links for 2009-01-20

  • Anne Galloway comments on 'Citizen Sensing', citizen science conducted using sensors within off-the-shelf tech: "Ultimately, I believe that researchers, artists and citizens should be encouraged to experiment with new ways of using mobile technologies, and to explore new forms of political action. Indeed, given the growing impact of global climate change, our pressing need for environmental activism opens up a productive space for critical intervention, and all of the projects discussed in this essay do just that. However, I also believe that we need to approach our activities in this area with a clear understanding of their boundaries and biases. Because, in the end, I believe that it will take working through – or around – these limitations in order to effect the most profound and lasting changes."
  • Mark Frauenfelder gets an exclusive tour of Intelligentsia Coffee.
    (tags: coffee video)
  • Interesting article exploring the good/bad prospects for moving towards a citizen science – "In the end, though, what may be most important about Citizen Science is what it could mean for the relationship between citizens and science. When everyone is gathering data, that rather austere and forbidding tower becomes a shared human pursuit."
  • "A good list of papers from the Automated Journeys workshop (at Ubicomp 2008) has been put on-line recently. This event was about examining how automation reconfigure people’s interactions with cities and speculate on what innovations might be to come. … Automation is one of the dimension of technology that I find the most interesting since it’s an obvious locus of research. It directly embeds the topic of human relationship to technologies given that automation is often a goal for system designers (as a substitute for human activities) and if often leads to failures and troubles."
  • Nova blogs: "In Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline versus Design Science, Nigel Cross interestingly discusses the epistemological concerns of design research. Using his own typology he tries to differentiate the design-science relationships: (a) scientific design, (b) design science, and (c) a science of design."
  • Nova blogs about a visit to the Swiss 'sci-fi museum': "Last week, I visited the Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland, which is a museum of science-fiction and utopia. The only public institution of its kind in the world, it’s a non-profit foundation functioning both as a public museum and a specialized research center."
  • Edited book: "The underlying theme of the contributions is the social affordances of physical objects, i.e. the understanding of how technology-augmented physical objects support interactions among groups in a way more intuitive or natural than traditional computers. This collection of leading researchers investigates how artifacts may trigger rich interactions among groups, which is a central quest for researchers in CSCL."
  • Gibson on the future of SciFi: "When I was twelve, I wanted nothing more than to be a science fiction writer. Today, I'm not sure I ever really became one. I suspect I was already something else when I began – probably what Donald Theall (1928-2008) defined as "paramodernist", meaning any cultural text that is neither modern nor postmodern, but can be classified as either/both). I took it for granted that the present moment is always infinitely stranger and more complex than any "future" I could imagine. My craft would be (for a while, anyway) one of importing steamingly weird fragments of the ever-alien present into "worlds" (as we say in science fiction) that purported to be "the future"."
  • Nova blogs about the project 'Kashklash': "”KashKlash is a lively platform where you can debate future scenarios for economic and cultural exchange. Beyond today’s financial turmoil, what new systems might appear? Global/local, tangible/intangible, digital/physical? On the KashKlash site, you can explore potential worlds where traditional financial transactions have disappeared, blended, or mutated into unexpected forms. Understand the near future, and help shape it!"
  • Guardian obit: "Oliver Selfridge, who has died aged 82, was known as the "father of machine perception" for his work as a pioneer of computing and as a researcher into artificial intelligence. Though London-born, he did his most significant work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was among the organisers of the Dartmouth Conference of 1956 at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. The first public meeting on artificial intelligence (AI), it introduced the term into general use."
  • "World of Warcraft, the online game, is under attack for causing students to drop out. The game, in which you create your own character – an orc, a troll, a dwarf or a human – and join others to defeat enemies in the mythical land of Azeroth, is topping sales charts in the US, but its makers are receiving publicity they could do without, thanks to Deborah Taylor Tate at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Tate says: "You might find it alarming that one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the US is online gaming addiction – such as World of Warcraft – which is played by 11 million individuals worldwide," she said in a speech."
  • Charles Arthur makes predictions for technological 'progress' in 2009.
  • "Looking after digital information is more difficult," said Jessie Owen, digital continuity project manager at the National Archive. "It's more vulnerable and more complex."
    "Put a piece of paper in a drawer and you'll be able to read it in 20 years," she said. "If you put a floppy disk or CD in a drawer you probably will not be able to read it."
    For Ms Owen the key is preparation – perhaps as the documents, files and records are being laid down. "The first thing you need to do is decide what value that information has," she said. "One challenge is the sheer volume of material. You could keep everything but its probably best not to because it makes it difficult to manage."
    "Good information management is key to understanding what information you need, how you want to save it for the future," she said. "It's about working out what you can get rid of as much as what you can keep," she said.
  • Engelbart's daughter claims commercialisation holds back significant 'progress' in computing development: "The 40 years since the "dawn of interactive computing" represent a lost opportunity which has been hijacked by commercialism. The claim was made at an event to celebrate the anniversary of the world debut of personal and interactive computing which took place in San Francisco on Dec 9 1968. At what was dubbed "the mother of all demos", inventor Doug Engelbart also showed off the first computer mouse. "There's been an explosion of technology but it hasn't reached the level of potential he envisioned in the early 1960's" Mr Engelbart's daughter Christina told the BBC."
  • Howard summarises results of Pew report on 'future of the internet':
    "* The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.
    * The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
    * Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
    * The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
    * Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch."
  • "Online collaboration often consists of little more than forwarding links or snippets from a Web page to a friend or colleague with a few comments dropped in. IBM is hoping to change this by letting people share the browser itself. This is the idea behind Blue Spruce, an experimental browser project that IBM hopes may change the way many people use the Web.
    David Boloker, CTO of emerging Internet technology at IBM's software group in Boston, says that Blue Spruce is a logical progression for the browser. After spending several years researching mashups–applications built by bolting together several smaller pieces of software–Boloker and his colleagues realized that many of the same tools could be used to build a tool for collaborative Web browsing."
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