Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for March 2013

Brackets And Blades

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I haven’t done my brackets yet because I only started paying attention to NCAA men’s basketball oh, say, about five minutes ago.

I was too busy watching Kevin Streelman win his first PGA Tour event ever down in Tampa Bay.

My favorite Bubba golfer, Boo Weekley, had trounced into the clubhouse with a record 63 (that is, in a final round at Copperhead), and had to sit around and wait a couple of hours to see if Streelman could “streel” his resolve and hang on to the lead (when Boo could have gone fishing the rest of the afternoon…Gotta love those Southern boys!).

Well, hold on Streelman did, shooting a total of ten under and striking a brilliant and bold 5-iron draw shot on the par 3 13th some 200 yards, planting it just past the pin and nailing the birdie that took him to 9 under.

It was a long road for Streelman to take his first PGA win: some 400,000+ miles on American highways long.

Streelman went through three cars driving around the country “dead broke” as he chased his golf dream — yesterday, it all paid off, and couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more deserving guy. Here’s to many more, Kevin.

As for my own golf game, I’ve decided to keep my Ben Hogan 1988 “redline” blades in the bag…well, mostly.

Yesterday, down in Wimberley, I shot an atrocious 50 on the front nine, which I’ll blame mostly on some exceptionally bad chipping (not to mention undulating sloped greens).

However, on the back nine, my iron play came alive and it struck me why so many Tour players continue to play with bladed irons.

Assuming you can find the center of the club with the ball, and actually strike the thing, the ball flight is nothing short of gorgeous with blades, and I’m finding the additional height is very helpful in cruising over certain tall objects, namely trees, in search of the green stuff.

Don’t let anyone tell you amateurs don’t have the chops to play with blades!  It just takes a lot of work and perseverance, but it can also be very well worth the effort.

I hit several greens in regulation on the back nine by hosting some smooth, high-arc shots with a slight draw, planting them nicely a couple of times in birdie territory, but otherwise still getting close or on the greens.

Now, I’ve just got to go teach myself how to chip again.

So here’s now what’s in my bag: TaylorMade Rocketballz driver (adjusted at 9.5 degrees), a TaylorMade RBZ 3-wood, an old TaylorMade 5-wood, a Nike hybrid (I forget the loft, but I hit it around 200-220 yards), 5-6-7-8-9 Ben Hogan “Redline” blades, 3-4 Mizuno MP-25 irons and PW, Mizuno 56-degree wedge, a Vokey 60 degree wedge, and an Odyssey White Hot “Rossie” putter.

My handicap index is now a flat 12, but I am bound and determined to get into single digits over the next couple of years.

Back to the NCAA brackets: Despite Austin’s hosting the second round South play, there aren’t any Texas teams in the mix, so I’m going this year with my other all time favorite, Duke.

If you want to use some high tech for your own bracket picks, WPTV.com out of West Palm Beach has a list of several smartphone and tablet apps you can use to make your picks.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Spaceships, Aliens, And Androids: The Scott & Todd SXSW 2013 Podcast Debrief

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Scott Laningham and I first met around six years ago at SXSW Interactive.  Scott was already well known for his developerWorks podcast series and blog, and he was walking around the conference talking to people, so we decided to sit down and do a podcast discussing all the cool things we’d seen and learned about during the conference.

It was the beginning of a wonderful and still ongoing collaboration, and since that time, Scott and I have shared the stage at numerous IBM conferences, interviewing industry luminaries, IBM executives and business partners, and other thought leaders.

But we always come back to SXSW Interactive. And so it was with 2013.

Scott and I sat down on Friday via Skype and chatted for nearly 30 minutes about all the interesting things we heard and learned about at this year’s event, the first time it reached over 30,000 attendees.

Some would say SouthBy has jumped the shark. I’m not so sure. I joked early on in the event last week that perhaps it had jumped a few dolphins.

Has it gotten a lot more crowded?  Absolutely.

Has it stretched the outer limits of Austin’s hotel and transportation capacity?  Without question.

Do you have to wait in long lines stretching halfway around the Austin Convention Center just to see a keynote?  Yes yes yes.

And to my mind, it’s still worth every minute.

P.S. Scott has also established a new blog, which you can find right here on WordPress.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

IBM Opens Lab To Bring R&D To The CEO

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One of the things we heard about extensively during our time on the ground at SXSW Interactive 2013 in Austin over the past week was the importance of the customer experience.

Whether that be in applications in mobile devices, in customer service via the social media, the physical experience of a brand’s product or service…the customer experience rules!

And this anecdotal data is supported by IBM’s own research, including last year’s Global CEO Study, which queried 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries and found that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

The study revealed that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement. And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Big Data, Big Opportunity

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognized the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites. The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

To this end, IBM today announced the creation of the IBM Customer Experience Lab, dedicated to helping business leaders transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands through the use of mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytics technologies.

IBM Research scientists and business consultants will co-create with clients to deliver systems that learn and personalize the experiences of each individual customer, identify patterns, preferences and create context from Big Data, and drive scale economics.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will provide CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, heads of sales and other C-suite executives direct access to a virtual team of 100 researchers, supported by the deep industry and domain expertise of thousands of IBM business consultants addressing the opportunities of the digital front office.

In the new age of Big Data and analytics, organizations are reassessing how to move from addressing mass audiences to personalized relationships. The same technologies allow enterprises to engage in new ways with their employees, allow government agencies to build new relationships with citizens, or enable new models of interaction among students and educational institutions.

IBM Research is developing technology assets and capabilities that can help deliver front office capabilities as a service from a cloud, design novel products to match customer preferences, and leverage math and psychological theories of personality to improve marketing effectiveness.
Client Engagements

The Lab focuses on innovation breakthroughs in three primary areas:

  • Customer insight. Applying advanced capabilities such as machine learning and visual analytics to predict differences in individual customer behavior across multiple channels.
  • Customer engagement. Using deep customer engagement to drive insight and continuously deliver value by personalizing engagement, versus transactional experiences.
  • Employee engagement. Embedding semantic, collaborative, and multimedia technologies to foster employee engagement and insight – in person and online.

Among the clients engaged with IBM on advancing their innovation process are Nationwide Building Society, the world’s largest building society serving 15 million members in the United Kingdom, and Banorte, one of the largest banks in Mexico with more than 20 million customers.

“Mobile and social technologies, and the ability to access information anytime, anywhere, is driving significant change in the way consumers bank and in the services they expect,” said Martin Boyle, Divisional Director of Transformation, Nationwide Building Society. “Our ability to innovate and anticipate, and not just respond, is what sets us apart from the competition and helps us to provide our customers with new and better ways to do business with us. By partnering with IBM, we can tap into its vast research and innovation expertise and facilities, which has already proved invaluable in our transformation program and will continue to be an important part in how we continue to innovate our service for customers.”

New Tools and Capabilities

The Lab provides IBM clients with an innovation process, assets and platform to give line of business leaders the exclusive ability to work side-by-side with IBM researchers and business consultants to analyze business challenges and jointly create solutions that integrate next-generation mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies.

Co-creation with clients includes an innovation model called Innovation Discovery Workshops, which generate ideas, roadmaps, prototypes and solutions that draw on research assets, business consulting and IBM Software solutions in areas such as Smarter Commerce, Big Data, analytics, and Mobile First products.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will be headquartered at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., supported by researchers at IBM’s 12 global labs including Africa, Brazil, California, China, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and Texas.

The Lab brings together skills across disciplines including service science, industries research, mathematics and business optimization, social, mobile, Smarter Commerce, data mining, cloud computing, security and privacy, cognitive computing and systems management. IBM invests more than $6 billion annually on research and development and employs about 3,000 researchers worldwide. IBM Global Business Services deploys business consulting, applications and delivery expertise globally, including market-leading business analytics, Smarter Commerce, mobility and applications management practices.

Visit here for more information about the IBM Customer Experience Lab, and follow IBM’s innovation breakthroughs on Twitter at @IBMResearch.

IBM Taps Next Generation Leaders For Watson Innovation

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The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM's work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM's Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

While I was out trying to grok all things SXSW Interactive these past several days, IBM continued with its efforts to put IBM Watson to work for the betterment of mankind by turning to the next generation of brilliant young minds to help figure out where Watson should work next.

Imagine a Watson-powered system that could uncover data-driven insights to help medical professionals identify those who may be suffering silently from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Imagine a Watson that could provide lawyers with faster research capabilities to improve their cases.

Imagine a Watson that could help businesses hire the best talent in the job market.

This is the magnitude of ideas sparked by more than 100 University of Southern California students who gathered recently to compete in the IBM Watson Academic Case Competition.

A debut on the West Coast, the Case Competition put USC students in the spotlight to create business plans for applying Watson to pressing business and societal challenges — and IBM business leaders were present and listening carefully.

IBM: Partnering To Learn

IBM partners with thousands of universities to offer curricula, internships and hands-on experiences to help students learn first hand about new technologies in the fields of Big Data, analytics and cognitive computing.

The company is at the forefront of creating a new workforce of Big Data trained professionals, from IBM’s collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, which provides Watson as a collaborative learning tool for medical students, to its public-private partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to create the Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (P-TECH), which allows students to participate in a six year science and technology program and graduate with an associates degree for free in computer science or engineering.

To kick-off the competition at USC’s campus, IBM provided students with a crash course on Watson’s breakthrough capabilities, including a demonstration of how Watson is helping WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center improve the speed and quality of treatment for cancer patients.

As the first cognitive computing system of its kind in the marketplace, Watson is able to understand and process the subtleties of human questions, sift through vast amounts of data, and use sophisticated analytics to generate fast, accurate answers for its human users.

Watson also learns from its interactions, constantly improving with each use. This represents a major shift in organizations’ ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data, in industries such as healthcare — and this is where student minds were put to the test.

As part of the competition, students were assigned into 24 teams and given 48 hours to define a new purpose for Watson, develop a business plan, and present it to a panel of judges comprising school officials, IBM executives and local business leaders.

The challenge was unique among USC competitions because students worked toward a common goal with peers from other disciplines — similar to how IBM combines the talent of business leaders and research scientists to develop its patented innovations.

To foster interdisciplinary collaboration, each team was required to have at least one business and one engineering member, from USC’s Marshall Business School and Viterbi School of Engineering.

What’s Your Business Plan For Watson?

The student teams faced two rounds of judging based on four areas of criteria: how well the concept and supporting plan articulated and supported the team’s vision; the feasibility of bringing the product or service to market and the supporting elements; the extent the proposed solution leverages Watson’s key capabilities; and the team’s presentation. Three winning ideas were selected by a panel of eight industry and faculty judges, including representatives from Bank of America, Ernst & Young, and IBM.

  • 1st Place – Legal Research: Let Watson Do the Discovery for Your Next Legal Case – For corporate legal departments, building a case — or defending one’s own — relies heavily on fast and accurate research. Past legal trials, court documents, articles and digital evidence: all of these materials can make or break a case, and together they comprise a sea of unstructured data that is both time-consuming and costly to pore through. The first place USC team proposed using Watson to process its users’ research needs, based on its ability to think like a human, quickly sift through online legal documents for facts, and not only identify evidence to support a case — but forecast its probability of success. The first place team’s viewpoint: by placing Watson in charge of research, firms can recover time and costs, while delivering better legal outcomes. In turn, firms that leverage Watson’s speed and efficiency can address the growing legal trend towards “flat fee” billing and research outsourcing.
  • 2nd Place – Employee Training: Watson Uncovers the Keys to Success for Your Employees – According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), 41 percent of employees at companies with inadequate training programs plan to leave within a year, versus 12 percent of employees at companies who provide excellent training and professional development programs. Conversely, the ASTD also states that effective employee training can lead to 218 percent higher income per employee and 45 percent higher shareholder return than market average. The second place USC team proposes that corporate human resource departments use Watson to optimize employee training, by crunching data pertaining to the employers’ HR needs, the employees’ career goals, and the range of training options available that can help both parties succeed. The second place team’s viewpoint: by improving employee satisfaction and retention, a Watson-powered employee training system can also drive higher shareholder value.
  • 3rd Place – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Watson Helps Doctors Find Patients – It is reported that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects nearly 7.7 million U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This includes people who have served in combat, experienced domestic violence, have been in car accidents, or other traumatic events. Many with PTSD suffer silently, including the 400,000+ U.S. veterans who have yet to be identified and treated, per the U.S. Veterans Administration. Thankfully, the catalysts behind this illness need no longer remain invisible — due largely to Big Data. For example, there are now unprecedented amounts of data that accompany soldiers who return from war, from medical histories to information on combat experiences. The third place USC team proposes that physicians use Watson to identify people who may develop PTSD, by uncovering insights from data that can help piece together their personal story and shed light on pain he or she may be experiencing. The team’s viewpoint: by helping physicians find and diagnose those suffering from PTSD, Watson can help medical professionals offer patients the treatment they deserve.

Fueling Innovation While Investing In The Next Generation Of Tech Leaders

This competition is the latest example of how IBM is fueling innovation and working with students in higher education to hone valuable business skills that will shape the next generation of industry leaders.

"Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions. "These students see what Watson is doing right now and think -- how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that's exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions."

“Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions, about the new initiative. “These students see what Watson is doing right now and think — how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that’s exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions.”

Due to the overwhelming response from USC students seeking to participate in the Watson Academic Case Competition, students had to join a waiting list, once the 24-team maximum had been reached. One faculty sponsor, noting that the level of interest was unprecedented for a campus case competition, predicted registration could reach 500 next year.

“For USC students, the opportunity to share their own ideas with IBM on how to commercialize Watson is truly a unique experience,” said Ashish Soni, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “As educators, we’re quite pleased to see students getting excited about cognitive computing innovation, because we know there’s a business demand for the types of skills they get to showcase in Watson Case Competitions.”

Watson — Building a New Big Data Workforce 

It’s no secret that employers across the U.S. are seeking job candidates who can analyze and build strategy around Big Data, or the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information gleaned from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions and social networks, to name just a few sources. A recent Gartner report estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

IBM worked closely with academic institutions during the development and introduction of Watson. Eight leading universities around the world participated in the development phase of the system; and more than 10,000 students watched Watson triumph on the Jeopardy! quiz show in February 2011. Most recently, IBM announced it would provide a modified version of an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making it the first university to receive such a system that will enable leading-edge research by faculty and students.

The competition at USC marks the latest collaboration between the university and IBM. Over the last two years, students at the school’s Annenberg Innovation Lab have been using Big Data analytics technologies to conduct social sentiment analyses and determine public engagement on topics such as sports, film, retail and fashion.

Two of the biggest projects looked at Major League Baseball’s World Series and the Academy Awards, projects developed for students to explore and expand their skills as they prepare for new data-intensive careers.  IBM also collaborated with the USC Marshall School of Business for “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

SXSW 2013: A Long Future From The Lone Star

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The way I see it, former elected U.S. president Al Gore and digital payments guru and solar/space explorer Elon Musk would have it one of two ways: Either we get our act together on Planet Earth and stop treating it as a discardable TV dinner, or we get on some rocket ships and get the %#*&#$ outta here!

Of course, space travel’s still a little too expensive for the average joe, considering our recent income disparities here in the U.S., so I suspect for now most of us really don’t have much of a choice but to stay here.

Mother Earth, we’re stuck with you, and it looks like you’re stuck with us!

Gore’s talk was the kind that made you want to go ahead and just put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. But with all this gun control talk, that’s about to become less of an option.

Orrrr, you can take a more positive and upbeat view of the world, and reason that since we created many of these problems, we oughta be able to lick ’em.

Gore’s latest book entitled The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change outlines just that, and Wall Street Journal technology editor Walter Mossberg sat onstage with Gore on Saturday to walk through some of those changes.

Gore explained the idea of “Earth Inc,” whereby we are realizing a “new stage of economic globalization with much tighter linkages and nexuses globally,” and that we have a “new relationship to the natural factors of production: labor, capital, natural resources.”

Think outsourcing, remote sourcing, robosourcing, rightsizing, and all that good stuff, and you get the general gist.

He also discussed the emergence of what he called “the global mind,” or the connections of thoughts and feelings of billions of people to each other and other devices (and vast databases…and sensors…and so on).

On this meme, he told an hilarious story about Swiss dairy cows which, with embedded sensors, are able to convey to their ranch overseers when they come into heat (for optimal reproduction). The first instance, Gore joked, of “interspecies sexting.”

Who said the former President doesn’t have a great sense of humor?

Of course, all that data and all those sensors could also lead to a stalker economy, and Gore didn’t shy away from the dark side of his six predictions.

For example, the idea that our democracy has been “hacked” and that Washington, D.C., and public policy, are now completely controlled by the moneyed interests on K Street. “The Congress is utterly incapable of passing any legislation,” Gore asserted, “unless it was approved by the special interests.”

Gore also warned us that we’re rapidly outgrowing the idea of growth, something Doug Rushkoff reminded us of in his session on “Present Future.” We’ve enslaved ourselves in outmoded economic transaction models, one that don’t take into account our ever over-social-mediated, present-oriented present tense, a tense most of us don’t even bother living in anymore (Think about all those folks who ignore you at dinner whilst they disappear into cyberland on their iPhones).

So what’s the antithesis, we all become a new collective of philistine Unabombers?

Nothing that dramatic. Well, not unless you’re Elon Musk.

The founder of SpaceX joked early in his interview with Chris Anderson on Saturday that “I’d like to die on Mars…just not on impact.”

Could we have a virtual, trans-universal drum roll, please?

Musk extolled on the “how’s” of going into space, and how his plans include building multi-stage rockets that are re-usable, thereby making space exploration more cost-effective.

He also indicated that he’s “all in,” having put most of his fortune into Tesla (his electric car company), SpaceX (his space company), and Solar City (to try and capture energy from the sun just in case things don’t work out so well on Mars?)

But Musk never left me really understanding *why* he so desperately wanted to leave Planet Earth? Was he trying to escape alimony payments from his first ex-wife? Did he want to mine the asteroids? Did the CIA want to speak with him about his attempt to purchase Russian ICBMs back in 2001?

If Elon couldn’t explain the need to get our asses (and assets) into outer space, Dr. Mae Jemison and her Star Trek-studded crew (including LeVar Burton) on the 100YSS mission certainly could!

An abbreviation for “100 Year Starship,” agree with it or not, 100YSS’s mission is clear: To make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years.”

Not for its own sake, mind you, but to “identify and push the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight…” Pause one second…Anddddd…”while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth.”

Finally! A space bound mission with a realistic and practical hedge that I could get behind!

Hey boys and girls, we can certainly go across the universe in search of Marvin The Martian, but just in case we either A. Can’t get there or B. can’t find the elusive little bastard, let’s make sure we learn something that could help the people left back here on the home planet.

Imagine, Dr. Jemison suggested, what it would take to figure out in terms of energy production to get us to the nearest star (which, she reminded us, is a mind bogglingly long ways away). All that technology would have profound implications for use back here on earth.

“Pursuing an extraordinary tomorrow,” Jamison extolled, “creates a better world today.”

From your lips, Dr. Jamison, to the U.S. Congress’ ears.

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm

SXSW 2013 Day 2: Let’s Get Physical

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It’s day two of SXSW Interactive 2013, and I’m a little more optimistic after a good night’s sleep and several actual informative sessions.

I also survived the Spredfast party last evening — I don’t know where the Austin fire marshals were, but as I navigated my way around the lovely but jam packed rooftop, all I could think about were fire exits — and jumping from a three story roof didn’t seem like a great option.

There are definitely some key themes emerging at SXSW Interactive 2013, other than that logistics matter (see yesterday’s snarky post for more on that topic) — the dolphins have receded back into Town Lake for the moment.

One theme has to do with the re-emergence of the physical world. Yesterday, Bre Pettis’ keynote on 3D printing was, for me, an eye-opener. His “Makerbot” company, which emerged at SXSW 2009, has emerged as a real and viable player in 3D printing, and for my money, the 3D printing notion is just the marker of a much larger paradigm shift: The opportunity to meld the digital and the physical and reshape design iteration, for all kinds of objects and products.

His 3D printing capability demonstrated that for not a lot of money, even the average Joe can jump into the design and manufacturing game, and organizations small and large can benefit from this downsizing of design iteration.

The other theme that has emerged is “Mobile” with a capital “M.” I’ve already attended several sessions tending to the opportunities and issues of the mobile realm, and I have a feeling we’ve only just begun.

The Google Android session this morning was an excellent example, where I learned some of the founding principles behind Android’s design from some of the people worked on it.

The rules of the road seemed logical enough: “Give me tricks that work everywhere” and “It’s not my fault” and “Make important things fast.”

But once the Googlers walked the audience through some specific examples, it made much more sense (and hard to describe here, since it required some show n tell).

Suffice it to say, the principles were very human and user experience-oriented, considering the fact that they were talking about an Android, and it’s the kind of thinking I’d like to see more mobile apps have taken into account.

And as I debate the pros and cons of eventually going back to a smartphone, the Android column certainly just garnered a few more points.

Logistics-wise, sessions I wished to attend continue to be oversubscribed, so get there early and/or be flexible continue to be core design principles for SXSW 2013.

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