Two weeks ago, Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammad launched a homemade balloon carrying a Lego passenger and four cameras. It fell back down to Earth 97 minutes later with astonishing footage from an estimated 24 kilometres above sea level, three times the typical cruising altitude of a commercial aircraft.
Their jerry-rigged contraption recorded the Lego man's journey from a soccer pitch in Newmarket to the stratosphere -- high enough to see their two-inch astronaut floating above curvature of our planet, clutching a Canadian flag with the blackness of space behind him.
The project cost $400 and took four months of free Saturdays. It wasn't a school assignment. They just thought it would be cool.
Officially known as the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the panel was formed in 2009 to inform members of Congress on the far-reaching applications of drone technology.
The ability of 5 billion people to instrument the world and share their experiences in a low-cost manner has forever shifted power away from the hands of the few to the network.
The Los Angeles Police Department is warning real estate agents not to use images of properties taken from unmanned aircraft. "We are just trying to inform the public to ensure that before hiring these companies to operate these aircraft in federal airspace, that they are abiding by the federal regulations to ensure safety," said police Sgt. George Gonzalez.
People perpetrate atrocities and other people say, 'We didn't see it coming.' The idea that people actually wear themselves on their faces seems to me to be less real than what life actually is, which is a series of concealments and containments.
I get excited when I see new tools and I have no idea how to use them.
Old Worlders have to come to grips with the fact that a lot of things we are used to are going away. Maybe not for a while, but they are.
The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.
The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table's order, designing the house and organising the party.
For those of us surrounded by the minutiae of computers all day, it's easy to forget there's a world of people out there who just don't get it. And it's not their fault. It's ours.
To spend my life restlessly producing instead of sedately consuming?
Is there an app for that?
The Macintosh was sort of like this wonderful romance in your life that you once had -- and that produced about 10 million children. In a way it will never be over in your life. You'll still smell that romance every morning when you get up. And when you open the window, the cool air will hit your face, and you'll smell that romance in the air. And you'll see your children around, and you feel good about it. And nothing will ever make you feel bad about it.
But now, your life has moved on. You get up every morning, and you might remember that romance, but then the whole day is in front of you to do something wonderful with.
Louis CK: Those were simpler times, I think -- we may be going back to that, by the way -- but, in a way, Good!, because when I read things like, "The foundations of capitalism are shattering," I'm like, "Maybe we need that." Maybe we need some time ...
Conan: You think that would just bring us back to reality?
Louis CK: Yeah, because, everything is amazing right now, and nobody's happy ...
A wise man once sang:
When you're chewing on life's gristle Don't grumble, give a whistle. And this'll help things turn out for the best.
Positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones. One reason is that they’re future-oriented. Fear and sadness have immediate payoffs—protecting us from attack or attracting resources at times of distress. Gratitude and joy, over time, will yield better health and deeper connections—but in the short term actually put us at risk. That’s because, while negative emotions tend to be insulating, positive emotions expose us to the common elements of rejection and heartbreak.
For my own future, as well as my children's, I must change. And yet--this is what's weird--I, like you, can't. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can't stop doing it. This is interesting.
People say to me, "Whatever it takes." I tell them, It's going to take everything.
There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.
What we owe and how we pay is a feature of all human societies, and profoundly shapes our shared values and our cultures.
Social networks are notoriously vulnerable to the fickle tastes of teens and 20-somethings (remember Friendster?), so it's entirely possible that three or four years from now, we'll have moved on to some Twitter successor. But the key elements of the Twitter platform — the follower structure, link-sharing, real-time searching — will persevere regardless of Twitter's fortunes, just as Web conventions like links, posts and feeds have endured over the past decade.
Not all these developments will be entirely positive. Most of us have learned firsthand how addictive the micro-events of our personal e-mail inbox can be. But with the ambient awareness of status updates from Twitter and Facebook, an entire new empire of distraction has opened up.
There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.
Twitter seems to be, first and foremost, an online haven where teenagers making drugs can telegraph secret code words to arrange gang fights and orgies. It also functions as a vehicle for teasing peers until they commit suicide.
This is the launching event of the Engaging Data Initiative. This initiative seeks to address the issues surrounding the application and management of personal electronic information by bringing together the main stakeholders from multiple disciplines, including social scientists, engineers, manufacturers, telecommunications service providers, Internet companies, credit companies and banks, privacy officers, lawyers, and watchdogs, and government officials.
The goal of this forum is to explore the novel applications for electronic data and address the risks, concerns, and consumer opinions associated with the use of this data.
The forum is seeking original contributions in the form of both position papers and technical papers. Of particular interest are papers that open new paths for research, express a creative vision for the future, and contribute to a lively debate.
Sandy Pentland, technical co-chair:
You have a right to possess your own data, that you control the data that is collected about you, and that you can destroy, remove or redeploy your data as you wish.
Some complainers are obsessed with anonymity and appear bothered by any data sharing at all, even when entirely voluntary. It's reminiscent of the Navajo belief that letting someone take your picture is letting them steal a piece of your soul.
This preoccupation with keeping data anonymous can lead to surreal outcomes.
RFIDs are a good case study of the peculiar public relations dynamics of privacy. But some privacy advocates tell dark tales of RFIDs being part of an Orwellian nightmare in which citizens, by simply walking down the street, reveal everything about themselves to a network of ubiquitous scanners.
In the name of privacy, there have been campaigns against the RFID tagging of pets in Texas, while some New Hampshire citizens have argued about whether tagging a body inhibits the soul's progress to heaven.
Is there a way out of the current, overly legalized approach to privacy, which seems to make no one happy?
Opinion Space is an experimental new system for visualizing opinions and exchanging ideas. It encourages people to express their opinions and lets them visualize where they stand relative to the diversity of other viewpoints. A new rating model highlights the most insightful responses and participants.
When an entirely new and untried political project is sprung upon the people, they are startled, anxious, timid, and for a time they are mute, reserved, noncommittal. The great majority of them are not studying the new doctrine and making up their minds about it, they are waiting to see which is going to be the popular side.
It is desire to be in the swim that makes political parties.
There are 260 million people in America, and you are one of them.
It’s going to be a website, with one simple input field that gives access to a huge system, with trillions of pieces of curated data and millions of lines of algorithms. A new paradigm for using computers and the web.
It doesn't simply return documents that (might) contain the answers, like Google does. It computes the answers. He's done it. It works. I've seen it myself. (Will it ever make mistakes?)
From the archive:
The reality is that, despite fears that our children are "pumped full of chemicals", everything is made of chemicals, down to the proteins, hormones and genetic materials in our cells.
Why bother the brain with dross when technology can pick up the slack? But deeper thought, too, seems to be skipping away in a ready stream of information.
Neil Postman once asked if we had known the impact the motor vehicle would have on life, would we have embraced it so thoroughly. Robert Fitzgerald says it's time we asked the same question of computers.
Technology might lead us two ways. Children might become so accustomed to immediate, on-screen information they fail to probe for deeper levels of insight, imagination and knowledge. Or the need to multitask and prioritize vast pools of information could see them develop equally, if not more valuable, skills.
Fitzgerald: "We're really in the very early days in terms of the development of new internet technologies. While we have seen quite remarkable developments in the rates of blog use or wikis, I suspect five years down the track we will not recognize those technologies we're currently using — they'll be more intuitive, more integrated, more intelligent."
Will you consider yourself a Luddite if one day soon you find yourself Romantically recalling the clickety clack of the keyboard and the glow of the big screen?
From the archive, Alan Kay:
If the children are being instructed in the pink plane, can we teach them to think in the blue plane and live in a pink-plane society?
The current Internet fairness paradigm mandates that all protocols have equivalent response to packet loss, such that relatively simple network devices can attain a weak form of fairness by sending uniform signals to all flows. This "TCP-friendly" paradigm has been the policy of the IETF for nearly two decades. Although it was only an informal policy in the beginning, it progressively became more formal beginning with RFC 2001.
However we observe two trends that differ from this policy: an increasing number of environments where applications and other circumstances create situations that are "unfair", and ISPs that are responding to these situation by imposing traffic control in the network itself.
This note explores the question of whether TCP-friendly paradigm is still appropriate for the huge breadth of technology and scale encompassed by today's global Internet. It considers the merits and difficulties of changing IETF policy to embrace these changes by progressively moving the responsibility for capacity allocation from the end-system to the network. Ultimately this policy change might eliminate or redefine the requirement that all protocols be "TCP-Friendly".
This note is intended foster discussion in the community and eventually become input to the IESG and IAB, where it might evolve into a future architecture statement.
There’s a profound flaw in the protocol that governs how people share the Internet’s capacity.
Last year, New Scientist revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security is developing a system designed to detect "hostile thoughts" in people walking through border posts, airports and public places ...
... Oh, and also, south of Houston Street.
The DHS says recent tests prove it works.
Have you shown that proof to your high school math teacher?