The World Right Now

“What’s Going On?” – Marvin Gaye

Wireless Sensory Apparatus

The World Right Now

In my day job, I have been working to develop a standard application platform for interactive television, the absence of which I think is responsible for the failure so far of ITV. ( Not so coincidentally, it’s based on Sun’s Java technology, which has been very successful as a cell phone application platform.

“Sun SPOT (Small Programmable Object Technology) is a new research project at Sun Labs…to make wireless sensors ready for mass commercial deployment by simplifying application development for them. Wireless sensors are inexpensive battery-powered, low-power communication devices composed of radios and exceptionally small mechanical structures that sense fields and forces in the physical world. These […] devices can be deployed throughout a physical space, providing dense sensing close to physical phenomena, processing and communicating this information, and coordinating actions with other nodes. Combining these capabilities with the system software technology that forms the Internet makes it possible to instrument the world with increasing fidelity.”

Global Environmental Outlook

The World Right Now

Among the treaties leading to information in this data source are the Basel Convention, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Why isn’t there ever a Pittsburgh Convention?

“The GEO Data Portal is the authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments. Its online database holds more than 450 different variables, as national, subregional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP. Display them on-the-fly as maps, graphs, data tables or download the data in different formats.”


The World Right Now

This site, from Hungary, tracks disasters of all shapes and sizes, daily. Know how many volcanoes are erupting today in the world? Would you believe 53? Or just track the spread of bird flu.

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

Global Early Warning Systems

The World Right Now

Disasters and wars seem to speed up technology development. Here’s recent developments in worldwide sensors for early warning on tsunamis.

“Indonesia won’t rely solely on seismic signals in making a call on a tsunami. Last month, scientists deployed the first two seafloor sensors of the German Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System. The devices, whose development was spearheaded by the National Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam and the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, measure sea- floor vibrations and pressure changes in the water column

The U.S.-made Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis tsunameters–each a buoy and an associated bottom pressure sensor–already serve as sentinels for the PTWC in Hawaii. It’s the only such device that’s been “tried and tested,” notes IOC’s Erb. At a price tag of $250,000 per buoy and a design life of 1 year, the network won’t come cheap, nor will it come quickly: The U.S. factory that produces the buoys was inundated by Hurricane Katrina, so production is lagging, sources say.”

Location Based Technology Rising

The World Right Now

Location-based capabilities for the wireless infrastructure has been a big focus of the Neurosphere site, enabling extended awareness of where you are and what is around you. Here’s a half-billion dollar confirmation of its importance. I’m not sure a call center outfit like West really gets it, but they must have their reasons.

“”Its strong position in a growing market, its industry-leading technology, and its experienced management team will improve our ability to meet our customer’s demands. Further, Intrado complements the existing offerings of our Communications Services segment, providing a highly visible revenue stream and additional cross-selling and margin expansion opportunities,” said Thomas B. Barker, Chief Executive Officer of West Corporation.”

Declaring War on Ourselves

The World Right Now

Homeland Security priorities have given rise to immense investments in technology to increase awareness of the World Right Now, albeit with a narrow goal. But quoted below in the mission statement of homeland security company Global Defense Corporation, “Given the scope and resources of our adversary” This is precisely the point, and why civil liberties guardians are dead on, yet only half right. The Bush administration is spying on all its citizens, as well as anyone from around the world who interacts with any of our citizens. Court orders or not, (and there should be) the point is, that is indeed the scope of the adversary – everybody in the world. Not everyone in the world is planning to fly a plane into a building, but the enemy is precisely interconnected with the rest of us to such a degree that it becomes impossible to separate them out. A quote from my book:

…The war on terrorism as proclaimed by President Bush is the incipient form of conflict within a neurosphere, not across borders but within the skin of a single global entity. The war will not be confined to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any small collection of countries. The Al Qaeda network is said to operate within more than 60 countries. It is a stunning fact that they operated most successfully in Florida, a state it will be hard for Mr. Bush to declare war upon. And it seems increasingly clear, after a year of war, that the supply of fresh recruits to the terrorist cause continues to grow…

“Why GDC Was Established: Given the scope and resources of our adversary, most now recognize that time is of the essence in ensuring we deploy appropriate innovative technologies to respond to the asymmetrical threats that face the nation. The critical challenge now for the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and other United States and global agencies involved in responding to global security threats, is to rapidly identify, validate and deploy innovative technologies to address identified agency needs.”