Economist: Charting the Wind
... The animated infographic displays wind flowing over America, measured between one and 30 miles per hour. It uses data from the National Digital Forecast Database, which is updated hourly. One can appreciate the northerly midwestern gales, and dramatically see Hurricane Isaac threatening New Orleans.
The Viégas and Wattenberg team have distinguished themselves by combining fascinating data with brilliant design to tell stories that cannot be so easily told in any other way. Among Mr Wattenberg's celebrated visualisations is one of his earliest, a "map of the market" (at the side), which colorfully tracked the daily rise and fall of share prices by degree, direction, sector and firm, scaled by market capitalisation—all in a single glance. ...
You have to go to the link above to see the interactive map. I blew me away! ;-)
"Just cleared by the FDA late last month, this new ingestible sensor from California-based Proteus Digital Health is about the size of a grain of sand and can be integrated into an inert pill or medicine. Once in the stomach, it is powered solely by contact with stomach fluid and communicates a unique signal that identifies the timing of ingestion. This information is transferred through the user’s body tissue to a battery-operated patch worn on the skin that detects the signal along with physiological and behavioral metrics such as heart rate, body position and activity. That data, in turn, gets relayed by the patch to a mobile application, where it can be made accessible by caregivers and clinicians."
Over the coming months, A Matter of Life and Tech will feature a range of voices from people building Africa’s tech future. This week, United Nation’s mobile learning specialist Steve Vosloo argues phones could be the future of education on the continent.
... If mobile learning is to have a real impact, we need to also rethink what we mean by education, schooling and what skills it delivers.
Recently, a United Nations task team led by UNESCO produced a think piece on education and skills beyond 2015. The piece predicts there will be a shift away from teaching in a classroom-centred paradigm of education to an increased focus on learning, which happens informally throughout the day. A core feature of mobiles is that they support ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning. Because they are personal and always at hand, they are perfectly suited to support informal and contextual learning.
The report also predicts that there will be an increased blurring of the boundaries between learning, working and living. Mobiles already support skills development in a range of fields including agriculture and healthcare, and provide paying job opportunities for mobile-based ‘microwork’.
In addition to education basics such as literacy and numeracy, the reports says, there will be a need for digital and information literacy, as well as critical thinking and online communication skills. With the guidance of teachers, mobiles provide a medium for developing these skills for millions of Africans who go online ‘mobile first’ or even ‘mobile-only’.
On a continent where education change – what should be taught, how it should be delivered and assessed, and where learning happens – is inevitable, and mobiles are more affordably and effectively networking people to each other and information than ever before, the combined promise is bigger than the sum of the parts. Mobile learning is here to stay and will only influence and enable learning more and more.
A bioengineer and geneticist at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have successfully stored 5.5 petabits of data — around 700 terabytes — in a single gram of DNA, smashing the previous DNA data density record by a thousand times.
The work, carried out by George Church and Sri Kosuri, basically treats DNA as just another digital storage device. Instead of binary data being encoded as magnetic regions on a hard drive platter, strands of DNA that store 96 bits are synthesized, with each of the bases (TGAC) representing a binary value (T and G = 1, A and C = 0).
To read the data stored in DNA, you simply sequence it — just as if you were sequencing the human genome — and convert each of the TGAC bases back into binary. To aid with sequencing, each strand of DNA has a 19-bit address block at the start (the red bits in the image below) — so a whole vat of DNA can be sequenced out of order, and then sorted into usable data using the addresses. ...
... Just think about it for a moment: One gram of DNA can store 700 terabytes of data. That’s 14,000 50-gigabyte Blu-ray discs… in a droplet of DNA that would fit on the tip of your pinky. To store the same kind of data on hard drives — the densest storage medium in use today — you’d need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos. In Church and Kosuri’s case, they have successfully stored around 700 kilobytes of data in DNA — Church’s latest book, in fact — and proceeded to make 70 billion copies (which they claim, jokingly, makes it the best-selling book of all time!) totaling 44 petabytes of data stored.
Looking forward, they foresee a world where biological storage would allow us to record anything and everything without reservation. Today, we wouldn’t dream of blanketing every square meter of Earth with cameras, and recording every moment for all eternity/human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything (hello, police state!) ...
New York Times: Card Swipes in Church Make Giving Easier
... Whatever people pay, however, it hasn’t always been easy for administrators and lay leaders to get them to donate regularly and increase their contributions each year, no matter their faith. Over the last decade or so, entrepreneurs have seized on the opening and tried to automate the process.
One big player is a service called ParishPay, which works with many Catholic churches and a few synagogues to help sign up worshipers to pay via credit or debit card or automatic payment from their bank accounts. Nearly 1,000 institutions have joined the service, and it claims a 20 to 30 percent increase in giving by individuals who enroll.
That’s a nice lift, though the process is a bit antiseptic given that no money changes hands at the house of worship (though Jews are not supposed to handle money on Shabbat). Marty Baker, the lead pastor at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Ga., came up with the idea for an in-church giving kiosk in 2003, when he wondered whether attendees with pockets full of plastic might give more than they were depositing in the collection plate if he found a way to accept their cards.
Today, his for-profit company SecureGive has kiosks in churches, Hindu temples and some zoos and hospitals, too. “You could do this at home or online,” he said. “But there is something about swiping that card at church. It’s a reminder that your gifts are making a difference in a broader context.”
Few things are more visceral than the collection plate, however, and it persists for many reasons. “The liturgical act of placing an offering of money into the offertory plate is understood to be a form of worship,” said the Rev. Laurel Johnston, the officer for stewardship in the Episcopal Church. Episcopalians generally make annual pledges in the fall and fulfill them throughout the year through electronic payments or by making periodic payments via an envelope that they put in the collection plate.
Regular worshipers with a regular paycheck may also appreciate the formality of handing over hard currency each week if they believe in the idea of paying God first. Then, there are the parents who like the fact that their children see everyone else giving and can toss in a few coins of their own.
Finally, there’s the peer pressure of having others’ eyes on you as the plate goes around. “Some would call it Catholic guilt,” said Matt Golis, a lifelong Catholic and chief executive of ParishPay’s parent company, YapStone. Many churches that allow electronic giving encourage those who have used it to drop a symbolic receipt of sorts into the collection plate if they wish. ...
USA Today: Why shopping will never be the same
... The convergence of smartphone technology, social-media data and futuristic technology such as 3-D printers is changing the face of retail in a way that experts across the industry say will upend the bricks-and-mortar model in a matter of a few years.
"The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years," says Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick, a location-based shopping app available at Macy's, Target and other top retailers.
Within 10 years, retail as we know it will be unrecognizable, says Kevin Sterneckert, a Gartner analyst who follows retail technology. Big-box stores such as Office Depot, Old Navy and Best Buy will shrink to become test centers for online purchases. Retail stores will be there for a "touch and feel" experience only, with no actual sales. Stores won't stock any merchandise; it'll be shipped to you. This will help them stay competitive with online-only retailers, Sterneckert says.
Branding strategist Adam Hanft says this all might sound futuristic, but much of it is rooted in reality. He says satellite stores will open in apartment buildings and office centers. FedEx and UPS will delve deeper into refrigerated home delivery. Google trucks will deliver local services. Clothing — even pharmaceuticals — will be produced in the home via affordable 3-D printers.
"Every waking moment is a shopping moment," says Steve Yankovich, head of eBay's mobile business, which expects to handle $10 billion in transactions this year. "Anytime, anywhere."
Game-shifting tech — such as smartphones, location-based services, augmented reality and big data, which makes sense of all the data on mobile devices and social networks — will most assuredly upend several multibillion-dollar retail markets, forcing retailers to adapt or die, say venture capitalists and analysts.
Eventually, 3-D printers will let consumers produce their own towels, utensils and clothes. While in their infancy, the devices have been used to print hearing aids, iPad cases and model rockets, says Andy Filo, an expert on 3-D printers. The technology is several years away, however, from being widely available and affordable, he says.
And almost all of it will be paid with … your phone. ...
... Driving the future
All of this will be possible within several years because of:
•Smartphones. Location-based services and the growing adoption of Near Field Communication — a wireless technology standard for one-tap payment — will turn consumers' phones into stand-ins for credit, debit and loyalty cards, says Bill Gajda, head of mobile at Visa. Meanwhile, Nordstrom, among many, is phasing out cash registers this year in favor of smartphones with store-designed apps for purchases and inventory.
•The death of cash. If credit cards diminished use of cash in the 1950s, powerful smartphones and tablets will hasten its demise. Both are reshaping the relationship between merchant and customer as newfangled wallets, and each is edging toward becoming credit card readers and (cash) registers.
"Cash has dug in its heels for small-value transactions, but with the arrival of each new tech offering (providing) an alternative way to pay for little stuff — text your parking payment, Starbucks mobile app, Square, etc. — cash is being further and further marginalized," says David Wolman, author of the book The End of Money.
•Augmented reality. The increasingly popular technology adds a visual layer of information on top of surfaces such as a mirror. One breakthrough might come at the mall, with AR mirrors that let consumers shop based on data projected on glass, say social-media experts such as Brian Solis.
Another intriguing option is Google Glass, which puts computer-processing power, a camera, a microphone, wireless communications and a tiny screen into a pair of lightweight eyeglasses. Ultimately, Google hopes the "smart" glasses — which are a few years away — will be able to access information in real time, including the ability to identify locations and provide additional information about your whereabouts.
Harnessing social media
As smartphones and tablets grow in popularity, retailers are trying to get their hands around Facebook, Twitter and social media, and cater to consumers, says Niraj Shah, CEO of Wayfair, an e-commerce company that recently passed Crate & Barrel to become the No. 2 Internet retailer of home products. It racked up a record $500 million in revenue last year.
Only 8% to 13% of retail shopping in the USA is done online. Impressive as future retail technology might look, it will take good old-fashioned customer service to boost those figures, says Will Young, who heads Zappos Labs. ...
Lenoard Sweet says that higher education is where the Roman Catholic Church was on the eve of the Reformation. Go to the Ashford page at youtube to see their other videos.
... Amazon.co.uk has said that sales of its Kindle ebooks are now outstripping its sales of printed books.
Underlining the speed of change in the publishing industry, Amazon said that two years after introducing the Kindle, customers are now buying more ebooks than all hardcovers and paperbacks combined. According to unaudited figures released by the company on Monday, since the start of 2012, for every 100 hardback and paperback book sold on its site, customers downloaded 114 ebooks. Amazon said the figures included sales of printed books which did not have Kindle editions, but excluded free ebooks. ...
... Three of the top 10 most popular Kindle authors of 2012 – Nick Spalding, Katia Lief and Kerry Wilkinson – were published by Amazon's own Kindle Direct Publishing. ...
One of the first essays I ever read about economics in college was Leonard Read's I, Pencil written in the year before I was born. While a little outdated in some ways it still does a wonderful job of illustrating the wonder and complexity of the market process. The Institute for Faith Work and Economics has just released a four minute clip that updates "I, Pencil" in a compelling and entertaining way.
Now let me add a caveat, especially for those of my readers who are skeptical of markets and free enterprise. Markets are not a quasi-deity. They do not solve every problem. They aren't perfect. They don't prevent evil people from doing evil things. But what they do, by historical measure, is astounding. Until very recently, human beings were trapped in low productivity labor. There was minimal ability to trade with others beyond the immediate community. There was no way for us to coordinate with, and mutually benefit from, the work of countless strangers from across the globe. Markets make that possible. Markets made this very conversation possbile that you an I are having right now because without it there would be no computers and no internet to enable this interaction. And for that reason markets can be celebrated, even as we wrestle with many implications that have arisen because of emergence of well-coordinated markets.
WASHINGTON, July 17, 2012 --- Around three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone and the mobile communications story is moving to a new level, which is not so much about the phone but how it is used, says a new report released today by the World Bank and infoDev, its technology entrepreneurship and innovation program. The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide, both pre-paid and post-paid, has grown from fewer than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion now, of which nearly 5 billion in developing countries. Ownership of multiple subscriptions is becoming increasingly common, suggesting that their number will soon exceed that of the human population.
According to Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile, more than 30 billion mobile applications, or “apps,” were downloaded in 2011 – software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids or price comparison tools. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.
"Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development – from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” said World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte. “The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.” ...
We think of Google and Facebook as Web gorillas. They’ll be around forever. Yet, with the rate that the tech world is moving these days, there are good reasons to think both might be gone completely in 5 – 8 years. Not bankrupt gone, but MySpace gone. And there’s some academic theory to back up that view, along with casual observations from recent history. ...
... In the
tech Internet world, we’ve really had 3 generations:
With each succeeding generation in tech, it seems the prior generation can’t quite wrap its head around the subtle changes that the next generation brings. Web 1.0 companies did a great job of aggregating data and presenting it in an easy to digest portal fashion. Google did a good job organizing the chaos of the Web better than AltaVista, Excite, Lycos and all the other search engines that preceded it. Amazon did a great job of centralizing the chaos of e-commerce shopping and putting all you needed in one place.
When Web 2.0 companies began to emerge, they seemed to gravitate to the importance of social connections. MySpace built a network of people with a passion for music initially. Facebook got college students. LinkedIn got the white collar professionals. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon showed how users could generate content themselves and make the overall community more valuable. ...
... Social companies born since 2010 have a very different view of the world. These companies – and Instagram is the most topical example at the moment – view the mobile smartphone as the primary (and oftentimes exclusive) platform for their application. They don’t even think of launching via a web site. They assume, over time, people will use their mobile applications almost entirely instead of websites.
We will never have Web 3.0, because the Web’s dead.
Web 1.0 and 2.0 companies still seem unsure how to adapt to this new paradigm. Facebook is the triumphant winner of social companies. It will go public in a few weeks and probably hit $140 billion in market capitalization. Yet, it loses money in mobile and has rather simple iPhone and iPad versions of its desktop experience. It is just trying to figure out how to make money on the web – as it only had $3.7 billion in revenues in 2011 and its revenues actually decelerated in Q1 of this year relative to Q4 of last year. It has no idea how it will make money in mobile.
The failed history of Web 1.0 companies adapting to the world of social suggests that Facebook will be as woeful at adapting to social as Google has been with its “ghost town” Google+ initiative last year. ...
... The bottom line is that the next 5 – 8 years could be incredibly dynamic. It’s possible that both Google and Facebook could be shells of their current selves – or gone entirely.
They will have all the money in the world to try and adapt to the shift to mobile but history suggests they won’t be able to successfully do it. I often hear Google bulls point to the market share of Android or Eric Schmidt’s hypothesis that Google could one day charge all Android subscribers $10 a month for value-added services as proof of future profits. Yet, where are all the great social success stories by Web 1.0 companies? I imagine we’ll see as many great examples of social companies jumping horses mid-race to become great mobile companies. ...
... The Googles and Facebooks of tomorrow might not even exist today. And several Web 1.0 and 2.0 companies might be completely wiped off the map by then.
Fortunes will be made by those who adapt to and invest in this complete greenfield.
Those who own the future are going to be the ones who create it. It’s all up for grabs. Web monopolies are not as sticky as the monopolies of old.
EUISS: Global Trends 2030
According to the United Nations (UN), by 2030 the world population will reach 8.3 billion. Millions of these individuals are being empowered by the social and technological progress of the last decades. The main drivers of this trend are, first and foremost, the global emergence of the middle class, particularly in Asia, near-universal access to education, the empowering effects of information and communications technology (ICT), and the evolution in the status of women in most countries. These transformations are increasing the autonomy of individuals and powerful non-state actors vis-à-vis the state.
In 1990, about 73 percent of the world population was literate. In 2010, global literacy rates reached 84 percent and the literacy rate may pass the 90 percent mark in 2030. Women are becoming empowered throughout the world, a trend that is likely to continue into the future. Women now have better access to education, information, and economic and political opportunities, all of which contribute to greater gender equality. However, progress is very uneven from region to region and between different social groups, with girls, indigenous, immigrant or low-caste women remaining especially vulnerable.
The middle class will increase in influence as its ranks swell to 3.2 billion by 2020 and to 4.9 billion by 2030. The middle class will be the protagonist of the universal spread of information societies. Citizens will be interconnected by myriad networks and greater interpersonal trans-national flows. It can therefore be assumed that the citizens of 2030 will want a greater say in their future than those of previous generations.
More and more people will live in the ‘information age’ as improved technology that is more portable and affordable makes information more universally accessible. The digital divide will not disappear over the next 20 years, but it will narrow considerably. By 2030, it is estimated that more than half of the world’s population will have internet access. However, new information technologies will remain unavailable to many people because of illiteracy and lack of access to electricity, although in regions as deprived as Sub-Saharan Africa the availability of mobile phones may compensate for limited access to electricity. (12-13)
The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles.
... In a tiny (population: 1.4 million) and newly independent country like Estonia, politicians realised computers could help quickly compensate for both a minuscule workforce and a chronic lack of physical infrastructure.
Seventeen years on, the internet has done more than just help. It is now tightly entwined with Estonia's identity. "For other countries, the internet is just another service, like tap water, or clean streets," said Linnar Viik, a lecturer at the Estonian IT College, a government adviser and a man almost synonymous in Estonia with the rise of the web.
"But for young Estonians, the internet is a manifestation of something more than a service – it's a symbol of democracy and freedom."
To see why, you just have to go outside. Free Wi-Fi is everywhere, and has been for a decade.
Viik says you could walk 100 miles – from the pastel-coloured turrets here in medieval Tallinn to the university spires of Tartu – and never lose internet connection.
"We realised that if the government was going to use the internet, the internet had to be available to everybody," Viik said. "So we built a huge network of public internet access points for people who couldn't afford them at home."
The country took a similar approach to education. By 1997, thanks to a campaign led in part by Ilves, a staggering 97% of Estonian schools already had internet. Now 42 Estonian services are now managed mainly through the internet. Last year, 94% of tax returns were made online, usually within five minutes. You can vote on your laptop (at the last election, Ilves did it from Macedonia) and sign legal documents on a smartphone. Cabinet meetings have been paperless since 2000.
Doctors only issue prescriptions electronically, while in the main cities you can pay by text for bus tickets, parking, and – in some cases – a pint of beer. Not bad for country where, two decades ago, half the population had no phone line. ...
... To a British audience, the ID card will have a whiff of Big Brother. But many Estonians argue the opposite: that it allows them to keep tabs on the state, rather than the other way round.
"You'd think, given our history, we'd have a problem with it," said Ilves, in an oblique reference to the days when the KGB had an office down a cobbled street in central Tallinn.
"But I feel much more secure with a digital ID. If anyone goes into my files, they're flagged. Whereas if my files – which would exist anyway – were made of paper, no one would know who was looking at them."
Every Estonian can see who has visited their data, and they can challenge any suspicious behaviour. In one famous case, a policewoman was caught accessing information about her boyfriend. ...
The story mentions Mart Laar, the first Estonian Prime Minister after Russian occupation. He was 32 at the time. I had the privilege of having dinner with him a few years ago at an Acton Institute event. What an amazing story. Then I had an opportunity to see a screening of the documentary The Singing Revolution with the director present. If you have never seen the documentary you need to get it on your list. One of the most amazing stories of hope and reconciliation in the face incredible threats. I hope to visit Estonia someday. Here is a trailer for the documentary.
Emma Edwards, 26, has no control over the fine motor muscles in her hands, which stay tightly and awkwardly clenched. She also can’t talk, walk or move her arms more than 20 inches at a time.
Edwards, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2001, can write e-mails, though, and she’s revisiting a favorite pastime, sketching, for the first time in a decade, thanks to her iPad and software applications that can cost as little as $7.
That’s a switch from the $15,000 communication device she had tried, a 9-pound machine approved by her insurer that tracks eye movement on a special grid corresponding to the alphabet. That device kept her tied to those in the room around her. The iPad, along with several other consumer-driven apps, has reopened the world to her.
“You see the joy on her face” when she’s using it, said her mother, Jill. “It represents freedom for her.”
Edwards, of Rochester, Minnesota, is part of a grassroots movement sweeping the $1 billion-a-year assistive-technology market. While Pittsburgh-based DynaVox Inc. (DVOX), closely held Tobii Technology from Stockholm and Prentke Romich GmbH of Kassel, Germany, dominate the field, the advent of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad and an open operating system that enables anyone to create software is changing the way thousands of disabled people communicate and take care of their daily lives. ...
New York Times: Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls
... Welcome to the brave new world of Massive Open Online Courses — known as MOOCs — a tool for democratizing higher education. While the vast potential of free online courses has excited theoretical interest for decades, in the past few months hundreds of thousands of motivated students around the world who lack access to elite universities have been embracing them as a path toward sophisticated skills and high-paying jobs, without paying tuition or collecting a college degree. And in what some see as a threat to traditional institutions, several of these courses now come with an informal credential (though that, in most cases, will not be free).
Consider Stanford’s experience: Last fall, 160,000 students in 190 countries enrolled in an Artificial Intelligence course taught by Mr. Thrun and Peter Norvig, a Google colleague. An additional 200 registered for the course on campus, but a few weeks into the semester, attendance at Stanford dwindled to about 30, as those who had the option of seeing their professors in person decided they preferred the online videos, with their simple views of a hand holding a pen, working through the problems.
Mr. Thrun was enraptured by the scale of the course, and how it spawned its own culture, including a Facebook group, online discussions and an army of volunteer translators who made it available in 44 languages.
“Having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again,” he said at a digital conference in Germany in January. “I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill, and you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.” ...
bruce reyes-chow: We’re Starting a New Presbyterian Church
... For a while now I have had an inkling that the “social media amplifies the local church” paradigm could be flipped upside-down resulting in a powerful way to be church. If this shift were to be taken seriously, some interesting questions are raised:
Well ask “What if?” no longer because the church that I am planting is going to be one that tries to answer these questions. Peering through the lens of social media, I am excited to push the bounds of traditional church formation, while maintaining all that is good about traditional church. To be clear, the online nature of this idea certainly creates great technological possibilities, but my intention is that we will build just a church like any church: one that worships, serves, studies and prays together . . . we will just happen to gather online. There will be no justifications seeking legitimacy, no quotes inferring that this is not a “real church” and no posture that we are competing for people, resources or notoriety . . . just a church. ...
... Again I know that there are many of questions that we need to address before a full launch - “What about X?” and “How will we do X?” - but I also know that only way this new church will be able to respond well is to keep widening the circle of involvement. With this in mind our first step is to gauge the interest of folks and begin to gather people for some conversations and planning. Some of you are ready to dive right in, others will want nothing to do with this craziness and still others of you will need to lurk around the edges until the time is right. However you might see yourself connected to this church that has yet to be named, as we begin to build up a spiritual community, develop organizational strategies and start being church together, you are invited to JOIN OUR FACEBOOK PAGE and FILL OUT THE SURVEY BELOW.
There is definitely more to come and I look forward to walking this journey with some of you. Please pass this along to any folks who you think might also be interested.
The Economist: African elections: How to save votes
COULD smartphones help reduce electoral fraud in Africa and in other regions? At a recent forum hosted by the Brookings Institution on the ways that wireless technologies are affecting politics in various countries, Clark Gibson, a professor at the University of California, San Diego (USCD), presented findings from experiments in Afghanistan and Uganda which suggest that they can. Local researchers were deployed to polling stations armed with digital cameras and smartphones to take photographs of the publicly posted election tallies. The research found that this alone can cut electoral fraud by up to 60%.
The experiment was first developed during the 2010 Afghan elections by James Long and Michael Callen, then UCSD graduate students, with funding from the Development Innovation Ventures section at the United States Agency for International Development. To test the idea that photographic "quick-counts" of election results can reduce ballot rigging the team split a sample of 471 polling stations in Afghanistan into a "treatment" group and a "control" group. The polling stations in the treatment group were sent letters announcing that a researcher would visit shortly after the election to take a digital photograph of the tallies; the polling stations in the control group received no such prior warning. The research concluded that as a result electoral rigging was cut by 25% in the polling stations in the treatment group and the theft of ballot boxes and other election materials was reduced by 60%. ...
The Atlantic Cities: The Grocery Store of the Future?
People do any number of things while waiting on the platform for the next subway or commuter train. Some pre-walk to position themselves at the best station exit for their destination. Some just mindlessly pace. The ones who used to look down the track every few moments for the next train now look at the digital arrival times every few moments instead. Some take pictures of rats.
And, as of earlier this month, some Philadelphians have been able to shop for groceries. The online grocer Peapod introduced virtual storefronts at select SEPTA stations throughout the city. While awaiting a train, users can download the Peapod app, peruse the items in front of them, and scan the barcode of anything they'd like to purchase. The groceries are delivered to their homes later that day.
Philly marks the idea's American debut, but a number of international cities already have similar services. Woolworths has placed virtual storefronts at the Town Hall Station in Sydney, Australia, and displays from British retailer Tesco were installed last year in South Korea. If three is a trend, you just got trended. ...
Physicists have created a working transistor using only a single phosphorus atom placed precisely in a silicon crystal. ...
... "Our group has proved that it is really possible to position one phosphorus atom in a silicon environment - exactly as we need it - with near-atomic precision, and at the same time register gates," says UNSW research fellow Dr Martin Fuechsle. ...
... The electronic properties of the device conformed beautifully with theoretical predictions for a single phosphorus atom transistor.
Moore's Law predicts that commercial single-atom transistors will be achieved by about 2020 - and this development, says Simmons, could see it happen well ahead of schedule.
New York Times: Online Data Helping Campaigns Customize Ads
Political campaigns, which have borrowed tricks from Madison Avenue for decades, are now fully engaged on the latest technological frontier in advertising: aiming specific ads at potential supporters based on where they live, the Web sites they visit and their voting records. ...
... The technology that makes such customized advertising possible is called microtargeting, which is similar to the techniques nonpolitical advertisers use to serve up, for example, hotel ads online to people who had shopped for vacations recently.
In the last few years, companies that collect data on how consumers behave both online and off and what charitable donations they make have combined that vast store of information with voter registration records.
As a result, microtargeting allows campaigns to put specific messages in front of specific voters — something that has increased in sophistication with the large buckets of data available to political consultants. ...
... The process for targeting a user with political messages takes three steps. The first two are common to any online marketing: a “cookie,” or digital marker, is dropped on a user’s computer after the user visits a Web site or makes a purchase, and that profile is matched with offline data like what charities a person supports, what type of credit card a person has and what type of car he or she drives. The political consultants then take a third step and match that data with voting records, including party registration and how often the person has voted in past election cycles, but not whom that person voted for.
Throughout the process, the targeted consumers are tagged with an alphanumeric code, removing their names and making the data anonymous. So while the campaigns are not aiming at consumers by name — only by the code — the effect is the same. Campaigns are able to aim at specific possible voters across the Web. Instead of buying an ad on, say, The Miami Herald Web site, a campaign can buy an audience.
Another advantage is that these ads can be bought quickly — using an auction process to obtain ad space — when campaigns need to move rapidly to aim at an audience, for example, to counter a bad debate performance or an unflattering newspaper article. ...
... Critics say that the ability to limit political messages to registered voters toes the line of social discrimination. Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called some of the targeting techniques a form of political redlining. ...
There may be some ethical considerations to advertising this way, but I don't the "redlining" is one of them. If you feel you are being redlined, then the solution is quite simple: Go vote! Then you will have political ads galore. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Pew Internet: Speaking the language of the next generation
Director Lee Rainie will address the annual conference of the National Religious Broadcasters. He will focus on the media habits of Millennials and GenX and how their patterns of gathering and creating information are different in the digital age.
The Rice University-based open-education platform Connexions today unveiled a bold plan to shake up the $4 billion college textbook industry by providing free online publisher-quality textbooks for five of the country’s most-attended college courses.
The OpenStax College textbook initiative, which is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation and the Maxfield Foundation, will publish its first two books — College Physics and Introduction to Sociology — in March. Two biology textbooks — one for majors and one for non-majors — and a textbook for introductory anatomy and physiology will be published this fall.
“If we capture just 10 percent of the market with these first five textbooks, an estimated 1 million college students in the United States could save $90 million over the next five years,” said Rice’s Richard Baraniuk, the founder and director of Connexions. ...
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.
The Chronicle of Higher Education: Stanford Professor Gives Up Teaching Position, Hopes to Reach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up
... Sebastian Thrun, a research professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he had given up his teaching role at the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital–Life–Design conference, in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.
During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than “a camera, a pen, and a napkin.” Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course’s popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.
Mr. Thrun told the crowd his move had been motivated in part by teaching practices that evolved too slowly to be effective. During the era when universities were born, “the lecture was the most effective way to convey information. We had the industrialization, we had the invention of celluloid, of digital media, and, miraculously, professors today teach exactly the same way they taught a thousand years ago,” he said.
He concluded by telling the crowd that he couldn’t continue teaching in a traditional setting. “Having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again,” he said. ...
(Reuters) - The great white shark is lurking in cyberspace, in the form of an iPhone application launched this week that allows users to track a dozen of the predators as they roam around the Pacific Ocean.
The California-based Marine Conservation Science Institute launched the app, which the nonprofit describes as the first shark tracker of its kind, to raise funds for its research. ...
... The application, launched at iTunes on Wednesday, cost nearly $100,000 to produce, he said. Included in that budget was video content and a game for children to learn about great whites.
The institute has tagged more than 20 great white sharks, but the batteries on some of the tags expired, Domeier said. The iPhone application allows users to follow the migration of a dozen sharks the institute is still following, he said ...
Marketing Charts: Pay TV Subscribers Canceling Service, Going Online
9% of Americans have cut their pay TV connection because they can watch all their favorite shows online, while a further 11% are considering doing so, according to a Deloitte survey released in January 2012. An additional 15% say they will most likely watch movies, TV programs, and videos from online digital sources (via download or streamed over the Internet) in the near future. The proportion considering “cutting the cord” is highest among leading millennials, defined as respondents aged 23-28, at 19%. Meanwhile, 11% of Boomers report having already canceled their paid TV service, highest among the age groups.
However, the survey also shows that Americans value cable TV and satellite TV above most other services. According to December 2011 figures from Motorola, Americans are spending 21 hours per week in front of the TV. And although only 44% of the Deloitte survey respondents report having DVR functionality, using a DVR is the second-most preferred means of watching a favorite TV show. ...
Though often stressed over money, work, and lack of free time, across ethnicities, American women exhibit optimism with regards to their future and their daughters according to findings in Nielsen’s report: Women of Tomorrow: U.S. Multicultural Insights.
With the face of the United States changing, the attitudes and behaviors of women from all backgrounds is increasingly important. Hispanics are now the fastest growing ethnic group, a trend that has tremendous ramifications on media, retail and manufacturers now and in the years ahead. Optimism was highest among African American and Hispanic women, especially when it came to how they viewed the opportunities they have had compared with those of their mothers. ...
The article presents an interesting series of graphs. I thought this one was particularly interesting.
Media and Mobile
Despite the stereotype that men are the primary users of media and technology, American women are heavy users of technology – even if they aren’t early adopters. Women of all ethnicities use media in similar ways, with one key exception: smartphones. Just 33 percent of Caucasian women have a smartphone in their household, compared to penetration rates in the 60s for women of other ethnicities.
Why do so few caucasian women use smartphones?
... The advent of the mobile society may have brought convenience and a cultural sea change to the U.S. and Europe, but in the poorest regions of the world, affordable mobile phone access has caused a quantum leap in services -- like calling for medical help, sending a quick letter to loved ones or starting a savings account -- that Americans and Europeans have taken for granted for generations, analysts say.
"The cell phone is the single most transformative technology for development," said Sachs, head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of the 2005 book "The End of Poverty."
"Poverty is almost equated with isolation in many places of the world. Poverty results from the lack of access to markets, to emergency health services, access to education, the ability to take advantage of government services and so on," Sachs said. "What the mobile phone -- and more generally IT technology -- is ending is that kind of isolation in all its different varieties."
Moreover, the profusion of payment services via cell phones puts places like Kenya and Uganda in the vanguard of mobile financial services. "You can walk in the middle of rural village in Rwanda and use a mobile phone to pay at a recharging station to recharge LED lights," says Amanda Gardiner, acting program manager of Business Call to Action, a New York-based non-profit organization that is helping to bring more mobile phones to Africa's rural poor.
"I'm always flabbergasted I don't walk into Home Depot and see these services here, just swipe your cell phone and go," Gardiner said. "In some ways, they're really leaping ahead of us and going right to the future."
Prestigious US academic institution Princeton University will prevent researchers from giving the copyright of scholarly articles to journal publishers, except in certain cases where a waiver may be granted.
The new rule is part of an Open Access policy aimed at broadening the reach of their scholarly work and encouraging publishers to adjust standard contracts that commonly require exclusive copyright as a condition of publication.
Universities pay millions of dollars a year for academic journal subscriptions. People without subscriptions, which can cost up to $25,000 a year for some journals or hundreds of dollars for a single issue, are often prevented from reading taxpayer funded research. Individual articles are also commonly locked behind pay walls.
Researchers and peer reviewers are not paid for their work but academic publishers have said such a business model is required to maintain quality.
At a September 19 meeting, Princeton’s Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy adopted a new open access policy that gives the university the “nonexclusive right to make available copies of scholarly articles written by its faculty, unless a professor specifically requests a waiver for particular articles.”
“The University authorizes professors to post copies of their articles on their own web sites or on University web sites, or in other not-for-a-fee venues,” the policy said.
“The main effect of this new policy is to prevent them from giving away all their rights when they publish in a journal.” ...
Stanford University: The Growth of Newspapers Across the U.S.: 1690-2011
Go to the link above. Shows newspapers as the emerge and disappear over time. You can also drill down to specific locations by using the zoom feature.
Images from a satellite perched hundreds of kilometres above Earth have fused modern technology and ancient wonder, leading to discoveries that experts are hailing as some of the great archeological finds in a century.
“Seventeen lost pyramids!” exclaimed Kathlyn Cooney, an assistant professor of Egyptology at the University of California at Los Angeles. “That would be one of the most important discoveries in the last 100 years. That's amazing.”
Cooney was referring to a series of infrared images and high-resolution photographs taken from a satellite suspended 700 kilometres above Egypt, in a project directed by University of Alabama archeologist Sarah Parcak.
What those images have revealed nearly boggles the mind — 17 previously undiscovered pyramids, more than 1,000 antique tombs and at least 3,000 ancient settlements.
All of them are invisible to the human eye, all buried beneath the countless layers of sediment that have been deposited over the millennia by the annual flooding of the Nile River. But they are real — or they certainly seem to be. ...
Amazon has announced that it now sells more Kindle ebooks than all print books – that's hardcover and paperback combined – through the Amazon.com site.
Introduced less than four years ago, the Kindle has quickly become Amazon's top selling product, and now digitised books for the reader have become more popular with its customers than their paper and ink fore-runners.
In the UK, we're still a little more attached to the humble tome, with Amazon.co.uk still selling more printed books than ebooks – although the Kindle versions are out-selling hardcover books two to one.
That's including all hardcover books that aren't available on Kindle, and excluding all free Kindle books – Amazon says if these were included, the number would be "even higher".
Fast Company: E-Readers Fail At Education
Is our desire for gadgetry getting ahead of what our brains actually need?
... A recent University of Washington study interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the university's Department of Computer Science & Engineering, which participated in a pilot study of Amazon's Kindle DX (a large-screen e-reader). By seven months into the study, fewer than 40% of the students did their schoolwork on the Kindle. The problem: the Kindle has poor note-taking support, doesn't allow for easy skimming, and makes it difficult for students to look up references (in comparison with computers and textbooks). As a result, some of the students interviewed kept sheets of paper with their Kindle case to take notes, and other read near computers so that they could easily look up references.
There's another, larger problem, according to the U of W:
The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.
Except for the cognitive mapping issue, these are all are technical problems that could all be fixed in future Kindle upgrades. The other problem is larger: Are we getting excited about a future that our brains aren't ready for? Could books have developed not simply because they were the available technology, but because they actually convey information to our brains in a more efficient way? If we're pushing technologies for learning that, cognitively, make it harder to learn, we need to take a step back. ...
Nielson Wire: Report: The New Digital American Family
According to a new report from The Nielsen Company that looks at family dynamics, media and purchasing behavior trends, American households are getting smaller, growing more slowly and becoming more ethnically diverse than at any point in history. Diversity in all its dimensions defines the emerging American Family archetype, with no single cultural, social, demographic, economic or political point of view dominating the landscape. In short, Ward and June Cleaver have left the building. The white, two-parent, “Leave It to Beaver” family unit of the 1950s has evolved into a multi-layered, multi-cultural construct dominated by older, childless households.
- High income families view less TV but spend more time viewing with kids, using time-shifted media four times more often than low income households.
- Mobile serves as a key source of connectivity within the Hispanic community. They are more likely than the average household to have cell phones with Internet (55%) and video (40%) capabilities and text more than any other race or ethnicity, sending 943 texts per month.
- African-American media habits are TV- and mobile-centric. They own four or more sets per household and spend almost 40 percent more time watching TV, especially premium cable channels, than the U.S. average. African Americans also run up more mobile voice minutes per month—1,261—than any other group.
- Asian-Americans exhibit a huge appetite for online media, logging 80 hours on the Internet and viewing 3,600 web pages, 3.5 times more than any other ethnic group.
- Marriage is so 20th century! In 1960, 72 percent of the adult population was married. By 2008, that number plummeted to 52 percent. The college educated have the highest marriage rates; those with a high school education or less, the lowest rate.
For more, download the report The New Digital American Family.
Back in February 2010, Google announced its plans to build out a fiber-optic network for a city in the United States, promising connection speeds around 1Gb/s — 100 times faster than the broadband most people are used to. The announcement led 1,100 cities to apply, and today Google has just announced the winning city: Kansas City, Kansas. ...
Hmmm .... I may have to move .4 miles west to the other Kansas City.
Jeopardy! genius Ken Jennings on what it's like to play against a supercomputer.
... But there's no shame in losing to silicon, I thought to myself as I greeted the (suddenly friendlier) team of IBM engineers after the match. After all, I don't have 2,880 processor cores and 15 terabytes of reference works at my disposal—nor can I buzz in with perfect timing whenever I know an answer. My puny human brain, just a few bucks worth of water, salts, and proteins, hung in there just fine against a jillion-dollar supercomputer.
"Watching you on Jeopardy! is what inspired the whole project," one IBM engineer told me, consolingly. "And we looked at your games over and over, your style of play. There's a lot of you in Watson." I understood then why the engineers wanted to beat me so badly: To them, I wasn't the good guy, playing for the human race. That was Watson's role, as a symbol and product of human innovation and ingenuity. So my defeat at the hands of a machine has a happy ending, after all. At least until the whole system becomes sentient and figures out the nuclear launch codes. But I figure that's years away.
Interesting reflection by Jennings. But what I really want to know is if anyone can tell me why the image below just become the wallpaper on my computer, my cellphone, and my cable TV.
Christian Science Monitor: Amazon Kindle gets real page numbers
Amazon Kindle e-books currently use location numbers. But real page numbers are on the way, Amazon said today.
Amazon Kindle users will soon be able to navigate their e-books by way of old-fashioned page numbers, Amazon announced today in a blog post.
Kindle format e-books currently employ "location numbers," which correspond to a specific block of text, and not the actual page numbers of the hardbound book. Obviously, this makes it tricky for those situations where multiple folks are reading from the same e-book, but at different font sizes. (In a book club, for instance, or in the classroom.)
"Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class," Amazon reps wrote. "Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to print books, which is how page numbers have been added to e-books in the past, we’re adding real page numbers that correspond directly to a book’s print edition." ...
Yee haw! (That's Missourian for "Totally awesome, dude.") I'm now ready to buy a Kindle.
... “More and more the customer is shopping with a cell phone to check prices,” for example, he said. The use of “site to store,” is growing, too. Site to store refers to customers who buy on line and then come to the store to pick up the merchandise to avoid delivery charges.
“There might be an inflection point this year” in the use of various technological modes of buying, with the uptake curve accelerating, he said. Price transparency will increase across numerous retail channels as a result, he added.
Well, given that Wal Mart is usually the low price leader, investors might conclude that the increasing use of technology by consumers should play into Wal Mart’s hands.
Trend Central: Up Close and Personal (3D)
“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 Markets conference 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? ;-)
Carpe Diem: The End of the College Textbook as We Know It?
Of course those who wanted to read the textbook on paper could print out the electronic version or pay an additional fee to buy an old-fashioned copy—a book."
Washington Post: Aid groups using cellphones to reach the world's poor
SEATTLE - For the world's poorest, cellphone technology carries opportunity, aid groups say, as text messages and other mobile applications have created a new platform to reach the most remote farms and crowded urban slums of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Grameen Foundation, a Washington-based group known for helping women with the smallest of business loans, has two dozen people in a technology lab here developing mobile Internet applications to help spread its microfinance model. It's warning farmers in Uganda about banana crop rot through text messages and collecting data on spreadsheet applications on smartphones.
And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated $12 million to help village farmers in Tanzania, Cameroon and Rwanda save money through electronic mobile phone deposits. It has launched a $10 million contest in Haiti to fund the best mobile banking ideas to channel earthquake relief to people who would otherwise stand in long lines at overwhelmed bank branches to collect cash. (Melinda Gates is on The Washington Post Co. board of directors.)In all, 5 billion cellphones are in use globally and the most aggressive adoption is coming from low-income and poor communities, where the low cost of phones and the availability of cell networks even in remote areas has fueled the rapid growth. ...
Bad news for everyone out there who was eager to hold the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (that exceedingly portable 20-volume set of wordy goodness): Thanks to the rise of the Internet, the next OED will probably be online-only.
Granted, OED3 is still about a decade in the making (according to The Telegraph, a team of 80 lexicographers have been working on it for the past 21 years), but seeing as how the OED has never posted a profit since its inception back in 1879, the move to online-only seems like a long time coming.
The second edition of the dictionary (which came out in 1989) has been online for about 10 years now and garners about 2 million hits per month from subscribers. Add to that a plethora of online dictionary sources, and the stack of books that make up OED3 seems a bit, well, like an unnecessary massacre of trees.
Oxford University Press, which prints the dictionary, will still continue to publish the slimmer Oxford Dictionary of English, however, which should set your mind at ease if you’re one of those folks who likes to keep a giant dictionary on a pedestal in the parlor. ...