Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.) that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.
Many thanks to those who enjoy this. ☺
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - but work is just beginning.
“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9
Alzheimer’s breakthrough: Vaccine developed by Australian and US researchers may reverse dementia and Alzheimer’sMEET GRAHAM
The most exciting projects are perhaps no longer in faraway forests and canyons, but just there on our doorstep. We evolutionary biologists are trading our expedition gear for subway tickets and studying street grass and house mosquitoes instead of jungle orchids and mountain birds.
And we have millions of city dwellers to help us.Citizen science projects on urban ecology and evolution are springing up everywhere. This year, my students and I will introduce a smartphone app to measure how snail shells in hot inner cities in Europe and North America are evolving lighter colors to shield against overheating. Adeline Murthy of the University of New Mexico used the Christmas Bird Count, an annual census conducted by volunteers, to show that North American cities harbor an avifauna that is pretty much homogenized across the continent. At least 18 bird species are shared by all of them — something not the case in non-urban areas.
When the designer Don Norman was backing up his computer to a server, he sat back and watched its progress, reading what it was doing at each step. At one point, Norman noticed that the computer program had reached the stage where it was “reticulating splines.” This phrase sounded complicated, and that was reassuring to Norman—this program must really know what it was doing. But after some research he discovered—as any good fan of SimCity 2000 would know—that this was actually an inside joke, a nonsensical phrase inserted into the game that only sounds like it means something. Ever since, it has cropped up in various games and other software.
Think back to the last time you installed a new piece of software. Did you know what was going on? Did you clearly understand where various packages were being placed in the vast hierarchy of folders on your hard drive, and what bits of information were being modified based on the specific nature of your computer and its operating system?
Unlikely. Rather, you monitored the progress of this installation by watching an empty rectangle slowly fill over time: a progress bar. This small interface innovation was developed by the computer scientist Brad A. Myers, who initially called these bars “percent-done progress indicators” when he created them as a graduate student. They seem to soothe users by providing a small window into an opaque process. Is a progress bar completely accurate? Probably not. Sometimes progress bars are almost completely divorced from the underlying process. But for the most part, a progress bar and other design decisions—such as a bit of text that describes what is happening during a software installation—can provide a reassuring glimpse into a vast and complicated process.
Taking a Glimpse Under the Hood
It’s increasingly difficult to know what your devices are doing behind the scenes.
This is a Must View 11 min RSA Animate video on economics.
‘Economics is for everyone’, argues legendary economist Ha-Joon Chang in our latest mind-blowing RSA Animate. This is the video economists don’t want you to see! Chang explains why every single person can and SHOULD get their head around basic economics. He pulls back the curtain on the often mystifying language of derivatives and quantitative easing, and explains how easily economic myths and assumptions become gospel. Arm yourself with some facts, and get involved in discussions about the fundamentals that underpin our day-to-day lives.
Here’s a milestone for the ‘Moore’s Law is Dead - Long Live Moore’s Law’ file.
"While the energies of molecular hydrogen can be computed classically (albeit inefficiently), as one scales up quantum hardware it becomes possible to simulate even larger chemical systems, including classically intractable ones," writes Google Quantum Software Engineer Ryan Babbush.
Chemical reactions are quantum in nature, because they form highly entangled quantum superposition states. In other words, each particle's state can't be described independently of the others, and that causes problems for computers used to dealing in binary values of 1s and 0s.
It’s a quantum world, we’re just living in it.
Google's engineers just achieved a milestone in quantum computing: they’ve produced the first completely scalable quantum simulation of a hydrogen molecule.
That’s big news, because it shows similar devices could help us unlock the quantum secrets hidden in the chemistry that surrounds us.
Researchers working with the Google team were able to accurately simulate the energy of hydrogen H2 molecules, and if we can repeat the trick for other molecules, we could see the benefits in everything from solar cells to medicines.
These types of predictions are often impossible for 'classical' computers or take an extremely long time – working out the energy of something like a propane (C3H8) molecule would take a supercomputer in the region of 10 days.
To achieve the feat, Google's engineers teamed up with researchers from Harvard University, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, UC Santa Barbara, Tufts University, and University College London in the UK.
Here’s some interesting new research - focused on Canadians ideas and attitudes toward the future and technology. This is worth the view.
In our recent nationwide survey, we asked Canadians to tell us whether they thought a series of scenarios were likely or unlikely to transpire over the next 10 or 20 years.
• Most (75%) believe that in the next ten years a way will have been found to store energy from wind and solar for future use.
• Two thirds (65%) believe there will be driverless cars on our streets and highways.
• More than half (56%) think there will be more electric than gas powered cars.
When it comes to the future of work and heath:
• 79% think it is likely that nurses will perform many of the health services performed by physicians in 10 years.
• 69% think that more people will smoke marijuana than cigarettes.
• 40% believe most people will work from home and 38% think the average work week will be 4 days long.
Comparing views across political lines, we find:
• Large majorities across all three major parties, believe energy storage solutions will be found for wind and solar.
• Liberals are more likely than others to think there will be more electric than gas cars on the roads in 10 years, the average work week will be 4 days long, most people will work from home, and more will smoke marijuana than tobacco.
• Liberals and New Democrats are more convinced that Canada’s GHG emissions will be declining sharply, compared to Conservatives.
• Liberal and NDP supporters are more likely to think that humans will land on Mars.
The report can be found here
One more example of how citizens can build their own digital infrastructure as a commons.
The project is a testament to tireless efforts — in governance, not just in adding hardware and software — by Roca and his colleagues. They’ve been unwavering in their commitment to open access, community control, network neutrality, and sustainability.
At the heart of Guifi is the “Compact for a Free, Open and Neutral Network,” which starts with these principles for people who want to join the network…...
Spanish engineer Ramon Roca got tired of waiting for telecom companies to wire his town — so he did it himself.
….why do people like me eagerly journey to Gurb? Because it’s the birthplace of Guifi.net, one of the world’s most important experiments in telecommunications. Guifi is a community network that has long since transcended its local roots. From a single node more than a decade ago, it has become a vast mesh-and-more system linking tens of thousands of people in hundreds of communities to each other and the global Internet. In the U.S. most of us go online via Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable or other telecom giants to run Facebook, shop, watch videos and check our email. In Gurb and other communities, Guifi is the on-ramp to the fabled information superhighway.
For people who want to see an Internet at least partly liberated from the grip of rapacious, government-connected telecommunications giants, Guifi is one of the most hopeful developments to date. Its core values, ownership, and operations are testament to the idea that you and I, and our communities, can — and should — control how we communicate. For the tens of thousands of people using it, some at no charge, Guifi operates as well as Time Warner Cable does for New Yorkers (and maybe better).
Here’s an example of the emerging of the ‘real’ sharing economy - a trajectory of a business model that is much more aligned with structures of networks and platforms enabling collaboration.
Stocksy is part of a new wave of start-ups that are borrowing the tools of Silicon Valley to create a more genuine “sharing” economy that rewards the individuals generating the value.
...paying photographers 50 to 75 percent of sales. That is well above the going rate of 15 to 45 percent that is typical in the stock photography field. The company also distributes 90 percent of its profit at the end of each year among its photographers.
The arresting images on Stocksy.com are far from the standard fare found on many stock photography sites. Colorful portraits, unexpected compositions and playful shots greet visitors.
The most distinguishing feature, however, may be the structure of the site’s owner, Stocksy United: It is a cooperative, owned and governed by the photographers who contribute their work. Every Stocksy photographer owns a share of the company, with voting rights. And most of the money from sales of their work goes into their pockets rather than toward the billion-dollar valuations pursued by many venture-backed start-ups.
Stocksy was founded in 2013 by Bruce Livingstone and Brianna Wettlaufer, the core team behind iStockphoto, which in 2000 pioneered the idea of selling stock photos online in exchange for small fees. (Mr. Livingstone was the founder and Ms. Wettlaufer, the vice president of development and employee No. 4). IStock — which billed itself as “by creatives, for creatives” — caught the attention of Getty Images, which acquired it in 2006 for $50 million.
Mr. Livingstone and Ms. Wettlaufer grew dismayed as the community spirit they had cultivated and the royalties photographers received began to erode under the new ownership. Like many artists in the digital age, their photographer friends grumbled that they were being underpaid and exploited by online sites.
Here’s a great discussion of how the Blockchain technology - distributed ledgers can disrupt insurance in a fundamental way. This approach also provides some interesting weak signals about potential disruption to our concepts of currency. This is well worth the read and the time to think about.
Tokens, Tokens Everywhere
I’m working on a project I call the Token Factory, which, although I’m considered a “friend of ConsenSys,” is not the same as ConsenSys’ version of the same name. ConsenSys’ project, which recently soft-launched along with MetaMask, the Ethereum browser add-on, is now available to help people make simple tokens. Mine is not yet online.
The goal is to build a web site anyone can come to, specify a new token, and have a bunch of them in his/her wallet fairly quickly. A token is a transferable unit of value within a system. It is governed by a single person, organization, or consortium. A rail is a token that crosses system boundaries easily. A currency is a token that is accepted by a large number of systems.
Today, we are building fairly simple tokens that represent things like tickets, local currencies, cars, baseball cards, cows, trees, the hours of a consultant’s time, etc. When you trade the token, the ownership (or use of) that thing transfers.
Tomorrow, using Ethereum, we’ll build smart tokens that have all their business logic and regulation compliance built in. And that’s what gets me thinking about insurance.
The blockchain is emerging so rapidly it’s hard to imagine how it will change how we do business or how it will transform many of our institutions.
The Blockchain technology is going to reach critical mass soon, declares Ernst and Young. The leading global consulting firm has recently published a report outlining the significance of blockchain technology in various industry sectors.
The distributed ledger technology powering digital currencies like Bitcoin has been subject to various experiments, mainly from the fintech industry. The properties of blockchain technology make it quite unique and well adaptable to the increasing requirements of secure bookkeeping and automation in various industries.
According to the EY report, the blockchain technology will make its headway into different industries at different times, bringing in disruption. The advantages of blockchain are recognized across the industries, however being a disruptive technology, it will take some time to sort out its implications on existing regulatory and legal frameworks. Many governments are already working on creating suitable regulatory frameworks to include blockchain technology into the mainstream.
Anticipating the increasing importance of blockchain technology in the near future, governments and businesses have already started working on pilot projects to gain a better understanding.
The Ernst-Young Report is here
This is an interesting article in that it sums up trends primarily about video games - but that also signal deeper trends about interactive, immersive, experience-based implications for life in the digital environment - including the transformation of work.
Virtual reality is the hot topic of conversation, but here’s how other trends, from augmented reality to the rejection of ‘crunch’, could change the future of gaming
The focus of this year’s Develop, the annual game developer conference held in Brighton, was unmistakable: virtual reality. The aim of conference is to highlight and discuss current trends, and last year these included social media, spectatorship, and games as services. This year, however, VR dominated the schedule to the extent that sometimes it was difficult to find a non-VR talk to attend, but with so many developers and other industry members in one place there were plenty of other discussions on the fringes. At least until Pokémon Go came out.
In a Q&A session, Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail said: “The industry moves so fast that I think a lot of advice from two years ago, unless it’s very generic advice, does not really apply in the same way anymore.”
Here, then, is what we heard the games industry talking about this year, and what could change the way games are made in the near future.
1. VR with friends rather than alone
2. Physically collaborative games
3. The future of augmented reality
4. Incremental console updates
5. The next step for mobile: TV
6. Sayonara, Steam: the rise of specialised stores
7. The rise of indie studios
8. Rejecting crunch
9. Design that puts feelings first
10. Trying – and failing
11. Feeling twitchy about YouTube and Twitch
The age of robots and AI is upon us but not just automating existing types of work - but most importantly enabling new types of work to get done, in new types of ways.
Drones aren’t new technology by any means. Now, however, thanks to robust investments and a somewhat more relaxed regulatory environment, it appears their time has arrived—especially in agriculture.
Today, however, practical applications for drones are expanding faster than ever in a variety of industries, thanks to robust investments and the relaxing of some regulations governing their use. Responding to the rapidly evolving technology, companies are creating new business and operating models for UAVs.
The total addressable value of drone-powered solutions in all applicable industries is significant—more than $127 billion, according to a recent PwC analysis. Among the most promising areas is agriculture, where drones offer the potential for addressing several major challenges. With the world’s population projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, experts expect agricultural consumption to increase by nearly 70 percent over the same time period. In addition, extreme weather events are on the rise, creating additional obstacles to productivity.
Agricultural producers must embrace revolutionary strategies for producing food, increasing productivity, and making sustainability a priority. Drones are part of the solution, along with closer collaboration between governments, technology leaders, and industry.
Following are six ways aerial and ground-based drones will be used throughout the crop cycle:
1. Soil and field analysis
3. Crop spraying
4. Crop monitoring
6. Health assessment
Whatever can be automated will be - This may sound like an unlikely scenario for China - but it is happening faster than most think.
China is aiming for a top-10 ranking in automation for its industries by 2020 by putting more robots in its factories, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) said.
China's push to modernize its manufacturing with robotics is partly a response to labor shortages and fast-rising wages.
But the world's second-largest economy still has far lower robot penetration than other big industrialized economies - just 36 per 10,000 manufacturing workers in 2015, ranking it 28th among the world's most automated nations.
By 2020, it aims to boost penetration to 150 per 10,000 workers, IFR said in a statement, citing Wang Ruixiang, President of the China Machinery Industry Federation.
To help reach that goal, China aims for sales of 100,000 domestically produced industrial robots a year by 2020, up 49 percent compared with last year, the IFR said in a statement at an industry summit in Shanghai, where the Chinese federation's chief was speaking.
Here’s an article of what’s already here. A 2 min video as well.
In 1913, Ford Motor Company changed the car-making game by installing moving assembly belts in its production facilities. The move made building automobiles quicker, cheaper, and more efficient than before, while also setting the tone for modern manufacturing in general. Since then, the industry has made leaps and bounds by automating much of the process, but Ford isn’t done innovating yet.
At an assembly plant in Cologne, Germany, the American brand is running a trial program where humans and robots work side by side. Called co-bots, these small machines help workers install shock absorbers onto Fiesta subcompact vehicles, but according to Ford, the co-bots can even be programmed to make coffee or give massages. Any takers?
Installing shocks can be a very arduous process, as it requires significant effort and precision to fit the dampers into cramped, dark spaces. The co-bots are exceptionally strong and dexterous though, which not only helps with back rubs, it takes a literal load off the employees’ backs as well.
Here’s some great news involving 3D printing and innovation in batteries - that may very soon accelerate the already exponential spread of the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything.
Batteries are becoming more and more crucial in our lives every year. From our smartphones to our laptops, and increasingly even our cars, batteries make the world go round. The only problem is that today’s generation of lithium batteries are increasingly incapable of providing energy on a scale that we need – especially when it comes to the charges they hold and the time it takes to recharge them. But there is a solution on the horizon, and it is being made possible by a radical material shift. For scientists from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a new battery (technically speaking a supercapacitor) made from 3D printed graphene, which can hold a larger charge of energy, is recharged in a matter of seconds and will last a lifetime.
These new graphene batteries could provide a solution for an energy problem that has been made painfully apparent by Pokémon Go – which drains smartphones like you would not believe. The problem isn’t in the app, but in the lithium batteries that can only take a very limited charge. While a battery is not exactly the same as a supercapacitor, both energy-holding vessels suffer from the same drawbacks. Aside from the limited charge they can hold, both take hours to charge while regular use significantly limits their lifespan. We’ve all seen how smartphone batteries lose their juice after a year or two. That, in turn, creates an environmental problem as these types of batteries are expensive to dispose of.
But graphene could offer a solution. For those of you who’ve never heard of graphene, it is essentially a form of carbon, just like diamonds or the lead in pencils. But unlike most forms of carbon, it isn’t a type of 3D shape, but is instead a 2D material that consists of a hexagonal sheet only a single atom thick. Its properties are especially interesting. Not only is it very light and flexible, it is also extremely durable (about a hundred times stronger than steel) while being a very efficient conductor of heat and electricity. Its theoretical existence has been discussed for decades, but it was only first successfully produced in 2004, and has been very interesting to manufacturers since then.
This is a fascinating article - evolution works with populations (e.g. of individuals of a species and of different types of species) within environments - species tend to change environments which in turn change species. Cities are have become intense laboratories of accelerating evolution. This will be an very important consideration as we re-design our urban landscapes for both climate change, new forms of energy production-distribution, new ways of working-living with the evolution of the digital environment. A change in conditions of change.
A Fordham University biologist, Jason Munshi-South, studies the populations of white-footed mice marooned in New York City parks. These native mice once lived all over the place. But as the city expanded, they became confined to the small pockets of forest left behind in parks. Thus isolated, the mice in each park began evolving a park-specific genetic blueprint. In some parks, Dr. Munshi-South found mice carrying genes for heavy metal tolerance, probably because soils there are contaminated with lead or chromium. In other parks, the animals have genes for increased immune response — maybe diseases spread more easily in some high-density populations.
For a long time, biologists thought evolution was a very, very slow process, too tardy to be observed in a human lifetime. But recently, we have come to understand that evolution can happen very quickly, as long as natural selection — the relative benefit that a particular characteristic bestows on its bearer — is strong.
And where else to find such strong natural selection than in the heart of a big city? The urban environment is about as extreme as it gets. Temperatures in the city center can be more than 10 degrees higher than in the surrounding countryside. Traffic causes continuous background noise, a mist of fine dust particles and barriers to movement for any animal that cannot fly or burrow. Much of the city is clad in impervious surfaces of stone, glass, steel and tarmac. There is pollution of soil, water and air, mainly human-derived food sources, and an especially motley crew of local and invasive flora and fauna.
With urban environments expanding all over the world, wildlife and biologists alike are starting to treat the city as a true ecosystem. Many species’ original habitats are being squeezed into annihilation. For them, it’s adapt or die. And field biologists like me are following suit. As we have to travel ever farther to find untouched wilderness, we are beginning to realize that the expanding urban sprawl is perhaps not something to be depressed about, but rather something very exciting, as entirely novel forms of life are evolving right under our noses.
The domestication of DNA advances - where will it be in the next decade? There’s a 4 min video as well.
The lung cancer trial will take place in August
The first human trial of cells that have been tweaked by the genome-editing technique CRISPR will begin in China in August, Nature reports. The group will take white blood cells, which are part of the immune system, from people with a type of lung cancer and edit them using the CRISPR technology so they hunt cancer. Then, the lab-altered cells will be infused back into the patients.
The approach is similar to another trial in the U.S., which will test edited immune cells in several kinds of cancer. Trials with modified white blood cells, called T cells, have been run before. But scientists haven't used the CRISPR technique to make the edits, relying instead on a virus to insert the sequences into the cells' DNA. CRISPR, which is essentially a genetic copy-and-paste tool — makes modifying the cells at certain spots easier. That means the scientists can make the cells grow and multiply more rapidly, in addition to inserting instructions to kill cancer on sight.
In June, an advisory panel approved the US trial, though the research, requires two other approvals before it can begin. That research is led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania. Both the US Food and Drug Administration and the university have yet to sign off. The researchers say the trials could start by December, Nature reports.
In domesticating DNA the potential for totally new life forms arises - synthetic life forms - but if they are alive then what doe synthetic mean?
In 2013, Lu and colleagues designed cell circuits that could perform a logic function and then store a memory of the event by encoding it in their DNA.
New approach to biological circuit design enables scientists to track cell histories.
Synthetic biology allows researchers to program cells to perform novel functions such as fluorescing in response to a particular chemical or producing drugs in response to disease markers. In a step toward devising much more complex cellular circuits, MIT engineers have now programmed cells to remember and respond to a series of events.
These cells can remember, in the correct order, up to three different inputs, but this approach should be scalable to incorporate many more stimuli, the researchers say. Using this system, scientists can track cellular events that occur in a particular order, create environmental sensors that store complex histories, or program cellular trajectories.
“You can build very complex computing systems if you integrate the element of memory together with computation,” says Timothy Lu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering, and head of the Synthetic Biology Group at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics.
This approach allows scientists to create biological “state machines” — devices that exist in different states depending on the identities and orders of inputs they receive. The researchers also created software that helps users design circuits that implement state machines with different behaviors, which can then be tested in cells.
Here is another potential advance in medical science that can make many of us boomers feel more comfortable with increasing longevity.
“Essentially what we have designed is a vaccine that makes the immune system produce antibodies and those antibodies act like tow trucks so they come to your driveway, they latch on to the breakdown protein or car and they pull it out of the driveway,”
Alzheimer’s breakthrough: Vaccine developed by Australian and US researchers may reverse dementia and Alzheimer’s
Experts at Adelaide’s Flinders University have made an Alzheimer’s breakthrough that may result in world’s first dementia vaccine. Developed by Australian and US scientists, this vaccine may not only prevent but also reverse early stages of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s vaccine may be tested on humans within the next two to three years after being bankrolled by the US Government. Scientists from Flinders University and America’s Institute of Molecular Medicine and University of California developed the vaccine by targeting proteins in the brain that block neurons.
The formula targets tau proteins and abnormal beta-amyloid that cause Alzheimer’s. The scientists are confident that the vaccine would eventually be used as preventative vaccine. According to Flinders University medicine professor Nikolai Petrovsky, the proteins must be removed from the brain as Alzheimer’s, and dementia sufferers have lots of these broken down proteins inside.
And this - literally right under … or in our noses. Good news.
This whiff of success could be just the beginning of many new antibiotics
Now, for the first time in 30 years, scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotic, and it was hiding right under their noses.
Scientists searching for new antibiotics have traditionally looked to bacteria that live in soil for the chemical compounds they use to fight off their rivals. But the human body has long been seen as a potential resource for antibiotic compounds, Alessandra Potenza reports for The Verge. It's packed with all manner of microbes—from skin to guts. And while scientists have learned much about the body in recent decades, there is still a lot unknown about the human microbiome.
Microbiologists from the University of Tübingen, Germany, turned to the nose, which is a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. It provides direct access to the bloodstream for bacteria to sneak past the immune system, and a warm, humid environment for microbes to breed.
While many species of bacteria make their homes up our noses, the researchers looked at a particular one called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—a species that can cause deadly infections in people with weakened immune systems and is found in 30 percent of people's noses, Kate Baggaley writes for Popular Science. But the researchers were curious what kept the other 70 percent from sporting the microbes.
They swabbed subjects' noses and looked at what was living up there, identifying another bacterium called Staphylococcus lugdunensis that produces a chemical compound that can fight MRSA and many other species of bacteria, Potenza reports. Not only that, but the chemical called “lugdunin” belongs to a new class of antibiotics. "Lugdunin is just the first example," study co-author Andreas Peschel tells Potenza. "Maybe it’s just the tip of the iceberg."
Another amazing milestone of China in the transformation of its energy infrastructure - we also have to remember - that we are increasing the efficiency of all our products that use electricity. As a major consumer of energy China’s rapid development of renewable sources is also contributing to the change in conditions of change within energy geo-politics.
China surpassed Germany as the largest solar power generator worldwide last year, with installed PV capacity totaling 43 GW as of the end of 2015.
China installed 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity in the first half of 2016, three times as much as during the same period a year ago, state news agency Xinhua reported late on Thursday citing the country's largest solar industry lobby.
The surge in capacity extended China's lead over Germany as the top solar generator, said Wang Bohua, General Secretary of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA), according to Xinhua.
Power developers were also pushed to complete installations ahead of a proposed reduction in the price paid for solar power by grid operators, said Wang.
This is six years old, it was written after Gleick had published “Information: A History, Theory, Flood” - well worth the read - its brief.
“What makes it [the word information] so distinctive as the fabric of mass communication is the very combination of immateriality and massiveness, its overwhelming diffuseness. It’s also a word which provides a point of imaginative sympathy between OED‘s editors and readers.” Information is their business, he is trying to say, and ours.
...the verb informare—to give form to; to shape; to mold. Information is the act of infusion with form. Where, and how? The forming takes place in the mind. Our minds are informed; then we have something we lacked before—some idea, some knowledge, some information. In my view this ancient sense of the word possesses a special modern force: when we study information, we learn that it is not a mere commodity, to be possessed by us. It infiltrates us; we are not its masters.
The word “information” has grown urgent and problematic—a signpost seen everywhere, freighted with new meaning and import. We hardly need the lexicographers of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell us that, but after all, this is what they live for. It is a word, they tell us, “exhibiting significant linguistic productivity,” a word that “both reflects and embodies major cultural and technological change,” therefore a word crying out for their attention. In their latest quarterly revision, December 2010, just posted, the entry for “information” is utterly overhauled. (The OED, in case you hadn’t noticed, has evolved into an enterprise of cyberspace, rather than a mere book.)
The renovation has turned a cottage into a palace. Information, n., now runs 9,400 words, the length of a novella. It is a sort of masterpiece—an adventure in cultural history. A century ago “information” did not have much resonance. It was a nothing word. “An item of training; an instruction.” Now (as people have been saying for fifty years) we are in the Information Age. Which, by the way, the OED defines for us in its dry-as-chili-powder prose: “the era in which the retrieval, management, and transmission of information, esp. by using computer technology, is a principal (commercial) activity.”
This is a fascinating project - the interactive web site is worth the experience.
THE ONLY PERSON DESIGNED TO SURVIVE ON OUR ROADS
As much as we like to think we’re invincible, we’re not. But what if we were to change? What if our bodies were built to survive a low impact crash? What might we look like? The result of these questions is Graham, a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are.
A catalyst for conversation and ultimately an educational tool, Graham shows us what we might look like if we were built to survive on our roads. He’s a reminder of just how vulnerable our bodies really are when speed and impact forces as low as 30km/h are at play. Watch below to learn about the co-creators that helped bring Graham to life.