30 September 2010

Reading Habits ~ WSJ On Digital Book Disruption

Jeffrey Trachtenberg writes in the WSJournal about how Authors Feel Pinch in Age of E-Books driven by technological ability and the changing reading habits of consumers...
"...the digital revolution that is disrupting the economic model of the book industry is having an outsize impact on the careers of literary writers. Priced much lower than hardcovers, many e-books generate less income for publishers. And big retailers are buying fewer titles. As a result, the publishers who nurtured generations of America's top literary-fiction writers are approving fewer book deals and signing fewer new writers. Most of those getting published are receiving smaller advances."
By the same token, e-book sales are blossoming...

Bridge of Flowers ~ Blooming Beauty Near Boston

David Abel of the Globe spots the alluring Bridge of Flowers, a 130m garden straddling the Deerfield River built on a former trolleyway...

29 September 2010

Architorture Be Gone ~ Cal Poly Abandons Crap

Lawrence Biemiller writes in the Chronicle that Cal Poly Pomona will take the courageous move of abandoning crap architorture... The so-called "landmark" is Antoine Predock's 1993 Classroom Laboratory Administration Building which is so bad it apparently...
"...taxed operational budgets and personnel due to a number of construction flaws and mechanical-system failures. [...] Even after a major renovation, the CLA would remain difficult to navigate, waste internal space, be energy inefficient and subject to future mitigation issues."
MIT has its own unfortunate share of artrocities, including the disasterous Stata Center by incompetent starchitect Frank Gehry -- MIT had to sue for damages and repairs -- the unlivable Simmons Hall dormitory by Steven Holl and even more recent boondoggles such as the new Media Lab by Maki and the new Sloan building, both of which are tragically flawed. Maybe they too will be demolished in due time. Just like this other "Landmark"...

Black & White ~ Brazilian Diversity in Wide Angle

As a complete outsider looking at Brazil, I've been impressed so far with the blending of Euro, Afro, Asio, and native cultures and peoples. And the Brazilian expats I've known here in the US come from many backgrounds. Nevertheless, this Wide Angle doco on Brazil in Black & White regarding university educational quotas is eye-opening...

No Ridiculous Car Trips ~ Malmö Rules w/ Bikes!

Thanks to Copenhagenize for pointing out Malmö Rules! Brilliant promo, vital city, good-humored people!

Common Will ~ Otto Scharmer On Brazil Thriving

MIT colleague Otto Scharmer wrote a very compelling piece Uncovering Common Will comparing his observations of Brazil with the US, where he saw...
"...three relevant pieces of data:
  1. I saw great companies like Natura that do business by routinely working and collaborating across all social, economic, and ecological divides;
  2. I saw greatly innovative sustainable cities like Curitiba in which government, business, and the community have been collaborating across fairly open boundaries for about four decades; and
  3. I saw the Economic and Social Development Council (CDES) that regularly convenes about a hundred leaders from civil society, business, academia, and government to dialogue and co-create an agenda of the future.
What do these three examples -- Natura, Curitiba, CDES -- have in common? Their common element is that they are based on uncovering common will (which then in turn creates the required political will): a shared understanding of the current situation, of who we are, and where we want to go. That’s exactly what’s missing here in the US. Here we have an ever-widening vicious cultural and political divide that rips the country apart..."
Beyond common sense and common ground is common will.

Crackpot Theory? ~ Meyer's Basic Instructions...

Meyer's Basic Instructions on dealing with Crackpot Theories...

Decriminalizing Drugs ~ Healthcare Not Jailtime...

Interesting to read Harvard's Jeffrey Miron piece that Drugs and conservatives should go together in the LATimes OpEd section...
"Legalization would not only promote specific policy objectives that are near and dear to conservative hearts, it is also consistent with core principles that conservatives endorse in other contexts."
Key bullet points:
  • Legalization would be beneficial in key aspects of the war on terror.
  • Legalization could also aid the war on terror by freeing immigration and other border control resources to target terrorists and WMD rather than the illegal drug trade.
  • Legalizing drugs would support conservative opposition to gun control.
  • Legalization could ease conservative concerns over illegal immigration.
  • Prohibition is fiscally irresponsible.
  • Drug prohibition is hard to reconcile with constitutionally limited government.
  • Drug prohibition is hopelessly inconsistent with allegiance to free markets...
  • Legalization would take drug control out government's incompetent hands and place it with churches, medical professionals, coaches, friends and families.
  • By supporting the legalization of drugs, conservatives might even help themselves at the ballot box.

Oh, Toy! ~ Lovely Nautical Gift Ideas for Kids!

gCaptain delights with this XMas find -- Wooden Toy Superships!

NETRA ~ Ramesh Raskar Interview on CNN

CNN interviews my MIT Media Lab colleague Ramesh Raskar about the NETRA project, a low-cost portable eye exam system. Watch the interview, including when President Obama drops in on NETRA at CNN. LOL! Best part though is spreading the idea of a Hardware AppStore for smartphones and peripherals! And see here the LabCAST fuller description...

27 September 2010

Girl Up ~ Jordan's Queen Rania on Social Action!

Jordan's Queen Rania speaks on NBC Today TV show about Girl Up, the new UN Foundation social action campaign -- something for girls, by girls -- which gives...
"...American girls the opportunity to channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for programs of the United Nations that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls. Through Girl Up’s support, girls have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders."

SolSource Wins! ~ Scot Frank's 500K Euro Check!

Congratulations to MIT Development Ventures alumco SolSource co-founder Scot Frank and team for winning the first price of 500K Euros in the Dutch Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2010 for their affordable portable solar concentrator!

26 September 2010

Mocking Mugabe ~ Disrupting the Dictator in NYC!

Zimbabwe's totally discredited dictator Mugabe shows his true colors while on a diplomatically immune UN visit by shopping in a NYCity store for makeup while his people starve. The DailyMail helps us witness the mockery when evil Robert faced one of New York's finest -- a simply honest US citizen...
"Emboldened by a sense of outrage, the New Yorker shouted at Mugabe: ‘Give the power back to the people. Leave office gracefully. Do it for Zimbabwe.’ The protester said he did not know who was more shocked -- him or the president. Then, quickly lowering his gaze, Mugabe turned and made his way towards the till."

Masdar Emergent ~ Beginning of New Clean City

Nicolai Ouroussoff writes in the NYTimes that In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises, about the first elements of Masdar in Abu Dhabi -- and the overarching clean city vision...
"At Masdar, one aim was to create an alternative to the ugliness and inefficiency of the sort of development -- suburban villas slathered in superficial Islamic-style décor, gargantuan air-conditioned malls -- that has been eating away the fabric of Middle Eastern cities for decades. [Foster] began with a meticulous study of old Arab settlements, including the ancient citadel of Aleppo in Syria and the mud-brick apartment towers of Shibam in Yemen, which date from the 16th century. “The point,” he said in an interview in New York, “was to go back and understand the fundamentals,” how these communities had been made livable in a region where the air can feel as hot as 150 degrees. Among the findings his office made was that settlements were often built on high ground, not only for defensive reasons but also to take advantage of the stronger winds. Some also used tall, hollow “wind towers” to funnel air down to street level. And the narrowness of the streets -- which were almost always at an angle to the sun’s east-west trajectory, to maximize shade -- accelerated airflow through the city. With the help of environmental consultants, Mr. Foster’s team estimated that by combining such approaches, they could make Masdar feel as much as 70 degrees cooler. In so doing, they could more than halve the amount of electricity needed to run the city."
Sounds promising. But what's it like to live in? For that we have to visit the blogs of students who just moved in to their dorms in the Masdar Institute! Check out Laura Stupin's humorous and encouraging post -- I live in a spaceship in the middle of the desert! She posts some beautiful nighttime photos of her surroundings and also posted an absolutely hilarious video comparison between her real-world and science fiction "landspeeders"! Finally, click here for the full-scale NYTimes infographic on the overall Masdar project...

Future Levant ~ King Abdullah on Daily Show

Interesting to see Jordan's King Abdullah tell truth on Daily Show!
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - King Abdullah II of Jordan Extended Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

25 September 2010

Race Cartography ~ Eric Fischer's Urban Maps...

Cool piece by David Gardner in the DailyMail about digital cartographer Eric Fischer's maps showing the racial geography of big US cities based on year 2000 US Census data...
"With one dot equalling 25 people, [...] then colour-coded them based on race, with whites represented by pink, blacks by blue, Hispanic by orange and Asians by green."
Plus see here Newsy's synthesis of coverage by multiple perspectives on these maps...

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Catch-Up ~ Martin Wolf on China's Convergence

Martin Wolf in the FT writes that Wen is right to worry about China’s growth, including this very interesting way of illustrating Catch-Up, the economic convergence of multiple poor countries with the most economically advanced... I've written about waves of convergence before using Gapminder to visualize and help think about how to accelerate convergence -- and so has Hans Rosling, repeatedly!

United Villages ~ TR35 & Development Ventures...

We were very fortunate to have MIT alumnus entrepreneur Amir Alexander Hasson join us in MIT Development Ventures class this past week to tell us about how his business, United Villages, supplies rural Indian small retailers with essential goods and services. Tapped this year by Technology Review as a TR35 2010 Young Innovator, Amir is transforming the SME logistics scene by...
"...taking advantage of the rapid expansion of cell-phone networks to set up a for-profit wholesale service called E-Shop. Shop owners with phones that run Java applications can browse an online catalogue and place orders; data is transferred between the phones and United Villages using SMS text messages. This method is cheap and doesn't require powerful smart phones. In about 36 hours, the goods are delivered directly to the shop."
Companies such as Staples should take note -- this mobilized supply-chain in a key emerging market is very compelling!

Vending Everything ~ Amazing Robo-Retailers

Thanks to Katrina Brown Hunt for her Insider Obsessions piece in the September issue of Travel & Leisure about vending machine innovation! This piece builds on her earlier slideshow of The World's Strangest Vending Machines which include gold bar dispensers, beer bots, live lobster sales, and even this Let's Pizza vending machine from Italy...

Aristotle Circle ~ Suzanne Rheault TV Interview...

Excellent to see MIT alumna entrepreneur Suzanne Rheault discussing her Aristotle Circle educational services venture on the Whatever TV show... Plus check out the profile piece by Susan Dominus last year in the NYTimes.

Beerology ~ Ig Nobel Exponential Experiment ;-)

It's nearly Ig Nobel Prize time again, which reminds me of perhaps my favorite Physics prize yet, given in 2002 to Arnd Leike of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München for his arduous and painstaking empirical scholarship and resulting Demonstration of the Exponential Decay Law Using Beer Froth! Hearken to the data...

24 September 2010

Empleolisto.com.mx ~ Mexicans Txt Here 4 Jobs!

Excellent to see our MIT Development Ventures alumco Assured Labor launch their latest site -- empleolisto.com.mx -- which enables companies in Mexico to recruit better candidates, more rapidly, at lower cost using web and mobiles. Co-founded by a joint MIT and Harvard team, the firm has been relentless in testing, improving, and iterating their core venture offering. Jenara Nerenberg just wrote a very nice piece in Fast Company interviewing them, Text Here for a New Job...
"There’s 4 billion people in the world with cell phones and only 1.5 billion with access to the internet. Over two-thirds of internet users in emerging markets don’t have computers at home. This means that traditional job boards have only exposed the tip of the iceberg in terms the opportunity. [...] Assured Labor is the first digital marketplace for jobs optimized for the way that people in emerging markets find jobs. [...] Entering Mexico after Nicaragua was the obvious next step. It’s a vast market, with 85 million mobile subscribers and only 30 million internet subscribers. Of individuals on the internet, only one-third has a computer at home. Add to that a young text-savvy population, high job turnover and our ability to leverage our great team in Nicaragua, and there you have it."

23 September 2010

MIT International Development Fair ~ Fri 9/24

The MIT International Development Fair
Friday, 24 September 2010, 1-3 pm
Stata Center Street
I'm proud to be one of the co-founders and historical organizers of the MIT International Development Network (IDN)! We connect everyone who engages in practical and ethical international development at MIT and beyond. To accelerate this 2010-11 academic year, on Friday September 24th, we host our ninth annual MIT International Development Fair to help introduce incoming students and other members of the MIT community to the many student groups, classes, centers, programs and academic departments at MIT who, through their activities, have demonstrated an interest in sustainable international development. Throughout the year we organize large-scale Institute-wide events spotlighting and celebrating aspects of International Development at the Institute, including an end-of-semester Fall ID Celebration on December 10th, the International Development Night in the early spring, and the end-of-semester Spring Showcase event again featuring all the student projects from the D-Lab family of classes.

22 September 2010

Leland Cheung ~ Cambridge Innovation Councilor

Delightful to interview Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight! I first met Leland through his involvement in MIT's Energy Club and related activities. He also stood out as perhaps the only MIT Sloan MBA student who had homebuilt his own DIY electric scooter! (That's pretty epic considering how such prowess is normally reserved for the extreme builderati, people like Charles Guan and his RazErblades!-) Also pursuing his Harvard Kennedy School degree, Leland decided to run for civic office in large part to live up to his deep personal and familial commitment to our local community and American economic vitality. Partly of Chinese ancestry, Leland took umbrage at my refering to Cambridge as the Other PRC "People's Republic" -- the point being we here can legally, morally, and fully exercise our freedoms, especially of speech! Touché. Since taking office he's been especially involved in championing our entrepreneurial legacy. Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in on a City Council Economic Development Hearing chaired by Councilor Cheung on Fostering an Environment Supportive of Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists, and Growth Businesses. All about celebrating our Kendall Square innovation epicenter. Word.

21 September 2010

Mass Cash Flows ~ Sending Money Abroad

Maria Sacchetti writes in the Globe about Cash flowing to native lands: Mass. residents sent $1.8b last year to loved ones back home...
"...immigrants showed their enduring devotion to their loved ones last year by sending $1.8 billion home to more than 200 countries, according to the first full accounting of the cash that flows out of Massachusetts. The findings are based on a Globe review of annual reports that money-transfer companies such as MoneyGram and Western Union are required to file each year with the state. The reports do not specify who sent the money, but industry analysts and government officials say that they believe the vast majority are immigrants, who favor money-transfer companies because they are quick and easy to use. The top destinations for the money transfers last year -- Brazil, the Dominican Republic, China, and Guatemala -- closely mirror the major immigrant groups in Massachusetts. But the list also reflects the state’s remarkable diversity, with sizable amounts going to Ghana, Poland, and Taiwan."

18 September 2010

Emerging Africa ~ 17 Countries Leading the Way

Excellent to see Steven Radelet's piece Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way at the Center for Global Development...
"There’s good news out of Africa. Seventeen emerging countries are putting behind them the conflict, stagnation, and dictatorships of the past. Since the mid-1990s, these countries have defied the old negative stereotypes of poverty and failure by achieving steady economic growth, deepening de- mocracy, improving governance, and decreasing poverty. Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way unearths the deep political and economic changes underway in these countries. It takes a fresh approach by not treating sub-Saharan Africa as a monolithic entity and recognizes instead the different dynamics in countries across the region. It examines three groups of countries: the emerging countries, oil exporters (where progress has been uneven and volatile), and others (where there has been little progress)."

Five More Years ~ Millennium Development Goals

Thanks to Harvard colleague Calestous Juma for spotting Millennium Goals, Five Years to Go in the NYTimes by Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of Common Wealth about the Millennium Development Goals in Africa...
"When my colleagues and I suggested that AIDS, malaria and other epidemic diseases could be controlled and that Africa’s economic growth could be spurred if the world helped the continent to achieve the Millennium Goals, we were often greeted with derision. Africa, I was told, was simply too violent, too corrupt, too divided to improve. [...] The Millennium Development Goals themselves deserve a lot of credit by providing a powerful organizing framework and a bold but realistic time horizon. Dozens of African governments have now adopted national planning strategies based on the Millennium Goals. Nations around the world now have specific, time-bound, outcome-oriented plans that are showing real progress because they are tapping into the synergies of poverty reduction, increased agricultural output, disease control, increased school enrollments and improved infrastructure as targeted by the Millennium Development Goals. The donor countries helped to promote major advances in public health when they created the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. [...] On their 10th birthday, the Millennium Development Goals offer the world a realistic path to ending extreme poverty."

13 September 2010

12 September 2010

Baltic Superharbor ~ Regional Infragistics Idea

The Copenhagenize piece on building bicycle connections between Danish and German islands makes note of a really interesting idea by Bjarke Ingels and colleagues of creating a Baltic Superharbor...

Stunning Time Lapse ~ Dan Eckert in AZ/CA!

Thanks to Kuriositas for spotting this stunning time lapse...

California/Arizona Time Lapse from Dan Eckert on Vimeo.

World Trade Center ~ Modern Marvels History

Thanks to Miss Cellania for spotting this Modern Marvels retrospective on the World Trade Center... This is just part one of six -- click thru to see rest.

MIT Neurotechnology Ventures ~ Fall 2010!

Spread the word! The latest incarnation of our joint MIT Media Lab - Brain & Cognitive Science - Biological Engineering - Health Science & Technology - Sloan School of Management Neurotechnology Ventures Action Lab launches this week Tuesday, 14 September 2010, from 2-4pm here at the MIT Media Lab. Neurotechnology broadly is about advances through neuroscience and neuroengineering of our ability to diagnose and treat mind, brain, and nervous system ailments of all types. Ventures means planning and building the organizations which spread these technologies widely. We had some great plans in 2009 and in 2008, and we look forward to running this class again...In addition to being cross-disciplinary, Neurotechnology Ventures is a founding element of the Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program. Our shared goal is to have venture concepts continue on beyond time in class, winning competitions, formally incorporating, raising money, scaling up, selling product or service, and having real-world impact! To give you some further taste for our philosophy in running this class and in pursuing innovative new approaches to neurotechnology, see this ScienceLives interview with my co-instructor Ed Boyden on Mind Control!

Lovely Green Designs ~ Inhabitat Delivers Joy!

Glorious designs showcased at Inhabitat!

11 September 2010

Startup Bootcamp ~ Inspiring Lessons Now @ MIT

Startup Bootcamp on Now @ MIT! Great stuff already, including...
  • Ayr Muir on building Clover foods;
  • Bob Metcalfe on building 3Com plus selling, recruiting, more;
  • James Lindenbaum on Heroku's machete design;
...and more!

Not Forgotten ~ David, Civilization Will Triumph...

MIT classmate and friend David Berray
-- and so many others --
you are not forgotten.

08 September 2010

John Mills ~ Materials Biology, FluidicMEMS, plus

Great to have MIT alumnus John Mills join me on MaximizingProgress.tv tonight. After undergrad studies at Cornell in more classic materials science, he came to MIT and ended up at the cutting edge of materials and biology using -- and even co-developing -- the latest tools for understanding the mechano-physical properties of red blood cells. This work has tremendous bearing on understanding the impact of Malaria in humans. This relevance to a tropical ailment was one major driver towards John's subsequent collaborations in Singapore, the equatorial city-state with strong MIT research ties. His interest in cross-disciplinary activities had at least one other compelling consequence, namely his major commitment to running informal social gatherings to connect folks. These include the WeeklyWednesdays at MIT's Muddy Charles Pub and the leaders-oriented Acoustic BBQ and most recently the FluidicMEMS gatherings. Excellent contributions, all of them!

Pan Arab Entrepreneurship ~ MIT EF's Hala Fadel

MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan-Arab Region Chapter Chair Hala Fadel discussing youth and entrepreneurship in the Arab world... This EF Chapter also runs the Arab Business Plan Competition.

MIT Sloan Fellows ~ Profiles of Class of 2011!

Click through to live profiles of MIT Sloan Fellows Class of 2011!

Cycle Chic Star ~ Mikael Colville-Andersen

Get your Cycle Chic on, courtesy Mikael Colville-Andersen!

Lasting Words ~ Mother's Message To Her Kids...

Globe's Bryan Marquard writes of Karyn Slomski's Lasting Words...
"Nearly four years had passed since Karyn was diagnosed with cancer, and she had learned several days earlier that the final treatment wasn’t working. What she did not know was that she had just 10 days left to live. "We really didn’t even think we’d ever get this far. We’re lucky," Karyn said. [...] Karyn gathered her family in the living room of their Auburn house to be recorded in a video so that years from now, Brendan and Maggie will be able to see her smile, listen to her sing, and hear her words of love. The video, she told her giggling children, was just a memento of the moment. “They don’t know the next part,’’ Karyn, who was 38, told the Globe that day. The next part began early yesterday, when Karyn died at home."
That's heartbreaking. We simply must go Human 2.0 -- bolstering the sagging, invigorating the depressed, treating the ailing, and curing the seemingly incurable. This means massive research and development on translational medicine in the realms of oncology, gerontology, neurotechnology, and more. The overwhelming majority of human suffering and death continues to be due our lack of transformative knowledge about viable alternative pathways. Here's to Karyn, with love. You will be remembered...

Regenerative Biology ~ Xenopus is Major Model

Very interesting to read Carolyn Johnson's piece in the Globe about the Leapfrog, Scientist-Style...
"Blessed with the unusual ability to regrow the lens of its eye, and laying eggs big enough to study and manipulate, the frog is prized by scientists who want to explore things as diverse as birth defects and organ regeneration. But unlike other workhorses of science, the frogs did not have a real home base. Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, maintains different genetic strains of lab mice. The Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center at Indiana University collects and distributes lines of fruit flies. And the Zebrafish International Resource Center in Oregon stocks the fish. Now, a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will support a national Xenopus center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. "This is a major model for regenerative biology," said Joshua Hamilton, MBL’s chief academic and scientific officer. “The fact is, humans don’t regenerate, and neither do mice and rats. But we do know these earlier or simpler forms of life can. The aspiration is if we can learn how these animals do this, we should be able to translate that to humans."
Metaphorically speaking, kissing this frog is quite wise!

06 September 2010

London Resurgent ~ Towards a Remade Skyline!

The FT's Property Correspondent, Daniel Thomas, has written a couple delightful pieces about Solid foundations for City resurgence and that the Rebranded City is not shocked by the new. Everyone should...
"...see the results of the 25-year career of the City’s top planner. Peter Rees has done much to help shape the modern financial capital, with a focus as much on the open spaces and sheltered walkways that keep the City humming as such key developments as the Gherkin-shaped Swiss Re building. Mr Rees’ sharp eye for design will now be seen in a host of new schemes under development, whose evocative names such as the Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie, the Helter Skelter and the Stealth Bomber underline the importance put on creativity that is far removed from the drab square office blocks that characterised the City before the 1980s."