ETech 09: Ignite talks

The second and final event on the opening night of ETech 09 was a series of Ignite talks: very quick and brief talks.

Jane McGonigal

Mentioned the Superstruct game. Shows a video from 2019 as if from a company called Signtific Lab. What if custom satellites were as easy to launch as personal websites today?

Do we want free space, and if so how do we make it? A cube satellite currently costs $30,000. They orbit the earth every 90 mins and have a one litre volume.

What’s the best and worst thing you could do with a cubesat? Send your ideas via the website. Try three ideas. Ideas to avoid: junk, falling junk, porn, terrorists, stalking, reality TV. Interesting things to explore: space research, eco monitoring, disaster, democracy, news, games, entrepreneurs.

Tom Getz

Deputy editor of Wired. Writing a book called The Decision Tree: Health as an Algorithm.

Only 3% of Americans do all we should to stay healthy (eg, do regular exercise, not smoke, etc.) We die these days because we don’t change our behaviour. [Really? People don’t know what foods are bad?]

Shows the Weight Watchers equation for points, for keeping track of what you’re eating. Self-monitoring and group support really work for losing weight. This equates to data and social networks. Shows icons of self-tracking iPhone apps.

Three principles:

  1. Data. Capturing data, feedback loop to monitor and improve ourselves.
  2. Early. for preventive measures. The hopsital is failure.
  3. Openness. Share. Medidcal information is not something that should be locked down and private.

Molly Wright Steenson

“It Really is a Series of Tubes.”

Pneumatic tube systems. Paris sewers from the 1850s, telegrams sent through the tubes under the city. By 1907 210 km, by 19?? 450km of tubes in Paris. Physical packet switching for tube receptacles. If one got stuck you fire a pistol into the tube and use the echo to measure where the blockage is, accurate to within 2 metres.

The US system, in Philadelphia and New York [and others?], sent mail and parcels, not just telegrams, even until 1953. Lamson Pneumatic Tubes from around 1920s allowed for desktop sending, not just the huge sending machines. 136,000 messages a day sent by Sears Roebuck in Chicago.

Her website.

Niall Kennedy

Measuring cloud [as in cloud computing, not in the sky] efficiency.

“20% of the computers in the world are being bought by a handful of companies.” — Rick Rashida. Google App Engine has many ways to measure what your code is doing. What about star ratings for the efficiency of WordPress, Drupal, etc. so you can choose based on RAM, CPU usage etc. weighed against cost. Tuning code is like tuning a car, pumping up the tires for efficiency etc.

Rose White

Weird and Wonderful Knitting. Graffiti, Science, Art and Society.

Shows photos of stuff like this by Knitta. Knitting was originally proprietary and was reverse engineered in the Renaissance. Went from being something highly paid people in guilds did to being something anyone could do at home. Museum of Fabric Brain Art. US flag knitted by cranes at Mass Museum of Art. You should learn how to knit.

Tom Igoe

Arduino guys, what have you been up to? There have been incremental changes, more memory, easier to use. Needs more work. New product, Arduino Mega, more memory, pins, serial ports.

Tarikh Korula

Uncommon Projects R&D for hire. Yahoo: Can you make 20 geotagging photo bikes in two months? 20 bikes, 11 cities, 5 continents, lots of photos. 63,718 photos. YBike. Takes photos when the bike is moving, uploads them to Flickr in real time, geotagged.

Lee Friedlander’s photos about people at work in cubicles in the 80s and 90s. Spurious and jokey connections between photos taken by the bikes and historic photos by good photographers. [People laughing but this is just dumb.]

Brad Templeton

EFF and Foresight Institute. The Paradox of Identity (Why Cloud Computing is Evil).

We’ve gone from timesharing computers to personal computing back to timesharing again with cloud computing.

Data in the cloud is not protected by the 4th amendment. You have no assumption of privacy. Facebook reversed its signup dynamic. Nobody cares about their privacy until after it’s invaded. But it matters. The public don’t understand data. Ease of use can be a bug. People will do it more often. People click to agree contracts. No negotiation involved. You must agree or go away.

Cloud computing ihibits power — you can’t make Facebook faster by buying a faster computer. It’s out of your hands.

We must make sure we don’t install a switch in the government that switches from a free state to a police state. They’re installing the infrastructre and we’re just hoping the switch isn’t flicked.

We must worry about time traveling robots from the future. [Half joking] Technology in the future that can analyse all of today’s data and know more about what you’re doing now than today’s computers know.

Bill Gurstelle

Contributing editor of Make magazine. The Art of Living Dangerously.

Thomas Anderson. Packard of Hewlett Packard. BF Skinner. Francis Crick. Boris Yeltsin. Gordon Moore. All of them started out early experimenting with the art of living dangerously — blowing things up, experimenting.

Is living dangerously a good or bad thing? Depends on how you look at it. Everyone needs to learn the Art. Brains are for handling danger. People who add a certain amount of risk to their lives have better lives — scientific studies. Suggestions:

Swing from power lines. Run with scissors.

His book Absinthe & Flamethrowers, out in June.

Related entries

Recent Entries

Bye for now
I’m going to stop posting things here. When I started up again a few months ago I had a fair… More…
Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation
I’m not clear whether this is new or not but, via the Futures weblog, the Ontario College of Art and… More…
Wrong Tomorrow
It’s getting linked to from many places today but that’s no reason not to mention it here… Wrong Tomorrow is… More…
ETech 09: The Real Time City
Andrea Vaccari, from Senseable City Lab, MIT, late on Wednesday aftenroon at ETech 09.… More…