... Actually, that's not really accurate. The chart above shows the manufacturing shares of GDP for the U.S., the entire world economy and four of the countries cited in the study (Japan, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands) as having a "stable or growing" shares of GDP using United Nations data here for the years 1970 to 2010. For all five countries and for the world economy, the manufacturing shares of GDP fell to historic all-time lows in 2009, before increasing slightly in all cases in 2010. Like the U.S., manufacturing's share of GDP has fallen in Germany, Japan, Finland and the Netherlands.
It’s also interesting to note that the decline in manufacturing’s share of U.S. GDP over the last forty years (from 24% to 13%) is nearly identical to the decline in world manufacturing as a share of world GDP, which fell from 27% in 1970 to 16% in 2010. Therefore, we can conclude that the declining share of manufacturing’s contribution to GDP is not unique to America, but reflects a global trend as the world moves from a traditional manufacturing-intensive Machine Age economy to more a services-intensive Information Age economy. ...
... Manufacturing’s declining share of output isn’t a sign of economic weakness - it’s just the opposite. It’s a sign that advances in manufacturing productivity and efficiency translate into lower prices for consumers when they purchase goods like cars, food, clothing, appliances, furniture, and electronic goods. In the U.S., the price of goods relative to services fell by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, so it’s not surprising that manufacturing’s importance in the economy has fallen significantly.
As spending on manufactured goods as a share of household income declines, it raises our standard of living, and for that “decline in manufacturing” we should celebrate, not complain.
For many people, Apple‘s iPad is a magical device that appeared out of thin air. The iPad, however, is the culmination of decades of advancements in a variety of technologies. Come along as we take a look at some of the milestones in the evolution of the best selling tech gadget in history.
Great article. I think the first tablet device I had was a PalmPilot in the late 90's.
Kodak is at death’s door; Fujifilm, its old rival, is thriving. Why?
... Both firms saw their traditional business rendered obsolete. But whereas Kodak has so far failed to adapt adequately, Fujifilm has transformed itself into a solidly profitable business, with a market capitalisation, even after a rough year, of some $12.6 billion to Kodak’s $220m. Why did these two firms fare so differently?
Both saw change coming. Larry Matteson, a former Kodak executive who now teaches at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, recalls writing a report in 1979 detailing, fairly accurately, how different parts of the market would switch from film to digital, starting with government reconnaissance, then professional photography and finally the mass market, all by 2010. He was only a few years out.
Fujifilm, too, saw omens of digital doom as early as the 1980s. It developed a three-pronged strategy: to squeeze as much money out of the film business as possible, to prepare for the switch to digital and to develop new business lines.
Both firms realised that digital photography itself would not be very profitable. “Wise businesspeople concluded that it was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital,” says Mr Matteson. But both firms had to adapt; Kodak was slower. ...
A culture of complacency
Its culture did not help. Despite its strengths—hefty investment in research, a rigorous approach to manufacturing and good relations with its local community—Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.
Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm. Working in a one-company town did not help, either. Kodak’s bosses in Rochester seldom heard much criticism of the firm, she says. Even when Kodak decided to diversify, it took years to make its first acquisition. It created a widely admired venture-capital arm, but never made big enough bets to create breakthroughs, says Ms Kanter.
Bad luck played a role, too. Kodak thought that the thousands of chemicals its researchers had created for use in film might instead be turned into drugs. But its pharmaceutical operations fizzled, and were sold in the 1990s.
Fujifilm diversified more successfully. Film is a bit like skin: both contain collagen. Just as photos fade because of oxidation, cosmetics firms would like you to think that skin is preserved with anti-oxidants. In Fujifilm’s library of 200,000 chemical compounds, some 4,000 are related to anti-oxidants. So the company launched a line of cosmetics, called Astalift, which is sold in Asia and is being launched in Europe this year.
Fujifilm also sought new outlets for its expertise in film: for example, making optical films for LCD flat-panel screens. It has invested $4 billion in the business since 2000. And this has paid off. In one sort of film, to expand the LCD viewing angle, Fujifilm enjoys a 100% market share. ...
Sounds like a great case study in adaptive change.
The pace of innovation in robotics in recent years has been stunning, with robots performing many tasks requiring some degree of human intelligence, from assembly to driving cars to flying aircraft. Robots are also interacting with humans on an increasingly sophisticated level.
In fact, the pace of robot innovation is far outpacing any legal and moral implications that may arise from machine interactions. ...
... As we rely on robots for more and more of the tasks of business and society, there needs to be a legal framework to address the legal and moral questions that may come up. For example, if a robot injures somebody, or if a questionable or ethically challenged decision is left to a machine. It’s a wide open frontier, legally.
To start the process of building such a framework, the University of Miami School of Law announced it plans an inaugural conference on legal and policy issues relating to robotics. The event, dubbed seeks submissions for “We Robot” (a play on words on Asimov’s I, Robot), will be held in Coral Gables, Florida in April 2012. ...
Okay, join me in the chorus, please:
"Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto, ..."
Bloomberg: Need a Light Bulb? Uncle Sam Gets to Choose
... No Polished Wonkery
Though anti-populist in the extreme, the bulb ban in fact evinces none of the polished wonkery you’d expect from sophisticated technocrats. For starters, it’s not clear what the point is. Why should the government try to make consumers use less electricity? There’s no foreign policy reason. Electricity comes mostly from coal, natural gas and nuclear plants, all domestic sources. So presumably the reason has something to do with air pollution or carbon-dioxide emissions.
But banning light bulbs is one of the least efficient ways imaginable to attack those problems. A lamp using power from a clean source is treated the same as a lamp using power from a dirty source. A ban gives electricity producers no incentive to reduce emissions.
Nor does it allow households to make choices about how best to conserve electricity. A well-designed policy would allow different people to make different tradeoffs among different uses to produce the most happiness (“utility” in econ-speak) for a given amount of power. Maybe I want to burn a lot of incandescent bulbs but dry my clothes outdoors and keep the air conditioner off. Maybe I want to read by warm golden light instead of watching a giant plasma TV.
Only Use Matters
What matters, from a public policy perspective, isn’t any given choice but the total amount of electricity I use (which is itself only a proxy for the total emissions caused by generating that electricity). If they’re really interested in environmental quality, policy makers shouldn’t care how households get to that total. They should just raise the price of electricity, through taxes or higher rates, to discourage using it.
Instead, the law raises the price of light bulbs, but not the price of using them. In fact, its supporters loudly proclaim that the new bulbs will cost less to use. If true, the savings could encourage people to keep the lights on longer.
Even if you care nothing about individual freedom or aesthetic pleasure, this ham-handed approach wouldn’t pass muster in a classroom at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As pollution control, it’s horribly inefficient.
The bulb ban makes sense only one of two ways: either as an expression of cultural sanctimony, with a little technophilia thrown in for added glamour, or as a roundabout way to transfer wealth from the general public to the few businesses with the know-how to produce the light bulbs consumers don’t really want to buy.
Or, of course, as both.
So where are the cries of crony capitalism when it comes to lightbulb manufacturing? ;-)
"What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading."
... The toilet they threw open is Sanergy, a year-old for-profit social enterprise that manufactures high-quality, yet low-cost and compact toilets for urban slums in the developing world and then uses human waste to produce energy and fertilizer. It is an “affordable, accessible and hygienic sanitation” solution for millions that live in places without sewage or electricity. They are places where the street is the bathroom. And that’s precisely the problem.
According to the World Toilet Organization, (yes, there really is one) 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to a toilet. Relieving themselves in rivers, roadsides and impromptu and poorly built latrines, this results in high levels of disease, notably diarrhea and cholera. The recent cholera scourge in Haiti that killed thousands is sobering evidence. It is estimated that 1.6 million children die as a result of these diseases. Statistics show that hundreds of millions lose approximately 60 days of work.
David Auerbach and Ani Vallabhaneni, two of Sanergy’s young entrepreneurs, didn’t need stats to know how the absence of toilets affected the poor. The two graduating MIT-Sloan of Management school students experienced first hand the challenges of no sewage or sanitation when they lived and worked in rural China and India respectively. “Going to the bathroom isn’t a popular topic that comes up at the dinner table in the West,” Auerbach, a former policy hand at the Clinton Global Initiative (and my former colleague at Endeavor), says. “It’s flush and forget for us. That’s not the case in much of the developing world.” ...
... What they found was that Kenya’s poor were interested in having compact stalls that could fit into the tight spaces of their usually one-room homes, rather than large community outhouses. They wanted a “permanent” feel to the stalls rather than the flimsy feel of a porta-potty. As a result, Auerbach, Vallabhaneni and their Sanergy team that includes engineers, architects and designers drew up plans for a 3×5 toilet made out of thin shell cement that is locally produced for $200 per unit. Each toilet is designed for a 100 uses per day. They are units, which also collect waste in double-sealed 30L containers, rather than pits, or septic tanks “that are then drained into waterways.” It is this waste collection that is key.
More than where to go to the bathroom, how to dispose of human waste is, as Auerbach points out, a primary reason that no one touches the issue of toilets. That was Sanergy’s opportunity. Recognizing that, though “messy,” human waste can be converted through anaerobic digestion to produce fertilizer or electricity. It is also where the Sanergy team recognized that it could generate revenue.
Sanergy produces toilets that are franchised to local operators who charge around $0.06 per use. Currently the company has two toilets serving approximately 150 each day. One is at Bridge International school (a for-profit school supported by the Omidyar Network), the other in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum. These local operators keep all revenues. That, Auerbach says, is an incentive for them to clean, maintain and “market” the toilets. The operators then work with groups who collect the waste daily and bring it to facilities where it is converted to energy. “The waste from each toilet generates Sanergy revenues of $1250 per year.” The waste from 10 million creates a potential market of $178 million per year. Brown gold. ...
“In less than 20 years, anything presented digitally in public forums will be presented in 3-D,” declared Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg at the recent 3-D Media Marketsconference produced by analyst firm Paul Kagan and Panasonic. Now, the 3-D movement is hitting home in a big way, as companies scramble to reinvent gadgets equipped with a reach-out-and-touch-me dimension. Here are a few of the latest ones.
3-D Camcorders: We told you about the new Fuji 3-D camera, and it’s no surprise that 3-D camcorders are a fast follow-up. ...
3-D Toys: The future of 3-D may be in viewing it with the naked eye. Debuting early next year, Nintendo’s much-anticipated 3DS handheld 3-D enabled gaming device does just that. ...
3-D Projectors: The large screen projector is coveted by those who value the viewing experience as much as the content itself. ...
Okay. We'll see. All through my childhood I was promised to be able to fly where I wanted with a rocket pack. And by now I was supposed to be able to take vacations at a space station or on the moon. (Ever see 2001: A Space Odyssey?) Is this just more false hopes? ;-)
Self-publishing was once the uninvited guest at the publishing table.
But as technology advances and authors develop marketing savvy,
first-time and even some experienced authors are turning more often to
what many in the industry are calling custom publishing. In religion
publishing, this has particular appeal for religious leaders who already
have an audience.
Technically, "self-published" applies to any book the author pays to
have published. But the lines are beginning to blur as companies such as
the WinePress Group, Credo House, Brown Books Publishing Group (and its
new Christian division), Creation House, and WestBow Press produce
quality books that flow through traditional distribution channels and
are edited, designed, and printed by professionals. Add to that the
newest print-on-demand publishers such as CreateSpace and Gut Chuck
Press, e-books and their carriers, and companies that combine
print-on-demand technology and online marketing savvy such as
"We're turning the traditional publishing model on its head," says Tim
Beals, owner and president of Credo House Publishing in Grand Rapids,
Mich., which started in 2005. "Traditional publishers are stuck with one
model, but we can do it all based on the author's abilities and our
Custom publishers put themselves somewhere between established
self-publishing giants such as Xulon and PublishAmerica and traditional
royalty-paying publishers. The WinePress Group started almost 20 years
ago, one of the first in custom publishing. It publishes about 350 books
a year, from four-color children's books to novelty books, memoir to
theological titles;10% to 15% are novels.
"We've made it possible for people who have really good books to
succeed," says Carla Williams, editorial director for the company.
"WinePress has worked hard to bring up the quality of self-publishing.
We customize what the author needs, including cover design, coaching,
all levels of editing, marketing, and publicity." ...
Monday was a day for the history books — if those will even exist in the future.
Amazon.com, one of the nation’s largest booksellers, announced Monday that for the last three months, sales of books for its e-reader, the Kindle, outnumbered sales of hardcover books.
In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition.
The pace of change is quickening, too, Amazon said. In the last four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.
Book lovers mourning the demise of hardcover books with their heft and their musty smell need a reality check, said Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which advises book publishers on digital change. “This was a day that was going to come, a day that had to come,” he said. He predicts that within a decade, fewer than 25 percent of all books sold will be print versions.
The shift at Amazon is “astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months,” the chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, said in a statement.
Still, the hardcover book is far from extinct. Industrywide sales are up 22 percent this year, according to the American Publishers Association. ...
One of the things I wonder about is how e-books are affecting different genres. I'm not a big fiction reader. I suspect if I had a Kindle I might actually read more fiction because presently I don't want to pay for a hard copy that clutters my life and I don't want to got to the library to find fiction.
Most of what I buy is for learning and reference. I write notes in books and highlight key points. I still haven't seen an electronic version that works as well for me as having the hard copy. I suspect that there are others like me. So I wonder if some non-fiction genres will make the leap as quickly. We will see what technological innovations emerge but at present I'm still buying almost exclusively hard copy.
The Stone Age version of successful businessmen like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates might have been involved in the color and glue trade.
A once-thriving 58,000-year-old ochre powder production site has just been discovered in South Africa. The discovery offers a glimpse of what early humans valued and used in their everyday lives.
The finding, which will be described in the Journal of Archaeological Science, also marks the first time that any Stone Age site has yielded evidence for ochre powder processing on cemented hearths -- an innovation for the period. A clever caveman must have figured out that white ash from hearths can cement and become rock hard, providing a sturdy work surface.
"Ochre occurs in a range of colors that includes orange, red, yellow, brown and shades of these colors," project leader Lyn Wadley told Discovery News. "Yellow and brown ochre can be transformed to red by heating them at temperatures as low as 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit)."
Wadley, who authored the study, is a professor in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies and in the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand. She said ochre has been found on bone awl tools probably used for working leather, so it is possible that the ancients sported colorful leather clothing and other leather goods. ...
AT 828 metres (2,717 feet), the Burj Khalifa, which opened on Monday January 4th, dwarfs Taipei 101, which was previously the tallest tower anywhere, by 320 metres. The tower has more than 160 floors and cost some $1.5 billion. It is in danger, however, of being seen as the height of folly. Construction began in 2004, when the economy of the United Arab Emirates was growing at 9.7%. It is forecast to grow by just 2.4% this year and probably shrank by 0.2% in 2009. This is not the first tower to be planned in the good times and then opened in a slump. Countries home to many of the world's highest buildings (when they opened) saw their economies slump in the years between the start of construction and the official opening. Our chart compares economic growth of the relevant country when a tower was opened, with the respective annual growth rate enjoyed half a decade earlier.
When I used to visit New York in the 1990s I made pilgrimages to the top to the World Trade Center. That was enough to creep me out. Ain't no way I'm going to the top of the Dubai building without a parachute.
At Yellowstone National Park, the clear soda cups and white utensils are not your typical cafe-counter garbage. Made of plant-based plastics, they dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.
At Ecco, a popular restaurant in Atlanta, waiters no longer scrape food scraps into the trash bin. Uneaten morsels are dumped into five-gallon pails and taken to a compost heap out back.
And at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.
Across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as “zero waste” is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations.
The movement is simple in concept if not always in execution: Produce less waste. Shun polystyrene foam containers or any other packaging that is not biodegradable. Recycle or compost whatever you can.
Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth’s atmosphere. ...
Recently I wrote a post at Jesus Creed that highlighted the complexity of creating a no. 2 pencil. Here is a map that shows the origin of materials that go into a laptop computer made in Shanghai: Typical Laptop Computer
Light-emitting diodes will transform the business of illumination, especially with new production breakthroughs.
“INCANDESCENT” might well describe the rage of those who prefer traditional light bulbs to their low-energy alternatives. This week, the European Commission formally adopted new regulations that will phase such bulbs out in Europe by 2012. America will do so by 2014. Some countries, such as Australia, Brazil and Switzerland, have got rid of them already. When a voluntary agreement came into force in Britain, at the start of the year, people rushed out to buy the last 100-watt light bulbs. Next to go are lower-wattage bulbs.
But what will replace the light bulb? Although obtaining illumination by incandescence (ie, heating something up) goes back to prehistory, it was not until 1879 that Thomas Edison demonstrated a practical example that used a wire filament encased in glass. Modern bulbs, the descendants of that demonstration, are cheap (around 50 cents) but inefficient, because only about 5% of the energy they use is turned into light and the rest is wasted as heat. A typical bulb also has to be replaced every 1,000 hours or so.
Without changing light fittings, the cheapest direct replacement for an incandescent bulb at the moment is a compact fluorescent light (CFL). These use up to 75% less power and last ten times longer, but they cost around $3 each. ...
... The most promising alternatives are light-emitting diodes (LEDs). An LED is made from two layers of semiconductor, an “n-type” with an excess of negatively charged electrons, and a positive “p-type” which has an abundance of “holes” where electrons should be but aren’t. When a current is applied across the sandwich, the electrons and holes team up at the junction of the two materials and release energy in the form of light. The colour depends on the properties of the semiconductor, and these can be tuned to produce light that is similar to natural daylight but with virtually no ultraviolet or heat.
Light-emitting diodes have progressed from simple red indicators on electronic products to become torches, streetlights and car headlights. Now the first mains-voltage LEDs designed as direct replacements for incandescent bulbs are arriving on the market. Some, such as the Philips Master LED range, promise energy savings of up to 80% and a working life of 45,000 hours. But they are not cheap: around £40 ($56) in Britain.
Even so, LEDs can still be economical. Only a quarter of lighting is domestic. Businesses and public organisations are more aware of running costs than householders are—and besides the electricity bill they also have to pay people to change bulbs that have failed. For the bulbs to be embraced by households, though, LED costs will need to come down. ...
Technology and development: The humble cooking stove is being overhauled around the world with the help of “user focused” design
IF USER demand were the sole driver of innovation, the biomass cooking stove would be one of the most sophisticated devices in the world. Depending on which development agency you ask, between two-and-a-half and three billion people—nearly half the world’s population—use a stove every day, in conjunction with solid fuel such as wood, dung or coal. Yet in many parts of the world the stove has barely progressed beyond the Stone Age.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that toxic emissions from cooking stoves are responsible for causing 1.6m premature deaths a year, half of them among children under five years old. In China 83m people will die from lung cancer and respiratory disease over the next 25 years, according to a recent report from Harvard University. Research from the University of California, Berkeley, on stoves in India, Guatemala and Mexico has found links between indoor air-pollution from stoves and increased incidence of pneumonia, cataracts and tuberculosis.
After an initial wave of stove design that sought to reduce deforestation through improved efficiency, scientists and engineers have turned their attention to stoves that minimise the levels of noxious emissions to which stove users—mainly women and children—are exposed. Crucially, they have also recognised the need to take account of the way in which stoves are actually used.
One of the principal problems the designer of a stove must solve is to optimise the thermodynamics. Typical stoves—including the basic “three-stone fires” still used in many parts of the world—draw in too much air during the combustion process, which cools the fuel and means more of it is needed. Even with more advanced designs, poorly insulated combustion chambers can add to the cooling effect and thus to the inefficiency. The challenge, explains Bryan Wilson of Envirofit, an organisation developing stoves for India (pictured above), is to optimise a stove’s air-fuel ratio and minimise heat transfer to improve combustion efficiency.
Envirofit’s latest stoves, introduced this year in a project sponsored by the Shell Foundation, use a carburettor design, with chimneys that draw air in through precisely calibrated inlets. Another model, the “Oorja”, developed by BP and the Indian Institute of Science, has an integrated battery-powered fan to direct air to wood pellets in the combustion chamber, improving efficiency. ...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects.
Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects.
The findings, by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Xiang Zhang, are to be released later this week in the journals Nature and Science.
The new work moves scientists a step closer to hiding people and objects from visible light, which could have broad applications, including military ones. ...
NORTH CANTON, Ohio — A simple change to the design of the gallon milk jug, adopted by Wal-Mart and Costco, seems made for the times. The jugs are cheaper to ship and better for the environment, the milk is fresher when it arrives in stores, and it costs less.
What’s not to like? Plenty, as it turns out.
The jugs have no real spout, and their unorthodox shape makes consumers feel like novices at the simple task of pouring a glass of milk.
“I hate it,” said Lisa DeHoff, a cafe owner shopping in a Sam’s Club here.
“It spills everywhere,” said Amy Wise, a homemaker.
“It’s very hard for kids to pour,” said Lee Morris, who was shopping for her grandchildren.
But retailers are undeterred by the prospect of upended bowls of Cheerios. The new jugs have many advantages from their point of view, and Sam’s Club intends to roll them out broadly, making them more prevalent. ...
...The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80. ...
The Eco & UD model home, a prototype green home built by Panasonic, was on display in Japan where CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos took a tour of its many features last fall. Could we see homes built by Panasonic in the U.S. sometime in the future?
The video is pretty cool. I liked the large interactive wall TV although I have no idea why I would need one.