Nintendo Surpasses Samsung as Top Consumer and Wireless MEMS Buyer...
"Although Nintendo had been the No.-2 buyer of MEMS in consumer electronics during 2007 and 2008, the company in 2009 increased its purchase of gyroscopes -- a MEMS sensor for measuring or maintaining orientation -- for use in the Wii Motion Plus plug-in" [...] Dropping to second place after a two-year run at the top was Samsung. "From 2005 to 2007, Digital Light Processing (DLP) chips for rear-projection televisions accounted for most of Samsung’s MEMS consumption," Bouchaud said. "However, with Samsung exiting the DLP market, its overall consumption of MEMS in 2009 declined [...] Nonetheless, Samsung remains a high-volume purchaser of BAW filters for duplexers and quintplexers, and the company was also the top buyer of MEMS microphones last year."