Science and Society, Technology

Future interactions, reinventing discovery, living homes and more

I am profoudly fortunate.  Every day, tonnes and tonnes of brilliant bits of information come flying at me over the intertubes.  I try to send as many of them back out as I can, and so today, I thought I’d put a couple into a post.


First up: ‘Ubiquitous Computing’

My g+ stream is shouting excitedly about two primary things today.  One of them is Ripple.  The other is this concept video, released by Microsoft. It shows what they think might happen in terms of our interaction with technology and each other, and is, well, pretty cool.  Very Augmented Reality.  And very white (why is the future always white and perfectly clean?).


But yes.  Thoughts?  I’ve seen suggestions that this sort of tech may be only 3-5 years away, although I can imagine it may take quite a while longer than that for it to get into (some) organisations :P

Next: new Michael Nielsen book!

Michael Nielsen is, amongst other things, a writer.  One who’s rather well-known for his writing on innovation.  I’ve written about him before, and enjoy tracking his work.

And now, he has a new book out: Reinventing Discovery. Tim O’Reilly’s been pretty complimentary about it (I really hope he doesn’t mind my quoting him here):

It opens with a fantastic account of what we can learn about the future of science from explorations such as the Polymath Project and “the greatest chess game in history,” Kasparov vs. the World. But what really distinguishes it is its nuanced, intelligent descriptions of just how these projects work, noticing what is important about them in a way that few popular summaries do.

For example, consider this insightful line about the community behind Wikipedia:

“Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. It is a virtual city, a city whose main export to the world its its encyclopedia articles, but with an internal life of its own.”

The book is full of gems like that, lessons from internet experiments in collective intelligence, with deep thought about how they apply to the future of what Nielsen calls Networked Science.

Can’t wait to read it!  And if you’re unsure, or don’t want to pony up the US$10 for a digital version, you can read the first chapter for free :)

And then… The microbial home

As some of you may or may not be aware, I have something of a jones for architecture.  I follow it, attempting not to knock it out in dark alleyways and run off with it over my shoulder.  And was extremely impressed today by The Microbial Home, from Phillips Design. It provides lighting, cooking abilities, breaks down waste (from kitchen and bathroom) to _grow_ things, and more, through the oh-so-very-clever-and-sustainable use of bacteria.  It’s marvellous.

Also, it’s very, very beautiful, and I wants one.

That is all. Except for a hat-tip to Idealog Magazine for pointing it out :)

Finally: which Nobel Prize should you go for?

I love Fake Science - they always provide me with a giggle*.  And on that note, I figured I’d share this flowchart, helpfully helping one to choose the correctly fitting Nobel Prize.  Huzzah!


Enjoy your weekend :)


* They were also kind enough to write me _the best reference letter ever_.