I came across Nexus: a facebook application which shows the relationships between your facebook friends. I was impressed by the groupings, which differentiated between groupings that I knew through social media, my time working inhouse and agency life as three clusters.
But better than all that it just looks so darned pretty, kind of like a star map.
Ray Kurzweil is a technological rock star, responsible for great music synthesisers and much of the developments around optical character recognition and speech recognition. This is what makes him a good futurist. The fact that he has had his hands dirty.
The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence is a book of two parts. In the first part, Kurzweil outlines how technology has progressed since the dawn of computing with Charles Babbage’ difference engine. Kurzweil uses this trip down computer memory lane to demonstrated that computing power has been increasing exponentially since the dawn of time rather than just the dawn of Intel with Moore’s Law on the doubling of transistors. Even though silicon transistors may top out computing power will keep on trucking (though Kurzweil doesn’t necessarily have the answer of what is the next technology).
The second part of the book is likely future scenarios; and this is where things get interesting. Kurzweil is setting himself up for a FAIL. Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold missed the internet in the first edition of The Road Ahead when it was first published in 1995 and Kurzweil sets himself up for a potentially bigger fall in the scope of his book. Even if Kurzweil has his timing a bit wrong or doesn’t get everything right his book is still a great thought experiment in how intelligent computers would impact humanity.
It was obvious that Barack Obama represented a change in style, tempo and agenda of the US government, but what wasn’t obvious to the international audience is the cultural impact that Mr Obama has had on his country’s culture.
Science fiction mirrors the nature of its society, Invaders of the Bodysnatchers and Starship Troopers were both products of the pre-detenté cold war. Which explains why the comic industry represents Barack Obama as a mix of John Wayne and Cary Grant. Here is examples that I found at Comicana around the corner from my office:
President Obama battles zombies.
President Obama meets Savage Dragon.
Barack Obama and Spider Man hang out at the Lincoln Memorial.
Somehow I can’t the same happening for any of our current or future leaders in the UK.
Every financial point of inflection be it a recession or a boom has its signature event. The internet boom was marked by the IPO of Netscape and the merger of AOL with media company Time Warner. The internet bust was marked by Worldcom and Enron’s collapse. The current subprime implosion in the US was marked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Lawrence McDonald is a former vice president at Lehman Brothers got his story out in A Colossal Failure of Common Sense. Unlike similar books like Barbarians at the Gate, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense was written too close to the event as the author’s recollection is very emotionally charged, McDonald sets up the story with his own story front-and-centre.
I found it interesting that McDonald discussed the kind of derivatives employed by Lehman Brothers as a radical new low, yet he referenced Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker which illustrated the dark side of bonds and derivatives some two decades previously as a book that he knew well.
McDonald talks about the efforts that his department made to try and balance out the carnage that collateralised mortgage debt caused at Lehman Brothers. Ultimately it reads like a litany of stupidity and missed opportunities. It’s like as if two decades after Liars Poker and F.I.A.S.C.O. that no one learned any lesson at all.
The Ethics, Or Lack Thereof, Of Ghost Blogging – I can’t believe that the CIPR just advises members to “exercise caution in terms of ghosting blogs”. They need to grow a pair and just say no.
Pearl & Dean – great film finding tool at cinemas
Polaroid pictures are artifacts of a bygone analogue age and the brand once synonymous with instant pictures is now used to brand digital cameras, printers, photo frames and software. Whilst instant film no longer exists, you can still have the same polaroid experience online.
Rollip.com is an online service that provides a service which converts a digital image into a good facsimile of a Polaroid picture.
Here is a before and after shot just so you can see how authentic the ‘Polaroid’ looks.
I went to Blockbuster yesterday evening and noticed amongst their staple of Will Smith films is the spy thriller Enemy of The State. A key part of the plot is the ease with which NSA government spies can track Will Smith through the use of sophisticated computers and satellites. Move forwards ten years and now through the power of Twitter this technology is available to man on the street.
Twitter has announced plans to become location-aware, incorporating geo-location data into presence data. The will be releasing an API, which means that clever techy people will be able to use this data in lots of different ways. Other services like photo-sharing site flickr have incorporated the ability to handle and use geo-location data for a while, and travel network Dopplr makes use of location ‘middleman’ service Fire Eagle to put the where into your profile.
For the non-technical among us, taking advantage of these services has been made easier as a number mobile handsets are including GPS, allowing their location to be recorded and shared, previously this would have required a separate module connected to your phone by Bluetooth and complex software. Now its indistinguishable from magic.
What does this mean? Communities can organise themselves based on neighbourhood, meet-ups are easier to launch and for PRs it will be even easier to creatively marry real-world experiential activity with an online community.
What do I need to know about or join? I would recommend setting up a flickr account if you haven’t done so already and look to join Fire Eagle so you can see the various different ways that location data can be used. Finally I would recommend that you subscribe to geobloggers by Dan Catt, one of the pioneers in this area.
Have a great weekend, just remember they know where you are.
Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week
The Amazon Kindle raised awareness of e-ink and electronic books. Now there are a plethora of ebooks from the likes of Sony and Elonex and there is starting to be a mainstream corresponding marketplace in content.
I started reading e-books about eight years ago when I discovered MobiReader software for and Blackmask e-books (since taken over by Munseys) and the joy of reading classic pulp fiction on the tube. The LCD screen was fine for reading books during a reasonably short commute into London from Luton.
Electronic ink paper provides an incrementally improvement over the LCD screen of a phone, but doesn’t have the convenience and size of a smartphone. The e-book is being targeted with college students. When I studied I used to spread relevant pages of text books around so I could cross consult with different books at the same time. This gets really expensive with an e-book reader like the Kindle and the secondhand book market largely puts a bullet in the e-textbook marketplace.
I was curious to see what an e-book experience would be like for comics. Comics are amazingly geeky like vinyl record collectors, they require an in-depth technical know how and very, very analogue. The enjoyment of comics like records is the scarcity, elitism by certain measures. How would e-comics measure up in comparison.
To get a feel of what e-comics are like I downloaded the Terminator comic series from the Apple AppStore through iTunes. The screen was ideal for displaying an individual comic cell, but it loses the relationships between cells on a page. If you look at a typical comic page with the design of the cells relationship to each other and dialogue boxes which would span multiple cells.
E-comics can still tell a cracking yarn, but they lose much of the impact of the paper page. The e in e-book isn’t for experience but expediency is likely to be closer to the mark.