Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Energy of the Future

Last year I had a pretty amazing opportunity to visit Greece. Besides the "amazingness" of the whole trip, I noticed that CNN International had an awful lot to report on environmental problems all over the world. Now, I'm not talking about stories like Anderson Cooper's Planet in Peril, I'm talking about the small day to day stories about water shortage problems in northern Africa, erosion problems in parts of Asia, and smog in central Europe. It struck me that, in this country at least, we don't see this type of small consistent reporting on issues of the world's environment.

Now here's what really hit it home for me. I was in Arizona last week, the desert for all intents and purposes, and there were very few homes with solar panels, water recapturing systems, or even energy efficient architecture.

How did we come to this place where computer chips get smaller and smaller but cars and homes get larger and larger? We have the ability to begin making our day to day tools more energy efficient but the investment in these technologies doesn't match the potential for improvements.

As energy becomes more expensive, as resources become more scarce, as investment in green technologies increases, and political and social will spreads, we will be better able to adapt to our planet and live more harmoniously with our surroundings.

Take a look at my post on "What our Future Looks Like" and check out the Orquideorama. This stuff isn't going away.

Photo by: Marcin Wichary

Sunday, April 20, 2008


It was recently brought to my attention that it is difficult to get in contact with me through this blog. Well, guess what. Not anymore. You can send me an email by selecting the link to the right or at the bottom of the page.

I have limited invites to Xobni, so, if you want one I will need a 500 word explanation of why you deserve one more than the next person.

Just kidding. I'll send you one if I have any left, just ask.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Online Learning

So I had this meeting today where we talked about teaching a class on the internet. As the conversation went on my mind wandered...

Remember the Matt Damon movie with Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting? At one point in the movie Will was in a Harvard bar and he told this grad student that he pays all this money for an education which he could have gotten for $3.95 in late fees at the public library. This got me thinking, why offer an online class?

Anything worth teaching is already online. As a matter of fact, the specific content we discussed in our meeting already exists and is probably better than what our small group could put together. So,why would I take a class from an online institution? For the accountability, the problem sets? The content is already online.

You could say that in an online course you have a professor to answer questions. But why pay all that money for an answer, its already free online?

The professor's answer will save you the time of having to sift through all the BS answers online. So what, that's what learning is about, right?

I am going to predict that the online university will go away but institutions with classroom based instruction will continue to deliver content online. Actually, it may be more accurate to ask, will an online university ever gain the same prestige of a traditional university?

As always ladies and gents, your thoughts?

Photo by: extra ketchup

Monday, April 7, 2008

Gender Roles Reversed

Now this is really interesting. Geisha guys. Its not a surprise that both men and women begin to behave differently once income is more equally distributed between both groups. We've seen examples of this for years. Women are a group in society increasingly targeted by political add makers and marketing execs. When will there be a Bunny Ranch for - er, Dude Ranch... When will there be a Dude Ranch, Stud Farm, Man Palace, you get the point?

It is interesting that this article talks about a woman's interest in Geisha guys, what about men interested in Geisha guys? They must exist.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Power of the Masses

Remember the post I did not to long ago called "Similarities?" Well it looks like there's a new project at the Social Science Research Council that follows the same model. In this case, Social Scientists decide which projects are worth funding.

As much as I like the democratization of information on the internet and I LOVE the idea of many people providing input to help make the best choice, I am worried about another effect that has potential of derailing this concept.

I read a study recently - I have no clue where I read it or who wrote it - but it talked about how liberals tend to read books that lean to the left and conservatives tend to read books that lean to the right. How can we expect to learn from each other if we never venture into the world of people who think differently from us? What are the dangers if this effect happens as niches grow smaller and smaller?

See Death by a Thousand Fragments or point #4 in this post at GigaOM.

Thanks to and GigaOM for keeping us smart. Photo courtesy of Jurvetson

As rediculous as this seems...

we'll be seeing more of this. It all started with the Segway and the military is exploring tools that will help a soldier's mobility and safety on the battle field. Eventually, as these inventions become more relevant to our daily lives the everyday consumer will partake.

How long will it take for technology to be the shell that holds our brains?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Information wants to be FREE, dude

... as once said by a big Linux hippy.
I came across this story just a moment ago and it really makes me think.

It goes something like this:
Kid takes notes in class and sells notes to website so other kids can ready the notes and presumably skip class and not fail.

This scenario brings up some interesting questions.
Who owns this information? I can say with 100% certainty that the words on that piece of paper belonged to the student. There may be portions of the notes that are direct quotes, but the rest is the student's interpretations of the professor's words. Therefore, the words belong to the student.

What if the student applied the professor's ideas and built a really awesome rocket or even wrote a book? Is the professor entitled to royalties? We all stand on the shoulders of giants...

International Mixtape Project

photo by: penningtron
I met this guy a about a year ago at a friend's "nonprofit" bar. (I can talk more about that brilliant idea later) But this guy was going on and on about how he's created this network of people, called the International Mixtape Project, who circulate their love of music by sharing mixtapes. The project is not about making money and this friend of a friend actually looses money keeping the site running. Anyhow, this is tone of the most noble artistic projects I've seen in a long time and you all should really take a look. I haven't joined the community because I don't want to flake on them but I really would if I could.