The Human-Human Interface

Grid Acquisition

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Grid computing technology provider Kontiki purchased by Verisign to power Verisign’s entry into entertainment video delivery. Seems funny to me that a premier security company does not have all the business it can handle in homeland security. Further, like the West Corp. acquisition of Intrado, I’m not sure Verisign is a company with an appreciation of the revolutionary nature of the core competence of the business they are acquiring. But I guess in both cases, the value is evident, if maybe a little subconscious.

“VeriSign, a provider of network infrastructure services, said on Monday that it will pay $62 million to acquire Kontiki, a Silicon Valley-based provider of managed peer delivery systems for video, software and digital content. VeriSign said that Kontiki’s system will form the cornerstone of its platform to enable the delivery of rich media, with far greater efficiency and lower costs than traditional media distribution services.”

Gluco Watch

Personal Infrastructure

Posting about implants reminded me to check in on how medical technology is moving the personal interface to technology over and under the skin in interesting ways.

“The monitor measures glucose from interstitial fluid located just underneath the skin by sending a tiny electric current through the skin. The Glucose Watch has a 3-hour warm-up period and could provide painless, noninvasive measurements of blood sugar every 20 minutes for up to 12 hours. The Glucose Watch is not intended to replace traditional finger stick glucose monitoring, instead it should be used to supplement monitoring.”

Implants Growing Like Weeds

Personal Infrastructure

The European Commission is investigating pros and cons of RFID. This seems like a common sense, balanced investigation.

“RFID tags are far cleverer than traditional bar codes. They are the precursors of a world in which billions of networked objects and sensors will report their location, identity, and history” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “These networks and devices will link everyday objects into an ‘internet of things’ that will greatly enhance economic prosperity and the quality of life. But as with any breakthrough, there is a possible downside – in this case, the implications of RFID for privacy. This is why we need to build a society-wide consensus on the future of RFID, and the need for credible safeguards. We must harness the technology and create the right opportunities for its use for the wider public good.”

In the U.S., the State Department seems to be marching ahead with plans to require RFID chips on passports. There have been several rounds of review and comment on proposed regulations, but privacy advocates are not yet reassured.

Spy Chips or Cow Chips?

Personal Infrastructure

RFID chips, first conceived of as inventory management devices, made the leap to living beings in the cattle industry.

“An ISO compliant RFID tag to provide each head of cattle a unique code, plus a rugged field reader that can automatically upload data into the BeefLink software on your PC.”

Advocates of benefits to humans, such as the proposed medical use here, have been overwhelmed by ham-handed Homeland Security passport proposals. My guess is there won’t be mandates, and many people will voluntarily choose implants.

Joseph Feldman, MD, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Hackensack University Medical Center, said “We look forward to using the VeriChip System to assist in patient identification and access to medical information. Particularly beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses…”

And WalMart’s inventory control needs are going to continue to drive the state of the art, which may be where technical fixes to privacy concerns actually come from.

Environmental Monitoring at Your Desktop

The World Right Now

Here in Colorado, water is scarce. I’ve become very aware of the cycles of mountain snow-pack runoff which fills the local streams, seeing the floods in the spring and how many of them totally dry up by mid-summer. I think in these days of global warming, it behooves us to get more in tune with environmental cycles. Here’s a site that does that locally. The presentation is kind of primitive – those line graphs are right out of Lotus 1-2-3 or something – but it does the basic job of remote access to the sensors out in the watershed.

“BASIN is a local community service network offering public access to environmental information. BASIN’s initial focus is on water in Boulder County, CO: where it comes from, goes to and how we use it.”


The World Right Now

Interesting to compare this to the TenByTen site we profiled a couple days ago. What news organizations find “important”, vs. the celebrity archetypes that seem to be part of our personal spheres of interest.

1. oscars

2. anna nicole smith

3. kirby puckett

4. june carter

5. walk the line

6. jessica alba

7. ash wednesday

8. johnny cash


The World Right Now

These are an interesting combo of high tech and low tech (“the street finds its own uses for things”) to give each other a status update on the world around us.

“grafedia: words written anywhere, then linked to images, video or sound files online.”

Grafedia now takes the place of Hey Stranger at the Glowlab site. Glowlab is a pretty interesting “magazine of psychogeography and contemporary art.” In the Hey Stranger project, New York artist Christina Ray wrote “Hey stanger, what are you up to today” on clear tape and stuck it in locations around Brooklyn, with an email response address. She posted the answers at Glowlab.

RSS Feeds of The World Right Now

The World Right Now

This is really cool. My book cited comic book author Alan Moore who invented a character who had invented a set-up a lot like this (The Watchmen, circa 1990?) The visual element is a step forward – humans process the visual more quickly and holistically than the word. Video would be a logical next step.

“Every hour, 10×10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour’s most important words. The top 100 words are chosen, along with 100 corresponding images, culled from the source news stories. At the end of each day, month, and year, 10×10 looks back through its archives to conclude the top 100 words for the given time period. In this way, a constantly evolving record of our world is formed, based on prominent world events, without any human input.”×10.html

How Do You Get to Be a Professional Visionary??

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Inventor and, well, “visionary” Ray Kurzweil offers some predictions that are interesting in the context of a developing noosphere. Putting near term dates on things is a good marketing move, but don’t put money on ’em.

“Computer visionary Ray Kurzweil examined the effects of accelerating growth of technologies on the present and future of human technological innovation during a speech at the ninth annual CRN Industry Hall of Fame, held Tuesday in Santa Clara, Calif…By 2010, Kurzweil said, computers will begin to disappear, instead becoming embedded in the environment and into materials such as clothing and eyeglasses. Images will be written directly on human retinas, said Kurzweil, adding that the military uses this technology today in modeling virtual reality environments. “Search engines of the near future won’t wait to be asked for information,” he said.

“2029 is where technology really gets interesting because we’ll have had all of this exponential growth taking place over the next 25 years,” said Kurzweil. By this time, computation will move from the device and become Web-centric. “There is going to be a worldwide mesh consisting of tiny devices, nodes in clothing and in the environment, each sending and receiving their own messages, as well as passing on other peoples’ messages,” Kurzweil said. Organization on the massive worldwide mesh will be much like that of the traditional Internet, in terms of being self-organizing and every device being a node, he added.

The Electric Human

Personal Infrastructure

I didn’t see any of these guys at CES, but they are midway between the Asian companies obsession with clean air and my speculations that some of the tinfoil hat crowd, if you filter out the paranoia, might be onto something.

“Targeting Americans concerned about exposure to mobile phone and electrical infrastructure, online retailers are selling a growing selection of protective gear. Listings include radiation-blocking boxers, radio curtain shields and pendants for removing electromagnetic frequencies…the proliferation of cellular antennae and electricity-sucking gadgetry is heightening concern among those who profess to suffer from electrical sensitivity, an illness triggered by exposure to frequencies emitted by various manmade technologies.”,1367,69640,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3