I’m heading to the @BECCConference in Washington DC. Looking forward to some great, fresh ideas.
UPDATE: Thanks to everybody who voted in the Woot! shirt derby. I came in 65th with 59 votes! Since Woot! won’t make this shirt, I’ve decided to make it available through Skreened.
ORIGINAL: If you’ve never taken a few minutes to skim through shirt.woot.com, I would highly recommend it.
I just submitted this design for the Woot! shirt derby. It’s a contest where the most popular entries get printed and sold through the shirt.woot.com website. The theme of this derby is cute riffs on science fiction.
In order for my shirt to get printed, I’ll need some votes. If this is a shirt you think you’d be interested in wearing (or giving as a gift) then I would strongly encourage you to vote on it.
I presented at Ignite Ann Arbor on November 6, 2011. A video of my presentation is above.
Ignite is a live presentation format where speakers get five minutes to share their thoughts while their presentation goes on behind them. Each speaker gets 20 slides which automatically advance every 15 seconds, no exceptions.
The topic of how humans manage to survive in cold places fascinates me. I intend to explore some aspects of this idea in greater depth on this website.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.
The lines between science and sport were plainly blurred by the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968. The thin air at over 7,300 feet above sea level influenced record setting jumping events while impairing some endurance athletes. David Edmonds explores how scientists are enhancing athletes’ potential in a variety of ways. The debate over the role of science and technology in competitive sport ranges from the control of oxygen levels to the technology in swimsuits, to the ability of people with prosthetic limbs to compete.
At the same time that competitive runners, jumpers, and others are trying to increase their mastery in the physical sense, there are people fighting to expand the very pool of what constitutes as a “person.” Mark Peters summarizes some of the ongoing “personhood” campaigns in his recent article. There are movements to extend the legal rights of persons to animals and the unborn, while there is also a campaign to repeal the rights of “corporate personhood” that are well established. If you thought you knew what it meant to be a person, you might find some surprising history behind this word.
Watson, I.B.M.’s trivia bot, demonstrated, the ability for computers can compete with humans on a cognitive level on Jeopardy. What computerized device will be the equivalent for tennis, golf, or boxing? Given the increased profile of technology in our sporting events, and the speed at which computerized devices can now interact with human intelligence, it seems like only a matter of time before humans and non-humans are in athletic competition.
The question ultimately becomes: what is sport? Purists will always insist on the absolute minimum of technical assistance for competitors. Martial arts such as boxing, judo, and wrestling are hallmarks of this purist tendency. But even in these events, the athletes can ingest fine-tuned nutritional compounds and drugs that hug the border of what is considered a steroid. On the other end of the spectrum are events like rowing, cycling, and archery, where technical innovations have had substantial impacts on the nature of competitions year over year.
The motto for the Olympic Games is Citius, Altius, Fortius (Latin for Faster, Higher, Stronger). Devices and adaptations that enhance performance certainly allow athletes to fulfill this motto. It is our own desire to retain the integrity of what we define as a sport that prevents us from accepting performance enhancing drugs and technology. If we are willing to allow it, the future of sport may unlock a very fascinating set of moral questions.
“It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Victims of their success, the Haenyo are dwindling. Learn more about the Korean grandmas diving in icy sea water for conch, octopus, and abalone, and the story of their tough vocation on Jeju island.
“Best of” lists are one of my favorite indulgences. These lists tend to come out in the last week of November and generally keep appearing until Christmas. I am somewhat lazy about my tastes in music, so I keep a close eye on any “best songs” or “best albums” lists.
The longer the better. And if there is an option to play these songs so I can pre-screen them from my MP3 collection, that really is the gold standard.
There are other good, year-end lists to watch for: “under reported stories“, “predictions for next year,” and “fads” all fit into that category. But none of these really have the flavor of the “best of” list.
The journalist or writer who assembles this article can follow an easy to repeat format (hint: it’s a list).
Zappos, the online shoe store, offers a $3,000 bonus for people to quit – after they have been through the interview process. Fascinating.
Programmable thermostats are not attention grabbers. The makers of these devices have designed them to blend in with walls. Taking a cue from Henry Ford, thermostat comes in any color, as long as it’s eggshell white.
The Nest thermostat breaks this mold, in multiple ways. The Nest is colorful, visually attractive, and more interestingly, it learns. When you dial up the temperature, the Nest remembers the time and your set points. The same happens when you dial down. This is in stark contrast to the unclear controls and dim screens on competitor thermostats.
Imagination has proven to be popular for Nest Labs. Their thermostat is sold out until 2012. It’s not exactly clear how many units they’ve sold, but this early taste of success must be exciting for their team.
Nest Labs hasn’t achieved this success by undercutting the competition on price. Their unit is approximately double the price other programmable thermostats.
This is a development that is beyond due. While thermostats have improved in their ability to store more detailed schedules, control heating, cooling, and ventilation, the human-interaction side of these devices has been largely ignored. What else in our homes and workplaces goes ignored because of bland, uninspired interfaces? There are countless products that could benefit from being re-imagined and dramatically improved in this way.