26 February 2008

Latest Update from Desktop Factory

Our friends at Desktop Factory report that they've moved their ship date for their initial product out to the third quarter of 2008. I think this is a smart move - they are committed to shipping a quality product that will meet customer expectations, and they want to get it right. I think they have a great vision and a team that can build the first low-cost 3D printer, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they have later this year.

Bruce Sterling: Why the OLPC will probably fail

Not that he's particularly happy about it. An interesting analysis of OLPC from Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesonovic - it's not just about the hardware or the software, it's about the politics.

(If you'd rather watch it in HD, you can get a copy at http://techvideoblog.com/lift/bruce-sterling-and-jasmina-tesanovic-talk-about-the-olpc/ - the ideas are equally well-defined in either format.)

25 February 2008

The Fastest Global Diffusion of Technology in History

According to an excellent article Our Cells, Ourselves, written by Joel Garreau and published in Sunday's Washington Post, the number of cell phones in service, 3.3 billion, is roughly half the world's population. It took just 26 years to get to this point:

The human race is crossing a line. There is now one cellphone for every two humans on Earth.

From essentially zero, we've passed a watershed of more than 3.3 billion active cellphones on a planet of some 6.6 billion humans in about 26 years. This is the fastest global diffusion of any technology in human history -- faster even than the polio vaccine.

"We knew this was going to happen a few years ago. And we know how it will end," says Eric Schmidt, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Google. "It will end with 5 billion out of the 6" with cellphones. "A reasonable prediction is 4 billion in the next few years -- the current proposal is 4 billion by 2010. And then the final billion or so within a few years thereafter.

I recommend the article - and also take a look at an article Calling From Where? from 26 years ago describing the first cell service in Washington. One optimistic pioneer predicted that "We're talking about 50 to 60 million over the next 20 to 30 years." Wrong!

24 February 2008

Art Center's Global Dialogues: Disruptive Thinking

Art Center will launch a new program in a new venue - Barcelona - on March 7, 2008. In a blog created for this event, moderator Richard Addis has started posting an intriguing set of previews. Here's a taste:

What we are doing in Barcelona is a beginning. We are bringing together 24 men and women of ideas from all over the world to one (magnificent) place to discuss six major themes: Design, Climate Change, Business, Science, Politics and Belief. In each dialogue the conversation will be around the effect of disruptive thinking on established belief. In other words it will be about creativity. And we shall end by trying to peer into the future and detect the shadowy outlines of the next truly disruptive idea looming in each of the six areas that we have chosen.

Live, unprepared and interactive - the anti-Power Point medium - I aim to make the dialogues disruptive in themselves in that they will take surprising turns and the meeting of disruptive minds on stage will spark disruptive new ideas. They will be disruptively interactive. Our audience will be welcome to join in. Though essentially live and unpredictable, everything will be captured on video to go on the web. So each dialogue will, we hope, roll out into the media-sphere to bubble and steam for some while after.

I just wish I could go! However, the event will be recorded and I'm looking forward to helping get the video online for as wide distribution as possible. If there's any way you can get to Barcelona on March 7, it looks like it's going to be a fantastic event. In any case, I recommend the blog, which is worth reading even if you can't attend the event.

22 February 2008

Watching the Lunar Eclipse from the Center of the Public Astronomy Universe

I love the Griffith Park Observatory, better-than-ever after a recent renovation. It was a blast to enjoy a "community eclipse" on Wednesday night. Telescope nerds, teenagers, school kids, moms with daughters, and every other kind of Angeleno was there, speaking the usual polyglot of languages. And despite the threat of clouds, the moon came through with a spectacular show. If you missed it, try again in 2010!

21 February 2008

Art and technology explained

"Art challenges technology, and technology inspires art." - John Lasseter, from "The Pixar Shorts: A Short History"

New Zealand Jewelry Idol

Ponoko has launched a very cool and fairly lucrative design challenge - see http://blog.ponoko.com/2008/02/19/the-ponoko-10-day-jewelry-design-challenge/.
By the way, design challenge is a better word than contest. My colleagues at Art Center have explained to me that they are interested in challenges and even competitions, but contests are for pie eating!

Wavelengths are physics, but color is psychology

Take a look at http://www.boingboing.net/2008/02/08/color-tile-optical-i.html. You can know to an absolute certainty that two things are the same color, but your mind can never perceive it that way.