Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Great Whale Hunt

The Great Whale Hunt is a truly amazing interactive experience. It's a new way to take pictures and a fantastic way of telling a story. It is extremely technologically saavy and a captivating way to document an experience online. It will take you on a pretty amazing experience recorded with great and carefully organized. The website allows you to experience a whale hunt as if you were on the expedition as it occurred over 9 days hunting with Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow Alaska. 3,214 photos were taken.

One of the techniques Jason Harris (the creator) used enables the rate of photographs taken to match the excitment of the photographer so the experience can be accurately portrayed to the viewer; "the photographs were taken at five-minute intervals, even while sleeping (using a chronometer), establishing a constant “photographic heartbeat”. In moments of high adrenaline, this photographic heartbeat would quicken (to a maximum rate of 37 pictures in five minutes while the first whale was being cut up), mimicking the changing pace of my own heartbeat."

Harris described one of the objectives of this adventure
"as a way to subject himself to the same sort of incessant automated data collection process that he usually writes computer programs to conduct (in previous projects like We Feel Fine, Lovelines, Universe, 10x10, and Phylotaxis). Much effort is spent making computers understand what it’s like to be human (through data mining and artificial intelligence), but rarely do humans try to see things from a computer’s perspective. He was interested in reaching some degree of empathy with the computer, a constant thankless helper in my work."

The photos and the way you interact with them are certainly worth a look.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pownce - How do you get your music?

I've been a member of Pownce for a few months now. To be honest I haven't completely figured out it's somewhat unconventional interface and I definitely haven't been a very good contributer, but it has been a great resource for exchanging... actually just getting new music.

I think it's actually a lot easier to use than it seems. It's essentially a posting board for you and your friends but the main feature that makes it nice is that you can upload large files and share them with your friend list. I realized pretty quickly that I didn't find myself needing to email my friends large files that often so I decided to expand my Pownce circle of friends to see what I could discover.

I found musicians and communities interested in good music and added these people to my friends list. I started accepting random friend invites and unlike Facebook I found myself pleasantly surprised to be receiving music files from these new friends. Now as they exchange songs and music files I can download and taste some of the newest sounds being produced and shot around the intrawebs.

Shoot me an email if you're interested. I have a bunch of invites that I'm itching to send out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Health Care Is Changing

Consider the following; you're pretty sure you have a sinus infection and you're miserable; it's not bad enough for you to pay some ridiculous fee at the ER, if you call your doctor you'll have to wait three weeks, and if you take anymore NyQuil you'll probably end up on a full fledge Robotrip - what are you supposed to do? Well you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that if you don't already, you will soon have a new option that doesn't include you sitting around with with green goo dripping from your shnoz.

You may not have noticed but our Healthcare system is changing right under our nose.

I recently got back from St. Louis where I had a little visit to a great Midwestern sight - Walgreens. I visited four to be exact but I spent the most time at one in Manchester where I got a check up from a lovely Nurse Practitioner who actually worked in a Clinic right inside Walgreens. Not only did she give me a physical, she also prescribed me some meds.

Although I haven't exactly determined how I think easier access to prescription medications will improve our nation's health, I do think that more providing a network of Nurse Practitioners can help make our country a healthier place live.

Our current healthcare system has some pretty fundamental flaws but I can't help feeling at least a little optimistic about what's on the horizon. During my visit I was impresessed with how quickly I was seen and the quality time I was given when I visited the Walgreens Clinic Nurse Practitioner. Clinics like Walgreens' Take Care Health treat issues like Mono, Lyme Disease and Bladder Infections, offer sports physicals and access to vaccinations like the flu shot, tetanus shots, hepatitis B and a bunch of others. They aren't the solution for everyone, but they do provide solutions to medical issues for a reasonable price. My visit cost $59. They don't take X-rays or blood work and will refer you to Doctor or the ER if they can't handle your ailment and they do take insurance. As I inquired further I learned that these Clinics are popping up quicker than pimples on the face of a fifteen year old, with an estimated 2000 to open by the end of 2008.

I think we're going to start seeing some drastic changes and the democratization of health care looks to be a growing business. It will be interesting to see how we find solutions to provide these services as well as more complex issues to those who don't have insurance and can't afford treatment.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Transitioning American Culture: A Smarter Way to Commute

Back in May I went to the 2007 MakerFaire in San Mateo and had the opportunity to meet Rick Woodberry of CommuterCars, the creator of the Tango. It's an electric car that is all around a great solution to urban commuting. It's extremely thin but packs a punnch - it goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. This is an interesting phenomenon, unfortunately it retails for $108,000 although Rick is working on getting it mass manufactured.

US car culture is facing a huge problem. A big portion of the problem revolves around our dependency of the automobile. Parking in cities, congested highways, gridlock in urban areas and urban sprawl. These are all complicated issues that will not be easily resolved. Yes these problems might start to solve themselves as we depelete our oil reserves and get stranded out in suburbia. Until then we need vehicles that will help transition us into time when cities are planned a bit more strategically and we are using more renewable sources of energy.

Surprisingly a big part of this transition is finding compromises. That means not abandoning what Americans love so much about their cars; things like being free and going fast. The Tango is a great compromise. Not only is it small and electric but it's fast and sexy.

More on this subject to come....

Predictions for 2008

Here are my top 5 predictions for 2008.
Alright, they're probably not all going to happen next year, but they're coming.

1. Cell phone users will finally make use of the technology they have and allow users to view one another as they talk to each other.

2. Chevron will buy GM & Exxon will buy Ford - they will give their cars away for free, you will pay for the gas. Gas will be so expensive that people will choose the Tango and other alternatives.

3. Healthcare companies will start requiring the $1000 DNA test at birth to evaluate & assess customers healthcare fees. FDA will require restaurants to put calories on menus

4. Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us & Facebook become overrun by Mandarin, Chinese & Japanese leaving the US / English speakers realizing who's really running the world.

5. Record Labels try to buy and destroy the Internet in a last ditch effort to save themselves. MP3's On Demand puts the power and money back into artist's hands.