Monthly Archives: February 2007

2010 Climate Change Imperative


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Climate Change and the Built Environment

Last week the director of Foresight & Innovation, Chris Luebkeman, spoke at a massive teach-in held in New York for architecture students on the Climate Change Imperative 2010. Tens of thousands of people were expected to gather from all over the world for the emergency teach-in. The live web-cast featured a panel of experts on climate change usch as Dr. James Hansen, the Director for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Edward Mazria, AIA Founder, and our very own Chris Luebkeman, as the Director of Foresight & Innovation for Arup.

At Arup a few of us gathered around the FII ground space projector to watch as Chris challenged the architecture students to think more extensively about their footprints.

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My So Called Digital Life

If you could capture and store every minute of your life into bits, would you? The reality of creating a digital archive of one’s life may be arriving sooner than you think. Gordon Bell is making sure of it with a MyLifeBitsProject. The growth of digital storage capacity has reached new levels, and today a $600 (US) hard drive can hold up to one trillion bytes of data, which should be enough to hold all your e-mails,web pages, papers and books, oh and you might as well throw in your iPod tunes and up to 10 pictures a day or 3650 a year for the next 60 years.

And if current trends continue, within a decade we will be able to carry all of the above on our cell phone’s flash memory, while connecting wirelessly on our PCs. Fantastic, or scary, you be the judge. I can’t help but think about what it actually means to carry the entire arc of our lives on a flash card. Will we all spend more of our waking time reliving the nostalgic best moments in life, and deleting the ones that don’t live up to our expectations?

And while a new generation of inexpensive sensors are being created to record information about our health and physical movements, have the manufacturers actually investigated whether there is a latent consumer interest and demand for these products? While I can see the potential benefit of reading all of my body’s vitals, often times (to my parents’ disappointment) I don’t get around to reading the daily newspaper, and wonder whether this will establish itself as the multi-vitamin in my life that I forget to take every morning. Vitabits, you might say, for the well-informed and well-connected.

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LIFT 2007: social technofrenzy

Last week I attended the LIFT2007 conference in Geneva. It was a mind fulfilling experience, although I am not sure what it did to my emotional intelligence. I think it was buried under the information flow.

Speakers that I heard included:

Thursday February 8th

Florence Devouard, Chair of the board, Wikipedia

Ferran Moreno, CEO, Whisher, Wifi reloaded

Sampo Karjalainen, Habbo, Open-ended play in Habbo

Lee Bryant, Headshift, Collective Intelligence inside the enterprise

Christophe Guignard, Contemporary Space

Paola Ghillani, What kind of Humanity do we want?

Suren Erkman, Resource Optimization Ecology, Industrial Ecology

Jan Chipchase, Nokia, Literacy, Communication & design

Nathan Eagle, MIT, Fast, cheap, and out of control

Lara Srivastava, Programme Director, ITU

Julian Bleeker, Techwondo, How to live in a pervasively networked world

Ben Cerveny, The luminous bath

Adam Greenfield, Everyware

Friday February 9th:

Jaewoong Lee, CEO and founder, Daum

Panel: The New Economics of Creation

John Buckman, Founder, Magnatune

Patrick Chappatte, Cartoonist and Journalist

Zhang Ga, Artistic Director, China International New Media Arts Exhibition 2008

Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz,

Panel: Facing the Digital Divide

Sugata Mitra, Professor, Newcastle University

Nathan Eagle, MIT

Pukul Rana, Communications Officer, British Council

Lara Srivastava, Senior Policy Analyst, ITU

Panel: User/Citizen-Centred Society

Robert Scoble, VP. Podtech

Beth Krasna

Brian Cox, Cern, The Big Bang

Daniel Kaplan, Wrap-Up

I am still trying to wrap my head around the major highlights, and I think it would help me to work my way backwards and start with Daniel Kaplan’s very own wrap-up of the two days.

His themes included:

Technologies of Disorder

Assertive Technologies

Technologies of Identity


Fluid/Organic World

Self-Organizing, Self-Solving

Power Borders Conflicts

Fun Deception

Handles on the future

It is interesting to see these themes, because personally they strike me as very Western world. The Digital Divide does not seem to get captured here, unless you want to include it under power border conflicts or assertive techologies. In some ways ubiquitous technolgy is now such a strong presence that we have gone the extra step of internalizing the technology. We no longer just wear our technology, we actually perform it and behave it. And our cells are externalizing. Patterns of behaviour that behave unseen at the molecular level are now manifested digitally and physically on the social network level. Are we undergoing an absolute synergy? Is this osmosis as we have never seen it before?

I keep thinking of an image that Brian Cox played for us, when he was explaining Cern’s studies of the Big Bang. One planet approached another in slow motion and they literally passed through each other in opposite directions. The slow-mo actually captured the dark halo of an after effect result of the two planets crossing through each other, and I can’t help but wonder whether we are all now swimming through the luminous bath (credit to Ben Cerveny for coining the concept) of some form of dark matter.

I have thirty three pages of notes, and I am not sure how best to share what I captured. This is when I wish for a filter on my word doc to spot the trends and meta tag them. But one way to start is by looking at the general themes:

- shaping and harnessing collective intelligence with software

- influence of second life on first life

- human centred design

- redefinition of environments: virtual environments and physical environments interacting

- technology vs humanity: where is the real tension

- Design as a solution to deeper societal issues: moving beyond communication to solve cognitive and educational gaps

- long tailing it: the rise of alternative channels and businesses on the Internet

- hyrbids: ubiquitous computing goes mainstream: the collapse of borders: humantechnologyhumantechnology

- false assumptions: we are so Interneted out, that we confuse ubiquity with actual knowledge and understanding how to use the tools

any questions?

me too.

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what in the world?

In the past three days I have two attended conferences.(Dont tell, next week I head to a third – LIFT ). The end of day conference on Tuesday was at the Portcullis House, a part of the House of Commons, but being the clueless Canadian wonder that I am, I made my way to Westminster with very little idea of what would come. The regular security strip-down occured and I made my way to the Population and Sustainability Network and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine hosted conference on “Population: the Unfinished Agenda”.

Catherine McCafferty the MP and Chair of the APPG on Population, Development and Reproductive Health introduced the event, as well as her fellow panelists which included Gareth Thomas, Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Special Adviser to the UN-Secretary-General, and Professor Rapley, the Director of the British Antarctic Survey. I was struck by the tone of the conversation which openly veered towards anti-American sentiments and criticism due to the United States lack of involvement and refusal to put sexual reproductive rights on the table. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize that when it comes right down to it HIV/AIDS is very much an issue of empowerment and sexual reproductive rights control. Often the media glides around the issue, and I don’t think in my research I have ever heard it discussed as openly as Dr. Sadik did.

I have to also commend the director of the British Antarctic Survey for openly stating that the most inexpensive way of reducing carbon emissions and reversing climate change would be to reduce population growth. It would cost us 1.3 trillion to invest in nuclear energy, 10 trillion for wind-energy and virtually nothing to slow down our growth, which yet again raises the issue of sexual reproduction and sexual contraception.

Yesterday, I attended a conference on the challenges of assistive technology for an ageing population. It was quite amazing to hear of the developments both in research and technology, as it seems to be quite a happy marriage. This led some to question the motivation of innovation as being private-sector driven as opposed to being driven by social need. I was particularly impressed by an innovation that Dr. Arelene Astell from Scotland introduced; a software product she developed for dementia patients. It is an interactive interface which allows patients to freely reminesce by choosing between a selection of songs and photos. Often progressive states of dementia lead to silence and a period of non-communication, and these memory boxes act as a trigger for patients and their relatives, as well as their caregivers. They also lessen the burden of care on overworked and understaffed residences.

The jury is still out on what is driving us into the future, and who and what will drive change, but an interesting think tank for democracy called Demos definitely peaked my curiosity. Web 2.0 and Humanity 2.0 are finally really merging.

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