Each year, the world’s biggest online shopping day isn’t Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it’s Singles Day, a Chinese holiday in November when young people celebrate (or lament) being single. On Single’s Day last year, the Alibaba group conducted $9.3 billion in commerce through its marketplaces in just 24 hours,blowing away all online sales records. Nearly 50% of sales volume was via mobile, up from just 15% in 2013.
As impressive as these numbers are, mobile commerce is poised to grow even more in the Asia Pacific region, thanks in large part to social media innovations. Alibaba is already discussing potential partnerships with other tech giants, such as Apple on a mobile payments system and social-messaging operators Line of Japan and KakaoTalk of Korea.
As the world of mobile payments integrates with social media, the lines between communication and commerce will blur. The following trends promise to shake up Asia Pacific’s social media scene in the months ahead:
Social media and messaging apps become your wallet
Smart devices integrate social media
E-tailers turning to social media
New dating apps rise
Privacy issues to grow
5 social media trends that are changing Asia
Here’s the problem. The design of an organization with 10,000 people in it is an insurmountable intellectual puzzle. Whatever your mental model of the organization might be, it’s too simplistic. No human, and no current machine, can handle the complexity. It’s literally impossible.
In Notes on The Synthesis of Form, author and polymath Christopher Alexander talks about the exponential nature of design challenges. Designing something as simple as a tea kettle requires the consideration of over 200 different variables, from the thickness of the handle to how it sits on the burner. Now consider how many variables exist in a company that operates in 20 countries, with 10,000 employees, and 250,000 customers. All those constituents and requirements are overwhelming, and as a result, you default to a more “blunt” solution.
Further, even if you could make it work by sheer force of will (or genius), external change and entropy are going to render your new structure inadequate. And that is the central problem with modern corporate structure: it doesn’t get better under pressure.
At best, modern bureaucratic institutions are robust, and occasionally resilient. But becoming antifragile is far more elusive. The prevailing theory is that large institutions need to standardize and mechanize their processes and practices—creating order and structure—therefore unlocking economies of scale. Yet, antifragile systems (like nature) tend to promote intense variation and randomness (referred to as optionality by Taleb), to ensure that new mutations, models, and approaches are always present, ready to take the lead if/when circumstances change. Antifragile systems are redundant, with countless backup plans. They are not efficient, but they are effective.
The Last Re-Org You’ll Ever Do
New (and old) thinking about organization design may lead to ever-evolving entities
There is no such thing as a social business strategy.
- There are only business strategies that understand networks.
- Cooperative and distributed work is becoming the norm in the network era.
- Social learning is how work gets done in networks.
- Sharing power, enabling conversations, and ensuring transparency are some of the values of networked business.
- Trust emerges when these principles are put in practice.
- Learning is part of work, not separate from it.
One of the most important issues facing organizational design today is a failure to understand social networks and their inherently complex nature.
Chaos is a state in which the only appropriate response is to do something quickly, as in an emergency. Chaotic situations require action. Organizations should try to avoid chaos. Complex environments are not chaotic but they cannot be completely understood in advance. Weather systems are complex. Patterns can be sensed and responses prepared, but each case is different. Emerging practices need to be developed while staying engaged with complex systems. All human systems are complex.
Complicated environments, on the other hand, have many pieces but they can be understood with enough analysis. An airplane is complicated.
Many traditional management practices assume the business system is complicated and understandable, given enough time to analyze it. This is perhaps the major flaw of industrial management. Most of our difficult organizational problems are actually complex. They cannot be understood except in hindsight. Each time we deal with a complex environment it is different. This means we cannot repeat what we did before and expect the same results. Instead, complex situations require constant small probing actions that are safe to fail. We can only understand complexity through active experiments, accepting that perhaps half of these will fail. Encouraging failure, and learning from it, must be the default management mode in complex environments.
Organizations have to become knowledge networks. An effective knowledge network cultivates the diversity and autonomy of each worker. Networked leaders foster deeper connections, developed through ongoing and meaningful conversations. They understand the importance of tacit knowledge in solving complex problems. Networked leaders know they are just nodes in the knowledge network and not a special position in a hierarchy. The new focus of management has to be on supporting human networks.
Harold Jarche - finding perpetual beta
These are definitely tough days to be a government worker - but here’s something that may provide some inspiration.
Mikey Dickerson to SXSW: Why We Need You in Government
Mikey Dickerson, Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service, and Jen Pahlka, former Deputy CTO of the United States and founder of Code for America, gave a talk at the 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival on “How Government Fails and How You Can Fix It.”
For those who weren’t there, here are Mikey’s opening remarks:
….The government shutdown was over, and the failure of Healthcare.gov was the lead story on cable news all day every day. The original estimate from the Congressional Budget Office had been that 7 million people would enroll in this first enrollment period, but Todd said that given the circumstances if we could manage 4 million, that would be a home run.
He said they needed an independent outside team to figure out how bad the problems were and if they could be fixed to save the site this year. Also that if it couldn’t be fixed, then it would be a catastrophe for the policy, with the 2014 election coming and the unpopular law having failed to launch….
...I submitted an invoice for the nine week period ending December 31, 2013, and the mean hours per day worked was 17.5. I was hallucinating and having other problems from not having slept enough for three months. This was the hardest thing I have ever done and I hope nothing ever comes close to it again.
When I went home, other people had taken over the day to day operations and helped finish the enrollment period, which went to March 31. But things did not go back to normal for me; they only continued to get weirder. There had already been media interest in the people from the “tech surge,” and in March the final enrollment number of over 8 million was announced, and three of us from the “tech surge” team were on the cover of Time Magazine. In May I went back one more time for an event where we met the President.
So I went back to my old job and tried to care about it. I was not successful. On one hand the company does not need me; there are thousands of other engineers that are as good or better. On the other hand, if I succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest dreams the net effect is that some extra billions of dollars would go to one billionaire instead of a different billionaire. It was hard to see why I should bother, and still is.
I am here to tell you that your country has a better use for your talents. “All of these are design and information processing problems and all of these are matters of life or death to millions of citizens and all of them are things you can fix if you choose to.”
Here’s another indication of the serious potential that the Bitcoin protocol - the Blockchain, has for disrupting not just finances - but many forms of business.
UBS to Open Blockchain Research Lab in London
Swiss banking giant UBS is to open a technology lab in London to explore how blockchain technology can be used in financial services.
The lab, set to open this month and occupy a dozen desks at Canary Wharf-based fintech accelerator space Level39 – a hub in London for financial technology startups– will bring together technology experts from the bank and the wider fintech community, UBS said.
Lab members and invited guests will experiment with how blockchain — the underlying technology behind bitcoin — can be adapted to process a wide range of financial transactions in a more efficient and cost-effective way, the bank said.
The lab will aim to develop new technologies that deal with industry-wide issues, such as the need to manage and analyze vast amounts of data, or better evaluate risk.
While many in financial services have expressed an interest in the underlying technology behind bitcoin, UBS’s is one of the first banks to go public with their plans. The idea is to get UBS more involved with the fintech crowd in London and open up to external innovation.
The blockchain is the public and decentralized online ledger which verifies transactions in digital currencies such as bitcoin. It is an indelible record, whose authenticity is verified by a network of computer users rather than a centralized authority.
Here is an very interesting article about the security system that both the immune systems and ants enact to provide security to the larger system.
ANTS DIVIDE KNOWLEDGE TO PROTECT THE ‘NETWORK’
"It's an arms race," says Deborah Gordon. "But a distributed decision network, similar to how ants and immune cells operate, might be a better defense against hackers, because they can't simply penetrate the central system's code."
A new model suggests that ant colony defense behavior follows the same distributed network rules as the human immune system.
The work also suggests that evolution has twice produced a simple security protocol for social insects that, installed in email servers, could make them far more difficult for spammers to hack.
Immune cells in vertebrate animals use specialized surface molecules to recognize pathogens. These molecules are incredibly specific, usually corresponding only to one or two bacterium or virus strains.
It would be terribly unwieldy for the cell to carry a molecule that matches every existing pathogen, so immune cells typically hunt only one type of intruder. It’s fine if a bug gets past one immune cell—the system knows it will inevitably spot the intruder. This approach is known as a distributed decision network.
Henry Mintzberg has recently started to blog - here is a recent post - the final paragraph outlines one successful initiative around establishing new business models.
“Downsizing” as 21st Century Bloodletting
Until two centuries ago, bloodletting was a common treatment for all sorts of illnesses. Physicians who didn’t know what to do were inclined to draw blood, sometimes killing their patients. We know better now, at last in medicine.
Not in management. Bloodletting has come back, with a vengeance. These days, corporate executives who don’t know what to do are inclined to fire great numbers of workers, and that is killing societies and economies. This goes by the polite name of downsizing, despite the havoc it inflicts on people’s lives. But since so many companies are doing it, surely it must be OK……
….Some years ago, the editor of a division of a major publishing company was told that he, like his colleagues in the other divisions, had to cut 10% of his staff. He protested, pointing out that his division was doing very well, indeed had been promised more staff, not less. He had no redundancies—of that he was well aware, since he was a leader who managed. Nevertheless, he was taken before the boss of all bosses—the CEO of this large company—who told him personally that if he didn’t fire the others, he would be fired instead. He refused, and was fired.
He went on to create a new company, to be run as he thought a publishing house should be. It has become a bit of a legend in this business. The mentality is rather old-fashioned: its people believe in books beyond sales, causes beyond Shareholder Value, the authors’ ideas beyond their reputations. The place is run as a community of engaged human beings--people stay, and are enthusiastic. When the company decided to raise some money, it issued what could be called an IAO—an initial author offering. All the authors were given the chance to buy shares: 60 of them did! No wolves of Wall Street bay at this door. The company is called Berrett-Koehler.
Zappos announced it was adopting a new organizational architecture quite awhile ago - here’s an update on it’s transition to Holocracy.
HOLAWHAT? MEET THE ALT-MANAGEMENT SYSTEM INVENTED BY A PROGRAMMER AND USED BY ZAPPOS
ZAPPOS, MEDIUM, AND DAVID ALLEN HAVE ALL EMBRACED THE NON-HIERARCHICAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. SHOULD YOUR COMPANY ADOPT IT TOO?
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh offered his nearly 4,000 employees an ultimatum last week: accept Holacracy or leave.
While the word may conjur images of a new-age cult, Holacracy is an alternative organizational structure that has been adopted by companies around the world—including Medium, the alt-publishing platform from Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, and the David Allen Company, the productivity consultants. It sheds traditional hierarchies for self-governing teams that get work done through tactical meetings. Zappos is the largest company to have adopted the system, and the transition hasn't been entirely smooth. By multiple reports and now an admission in an internal memo, first posted by Quartz and obtained by Fast Company, people don't love the idea of relinquishing their manager titles.
Nevertheless, Hsieh is anxious to fully embrace Holacracy, and is going all-in on the new structure by offering three months severance to people who don't want to adapt. "We've been operating partially under Holacracy and partially under the legacy management hierarchy in parallel for over a year now," Hsieh writes in the memo. "Having one foot in one world while having the other foot in the other world has slowed down our transformation towards self-management and self-organization."
Speaking about the future of work - here’s a very interesting idea of new forms of infrastructure for a post-labor force economy.
WHY THESE COWORKING SPACES IN TRAIN STATIONS LET YOU PAY IN "SOCIAL CAPITAL"
Is the free coworking space that's giving 80,000 people desks in vacant areas of schools, hospitals, and train stations the future of work?
Steps from the Utrecht Centraal Railway Station in the Netherlands, through a dizzying mall of winding pathways dense with the scent of freshly baked pastries, nestled between the exit of a grocery store and a restaurant whose tables and chairs spill far into the open hallway, through a glass door, then past another code-locked door, up a flight of stairs and down a hallway sits a group of 80 or so freelancers and startup employees at one of the city’s many free coworking spaces. The covert space comes with free Wi-Fi and printer access, free coffee and tea, free chairs and desks, and even free lunch.
Their host is an organization called Seats2Meet, and their members can reserve any seat in the company’s 60 locations across Europe online. Prior to arriving, members build an online profile to state who they are, what they’re working on that day, and what they consider their area of expertise. Upon entering the workspace they receive an email, via the Seats2Meet Connect application, containing the profiles of some of their neighbors and desk mates for the day, whose projects and expertise most closely align with their own.
Seats2Meet’s vast network of permanent and temporary locations—95% of which are based in the Netherlands—often take advantage of excess space in accounting offices, event venues, schools, libraries, hospitals, train stations, and other spaces that are otherwise not fully used to capacity.
The organization offers nearly 80,000 seats across its locations in exchange for nothing more than "social capital," or the sharing of knowledge and expertise, while another 240,000 chairs, located in the meeting rooms and private offices of Seats2Meet locations, range from €20 to €60 ($22 to $65) per person per day.
Speaking of changes in skill sets in our education.
Thirty-Five Percent of Engineering Jobs Now Require 3-D Printing Skills
Learn what it takes to get in on the ground floor
The technology behind 3-D printing is progressing rapidly, with companies around the world investing billions of dollars into R&D to improve hardware, software, and printable plastics and other materials.
Meanwhile, the use of 3-D printing has gone mainstream. As a result, knowing how to use a 3-D printer has become an in-demand job skill. A recent report from data company Wanted Analytics found that in one month 35 percent of engineering job listings from a variety of fields, including biomedical, software, and transportation industries, required applicants familiar with 3-D printing and its additive manufacturing processes. The same report found that companies are having a difficult time finding candidates with the right skills.
“The entire field is diverging, branching, and evolving as fast as any evolutionary technology you can possibly imagine,” says IEEE Associate Member Terry S. Yoo, head of the 3-D Informatics Group at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in Bethesda, Md.
Speaking of crowdworking here’s something that is challenging or disrupting the future of this sort of work.
How Machine Vision Is Reinventing the Study of Galaxies
Thanks to Galaxy Zoo, crowdpower has revolutionized galaxy classification. But now the machines are taking over.
Galaxy Zoo is one of the more remarkable crowd-sourced science projects on the Web. Since 2007, it is enlisted the help of more than half a million citizen scientists around the world to classify images of almost a million galaxies.
This effort is in the process of revolutionizing our understanding of galaxy formation. The shapes, the sizes and the colors of galaxies are the result of their age, the conditions under which they formed and the interactions they have had with other galaxies over many billions of years.
So a detailed classification of galaxy types is crucial for teasing apart the origins of these bodies. Indeed, Galaxy Zoo was conceived as a solution to the problem of classifying the 900,000 galaxies that have been photographed by a project known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
That sounds ideally suited to machine intelligence. But although the task of classifying galaxies is relatively simple for humans, it has always been beyond the reach of machine vision technology. Until now.
In the last couple of years, major advances in a technique called deep convolutional neural networks has made machine vision the equal of human vision in many tasks. For example, in the last year or so deep convolutional neural networks have become as good as humans at face recognition, a problem that has stumped computer scientists for decades.
...the machine vision approach scales more effectively than crowdsourcing, meaning that computers should be able to analyze the many hundreds of millions of images of galaxies that observatories around the world and in space are set to produce in the coming years.
That does not mean humans will be excluded from the process of galaxy classification. Far from it. This kind of automated work depends crucially on the quality of the training dataset. So if astronomers want to ask different questions about galaxies and use machine vision to answer them, they will first have to create a large training dataset that has been accurately annotated by humans.
So the role of crowdpower is set to change and, in a sense, become even more important. In future citizen scientists will produce the gold standard training datasets that machine vision algorithms will use to learn their tasks.
I tried to wait for this before buying a new car - except my old car wouldn’t cooperate by lasting longer. But soon it may be cheaper to think of Solar Panels and electric cars (and begin enjoying near-zero marginal costs).
Inexpensive Electric Cars May Arrive Sooner Than You Think
A new study suggests that battery-powered vehicles are close to being cost-effective for most people.
Electric cars may seem like a niche product that only wealthy people can afford, but a new analysis suggests that they may be close to competing with or even beating gas.
The true cost of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars is a secret closely held by manufacturers. And estimates of the cost vary widely, making it tough to determine just how much lower they must go before electric vehicles with long ranges can be affordable for most buyers. But a peer-reviewed study of more than 80 estimates reported between 2007 and 2014 determined that the costs of battery packs are “much lower” than widely assumed by energy-policy analysts.
The authors of the new study concluded that the battery packs used by market-leading EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014. That’s lower than the most optimistic published projections for 2015, and even below the average published projection for 2020. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018.
If that’s true, it would push EVs across a meaningful threshold. Depending on the price of gas, the sticker price of an EV is expected to appeal to many more people if its battery costs between $125 and $300 per kilowatt-hour. Because the battery makes up perhaps a quarter to a half of the cost of the car, a substantially cheaper battery would make the vehicle itself significantly cheaper too. Alternatively, carmakers could maintain current EV prices but offer vehicles with much longer ranges.
Speaking of electricity - here’s a 2 min video about some recent news on batteries.
New aluminium-ion battery from Stanford
Stanford University Professor Hongjie Dai and colleagues have developed the first high-performance aluminum battery that’s fast charging, long lasting and inexpensive. The flexible, non-flammable device produces 2 volts of electricity. The research team was able to generate 5 volts - enough to power a smartphone - using two aluminum batteries and a converter.
In this video, graduate student Ming Gong and postdoctoral scholar Yingpeng Wu demonstrate how the new technology could offer a safe alternative to lithium-ion and other batteries in wide use today.
And most people have probably heard about Amazon’s plans for drone-delivery services. Maybe they’re just trying to catch up?
Drone Delivery Services Are Booming In China
While companies like Amazon are chomping at the bit to launch drone delivery services in the United States, packages are already soaring through the air in China.
Two years ago, residents in the city of Dongguang spotted experimental SF Express-branded delivery drones hovering overhead with packages in tow. SF Express is the country’s largest mail carrier, and it presently delivers roughly 500 packages a day via drone. Now, the company says it plans to expand its services and double the number a packages it sends each day, according to a Chinese news report.
SF Express deploys octocopters that can carry about six pounds, so they’re only used for small express deliveries. In China, commercial drone use is legal; businesses simply need to get authorization from aviation authorities regarding the type of drone being used. Retailer Alibaba is also experimenting with delivering teas via drone in China. And a company called InCake gave delivery drones a try, but Shanghai police put an end to that after residents feared the weight of cakes would drag down the drone.
SF Express currently delivers packages by drone in cities in southern and eastern China where demand for same-day delivery is high. They hope to expand their operation to more remote villages and farms in the future. The company’s drone manufacturer, a firm called XAircraft, has said that SF Express’ drone fleet will reach “several thousand units soon.”
Speaking about changing geopolitics - here a Bloomberg article.
China’s Fuel Demand to Peak Sooner Than Oil Giants Expect
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) Chairman Fu Chengyu. Sinopec is cutting spending and controlling costs to cope with crude’s plunge after profit from exploration and refining fell “off the cliff” in the three months ended Dec. 31, C
China’s biggest oil refiner is signaling the nation is headed to its peak in diesel and gasoline consumption far sooner than most Western energy companies and analysts are forecasting.
If correct, the projections by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, a state-controlled enterprise with public shareholders in Hong Kong, pose a big challenge to the world’s largest oil companies. They’re counting on demand from China and other developing countries to keep their businesses growing as energy consumption falls in more advanced economies.
“Plenty of people are talking about the peak in Chinese coal, but not many are talking about the peak in Chinese diesel demand, or Chinese oil generally,” said Mark C. Lewis, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Paris who has written on how oil companies should broaden their activities to produce all forms of energy. “It is shocking.”
Here’s an interesting potential development in forensic sciences.
Building a Face, and a Case, on DNA
There were no known eyewitnesses to the murder of a young woman and her 3-year-old daughter four years ago. No security cameras caught a figure coming or going.
Nonetheless, the police in Columbia, S.C., last month released a sketch of a possible suspect. Rather than an artist’s rendering based on witness descriptions, the face was generated by a computer relying solely on DNA found at the scene of the crime.
It may be the first time a suspect’s face has been put before the public in this way, but it will not be the last. Investigators are increasingly able to determine the physical characteristics of crime suspects from the DNA they leave behind, providing what could become a powerful new tool for law enforcement.
Already genetic sleuths can determine a suspect’s eye and hair color fairly accurately. It is also possible, or might soon be, to predict skin color, freckling, baldness, hair curliness, tooth shape and age.
Computers may eventually be able to match faces generated from DNA to those in a database of mug shots. Even if it does not immediately find the culprit, the genetic witness, so to speak, can be useful, researchers say.
Talking about computing and DNA - this is an interesting site with lots of information and related papers - for anyone interested in biocomputing.
THE BIOLOGICAL MICROPROCESSOR
Systemics, a revolutionary paradigm shift in scientific thinking, with applications in systems biology, and synthetic biology, have led to the idea of using silicon computers and their engineering principles as a blueprint for the engineering of a similar machine made from biological parts....
And speaking of domesticating DNA - here’s a 27 min video - a very nice summary of the state of the art - worth the view.
Keynote Craig Venter - From Reading to Writing the Genetic Code
And here’s the latest on the DNA editing.
New Discovery Moves Gene Editing Closer to Use in Humans
The gene editing method called CRISPR is already used in the lab to insert and remove genome defects in animal embryos
A tweak to a technique that edits DNA with pinpoint precision has boosted its ability to correct defective genes in people. Called CRISPR, the method is already used in the lab to insert and remove genome defects in animal embryos. But the genetic instructions for the machinery on which CRISPR relies—a gene-editing enzyme called Cas9 and RNA molecules that guide it to its target—are simply too large to be efficiently ferried into most of the human body’s cells.
This week, researchers report a possible way around that obstacle: a Cas9 enzyme that is encoded by a gene about three-quarters the size of the one currently used. The finding, published on 1 April in Nature, could open the door to new treatments for a host of genetic maladies (F. A. Ran et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14299; 2015).
New paradigms of the inherent socialness of life and living systems may soon lay to rest the antiquated and flawed idea of the all against all nature of isolated, atomistic agents and finally let more realistic ideas of cooperation & competition take their rightful place.
New mechanisms of 'social networking' in bacteria discovered
Bacteria have traditionally been viewed as solitary organisms that 'hang out on their own,' says a molecular biologist. However, scientists now realize that in fact, bacteria exhibit social behavior within groups. In a new paper, researchers describe how they deciphered this bacterial communication to reveal new mechanisms of regulating gene expression in the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis.
"Individual bacteria within a population communicate with members of the group through a process called quorum sensing, where chemical signals and extracellular peptides serve as the language for bacterial communication." It is not just "social" networking, he adds. Bacterial communities use quorum sensing to control a variety of biomedically relevant biological processes.
In a new paper in a recent early online edition of Molecular Microbiology, he and co-authors Kristina Boguslawski and Patrick Hill describe how they deciphered this bacterial communication to reveal new mechanisms of regulating gene expression in the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis.
The longer we live the longer we may be able to live - is the Kurzweilian mantra. Here’s an article that provides reason that this may be true.
Breast cancer research uncovers the fountain of youth
The Fountain of Youth has been discovered and it's not in Florida as Ponce de Leon claimed. Instead, it was found in the mammary glands of genetically modified mice.
A research team led by Professor Rama Khokha has found that when two factors that control tissue development are removed, you can avoid the impact of aging.
Think of tissue as a building that is constantly under renovation. The contractors would be "metalloproteinases," which are constantly working to demolish and reconstruct the tissue. The architects in this case, who are trying to reign in and direct the contractors, are known as "tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases"—or TIMPs. When the architect and the contractors don't communicate well, a building can fall down. In the case of tissue, the result can be cancer.
To understand how metalloproteinases and TIMPs interact, medical researchers breed mice that have one or more of the four different types of TIMPs removed. Khokha's team examined the different combinations and found that when TIMP1 and TIMP3 were removed, breast tissue remained youthful in aged mice. The results are presented in Nature Cell Biology.
It’s amazing to think that the ‘tablet’ is only 5 years old. Here’s a discussion on what’s coming soon.
Five years ago the iPad changed clicks to touches – but another tablet revolution is coming
Apple’s iPad arrived five years ago. It is a device that changed the way we think about computing, marking a seismic shift from keyboard and mouse to direct manipulation with our fingers. The iPad wasn’t the first tablet computer – it wasn’t even Apple’s first tablet computer – but it was the first to capture the world’s imagination and sell tens of millions of devices.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the hands of children, who these days will walk up to any screen and expect to be able to interact with and shift content with the prod of a finger. This style of interaction has even followed us to our workstations where, despite their questionable use, touchscreens now frequently come as standard or are common options when buying a personal computer.
Touchscreens bring the user’s fingers into direct contact with the virtual objects onscreen, but still fundamentally present data representing a 3D visual environment through the medium of a flat 2D screen. Fully comprehending the interface relies almost entirely on our own visual sense, rather than exploiting our other, well-trained sense of touch.
Touchscreen tablets free us from the constraints of working at a desk and are more liberating due to their smaller size and weight. But, to make better use of all our highly-tuned senses, the next generation of displays will not be 2D and flat, but will have self-actuated, physically re-configurable surfaces. Flat screens will be able to deform themselves into other shapes. These interfaces will change the shape of their display surface to better represent on-screen content and provide additional means to pass on information by touch rather than vision alone.
Here is something fantastic - 2 min video Must Watch for anyone who’s a muscician.
StaffPad allows composers, musicians, students, teachers - anyone interested in music - to write notation by hand directly onto virtual manuscript. StaffPad features advanced handwriting recognition, and will convert your music into a beautifully typeset score.
This is an interesting extension of AR for working with autistic children.
Augmented Reality Can Help Children With Autism Tap Into Their Imaginations
One researcher’s system helps them improve their play skills
Playing pretend as a child—whether using a paintbrush as a wand or imagining a large cardboard box to be a castle—is more than just for fun. It is also an essential developmental activity that teaches children social and emotional skills and builds their self-esteem. However, most children with autism—a neurodevelopmental condition that affects the ability to communicate and interact with others—are less engaged in imaginative play. And this can have a profound impact on them into their adult lives.
That’s why Ph.D. candidate Zhen Bai designed an augmented reality (AR) system that she hopes will nudge such children toward more imaginative play. Her system lets children see themselves on a computer screen as they would in a mirror. She then gives the children simple physical objects—foam blocks, for example—that appear on the screen as a car, train, or airplane. The system’s computer-vision program detects where and how the child moves the block and mimics the activity in the image on the screen.
Another way to think about augmented reality is as a prosthetic extension of the human mind.
What Can Brain Controlled Prosthetics Tell Us About The Brain?
The ceremonial opening kick of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Sao Paolo, Brazil, which was performed—with the help of a brain-controlled exo-skeleton—by a local teen who had been paralyzed from the waste down due to a spinal cord injury, was a seminal moment for the area of neuroscience that strives to connect the brain with functional prosthetics. The public display was a representative of thousands of such neuroprosthetic advances in recent years, and the tens of years of brain research and technological development that have gone into them. And while this display was quite an achievement in its own right, a Drexel University biomedical engineer working at the leading edge of the field contends that these devices are also opening a new portal for researchers to understand how the brain functions.
“We believe neuroprosthetics can be a powerful tool to address fundamental questions of neuroscience,” Moxon said. “These subjects can provide valuable data as indirect observers of their own neural activity that are modulated during the experiments they are taking part in. This allows researchers to pinpoint a causal relationship between neural activity and the subject’s behavior rather than one that is indirectly correlative.”
This is something everyone may be interested in.
How to Beat Internet Trolls
In order to beat Internet trolls, you have to know their strategies.
17 common games played by trolls to disrupt our power to learn, inform, and organize on the web
Over a number of years, we’ve found that the most effective way to fight disruption and disinformation is to link to a post such as this one which rounds up disruption techniques, and then to cite the disinfo technique you think is being used.
Specifically, we’ve found the following format to be highly effective in educating people in a non-confrontational manner about which game the troll is playing: