The Human-Human Interface


The World Right Now

And the reach of our grasp of the world around us extends into outer space. The array of telescopes and satellites surveying the universe grows every year – the challenge is in personal access and understanding of all the data available to us. It may be a while, however, before there are many bloggers in space…

“Using AstroGrid an astronomer can request sets of observations of the same area of sky taken by several different telescopes and combine the data; perform the same analysis on all the data simply by setting up a set of commands in the AstroGrid system. Previously each data set would have to be processed individually, taking much longer to get results.”


The World Right Now

The world of mapmaking collides with the world of blogs. We increasingly have access to the world right now in more and more detail. Geoblogging adds pictures to maps, or is it adds maps to pictures. Either way, our ability to be aware of the world around us grows in the dimensions of both richness and geographical reach. The use of blogs adds distributed intelligence to the sensory data available to us.

“The group is for discussing tips and methods of adding “geotags” aka location metadata to flickr images, Discussing locations on the geobloggers map worth checking out, Discussing the website and features etc.?”

Self-Organizing Network Infrastructure

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

The very name of this company recalls natural systems (phototropism in plants) and their technology “self-organizes” – according to biologists like Francisco Varela, one of the definining characteristics of living organisms.

“Tropos Networks is the proven market leader in delivering metro-scale Wi-Fi mesh network products and services, with more than 150 customers and 40 resellers in eight countries around the world at the end of 2004. Our solutions are the fastest, lowest cost and simplest way to deliver true wireless broadband (>1 Mbps) over large geographic areas using low-cost standard Wi-Fi clients. Our innovative and patented MetroMesh™ architecture provides maximizes throughput from client to server, eliminates the need for costly and complex per node wiring and automatically self-organizes as nodes are added or subtracted, backhaul supplied or removed, and interference comes and goes.”

Immune System for the Body Politic?

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Here’s a work in progress from your national government. The end result certainly sounds like an organism’s immune system. The progression is

Electronic Health Records>>

Regional Health Information Organizations>>

National Health Information Network>>

“…a unified network of surveillance systems from hospital organizations, physician practices, public health agencies and other sources of incoming data on medical threats, public health professionals will have the relevant information they need to react early or issue preventive measures.”


Personal Infrastructure

After a recent trip to Europe (watch for my International Broadcasting Conference Top Ten essay, coming soon), I’ve been following other European developments. Biometrics technology, used for digitizing fingerprints, retinas and other unique personal identifiers, seems to me part of the ongoing shrinking of the interfaces between humans and technology. Like RFID, biometrics seems to push civil liberties buttons. Others see it as a weapon in fighting identity theft and other 21st century demons.

“The European Commission has just launched a new public information portal on biometrics, to provide an online platform for information exchange, coordination and community building activities between users and producers in Europe. The new portal’s objective is to encourage the development of consistent policies in the field of biometrics and the respect of privacy.”

Another Run at the Digital Library

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Those nutty Europeans. They are forming a collective effort to create an openly accessible digital library, instead of letting Google do it.

“The European Commission unveiled on 30 September its strategy to make Europe’s written and audiovisual heritage available on the Internet.”

“So I can look at you from inside as well”

The World Right Now

Experienced the latest in x-ray technology on my dental visit last week. ViperRay captures the dental x-rays and displays them direct to personal computer. Runs on Windows XP, Pentium IV. Health care cost pressures are pushing the technology to uncover greater efficiencies, but the result here is patient access to more and deeper information about their own bodies. And once it’s on the computer, well, I don’t think anyone wants a BLOG of x-rays of my slowly decaying body, but… (Bonus points for naming the song and band that the header quote came from.)

“The end result is quicker diagnosis, enhanced patient communication, and the financial savings from eliminating the on-going use of film and chemicals.” The dental assistant said less x-ray exposure for the patient, but I’m not sure that’s right.

Now, Everybody Does Something About the Weather

The World Right Now

NOAA Weather Radio has made possible access to state-of-the-art government weather tracking information in a bewildering variety of consumer formats. You can also get the Weather Bug on your PC desktop, cellphone, or eventually that tattooed integrated circuit just under the watch on your left wrist. Bringing you the world right now, and the world a couple of hours from now as well.

“NOAA Weather Radio is a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. Department of Commcerce, and is the ‘voice of the National Weather Service.’”

And there are competitors. I have their “bug” on my laptop’s system tray – it starts blinking when there’s a local forecast update.

“WeatherBug, the leading provider of weather information services, owns and operates a proprietary network of 8,000 WeatherBug Tracking Stations and more than 1,000 cameras that are strategically placed at schools, public safety facilities and television stations throughout the U.S.”

Storm Hawk is the first hand-held weather device with GPS moving map technology for use on land and sea. Get real-time and forecast weather information on demand, displayed in graphics and text, for your specific location.

Smaller Cheaper Faster

Personal Infrastructure

Seeing the MIT Media Lab $100 PC made me remember what the low-cost Asian manufacturers do every year at the Consumer Electronics Show. Last January, I saw the Latte – 3 GHz processor in a 4 pound, one square foot package. I’m typing this on a laptop that weighs the same and has one-quarter the processing power.

“the world’s smallest P4 system…the fastest and smallest mini-PC in the world.”

Cheaper Laptops

Personal Infrastructure

MIT is not a large-scale manufacturer, so the practicality of this plan remains to be seen, but it seems clear that riding Moore’s Law to a much lower price point would do more to spread general purpose computing power to more people around the world.

“The MIT Media Laboratory expects to launch a prototype of its US$100 laptop in November, according to Nicholas Negroponte, the lab’s chairman and co-founder. The facility has been working with industry partners to develop a notebook computer for use by children in primary and secondary education around the world, particularly in developing countries. The laptops should start appearing in volume in late 2006. “In emerging nations, the issue isn’t connectivity,” Negroponte said at the Emerging Technologies Conference on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Cambridge campus Wednesday. “That’s not solved, but lots of people are working on it in Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc. For education, the roadblock is laptops.””