Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TEDx Columbus

One of the more interesting annual technology events over the past 25 years has been The TED Conference, held annually in Long Beach, CA. The conference started out as a way to bring together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has broadened. Over four days, 50 speakers which include musicians, performers and comedians take an 18-minute slot. There are no breakout groups.

TEDx is a program that enables schools, businesses, or libraries to enjoy a TED-like experience through events that they organize, design and host. Events can be held in homes, workplaces, universities or public spaces. A TEDx event may last just an hour or a full day A TEDx event can consist of a dozen people or hundreds. Some TEDx events focus solely on recorded TEDTalks while others include short talks from live speakers.

TED supports organizers by offering a free toolset that includes advice, the right to use recorded TEDTalks, promotion on the TED site, connection to other organizers, and access to the TED brand.

Over 200 TEDx events are planned, include one in Columbus on October 20, 2009

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Six Soon To Be Obsolete Technologies

At my recent high school reunion I got into a conversation about technologies that we grew up with that are now obsolete. One of my favorite down time sites is devoted to obsolete computer equipment (ah, the Trash-80!). Here is a short list of six technologies that are fading, some fast:
Photographic Film. My wife's 92-year-old grandmother may have the only film camera in the family (well, I still have analog Nikon body). The sound of the thumb wheel click while advancing the film and the click/whir of the automatic are fading. A sign that this is coming soon includes Kodak's June, 2009 announcement that they stopped producing the venerable Kodachrome. (see also: "The Music CD").

Stamp Vending Machines. The USPS is in the process of removing all Stamp vending machines from the local post offices by 2010. If one needs stamps after the post office closes one will need to go to a pharmacy, grocery store, or make use of an online service or one of their Automated Postal Centers.

The Music CD: The current CD format will go away fairly soon as the shift from physical media to downloadable content continues. Emergent technologies such as flash drives and the CD-DVD provide alternative physical formats. Then again, we still have yet to shovel all the dirt on top of analog vinyl records. (See also: Photographic film)

LCD Displays. The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays will take over from LCD since they draw less power and can operate longer on a battery charge. OLED technology is already in use in small screen applications such as mobile phones, MP3 players, car radios, and digital cameras.
Wrist Watches. Who really needs a watch for timekeeping when practically every electronic device has a clock? Watches are are more about fashion and less about function these days.

Antivirus Software. Having antivirus software installed on individual computers is becoming increasingly ineffective. The U of Mich announced a cloud computer approach called CloudAV that can identify malicious software at the network level.

What technologies do you see fading away that were once a part of your everyday life?
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Broadcatching: Capturing "The Flow"

In his Library Journal online article entitled "The Flow" Revisited: The Personal Angle, Roy Tennant observes:
some of today's communication methods are like an undammed river -- if you're not there when it flows by, it's gone. Email, on the other hand, is like a dammed river -- it flows in, but it doesn't go anywhere until you do something with it....I wonder what tools will rise up to help cope with this -- perhaps your own little Twitter dam, with filters that allow you to choose to see what you missed from particular people while you were away? Or a filter to show only those tweets with a URL? Who knows? It's early days yet for the flow, and I'm curious to see what it brings.
This post made me reach over to my bookshelf and pull out Stewart Brands' 1987 book The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT to re-read his vision of the concept of broadcatching. (Note: I often see things that are the end result of the research done during the '80s at the Media Lab and documented in this book. Lego Mindstorms, custom Portals and personalized Internet, virtual reality games were developed, envisioned, conceptualized, or influenced by Media Lab research.)

Brand describes broadcatching as an application to assist content selection (hunting for specific information) and viewing (grazing a single unfiltered flow or browsing multiple flows with no particular content in mind). Station-selector buttons on a car radio are a kind of broadcatch device. While they are customizable, they can only catch a specific source and not specific content.

While I was familiar with Brand's use of the term, a little research reveal that Fen Labalme is credited with coining 'broadcatch' back in 1983, referring to an automated agent that aggregates and filters content from multiple sources for presentation to an individual user. His definition:

To understand the concept described by this term, first take a look at traditional broadcast media (such as radio, TV, magazines and newspapers) and note that they generally consist of a one publisher to many consumers flow of information, and as such rely upon common opinions and beliefs, as each published issue is targeted for a mass audience.

On the other hand, Broadcatch connotes a many to one gathering of information, using a network of personalized agents to ideally sift through all available information and return just that which is of possible current interest from trusted, authenticatable sources and in a form and style amenable to the user. Broadcatch is designed to thrive in a diversity of opinions and provide a mechanism that effectively automates word of mouth.

I have to reiterate, this was thought up back in the early 1980's.

An ideal 'broadcatch' agent would grab my RSS, Twitter, and Facebook flows and be smart enough to know which items are important to me right now based on my recent information seeking/gathering patterns. It would allow those items to flow through the dam while holding back the remaining until I manually open the gates. But, as Roy comments, "teaching it what is important is likely the hard part." Sphere: Related Content