30 April 2013
28 April 2013
Join us this Monday, April 29, 2013 at 1pm at MIT Media Lab E14-633 6th floor lecture hall for Future Africa talk by Jonathan Ledgard, Director of Afrotech initiative at EPFL & Africa Correspondent at Large for The Economist. Ledgard will spotlight the technology choices Africa makes in the next decade will help determine whether it becomes competitive or unmanageable. This informal talk will overview Africa's security and environmental challenges, underline its economic potential, and get beyond ICT to identify areas where science will be decisive. He is director of the Afrotech initiative at EPFL in Switzerland. Afrotech seeks to pioneer massively scaleable high technologies into and out of Africa, including distribution of advanced knowledge on digital platforms, robotics, solar, and complexity thinking for future cities. Prior to joining EPFL Jonathan was a foreign political and war correspondent for The Economist. He joined the newspaper in 1995. Since 2004 he has been East Africa correspondent for the paper, with a reporting focus on risk and technology issues. He has published two novels, Giraffe (2006) and Submergence (2012).
23 April 2013
21 April 2013
Lisa Wade spotlights a History of American Energy Use... Arnulf Grüblera, Nebojša Nakićenovića, and David Victor plot the Dynamics of energy technologies and global change...
Thanks to Friendly Athiest Hemant Mehta for spotting What Does It Really Mean for Women to be ‘Free & Equal’? A Talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who pulls no punches in condemning backwards cultures...
"It is a matter of principle that women are free and equal'. This means zero tolerance of cultural practices such as honour violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). In her talk, Hirsi Ali challenges the audience with questions such as whether multiculturalism is indifference disguised as tolerance, and what do Western feminists have to offer to the life and death problems of women from the developing world?"
Fascinating piece in Paul Solman's PBS Newshour Business Desk column on The Chosen Few: A New Explanation of Jewish Success by Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein who write...
"Why are the Jews, a relatively small population, specialized in the most skilled and economically profitable occupations? [...] The literacy of the Jewish people, coupled with a set of contract-enforcement institutions developed during the five centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple, gave the Jews a comparative advantage in occupations such as crafts, trade, and moneylending -- occupations that benefited from literacy, contract-enforcement mechanisms, and networking and provided high earnings. [...] Jews in medieval Europe voluntarily entered and later specialized in moneylending and banking because they had the key assets for being successful players in credit markets [...] An apparently odd choice of religious norm -- the enforcement of literacy in a mostly illiterate, agrarian world, potentially risky in that the process of conversions could make Judaism too costly and thus disappear -- turned out to be the lever of the Jewish economic success and intellectual prominence in the subsequent centuries up to today."
Alex Santoso at Neatorama spots Fujitsu FingerLink... Reminds me of MIT Media Lab work, especially John Underkoffler's 1999 I/O Bulb and Natan Linder's 2011 LuminAR.
20 April 2013
Dr Atul Gawande shares in the New Yorker a bit about how and Why Boston's Hospitals Were Ready...
"The bombs at the Boston Marathon were designed to maim and kill, and they did. Three people died within the first moments of the blast. More than a hundred and seventy people were injured. [...] Yet it now appears that every one of the wounded alive when rescuers reached them will survive. [...] The explosions took place at 2:50 P.M., twelve seconds apart. Medical personnel manning the runners’ first-aid tent swiftly converted it into a mass-casualty triage unit. Emergency medical teams mobilized en masse from around the city, resuscitated the injured, and somehow dispersed them to eight different hospitals in minutes, despite chaos and snarled traffic. [Indeed,] everything happened too fast for any ritualized plan to accommodate. [Nevertheless] nurses, doctors, X-ray staff, transport staff, you name it showed up as soon as they heard the news. They wanted to help, and they knew how. As one colleague put it, they did on a large scale what they knew how to do on a small scale. [...] Talking to people about that day, I was struck by how ready and almost rehearsed they were for this event. A decade earlier, nothing approaching their level of collaboration and efficiency would have occurred. We have, as one colleague put it to me, replaced our pre-9/11 naïveté with post-9/11 sobriety."Read the whole piece for rich details about resiliency, preparedness, and grim efficiency of Boston's hospitals & people. P.S. BostInno's Lauren Landry summarizes activity from many of the hospitals. And Tim Murphy writes in Mother Jones How Bombs in Iraq Saved Lives in Boston.
19 April 2013
Mark Wagenbuur at BicycleDutch seeks to answer, for cycling infrastructure, What qualifies as Dutch Design?
"Dutch junctions are very straight forward. All the routes for the different types of traffic are clearly connected and separated from other flows of traffic. There is no turning in strange and unexpected places, no waiting on a coloured square with other traffic passing on all sides. [But the UK's made yet another flawed plan] announcement. This time about a junction in Southampton, which is announced as a Dutch style junction. A picture was included and I was totally surprised. What is depicted there bears no resemblance to a Dutch junction at all!"Mark's clear video (and blog post) illustrates...
17 April 2013
16 April 2013
Today more terrorist atrocities. Again wondering if US$Trillions spent on "defense" and "homeland security" and "central intelligence" are well-spent. Here's Boston bombing raw... Map of crimes... Locational infographic... Killer, bomb, victim pictured together...
14 April 2013
13 April 2013
11 April 2013
Join friends and colleagues and especially our development innovators showcasing their working prototypes and projects at the latest MIT International Development Night this coming 13 April 2013 co-organized by MIT IDI and T&C in cooperation with D-Lab and IDC!
08 April 2013
06 April 2013
Excellent to see MIT-related LabCentral open!
"LabCentral supports creation of innovative startup biotechnology companies by providing a world-class environment for entrepreneurs, and a fully functional life sciences laboratory within the Kendall Square innovation hub."
Excellent to see MIT Media Lab alum and JoyLabz founder Jay Silver in CNN piece by Brandon Griggs on How to control a computer with a banana using...
"[MakeyMakey which] seems like a toy, and educators have used it to play games or teach kids about basic electrical circuitry. But Silver believes that his kit can also help engineers test concepts and prototypes more cheaply. "Some people are just totally goofing around (with the kits). Some people are making devices so that their son with cerebral palsy can access browsing the Web," he said. "I don't know which of those two things actually are more important. They're both, to me, really valuable." "The reason I'm making this kit is that I'm totally stoked about what I can do with it and what other people can do with it," he said. "I hope that other people use it in a way that makes them feel alive. And if they are, it doesn't matter to me if what they're doing can be called useful or not." Silver talks wistfully about a utopian future where everyone creates their own unique space instead of settling for cookie-cutter homes or furnishings or decorations."
05 April 2013
04 April 2013
02 April 2013
01 April 2013
Obsidian allows for archeological economics points out Matt Ridley in WSJ Mind & Matter column on A King's Overreaching, Traced in Black Glass...
"Obsidian was once one of humankind's most sought-after materials, the "rich man's flint" of the stone-age world. This black volcanic glass fragments into lethally sharp, tough blades that, even after the invention of bronze, made it literally a cutting-edge technology. Because sources of obsidian are few and far between, obsidian artifacts are considered some of the earliest evidence of commerce: Long-distance movement of obsidian, even hundreds of thousands of years ago, suggests the early stirring of true trade. Differences in the trace elements in each volcanic source let archeologists trace the origin of individual obsidian artifacts and reconstruct trade routes. A new study [Environment and collapse: Eastern Anatolian obsidians at Urkesh (Tell Mozan, Syria) and the third-millennium Mesopotamian urban crisis] by Ellery Frahm of the University of Sheffield and Joshua Feinberg of the University of Minnesota, has used such obsidian tracing to shed light on how trade collapsed in the Akkadian empire of the early Bronze Age around 4,200 years ago in what is now northern Syria."Fascinating! Here's just few of the study maps & data...