30 January 2013

MIT Scaling Development Ventures ~ Social Acts!

MIT colleagues and I are orchestrating a key conference on Scaling Development Ventures on Sat, February 9th, 2013 at Media Lab...
"Anyone who runs a venture in a low- or middle-income country knows about complexities of achieving scale. This is an opportunity to explore strategies, models and resources that will help development ventures as they grow. Our speakers have forged a path in this space and will share success stories to inspire and lessons learned to inform. They come from a variety of industries and operate in markets across the globe. [Also] nine rising MIT teams will introduce their ventures and discuss their efforts to date. You can meet teams here. As an attendee, you’ll have time to broaden your network, share what you know and learn from applied wisdom."
Excellent speakers include several alums from our MIT Development Ventures class! Register now or get on waitlist!

29 January 2013

Prescribing Apps ~ Future of Health is MobileMD

NBC Rock Center's Mary Kozelka writes The key to better health care may already be in your pocket... and it's not your wallet...
"According to [cardiologist Dr Eric] Topol, “the smart phone will be the hub of the future of medicine. And it will be your health-medical dashboard.” [During an emergency on an] airplane, Dr. Topol displayed the potential of wireless medicine when he snapped an AliveCor device onto his iPhone and performed a cardiogram at 30,000 feet. Using this portable, cellphone powered device, Topol was able to see that the passenger was definitely having a heart attack and he recommended an urgent landing. The passenger was rushed to the hospital and survived. Topol said this was a “Eureka!” moment for him; such devices could lead to better and cheaper health care everywhere, from airplanes to senior citizen’s homes. “These days, I’m prescribing a lot more apps than I am medications"

Opium Brides ~ Afghan Collateral Social Damage

PBS Frontline documents Opium Brides...
"Afghan opium farmers have long borrowed money from drug gangs to subsidize their crops. Now, as the Afghan government destroys their livelihood in an eradication program, the farmers find themselves in a horrifying situation: repay their debts or give their daughters to drug-traffickers. Najibullah Quraishi reports on the harrowing story of the collateral damage of the counter-narcotics effort."

28 January 2013

Trifid Nebula ~ NASA on Dusty Glow Emissions!

NASA APOD spots dusty, glowing, gaseous Trifid Nebula!

Extraordinary Measures ~ On Fixing Big Problems

Bill Gates writes in WSJournal about Extraordinary Measures ~ his plan to fix the worlds biggest problems...
"In the past year, I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal. [...] An innovation -- whether it's a new vaccine or an improved seed -- can't have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it. We need innovations in measurement to find new, effective ways to deliver those tools and services to the clinics, family farms and classrooms that need them. [...] The lives of the poorest have improved more rapidly in the past 15 years than ever before. And I am optimistic that we will do even better in the next 15 years. The process I have described -- setting clear goals, choosing an approach, measuring results, and then using those measurements to continually refine our approach -- helps us to deliver tools and services to everybody who will benefit."
Gates gives multiple examples from health, education, agriculture and others.

Transportation Trustbuster ~ WSJ on Uber Leader

WSJournal's Andy Kessler interviews Travis Kalanick, the Transportation Trustbuster and co-founder of Uber, the disruptive limo service that's sticking it to the taxi cartels by providing quality private driver transit experiences...
"Uber launched as an iPhone app in June 2010. The cars that iPhone users summon are typically town cars owned by a limousine company but not on a call. Instead of idly waiting for work, the nearest available driver answers the app call. Other cars are simply privately owned vehicles whose drivers have been vetted by Uber. The idea worked. How could Mr. Kalanick tell? Four months after the launch in San Francisco, Uber was served with a "cease and desist" order from the California Public Utility Commission and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. "Given my background," Mr. Kalanick says, alluding to being sued at Scour.com, "this was like homecoming." He verified with his lawyers that what Uber was doing was indeed legal, then the company took its case to the public through Twitter and email. [...] there's been so much corruption and so much cronyism in the taxi industry and so much regulatory capture that if you ask for permission upfront for something that's already legal, you'll never get it."
Read the rest. Fantastic!

Mandela's Mogul ~ NYTimes on SA's Ramaphosa

Bill Keller asks in NYTimes Magazine Could Cyril Ramaphosa Be the Best Leader South Africa Has Not Yet Had?
"How do you know when something should be regarded as decided? Ramaphosa came up with the concept of “sufficient consensus.” It sounds absurdly vague, but it was a polite way of saying that when the white National Party and the A.N.C. came to terms, everyone else, as Ramaphosa explained later to a reporter, “can get stuffed.” When the deal was done, he was the obvious choice -- in fact, he was Mandela’s choice -- to be the first deputy, next in line for the presidency. But the party elders, especially the powerful faction that spent the struggle in exile, were wary of Ramaphosa. [So he went on to successful business career. But recently, he has been...] ...considering a return to politics. Sure enough, a week after our conversation, the governing African National Congress summoned him back to the national cause, voting him the party’s deputy president by a landslide. The election put Ramaphosa, now 60, back on the track Mandela had in mind for him 18 years ago. At last, we may find out whether he is, as many South Africans have long believed, the best president South Africa has not yet had."

Burj Eye View ~ Interactive Pinnacle Panorama!

DailyMail delivers Burj Eye View -- an interactive pinnacle panorama!

26 January 2013

23 January 2013

Konza ~ Kenya's Silicon Savannah Technopolis...

The BBC spotlights Kenya begins construction of 'silicon' city Konza...
"Kenya's president has launched a $14.5bn (£9.1bn) project to build a new city intended to be an IT business hub and dubbed "Africa's Silicon Savannah". It will take 20 years to build Konza Technology City about 60km (37 miles) from the capital, Nairobi. [...] Konza is part of the government's ambitious Vision 2030 initiative to improve much-neglected infrastructure over the next 18 years. [...] The 5,000-acre (2,011-hectare) site was a ranch to the south-east of Nairobi on the way to the port city of Mombasa. [...] The city wants to attract business process outsourcing, software development, data centres, disaster recovery centres, call centres and light assembly manufacturing industries. A university campus focused on research and technology as well as hotels, residential areas, schools and hospitals will also be built. The government has appointed the Konza Technopolis Development Authority to oversee the building of the IT hub, which will be built in four phases -- starting with the technology centres first."
And Okuttah Mark writes in Business Daily that Konza technopolis launch set to boost Kenya profile...
"The groundbreaking of the Konza Technopolis Park on Wednesday is set to boost the profile of Kenya as a regional business hub with more than 250 foreign and local firms already lined up to invest in the $10 billion (Sh840 billion) project. [...] Among the 18 firms that want to invest immediately are the leading mobile phone firm Safaricom, which intends to put up a data centre, Samsung Electronics which he said will put up an assembly plant, and Huawei of China. The multi-billion-shilling ICT Park is hinged on a private-public partnership financing model where the government has offered land and is building infrastructure such as electricity, water rail and roads. The private sector on the other hand is expected to put up investments in various industries such as in business process outsourcing (BPO) ventures, a science park, shopping malls, hotels, international schools and health facilities."

Cosmic Storm ~ Tree Rings Spot AD 774-5 Event

Thanks to Time's science writer Michael Lemonick for spotting The Ancient Space Storm That Struck the Earth...
"Sometime between the spring of 774 A.D and the summer of 775, a cataclysmic event happened somewhere out in the cosmos -- and we felt it here, as a spike of radioactive carbon-14 and beryllium-10. The isotopes were taken up by growing Japanese cedar trees and there they remained."
A Japanese team revealed the anomalous 20-times-normal concentrations last year in a Nature piece, A signature of cosmic-ray increase in ad 774–775 from tree rings in Japan...
...and now another team offers an explanation, A Galactic short gamma-ray burst as cause for the 14C peak in AD 774/5.

22 January 2013

Exponential Technologies ~ Diamandis on WSJ

WSJ's Alan Murray at CIO Network interviews X-Prize founder and Abundance author Peter Diamandis on Eight Technologies Are Making the World Better...
"We’re literally at the knee-curve of a massive explosion of innovation. [...] The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people may well increase, but that the definition of poverty will keep changing, much as it has over the last 100 years. He noted that 99% of the poorest people in the U.S. have amenities that the wealthiest people of 100 years ago couldn’t imagine. “It’s not about creating a world of luxury, but of creating a world of possibility" [...] I think it’s an amazing world."
P.S. The Diamandis Eight...
  1. Biotech ~ Everyday editing of life; 
  2. Computational Systems ~ Modeling everything; 
  3. Networks & Sensors ~ Embedding for understanding; 
  4. Artificial Intelligence ~ Personal super-assistants; 
  5. Robotics ~ Automating ever-more activities; 
  6. Digital Manufacturing ~ 3D printing all objects; 
  7. Medical Technology ~ Anticipatory diagnostics; 
  8. Nanotechnology ~ Materializing tomorrow. 
Bring them on!

21 January 2013

Better Blocks ~ Jason Roberts' Pop-Up Planning!

Nice TEDxOU talk by Better Block founder Jason Roberts on How To Build a Better Block with pop-up planning and design rehersals!

Augmented 3D Prints ~ Inition's Lovely AR App...

WebUrbanist spots Inition's app for Augmented 3D Prints which...
"...takes a physical (real-world) model, places it on a pattern-mapped background, and [...] all kinds of additional layers of information begin to map themselves onto the object, shifting as you change perspective. Real-life simulations can thus be applied to the model, including wind and other weather patterns, day versus night views, pedestrians, trees, egress routes and traffic patterns. It helps visualize the kinds of things that are hard to picture purely on the screen, but generally impossible to show in actual space (let alone in context with map underlays and structural reveals)."

Superomniphobicity ~ Liquid-Repeling Nanocoats

Paul @ GeekPress spots Gizmag summary piece by Darren Quick on Superomniphobic Nanoscale Coatings at UMich...
"Similar to the way water droplets are suspended by air pockets created between tiny hairs on the surface of lotus leaves, the coating creates a structure that is 95 to 99 percent air pockets. This means that liquids coming into contact with the coating barely touch a solid surface, thereby reducing the intermolecular Van der Waals forces that normally draw two states of matter together. [...] Already proven effective on coffee, soy sauce, vegetable oil, gasoline, and various alcohols, the coating can also repel acids that could burn skin, such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. Tuteja says the coating is also the first demonstrated to repel low surface tension non-Newtonian liquids. These are liquids, such as shampoos, custards, blood, paints, clays and printer inks, that change their viscosity depending on the amount of force applied to them."

Inspiring Uhura ~ Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek!

I've been thinking about inspiring media recently, especially how great stories with heroes and heroines resonate with an audience and provoke them onwards or in better directions. Few television shows have had greater impact in this regard than Star Trek: The Original Series and the SF crew of a future USS Enterprise. Whether Spock and his logic, or Bones with his bedside manner, or Scotty with his can-do engineering spirit, the characters -- and their ensemble of future-world, multi-ethnic collaboration and competency -- really struck a chord with many viewers. Of these all, one of the most remarkable was the presence and role of Uhura...
Here actress Nichelle Nichols describes how she and creator Gene Roddenberry came up with her character's name... ..."Uhura" -- the feminine spin on "uhuru" which is Swahili for "freedom" -- and also helped shape the backstory for her character who would come from a future United States of Africa! Nichols next reveals her decision to quit the show prematurely... Wow, talked out of it by her "biggest fan" -- no less than Martin Luther King! The show also cracked through the self-censorship of American television of that time by portraying the first inter-racial kiss... ...and pioneering all kinds of costumes and alternative-worlds!-)

19 January 2013

Timelapse-icus Maximus 2012 ~ Burning Minimen

The DailyMail spots lovely Burning Man 2012 tiltlapse by James Cole, Byron Mason & Jason Phipps...
"A Miniature Journey to the Black Rock Desert, Home to Burning Man. A whimsical time-lapse film about the Art, People, Mutant Vehicles and Playa that makes Burning Man such a unique place on this tiny planet in our tiny solar system in our tiny galaxy in our tiny universe."

Solar Ballet ~ NASA Spots Dramatic Prominence!

NASA APOD shares lovely Solar Ballet...
"NASA's Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamic Observatory spacecraft imaged an impressive prominence erupting from the Sun's surface. The dramatic explosion was captured in ultraviolet light in the above time lapse video covering four hours. Of particular interest is the tangled magnetic field that directs a type of solar ballet for the hot plasma as it falls back to the Sun. The scale of the disintegrating prominence is huge -- the entire Earth would easily fit under the flowing curtain of hot gas."

18 January 2013

Playful Systems ~ Kevin Slavin @ MIT Media Lab

Excellent to have Kevin Slavin join MIT Media Lab as faculty this Spring 2013 leading the Playful Systems group!
"Kevin’s research revolves around themes of play and games, exploring the use of new media technologies to design a new generation of play experiences. Kevin co-founded the successful gaming company Area/Code (later acquired by Zynga), and he is recognized as an intellectual leader in rethinking the nature of games and play in the digital age."
Here's Kevin @ TED speaking on How algorithms shape our world...

17 January 2013

Platform Adoption Ramps ~ Race to Billion Users

Horace Dediu at Asymco compares adoption ramp-ups of different platforms in their decade after launch in the Race to a Billion 2012...

16 January 2013

Spectrum Allocations ~ Seeing US Radio Waves

Lovely visualization of US radio spectrum allocations!

Healthcare Hero ~ Congolese Docteur Mukwege!

Very compelling story in the NYTimes by Jeffrey Gettleman that Doctor Returns to Congo and Is Hailed as a Hero...
"There he is!” someone yelled. “Le docteur!” In the back of a white truck -- zooming past so fast it spewed clouds of dust -- sat a kind-faced man staring out at the crowds: Denis Mukwege, a gynecological surgeon renowned for repairing the insides of thousands of brutally raped women. He returned home triumphantly on Monday after more than two months in exile after nearly being assassinated, possibly for speaking out on behalf of the countless women who have been gang-raped by armed groups that stalk the hills of eastern Congo. [...] perhaps it is no surprise that Dr. Mukwege carries such an enormous amount of pride -- and hope -- on his rounded shoulders, which are most often covered by a white lab coat. For around 15 years now, he has kept a major hospital running in one of the most turbulent parts of the country, sometimes performing as many as 10 operations a day, on women who have been raped so viciously that they stumble in with death trudging just a few steps behind."

Cultural Invasion ~ Illegal Indy Voices of Persia...

State theft of sat dishes will not stop voices of freedom in Persia!

Debt Trapped ~ US Millions Living in the Red...

Benedict Carey documents Life in the Red in the NYTimes...
"The usual explanations for reckless borrowing focus on people’s character, or social norms that promote free spending and instant gratification. But recent research has shown that scarcity by itself is enough to cause this kind of financial self-sabotage. “When we put people in situations of scarcity in experiments, they get into poverty traps,” said Eldar Shafir, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton. “They borrow at high interest rates that hurt them, in ways they knew to avoid when there was less scarcity.” The psychological burden of debt not only saps intellectual resources, it also reinforces the reckless behavior, and quickly."

14 January 2013

LEGO Axle Sorter ~ Single-Motor AS-L40A...

Paul @ GeekPress spots clever LEGO Axle Sorter AS-L40A!

FastJet ~ Low-Cost African Air Carrier Delivers...

Fascinating to read Jaco Maritz's piece in How We Made It In Africa on $20 for an air ticket? How African low-cost carrier fastjet does it...
"Africa’s new low-cost airline fastjet, backed by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, officially started operations in Tanzania in November last year. The airline is owned by London-listed fastjet Plc, which was born when UK-based pan-African investment group Lonrho spun off its aviation business. [...] Fastjet’s aim is to bring true low-cost air travel to the African continent. According to the company, its rates start at as low as 20 US dollars plus taxes for those who book far enough in advance. [...] The airline currently only operates flights in Tanzania, although new routes to Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar have been announced on the company’s website. Fastjet could soon also enter the South African market."
Also, last year, Femi Adewunmi wrote Africa the last frontier for aviation industry, says easyJet founder...
"This is another small but significant step in bringing the dream of low-cost air travel to millions of people in Africa -- the aviation industry’s last frontier,” commented the easyJet founder. “Past experience shows by halving fares, a successful low-cost carrier can encourage those people, who have never previously travelled by air, to fly. For Africa, with its densely populated cities separated by great distances -- this means a potential new market of millions.”
Yes, indeed! Plus, see FastJet's new African Grey branding.

End of Manhattantown ~ Tragic Urban "Renewal"

Thanks to Strong Towns piece It's so much more than density by Charles Marohn for spotting Reason.tv's piece on the corrupt Democratic machine-enabled Tragedy of Urban Renewal: The destruction and survival of a New York City neighborhood...
"New York City's Manhattantown (1951) was one of the first projects authorized [for destruction and "upgrading"] under urban renewal and it set the model not only for hundreds of urban renewal projects but for the next 60 years of eminent domain abuse at places such as Poletown, New London, and Atlantic Yards. The Manhattantown project destroyed six blocks on New York City's Upper West Side, including an African-American community that dated to the turn of the century. The city sold the land for a token sum to a group of well-connected Democratic pols to build a middle-class housing development. [...] The community destroyed at Manhattantown was a model for the tight-knit, interconnected neighborhoods later celebrated by Jane Jacobs and other critics of top-down redevelopment."
P.S. How ironic that Cape Town's District Six got the same treatment just a couple decades later.

12 January 2013

Harvesting Spider Silk ~ Fritz Vollrath's Threads!

The Guardian Observer spots Fritz Vollrath's Oxford Silk Group research on harvesting spider silk by reeling...
"...silk directly from the spider. At the start of this film a spider is pinned down after being sedated with carbon dioxide gas. The silk being pulled from the spinnerets consists mainly of major ampullate silk which forms the main structure of the web (like scaffolding) and minor ampullate silk, which is used to form the main spiral of the spider's web. The silk thread is pulled over on to the spool and attached with a dab of glue, and the motor is then run to start collection on to the spool. The species of this spider is Nephila edulis. It's possible to harvest between 30-80 metres of silk in one go, after which the spider can be released back to its web to feed ready for reeling another day."

R'ha ~ SF Civilization Versus Its Own Weapons

Clever R'ha short SF film by Kaleb Lechowski...

Penguin Perspective ~ Emperors w/ Crittercam

NatGeo's Crittercam allows animal-eye perspective on life...
"Crittercam was conceived in 1986 by marine biologist and filmmaker Greg Marshall. A shark approached Greg during a diving trip off Belize, then disappeared into the murk with three quick strokes of its tail. Greg noticed a remora (or sucker fish) clinging to the shark. As Greg watched the shark disappear, it occurred to him that if he could put a camera in the place of the remora, he could see the shark's behavior unfold without disturbing the shark. More than two decades later Greg heads the Remote Imaging Program at National Geographic. Collaborating with scientists worldwide, Greg and his team have deployed Crittercam on hundreds of animals to help investigate biological mysteries."
Here's Emperor Penguins!

11 January 2013

Inside DayGlo ~ World's Most Colorful Factory!-)

Thanks to Paul @ GeekPress for spotting Inside DayGlo!

Orion Bullets ~ NASA on Hot Gas Cloud Wakes!

NASA APOD spots the Orion Bullets -- dense, speeding hot gas clouds (blue) with cone-shaped wakes (yellow) near the Orion Nebula!

A Lesson In Dying ~ Nurse's Cancer as Lessons

NYTimes photos and video A Lesson in Dying by Poh Si Teng and Ilana Panich-Linsman and related story As Nurse Lay Dying, Offering Herself as Instruction in Caring by Abby Goodnough spotlights nurse Martha Keochareon's final actions helping fellow healthcare pros understand illness from a patient’s perspective...
"I have cancer,” she said after introducing herself, “and I’m wondering if you’ll need somebody to do a case study on, a hospice patient.” Perhaps some nursing students “just want to feel what a tumor feels like,” she went on. Or they could learn something about hospice care, which aims to help terminally ill people die comfortably at home. “Maybe you’ll have some ambitious student that wants to do a project. [...] Ms. Keochareon wanted more as she prepared to die. The project she envisioned would be not just for students, but also for her -- a way to squeeze one more chapter out of life. Spending time with the dying is not fundamental to nurse training, partly because there are not enough clinical settings to provide the experience."

09 January 2013

Digital Globes ~ NYTimes on Epic Display Orbs!

Nice NYTimes piece by Mark Vanhoenacker noting that Digital Globes Offer a Dynamic Vision...
"... a digital globe is a spherically shaped display screen. Like the old-school globes once common in classrooms, digital globes vary in size, but a typical model is about 24 inches across. Unlike the globes of your childhood, the image on a digital globe can be changed with the touch of a button. Controlled by a keyboard or tablet computer, a digital globe can toggle between familiar, static images, like the world’s political boundaries, topography or vegetation. It can animate complex phenomena, like the formation of weather systems, the effect of global warming on wolverine habitats or the annual pulse of sea ice. It can display the surface of the moon, the churning azure cloudscapes of Neptune or the celestial globe -- the night sky. A digital globe can illuminate the human planet: wars, colonization, the formation of diaspora, modern trade flows or air traffic. It can also help teach math, play games, show movies or serve as a blank canvas for one’s inner, spherical artist. [...] this brave new world is limited by only one rule: “Respect the roundness."
Here's a couple case examples...

07 January 2013

Captain's Summit ~ Whoopi Hosts Trek Stars...

Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) hosts a Captain's Summit with Star Trek stars William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Patrick Stewart (Picard), and Jonathan Frakes (Riker). I picked this one of several segments as the most touching and funny...

Political Typology ~ Quiz on Where Do You Fit?

Thanks to Helen Greiner for spotting the Political Typology quiz from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press...
"To identify your typology group, select one response from each of the paired statements [given in the quiz]. Even if neither statement is exactly right, choose the response that comes closest to your views."
It pigeon-holed me roughly correctly.

Electrostatic Discharge ~ An Instructional Video;-)

Thanks to MissC for spotting Don't Worry, it's Just ESD!

04 January 2013

Urban Prototyping ~ Future City LEGO Modeling!

Cool MIT IAP 2013 seminar on playful Urban Prototyping with LEGOs and Grasshopper parametric modeling tools hosted by Media Lab City Science colleagues!

Balloon Mapping ~ Try DIY Aerial Cartography...

If you buy one of these Balloon Mapping kits...
...and follow handy illustrated guide...
...combining in a camera, a sodabottle, and some handy helium...
...then you accumulate aerial pix floating over a topography...
...and stitch them together via MapKnitter or the like... ...then you've done some lovely DIY cartography. Thanks PLOTS!