Updated: 3/19/2003; 7:22:51 AM.
Mark Oeltjenbruns' Radio Weblog
The glass isn't half full or half empty, it's too big!

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Pablo Picasso. "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." [Quotes of the Day]
7:19:36 AM    comment []

Thomas Jefferson. "I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it." [Quotes of the Day]
7:19:11 AM    comment []

Leaderless Resistance. I was reading this quote from an article called Leaderless Resistance Today:
"The new communications technologies make it possible for a movement to exist solely as an ideology, with no membership lists, no financial records, no direct communication between the operatives and no "off" switch. There is no way to negotiate with such an ideology, no way to compromise....Because there is no formal "group" with assets, interpersonal relationships, or other stabilizing factors, individuals who moderate simply leave the milieu; their writings and actions remain behind, recruiting new members."

..and I was thinking "Yeah, that's fabulous, that's the kind of stuff we need!!", when I actually looked at the article and realized it was about terrorist groups and dangerous elements in society, and how movements might continue, simply based on an ideology, a book, a website, an event, even without any organizing network, without an organization, without any leaders. And the article talks about how that is a very bad thing, and how we might stop that. But I'm looking for how we might start that. Oh, not focused on hate and violence as the article is talking about. Focused on truth, freedom, beauty, love, the common good. Imagine that there were nothing any frantic monopoly could do to stop people from spontaneous making things work better and being more fun, and from exposing the truth at every turn. No organizational leadership to buy off, no accounts to bankrupt, nobody to put in jail, no communication channels to cut. Just millions of people who freely and voluntarily operated as cells of a bigger body, without even having to talk about it. Heheh. [Ming the Mechanic]

There is something very powerful here.  Does the Internet need some pruning and cleanup?  Is that even possible?

6:58:00 AM    comment []

Nokia Mediamaster Makes Phone-TV Connection. With consumers clamoring for mobile phones that double as digital cameras, letting users capture and share snapshots of their latest trip to the mountains or send photos of their darling little sons and daughters, Nokia has come up with a way to offer photo-phone "slide shows" on TV. [osOpinion]
6:52:18 AM    comment []

Frank Scully. "Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?" [Adam Curry: Adam Curry's Weblog]
6:51:02 AM    comment []

Who Needs a 100 Million-Pixel Cell Phone Camera?.

I don't think I need one, but apparently Mitsubishi Electric Corp. built one and demonstrated it at CeBIT 2003. The company showed a prototype mobile phone handset with a digital camera having a resolution of about 100 million pixels and wireless LAN capability.

The new mobile phone model comes with a small digital camera attachable to the hinge of the folding handset. The digital camera has a MPEG4 encoding capability to take photos of animation. It is also capable of transmitting images taken to any access points nearby via wireless LAN. The model will have a compatibility with UMTS, the third-generation mobile communications protocol adopted in Europe.

Here is what this prototype looks like.

Mitsubishi Prototype of a 100 Million-Pixel Cell Phone Camera
The built-in wireless LAN is in compliance with IEEE802.1b at 2.4GHz. Mitsubishi Electric assumes that users can use either wireless LAN or UMTS, depending on the intended purpose. For example, they can use UMTS for larger areas, and wireless LAN for particular areas for faster downloading, the spokesperson explained.

And what about prices and availability?

The maker does not have a concrete plan to commercialize the mobile phone yet. "We have developed this model to prove a multi-functional, operable mobile phone handset is technically feasible although it is still a concept model," a spokesperson at the lab said.

OK, the technology permits to build this handset, but it's almost absurd. How long will it take to send an image of 100 million pixels to someone? And what's the purpose of having that many pixels on such a small display?

This reminds me of an article about how designers are creating minuscule gadgets, with buttons too small for our fingers, and screens so tiny that nobody over 40 can read them easily.

If you haven't seen yet, please read "Hello, tech designers? This stuff is too small." Here is a short quote about how ridicule the situation is today.

Jeff Parrish, the manager of user experience at Palmsource, the software arm of Palm Computing, points out, anyone who squints at Palm screens can call on many tools to make it easier. An $11 program called Teal Magnify enlarges the type; a $30 magnifying glass available in stores from Officeonthego clips onto Palm units.

So, you first buy a gizmo with a small screen, then you have to add a magnifying glass!! Amazing!!

Source: Hiroki Yomogita, Nikkei Electronics, March 17, 2003; Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, March 3, 2003

[Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends]

Well, I would really like one even if it is small!

6:50:13 AM    comment []

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Ultrawideband might push out Bluetooth physical layer: As I've predicted in various forms, if UWB proves itself, the radio part of Bluetooth could disappear, while Bluetooth's top-level protocols remain. The IEEE 802.15 working group on Personal Area Networking had made great progress with 802.15.1 by approving a subset of Bluetooth's spec with the Bluetooth SIG's involvement. The 802.15.2 task group had several months ago worked out a co-existence plan for living in the same place as Wi-Fi-like networks (and an FCC decision reducing the number of channels that a frequency hopping standard needed to use will make that even easier). The 802.15.3 task group has been trying to establish a base on moving forward in the radio part of things, and many of the proposals coming in rely on UWB. [80211b News]

7:07:24 AM    comment []

Smartgun with authentication and minicam. A new South African gun comes equipped with a biometric authentication system (so it can only be fired by its owner) and a built-in minicam (so you can document the circumstances of each shot fired). Link Discuss (via /.) [Boing Boing Blog]

Great, I can just see the new TV series now, "Gun Shot."  Showing all the footage of people getting shot at from the gunners POV, of course for TV, no one ever dies.  Maybe the cops can review the footage and understand why these highly trained officers are such bad shots most of the time.  "One shot, One Kill."

7:05:04 AM    comment []

Airport luggage inspectors policing thoughtcrime. A traveller flying to San Diego from Seattle found his luggage had been opened by the Federal Transport Security Authority, who had left behind a note telling him so, on which was scrawled "DONT APPRECIATE YOUR ANTI-AMERICAN ATTITUDE" -- a reference to the "No Iraq War" signs he'd picked up in a shop in Seattle.

So, the Feds are not only inspecting our bags -- and invading our privacy -- to ensure that they are bomb-free; they're now taking it upon themselves to chastise us for our political beliefs? What the hell does keeping bombs off airplanes have to do with winkling out protest signs?

Nothing like a little thoughtcrime policing to undermine the entire mission and credibility of the TSA. Of course, the TSA is maintaining that this wasn't the work of an inspector -- rather, someone at the airport cut the security-seal left behind by the inspector, defaced the "You have been inspected" card, and replaced the seal, all without being caught by the TSA itself (wow, that gives me a lot of confidence in the TSA's ability to secure the nation's airports!).

Nico Melendez, western regional spokesman for the TSA, said the note in Goldberg's luggage will be investigated, but he said there's no proof that a TSA employee wrote it. "It's a leap to say it was a TSA screener," Melendez said.

But Goldberg said, "It seems a little far-fetched to think people are running around the airport writing messages on TSA literature and slipping them into people's bags."

Link Discuss (via Interesting People)
[Boing Boing Blog]
7:01:52 AM    comment []

RFID Cards Big in Tokyo.

I still have a couple hundred yen left on the railroad card I bought in Tokyo last September. New York Times reports that these slim, metallic, RFID-based cards are growing more popular in Japan. Some think they are the forerunner to electronic cash. All I know is that it was convenient to charge a card with cash at a vending machine, then simply slap my wallet down on the turnstile at the entrance to any Yamanote line train.

[Smart Mobs]
7:00:11 AM    comment []

Handheld video. Archos AC340 audio/video player..

Saw this in Wired this month.  Looks cool - at least a heck of a lot cooler than the previous stuff archos has put out.

"The AV340 looks like it might be the real deal when it comes to watching video on the go: it can store up to 80 hours of video on its 40GB hard drive, has a 3.8-inch LCD screen, also plays both MP3s, and, with an optional attachment, can even be transformed into 3 megapixel digital camera."  [via Gizmodo]

[nick gaydos > thynk]

Cool - finally.

[Marc's Voice]

Forget about an ipod!


6:59:13 AM    comment []

hong kong flu. BBC: A global warning has been issued about a virulent flu and pneumonia sweeping hospitals in Hong Kong and Vietnam. [Adam Curry: Adam Curry's Weblog]


This worries me since it seems to be an airborne virus.  Easy to spread, hard to stop.

6:50:49 AM    comment []

More about RFID-based e-money.

In response to my post about RFID-enabled railroad passes in Tokyo, several readers of this blog pointed out:

Robert Renling points out:

"We have this is sweden also on most public transport systems."

Number5 points out:

Public transport systems like metro and bus in Guangzhou, China started to adopt these RFID systems this year.

As to small amount payment, there is another way: mobile phone. You can buy drinks or snacks auto seller machine by send sms to a specified number, and you'll pay for that when you pay your phone bill.

Peter Davidson points out:

We are seeing success in the US with a small fob that fits on users keychain. Called "Speedpass" by the Mobil oil company these little sentient things allow users to charge gasoline and other service station purchases to a credit card. The system is faster than a gas pump that takes credit cards.

In the Chicago area the Speedpass can be used at McDonalds. The device can be swiped past a proximity reader mounted outside the drive-thru window.

Interestingly the Speedpass is intended to be on a users keychain. With the keys in the ignition it requires a two part keychain to be able to swipe the Speedpass without having to shut the engine down and remove the keys from the ignition.

This same user interface issue applies to the new "switchblade" Discover card now available. This is a kidney shaped credit card that swivels out of a small plastic case like a pocket knife. This device is intended to ride on users keychains to make carrying and using the Discover card easier. Fine for self-swipe transactions like mass retailors and food stores but not good for transactions like meals where you'd have to hand your keychain to the waiter to pay the bill. Perhaps there's a quick release of some sort but I've not seen it in their advertising.

[Smart Mobs]

6:48:34 AM    comment []

Is the Brain Equivalent to a Turing Machine?. From the NewScientist.com: "The world's first brain prosthesis - an artificial hippocampus - is about to be tested in California. Unlike devices like cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain activity, this silicon chip implant will perform the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing. The prosthesis will first be tested on tissue from rats' brains, and then on live animals. If all goes well, it will then be tested as a way to help people who have suffered brain damage due to stroke, epilepsy or Alzheimer's disease." [kuro5hin.org]



Now we have brain and Face implants, what's next?

6:48:11 AM    comment []

Scott Love tells the story of outliners.  [Scripting News]
6:38:37 AM    comment []

Unknown. "Barnum was wrong - it's more like every 30 seconds." [Quotes of the Day]
6:33:47 AM    comment []

George Burns. "Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair." [Quotes of the Day]
6:33:34 AM    comment []

Ed Macauley. "When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
6:32:52 AM    comment []

The Work of the Chariot. "When a man takes one step toward God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
6:32:08 AM    comment []

Seb does it again. Towards Structured Blogging.

Lately I've been thinking about how we could evolve blogging tools to allow people to author more structured (dare I say semantic?) content, so that other people could find their stuff that they find of interest more easily.

Right now what we have, globally speaking, is pretty much a huge pool of blog posts, each implicitly tied to a particular weblog author and with a date slapped on. Now, say I've written a review of the latest Radiohead album into my blog. I'd like others who are interested in Radiohead, or in music reviews in general, and who may not know me, to be able to pick out my review from the common pool in a simple way. Interesting people may come my way because of this.

What we're talking about is getting people to put more metadata on their content. Now allowing it is one thing, and fostering it is another. And I'd say the latter is the bigger challenge.

The importance of feedback

I believe a critical element to get a sustainable system is for people to get reasonably quick feedback in return for the extra effort expended in creating metadata. The Internet Topic Exchange, in which Phillip Pearson implemented the ridiculously easy group-forming design, seems to work because it has a short feedback loop, and might provide a template for where we'd like to go. Here's an illustration of how the Internet Topic Exchange works:

People (on the left) associate select posts with particular topics by specifying a Ping URL; TrackBack carries information about their posts into the Exchange (the fat square), and from there they make it into open topic-specific blogs (on the right). (I don't need to talk about the per-topic Wiki pages here.) Creating a new topic is as easy as inventing a name - anyone is allowed (and encouraged) to do it.

Now, people interested in particular topics will watch them, and this is where the fun comes from. Look at the figure above. Say John (the yellow guy) doesn't know Elaine (the purple girl). But he watches Topic 1 dutifully. Now Elaine happens to come across the channel for Topic 1 and posts to it because she's also interested in Topic 1. Soon John gets her post in his aggregator, checks out her blog, and voilà, he's found a like mind.

In this case the metadata that we have managed to get John, Elaine and others interested in consists of a simple topic identification. This simple scheme has helped such groups as spanish bloggers, emergent democrats, and Austin bloggers coalesce.

Beyond topics

How might we work our way from this model to a different form of metadata, say a music review? Here's a possibility. We retain the basic architecture of the Exchange, but add a new type of blog post called "music review". A drop-down box might enable me to select between "plain-vanilla blog post" and "Music Review". The interface for entering a "Music Review" post might look like this:

(Here I'm assuming there is some sort of standard for music reviews composed of a title, an identification code for the piece of work being reviewed, a rating, and some text. If you know of a similar existing standard please let me know.)

In an ideal world, the "Find" button would pop up an assistant that lets you dig into a music metadatabase (say, MusicBrainz) and quickly home in on an unambiguous ID code for whatever it is you're reviewing (possibly asking you to contribute to the metadatabase if it doesn't know about this piece of work), and puts it in the box.

You fill in the other boxes, click "Post", and your part is pretty much done. Next the system does three things. First, it stores the review in a non-lossy format somewhere on your site. Second, it converts your input into a regular blog post to put in your blog and RSS feed. Third, it notifies one (or more) central indexing service(s), analogous to the Topic Exchange, that knows about music reviews, of the availability of your new review and of its location. This central service also serves a variety of RSS feeds. There could be song-based feeds, album-based feeds, artist-based feeds, genre-based feeds, etc. that you can subscribe to. You could subscribe to the "Radiohead songs and albums" feed and get all reviews of Radiohead songs and albums as soon as they come out. Or maybe you just want to be notified whenever someone reviews a certain song you especially like.

As in the case of the Topic Exchange, these RSS feeds are where the feedback (and the addictive quality) comes from and how new interpersonal links form and people cluster.

Putting it all together

Now to generalize. I talked about music reviews, but the scheme should also work with other kinds of content. Music video reviews, movie reviews (using IMDB?), ad reviews, TV show reviews, game reviews, radio station reviews, weblog reviews, restaurant reviews (perhaps using GPS data), scholarly article reviews... other kinds of content that are not reviews also, such as song lyrics, TV show transcripts, quotes, self-identification data.

Each of these would have (one or more) standard format(s). The basic idea is to let the blogging system support "alternate post type" plug-ins. Anyone should be able to develop such a plug-in (and a corresponding indexing service) for a new kind of post that they want.

If something like this were to become successful it would compete with a host of commercially led user-contributed databases such as Amazon's review database. One advantage would be to put control more firmly in the hands of contributors.

Will people care enough about having their writings under their own control and collected in one place to move away from such databases? I think they might. I know I do.

Other people are thinking along similar lines: Danny Ayers, Alf EatonMarc Canter, Sam Ruby, Ben Trott, Karl Dubost, to name a few. It would be nice to make something like this happen in 2003.

[Seb's Open Research]

Seb is so right on.  First he does the Personal Knowledge Publishing rap, then he wrote about the collective mind "web-enabled group minds at work" - and he's been tracking the TopicExchange for a while.  he's also been the ONLY person so far, besides me - who has contributed to the Topic Exchange channel I created -  'theMatrix'.

[Marc's Voice]
6:24:24 AM    comment []

Monday, March 17, 2003

Presidential Candidate Howard Dean has a weblog. During the last mid-term elections, we had Tara Sue Grubb (a libertarian candidate for Congress), and now we have a presidential candidate with a weblog.   He's also using MeetUp, which is an Internet service that makes it easy for people to organize meetings.  It's good to see politicians discover the power of the web.  Maybe, as more of them understand its power of communication, our politicians won't be so readily inclined to pass laws that seem so riduculous to those of us that use the Internet extensively. [Ernie the Attorney]
7:16:16 AM    comment []

More Social-Network Mapping Tools.

I wrote yesterday a column named "New Social-Network Mapping Tools Are Emerging."

Slashdot mentioned it, and their readers sent me many comments and e-mails about other visualization tools.

First, I need to make some corrections about Valdis Krebs, the developer of InFlow, a software tool I talked about in this previous column. He wrote me to tell he never worked at IBM. On the contrary, IBM was his first big customer. And, while this Discover article stated that "Krebs has spent most of the last 15 years honing his mapping software," he told me "the first working version [w/o visuals] was written in 2 weekends... on a 512K Macintosh... using Prolog." Finally, InFlow is designed to analyze not an individual e-mail box, but groups of them.

And now, let's browse through the excellent suggestions in no particular order. [Please note that I intentionally removed all e-mail addresses.]

  • Raffi Krikorian urged me to take a look at a quick hack he put together a year ago called email constellations. "This project aims to be a free, flexible, and easily modifiable visualization tool that allows a user to intuitively understand their online social group structure."
  • Stefano Mazzocchi sent me a pointer to his Apache Agora visualizing social networks. There, you can see a data cloud "generated by processing three months of e-mail traffic on three Apache development mail lists."
  • Jonathon N. Cummings alerted me about the NetVis Module which allows a dynamic visualization of social networks. "The NetVis Module is a free open source web-based tool designed to simulate, analyze, and visualize social networks using data from csv files, online surveys, and geographically dispersed work teams."
  • Rev. wRy mentioned EtherApe, a graphical network monitor for Unix.
  • J. Maxwell Legg wrote about his freeware inGridX tool. "inGridX started life as a repertory grid creative free software offer to Kellian decision support consultants who make inferences about meanings by looking at the spin derived from a grid of elements and constructs. inGridX uses Principle Component Analysis as the basis to materially implicate a grid's digital effects.
  • The NameBase people pointed me to their Proximity Search tool which "generates social network diagrams of the ruling class."
  • Steve Wolff asked me to check his Surf3D Pro tool. This is a freeware program which promises to reduce "search time by over 80% in comparison to what it normally takes you to click through and evaluate search engine results." It has specific agents for Google Usenet groups, eBay auctions, Yahoo! Boards and others.
  • Arthur Embleton and Gustavo Muslera both recommended KartOO visual meta search engine. It is similar to the TouchGraph GoogleBrowser, but it doesn't require Java and uses FlashPlayer to draw interactive maps. Dazzling!
  • Finally, a reader named xynopsis talked about another kind of tools, the Visual Thesaurus. This web tool is not about social mapping, but it shows graphical connections between words. In this previous column, "The Visual Thesaurus: What Does it Show About Thanksgiving?," I already explored this very funny tool.

As I already said, if you know about other similar new tools, please tell me and I'll gather your comments in a future story.

Sources: Roland Piquepaille, with Slashdot readers' help, March 16, 2003

[Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends]
7:09:50 AM    comment []

Mount Washington has wireless Webcam at the top of New England: Some insane folks at the Zakon Group in New Hampshire braved exceptional snow and temperature conditions to launch a Webcam at NH's Wildcat Mountain Ski Area (4,000 feet) pointing at the legendary Tuckerman and Huntingon Ravines. (My father-in-law learned to ski on Tuckerman Ravine using Stem Christies to turn from a full stop. Yes, it's steep.) The Webcam is solar powered and relays its signal wirelessly to the Mount Washington Observatory (6,300 feet). The Observatory has a frame-relay line.

[80211b News]
7:08:11 AM    comment []

Wireless Art Course/Blog.

Wireless Art, to my knowledge, this is the first graduate level art course explicitly on Wireless Art, or using WiFi as an artistic medium. According to the instructor, Yuri Gitman, "This class leads students through a series of projects and lectures aimed at pushing the boundaries of both art and wireless technology by using WiFi for purely artistic and expressive ends. I'm the instructor and also an artist-in-resident at Eyebeam(.org), a leading art and technology organization in NYC. I was responsible for the Noderunner game, which was posted at smartmobs.com a few months back. In any case, the class website is updated often, as it's a blog, and will host links to the projects we create."

[Smart Mobs]
7:07:24 AM    comment []

New Social Network Mapping tools.

Yesterday, Roland Piquepaille wrote about New Social Network Mapping Tools Are Emerging. The story was Slashdotted and many Slashdot readers sent Roland suggestions, so he wrote a new column based on their suggestions: More Social-Network Mapping Tools

(Thanks, Roland!)

[Smart Mobs]
7:06:42 AM    comment []

Scary first-person account of martian Hong Kong pneumonia. SARS -- the mystery pneumonia that's sweeping Asia and has been spotted in Canada and elsewhere -- is unbelievably scary. Check out this message from a Hong Kong doctor to Dave Farber's Interesting People list:
Unresponsive to various combinations of cefotaxime, chlarithromycin, levofloxacin, doxyclycline and Tamiflu. All microbiology is NEGATIVE (after one week)...

So far 2-3 of our older patients with chronic disease have deteriorated fastest. Medical staff - younger and fitter have faired better. Their radiological findings have deteriorated in all but one case...

We receive 2-3 admissions per day. So far no-one has shown any improvement. Once intubated however they remain relatively static but very oxygen and PEEP dependent. Those ventilated have solid lungs. Interestingly one patient developed a pneumothorax on the medical ward and after chest drain and re-expansion his pneumonia involves only the side without a chest drain. Another patient (ventilated) has developed surgical emphysema.

ICU is now closed for all but atypical pneumonias. All our other "clean cases" have been transferred to other ICUs. All elective surgery is being cancelled and wards are being closed and evacuated. Al ambulances are being diverted...

Masks are worn throughout the hospital. Staff are not going home to children.

Please take the warning below seriously. My impression is that even with minimal contact with an infected person people have been becoming ill.

Link Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]
7:04:42 AM    comment []

Verizon' New Ultra-Fast Wireless Mobile Network.

According to this Washington Post article (free easy registration necessary), Verizon Wireless Inc. plans to announce today a new high-speed data service in the Washington area.

It will be based on the Evolution Data Only (EvDO) technology. For more information about this wireless technology, please read "EvDO, a new Wireless High-Speed Technology."

The Evolution Data Only (EvDO) network will allow users of compatible wireless devices to connect to the Internet at speeds as fast as or faster than those provided by cable or telephone wires.
Verizon Wireless plans to launch the service in the late summer, with coverage initially limited to an area inside the Capital Beltway. The service will also be launched in San Diego around the same time.
Scott A. Ellison, director for mobile wireless at IDC, a Massachusetts-based technology research firm, noted that EvDO technology is already popular in South Korea, where consumers use it for tasks from video conference-calling to watching television on their cell phones. "It is blazingly fast," he said.

How fast, are you asking?

During preliminary tests that Verizon Wireless conducted in an area from Falls Church to Rockville, people could download files while on the go at speeds from 300 to 600 kilobits per second, or about five to 10 times as fast as a dial-up modem. While stationary, users could access the Internet at speeds up to 2.4 megabits per second, about 60 percent faster than a cable modem.

And what about pricing?

The company will begin selling EvDO-capable cell phones and special cards for laptop computers and handheld organizers that will enable them to work with the EvDO network. It declined to comment on prices.

Source: Christopher Stern, The Washington Post, March 17, 2003

[Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends]
7:01:07 AM    comment []

Face Transplant Soon. A very brave sixteen-year-old Irish girl looks set to become the first person to undergo a face transplant operation. [Antipixel]
6:59:42 AM    comment []

New Social Network Mapping Tools. New Social Network Mapping tools from SmartMobs..

And now, let's browse through the excellent suggestions in no particular order. [Please note that I intentionally removed all e-mail addresses.]

  • Raffi Krikorian urged me to take a look at a quick hack he put together a year ago called email constellations. "This project aims to be a free, flexible, and easily modifiable visualization tool that allows a user to intuitively understand their online social group structure."
  • Stefano Mazzocchi sent me a pointer to his Apache Agora visualizing social networks. There, you can see a data cloud "generated by processing three months of e-mail traffic on three Apache development mail lists." [A bit of caution: you might have to stop and restart your browser after using it.]
  • Jonathon N. Cummings alerted me about the NetVis Module which allows a dynamic visualization of social networks. "The NetVis Module is a free open source web-based tool designed to simulate, analyze, and visualize social networks using data from csv files, online surveys, and geographically dispersed work teams."
  • Rev. wRy mentioned EtherApe, a graphical network monitor for Unix.
  • J. Maxwell Legg wrote about his freeware inGridX tool. "inGridX started life as a repertory grid creative free software offer to Kellian decision support consultants who make inferences about meanings by looking at the spin derived from a grid of elements and constructs. inGridX uses Principle Component Analysis as the basis to materially implicate a grid's digital effects.
  • The NameBase people pointed me to their Proximity Search tool which "generates social network diagrams of the ruling class."
  • Steve Wolff asked me to check his Surf3D Pro tool. This is a freeware program which promises to reduce "search time by over 80% in comparison to what it normally takes you to click through and evaluate search engine results." It has specific agents for Google Usenet groups, eBay auctions, Yahoo! Boards and others.
  • Arthur Embleton and Gustavo Muslera both recommended KartOO visual meta search engine. It is similar to the TouchGraph GoogleBrowser, but it doesn't require Java and uses FlashPlayer to draw interactive maps. Dazzling!
  • Finally, a reader named xynopsis talked about another kind of tools, the Visual Thesaurus. This web tool is not about social mapping, but it shows graphical connections between words. In this previous column, "The Visual Thesaurus: What Does it Show About Thanksgiving?," I already explored this very funny tool.

[Smart Mobs]

[Ross Mayfield's Weblog]
6:58:24 AM    comment []

Socrates. "Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
6:42:14 AM    comment []

Saturday, March 15, 2003

The laws of Manu. "Depend not on another, but lean instead on thyself...True happiness is born of self-reliance." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
7:04:26 AM    comment []

Elbert Hubbard. "Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway." [Quotes of the Day]
7:03:54 AM    comment []

Friday, March 14, 2003

Anatole France. "The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever." [Quotes of the Day]
7:14:26 AM    comment []

Who Loves ya ,Baby?.

DISCOVER Vol. 24 No. 4 (April 2003)
Table of Contents

article in full...
Pass your e-mail through some new software and the answer will become obvious

By Steven Johnson

Illustration by Leo Espinoza

In his classic novel Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut explains how the world is divided into two types of social organizations: the karass and the granfalloon. A karass is a spontaneously forming group, joined by unpredictable links, that actually gets stuff done— as Vonnegut describes it, "a team that do[es] God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing." A granfalloon, on the other hand, is a "false karass," a bureaucratic structure that looks like a team but is "meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done."

No doubt you've experienced these two types of networks in your own life, many times over. The karass is that group of friends from college who have helped one another's careers in a hundred subtle ways over the years; the granfalloon is the marketing department at your firm, where everyone has a meticulously defined place on the org chart but nothing ever gets done. When you find yourself in a karass, it's an intuitive, unplanned experience. Getting into a granfalloon, on the other hand, usually involves showing two forms of ID.

For most of the past 50 years, computers have been on the side of the granfalloons, good at maintaining bureaucratic structures and blind to more nuanced social interactions. But a new kind of software called social-network mapping promises to change all that. Instead of polishing up the org chart, the new social maps are designed to locate karasses wherever they emerge. Mapping social networks turns out to be one of those computational problems— like factoring pi out to a hundred decimal points or rendering complex light patterns on a 3-D shape— that computers can do effortlessly if you give them the right data.

Until software designer Valdis Krebs came along, however, there wasn't an easy way to translate social interactions into a machine-readable language— short of following people around, anthropologist-style, noting whom they called or whom they chatted with at the watercooler, and then typing it all into a PC. "In the late '80s," Krebs says, "I was taking two graduate classes at UCLA— a class in organization design and a class in artificial intelligence. I was real busy at my day job, and I had a lot going on in my personal life, and I started thinking, 'Boy, it would be great if I could figure out a way to do one project to hand in for both classes.' " It seemed like an unlikely combination, until a friend showed Krebs an article about an early rendition of social-network-mapping software. "I looked at the article and had that 'aha!' moment: 'Here's the project for both my classes.' "

Krebs has spent most of the last 15 years honing his mapping software, which he called InFlow. He quit his day job in 1995, after IBM agreed to license the technology, and now he makes social maps full-time. Krebs is half sociologist and half digital cartographer: Many of his organizational maps are based on surveys taken of employees answering questions about whom they collaborate with, what their work patterns are. That data is then fed into InFlow, which paints striking visual portraits of social structures in organizations. They look almost like images from a chemistry textbook— dozens of molecules strung together in an intricate shape, each one representing an employee. The links between each person are a way of visualizing the flow of information through a company. "The maps show how ideas happen, how decision making happens, who the real experts are that everybody goes to," Krebs says. They show the karass buried inside the granfalloon.

Of course, modern corporations no longer need surveys to make sense of their employees' social interactions. With the rise of e-mail, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and Web personals— the watering holes of the digital realm— our social interactions now leave behind an increasingly long trail of data. And that makes them easy to map.

"If we're going to spend more of our social life online," Judith Donath says, sitting in her office at the MIT Media Lab, "how can we improve what that experience feels like? How can you convey the sense of being in a crowd or the movements of a crowd?" Stylish, and aided by a subdued, affable vocal style, Donath runs the Media Lab's Sociable Media Group, exploring what we can do with all the digital data we're implicitly collecting about ourselves.

"You have this enormous archive of your social interactions, but you need tools for visualizing that history, for feeling like you're actually inhabiting it," Donath says. Turning her sleek, black flat-panel display toward me, she loads up Social Network Fragments, created by Danah Boyd, a grad student, and Jeff Potter, a programmer. The program is visually stunning, if somewhat overwhelming: a floating mass of colored proper names projected over a black background and clustered into five or six loosely defined groups. It looks more like a work of information sculpture than a supplement to e-mail software.

The program was featured as a work of art in a gallery show in New York City in the summer of 2002. But the data it represents are culled from mundane sources: the addresses of e-mail messages sent or received. By looking at the names of people whom you send messages to or receive them from, and who gets cc'd or bcc'd on those messages, the software builds a portrait of your social networks. If you often send messages to your entire family, the software will draw links between the names of all the people you've included in those messages; if you cc a few colleagues on a message to an important client, it will connect those names as well.

Assuming you have a significant amount of e-mail traffic, the software will create a remarkably sophisticated assessment of your various social groups, showing you not only their relative size but also the interactions between different groups. If your college buddies have grown close to members of your family, you'll see those two groups overlap on the screen, like two crowds huddled next to each other.

Intelligence analysts once assumed that terrorists organize in isolated cells. But social-network maps revealed that the 9/11 hijackers' cells morphed into a hub-and-spoke pattern with an obvious leader: Mohammed Atta. The active structure resembled that of an IBM project team.

If these visualizations are interesting for individuals, they're even more interesting for large organizations, where social networks can play a key role in the success or failure of the operation without any individual really knowing where all the networks are. Every large organization has its granfalloons and its karasses. You have your executive vice president for sales, and the 10 deputies who report to her— that's a granfalloon. The karass is the group of 10 people from 10 different divisions who come together to make sure the new product ships on time. Granfalloons are what you see in the annual report and the business plan; the karass is what actually happens on the ground, when things are going well. It's that implicit social structure that both Donath and Krebs are after, in their different ways.

Social mapping is not just for corporate sociologists. Krebs has used his software to analyze the social networks visible in book-buying patterns on Amazon.com, by tracking the "people who bought this book bought these other books" feature. The software starts with one book and follows the links out to five books connected by an Amazon customer's purchasing habits; then the software moves on to 25 books connected to the five. (If he's attempting a particularly broad study, he'll do another sweep.) Then the InFlow software creates a map showing clusters of books that are often purchased together— and by association, clusters of book buyers with shared interests. These are implicit social networks, not explicit ones; you don't necessarily know the people in your cluster, but you have a lot in common nonetheless.

Not surprisingly, social-network software is ripe for political analysis. "A few weeks ago," Krebs says, "I got into a discussion online about the state of the country politically, and some people were arguing that the country was really divided, that we were back to where we were after the 2000 election. One side can't stand the other side. And I started thinking, I wonder if you could see evidence for this in the book-reading networks." Krebs used InFlow to analyze the network of book purchases surrounding two best-selling titles, one from the left (Michael Moore's Stupid White Men) and one from the right (Ann Coulter's Slander).

"What I got were two cliques that were about as distinct as they could be. I kept looking for paths that crossed between them. Every time I tried to follow one of these paths, I'd go out three or four steps, and then boom, I'm right back in the clique." Most strikingly, the two networks intersected only on a single title: Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong. Otherwise, the two groups were engrossed in entirely different reading lists, with no common ground.

Those two cliques make it clear that tools designed to detect social networks are just as good at detecting antisocial behavior as well— for sniffing out the karasses that don't ever speak to each other or those linked by one solitary thread. For corporate managers and sociologists alike, this may prove to be the software's most useful function. It shows us the gaps in the network, the borders that no one dares cross.


Learn more about InFlow and the work of Valdis Krebs: www.orgnet.com.

Read about Danah Boyd and Jeff Potter's Social Network Fragments project at smg.media.mit.edu/ projects/SocialNetworkFragments.

[Ross Mayfield's Weblog]
7:13:50 AM    comment []

Charles F. Kettering. "Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
7:10:06 AM    comment []

Towards Structured Blogging. Sbastien Paquet has a great article with thoughts about how we can move towards structured blogging. You know, where the meaning of what we post is captured more systematically than just being a bunch of words one can link to.
"Lately I've been thinking about how we could evolve blogging tools to allow people to author more structured (dare I say semantic?) content, so that other people could find their stuff that they find of interest more easily.Right now what we have, globally speaking, is pretty much a huge pool of blog posts, each implicitly tied to a particular weblog author and with a date slapped on. Now, say I've written a review of the latest Radiohead album into my blog. I'd like others who are interested in Radiohead, or in music reviews in general, and who may not know me, to be able to pick out my review from the common pool in a simple way. Interesting people may come my way because of this.What we're talking about is getting people to put more metadata on their content. Now allowing it is one thing, and fostering it is another. And I'd say the latter is the bigger challenge. Here are some ideas....continued in Towards Structured Blogging"
Good stuff. Seb suggests some ways of choosing what types of thing you're posting in your weblog entry. Like, is it a 'Music Review' for example. That would allow services a step beyond Internet Topic Exchange aggregating postings more intelligently. I think we need something a couple of steps beyond that, but I can't quite articulate what exactly that is, so this would be an easy place to start. [Ming the Mechanic]
7:08:58 AM    comment []

RFID. Is RFID inherently Evil? Not a chip in your body, like EvilCorp Applied Digital Solutions proposes, but in your household products, your clothes, and your car. And it's here now. With almost no law anywhere to restrict its use.

But then again, how often do you use products made or sold by Benetton, Prada, British retailer Tesco, Proctor & Gamble, and Wal-Mart? Phillips Semiconductor alone has already sold half a Billion of these chips. [MetaFilter]
7:01:36 AM    comment []

Robert McLaw found an RSS News Aggregator (<a href="javascript:void(window.open('http://www.tatochip.com/Snarf/Default.aspx','_search'));">SNARF!, which stands for Simple News Aggregator for RSS Feeds) that was built with ASP.NET. It's very good -- it'll open up a search bar over on the left if you're using IE on Windows. Not sure if it works on any other browser or OS, but I really don't care, so probably should assume that this is a Windows-centric thing.

7:00:14 AM    comment []

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Ten minutes' electricity no longer "too cheap to meter". Chinese coin-op cellphone charging stations -- which charge $1 or so for ten minutes' juice -- are coming to a mall near you. Link Discuss (via Gizmodo) [Boing Boing Blog]
7:34:25 AM    comment []

Slashdot | Benetton Clothing to Carry RFID Tags.

An anonymous reader writes "Clothing manufacturer Benetton has announced that they will begin embedding RFID tags in clothing for inventory control purposes. You can read more about this at SF Gate." morcheeba adds more information: --- "EETimes is reporting that Benetton will be embedding a Philips RFID chip into the label of every new garment bearing the name of Benetton's core clothing brand, Sisley. The 15 million chips expected sold in 2003 will allow monitoring of garments from production to shipping, shelves and dressing rooms. The I.CODE chip (tech info) used in Benetton's labels will include 1,024 bits of EEPROM and operate at a distance of up to 1.5 meters. RFIDs look like they would be extremely uncomfortable in some Sisley clothes."

[Privacy Digest]
7:32:38 AM    comment []

EE Times - Clothier Benetton adopts Philips' RFID technology for 'smart' labels.

PARIS -- Philips Semiconductors' RFID chip will be embedded into the label of every new garment bearing the name of Benetton's core clothing brand, Sisley.

Philips said Tuesday (March 11)) it sewed up the design win with European clothier Benetton through close work with LAB ID, an Italian system integrator. Philips estimated that it will ship 15 million RFID chips, based on its I.CODE ICs, to Benetton in 2003.

[ ... ]

Since I.CODE ICs are embedded into garment labels, they would remain attached for the life of an each piece of clothing. As the use of RFID chips moves closer to consumers, some worry about privacy issues raised by the tracking capabilities of RFID technology. Duverne said standards groups are looking for a uniform way to "deactivate" the RFID function after clothes with smart labels are purchased by consumers.

The I.CODE chip used in Benetton's labels includes 1,024 bits of EEPROM and operates at 13.56-MHz carrier frequency. It can be operated without line of sight up to 1.5 meters. The label requires no internal power supply. Its contactless interface generates power and the system clock via the resonant circuitry by inductive coupling to the reader.

[Privacy Digest]
7:32:05 AM    comment []

California kleptocrats auctioning airport confiscata on eBay. Some California airports donate the nation's confiscated pocket-knives to thrift shops, but now the State of California is working with the Oakland and Sacramento airports to auction the confiscata on eBay.
So far, $16,281 has been made selling objects taken from passengers at Oakland and Sacramento airports -- the only ones in Northern California to participate in the state program.

Among the oddest items confiscated and sold were at least three circular saws, hatchets, curtain rods and a little girl's baton, said Robb Deignan, spokesman for the surplus property disposal program, a division of the California Department of General Services.

Also sold: 5,364 pocketknives, 350 pounds of scissors, 594 corkscrews and 309 leatherman tools.

"Surplus property disposal program," man, that's gooooood bureaucratese. Link Discuss (via Schism Matrix) [Boing Boing Blog]

WTF!  I can just see it now, "Uh sir, We need to take that laptop from you.  We feel we could get a lot for it on ebay, err, I mean, We deem it a security hazard." 

I think it is good they are trying to make some money here, but there has to be a better way.

7:30:46 AM    comment []

RFID tags in Benetton clothing. Benetton is buying 15 million RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to attach to the labels in their clothing as an anti-theft measure. People are freaked out (again) about privacy issues, but the reality (at least today) is that the range of RFID tech is too short for someone to drive by your house and scan your closet. Still, it does make sense to zap the tags out of commission once items are paid for. Link Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]
7:28:09 AM    comment []

Azeem digs up an essay by Paul Saffo on information overload and new organisationional structures, written 14 years ago, to make a case for generalists.

We are in a pickle today because we are trying to manage 21st century information overload with 19th century intellectual skills. For example, we still prize the ability to recall specific information over the skill of making connections among seemingly unrelated information. We have become a society of specialists, each knowing more and more about less and less.  

One of the important antecedents was the introduction of the printing press. Prior to the Gutenberg, memory--the ability to recall tomes--was the over-riding metric for scholarship. When printed books meant recall was less valuable, literacy being a more potent skill.

Saffo postulates a similar shift with the now familiar consequences in organisational structures, work behaviour and machine-to-machine conversations.

Azeem goes on to postulate that organizations do not value generalists for three reasons: specialization of processes, an educational system that creates them and the threat they pose to specialist managers.

Overcoming the organizational inertia that reinforces specialization may well be the largest barrier to advancing our capacity to process information.  Institutions are powerful things.  But so is the flow of information. 

Take education for example, which is on a path of convergence of diversity.  Convergence of disciplines is where real innovation and discovery occurs.  Never before has the barrier to sharing and accessing information across disciplines been so low, and as a consequence, fields like social network analysis have become reinvigorated.  The falling cost of information processing has also increased the amount of quantified analysis in every field.  Most social sciences are rapidly converging with economics and even hard sciences.  Educational programs stem from research and the definition of fields of study, offering more inter-disciplinary educational paths.

Innovation springs from intermingling diversity.  Commercial organizations will continue to value specialists to assure competence and deep discovery in given lines of research.  But like the trend in education -- stove pipes and protectionism will fall.  The costs are minimal and the risk of exchanging information is minimal compared to the rewards. 

The design challenge is systems that support both generalists and specialists without creating information overload to empower their collaborative discovery and gradually dissolve their distinctions.

[Ross Mayfield's Weblog]
7:27:33 AM    comment []

Benetton embedding RFID tags in clothing.

The San Francisco Chronicle online reports that some clothes sold at Benetton's stores will have RFID tags embedded in the labels.

[Smart Mobs]
7:26:36 AM    comment []

GPS spawns fears of "Geoslavery".

CNN reports on Jerome Dobson's concerns that GPS technology may be hazardous to personal liberties. Dobson is president of the American Geographical Society. "Geoslavery" is a good word for describing one of the biggest downsides to smartmob technology.

[Smart Mobs]
7:26:24 AM    comment []

Al Franken. "It's easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
6:45:00 AM    comment []

Iraqi drone revealed. There had been a lot of furor about a supposed drone, capable of spraying biological or chemical weapons over U.S. troops, which was discovered in Iraq recently, and which the Hans Blix didn't mention in his U.N. report, but burried in a big report. Sounded like a smoking gun, and Colin Powell presented it as being very dangerous. But here you see it on the picture. It is essentially a large model airplane, which is controlled from somebody on the ground who has it within visual range. Meaning, it wouldn't be able to move more than max 5 kilometers or so around. And it doesn't exactly have room for any fancy weapons. Another embarrassing non-story. Story here [Ming the Mechanic]
6:39:54 AM    comment []

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

SETI@Home identifies 150+ possible alien intelligences. The SETI@Home distcomp project has borne fruit: 150+ signals that match SETI's criteria for probable alien intelligence have been identified, and the project is going back to the Arecibo radio-telescope-array to take a closer look at them.
"This is the culmination of more than three years of computing, the largest computation ever done," said UC Berkeley computer scientist David Anderson, director of SETI@home. "It's a milestone for the SETI@home project."

SETI@home users should find out the results of the re-observations - what The Planetary Society, the founding and principal sponsor of SETI@home, is billing as the "stellar countdown" - within two to three months.

Though excited at the opportunity to re-observe as many as 150 candidate signals, Anderson is cautious about raising people's expectations that they will discover a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.

Link Discuss (via Robot Wisdom) [Boing Boing Blog]
8:21:53 PM    comment []

Checking DNA by cell phone.

WiGID, a DNA database searchable by cell phone has been released by Bjorn Ursing, of the Karolinska Institute's Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics.


FOS also notes BioWAP, "a bioinformatics service for portable devices (such as mobile phones) with WAP... facilitat[ing] use of bioinformatics services practically anytime anywhere."

(via FOSnews)

[Smart Mobs]
7:30:55 PM    comment []

The Martian NetDrive Wireless: 40 gigabytes of small, silent, 802.11b filesharing

[80211b News]
7:29:52 PM    comment []

AuctionDrop - sell your stuff on ebay by dropping it off. This is a really neat idea. You take your stuff down to this place and they sell it for you on ebay. They take a cut for all the processing, but you can get rid of all that junk you want to sell without having to run your yard sale all weekend :) [CogWorks News]
6:51:16 AM    comment []

What'll We Leave to our Kids?

Mitch is back on the air with news that his son is just about recovered from acute appendicitis. Mitch has been offline since last Wednesday, so I've felt apprehensive. He had written that he was re-thinking being a Dad and therefore a human:

...if we start using this technology the right way, maybe he and other kids will grow up to spend more time with their kids. I remember going to the hospital a couple times around his age and not seeing my father for more than a few minutes at a time, where I slept by my son's bed (or, rather, didn't sleep). So, while we take care of this I appreciate your coming by the blog to check if there's anything new.

The hospital has given me a lot of time to think about how we use technology, why I use it to work more rather than less, and so forth. I believe, looking backward and forward, that many folks have forgotten the emigrant ethos of making a better world for our kids. We dote on them more, but when you look around the hospital it is clear that a lot of what we do is create distractions -- from pain, from life. There are Nintendo systems and geegaws and, yesterday, a Mardi Gras party. But what happens when we step out the door, kid in tow? Do we go back to work? Do we stay engaged? Do we work to make it better? I know, we all want our kids to go to college, but that is a sort of maintenance effort these days -- like sending a child off to apprentice with the local printer or silversmith 200 years ago.

Everything about the level of connectivity I enjoy tells me there are powerful forces that could substantially improve my kids' lives if they are put to use to make them participants in, and not just consumers of, the media in which we live.

My kids Brian and Kelly are in their early 30's. They're doing fine and living the lives they want (Brian's a GIS specialist in environmental remediation and Kelly's a yoga teacher/artist/poet/web designer). But from where I sit, their economic environment seems too iffy. I feel that our generation has let them down, so focused on our own path that we've left too many divots in the playing field.

Tonight on West Wing, they'll replay the episode where Toby and Josh spend the night in a motel in Indiana and meet a dad taking his daughter to a college interview. They run into this dad in the bar because he's avoiding telling his daughter he doesn't know how to pay for her college. He and his wife have good jobs and are frugal but can't do this vital thing for their daughter. They expect to work hard, but can't it be just a little easier?

Can't it be just a little easier?

Indeed. Everyone is working harder but most seem to me to be less sure of the trajectory of their lives. It's clear we've mastered the trick of overfeeding ourselves and keeping a pretty good roof over our heads, but the level of effort to match our expectations seems so over-the-top that it clearly cannot be sustained. Most of us lead lives that can't scale.

Perhaps part of the problem is that our cultural flight plan has vectored us into the Bermuda Triangle. The 50's offered unlimited promise; the 60's, passion and enfranchisement; the 70's, consolidation and a recovery; the 80's a technical and financial renaissance; the 90's an eruption of promise, wealth and unlimited horizons. Each decade seemed worth investing more time and effort to achieve what our immigrant forebears had wished for us.

But the market bust and our reaction to the 19 fanatics who got lucky have caused us to slip into a spiral of pessimism and doubt. As usual, these distortions have brought out opportunists who leap at the chance to turn public difficulty to private advantage. Meanwhile, most of the people who do the heavy lifting in our culture are wondering how their lives became so daunting.

Everything's a Nail to Me

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so naturally I want to give our livelihoods a good Xpertweb whack. In looking at Andre Durand's suggestion that individuals hijack the Liberty Alliance protocol, Mitch points out today that Xpertweb is one way to enable a strip-mall solution rather than nothing-but-net ideas. It's true, and I hadn't thought of it that way.

When I was a real estate developer in Denver, I built the Kipling Place strip mall. One of our tenants was Rocco's Deli, owned by a former Johns Manville accountant from New Jersey. Rocco's is the kind of place that would benefit from Xpertweb, and I think the accountant in Rocco would love the data stream that Xpertweb generates automatically. And from the customer's point of view, if you're looking for a Ruben sandwich, do you wanna go to the Southwest Plaza food court or to Rocco's, whose Ruben is rated 97.4% with customer comments that make your mouth water? Fuggedaboutit!

Everyone wants to re-calibrate their future. That's the same everyone who does all the work and the everyone who has all the money. There is no technical barrier to building a public economic utility for everyone, a place where everyone's kids can find work and mentorship and build a reputation, and everyone can find certain satisfaction from vendors vetted by everyone else.

[Escapable Logic]
6:50:44 AM    comment []

Irish Researcher Speeds Up Fight Against Bio-Terrorism.

The University of Ulster reports that one of its researchers has pioneered new DNA fingerprint techniques that could save thousands of lives in the event of a bioterrorist attack.

Dr Colm Lowery, from the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, has developed a revolutionary method of detecting the killer bugs that could be used to wipe out entire populations if terrorists strike.
Current methods of tracing potential bio-terrorist agents such as Cryptosporidium or Clostridium botulinum can take up to five days, Dr Lowery’s new DNA Finger Printing technique takes only 15 minutes, a vital time saving mechanism that would save countless numbers of lives in the event of biological warfare.
Dr Lowery’s work is so significant that he has been awarded a prestigious Winston Churchill Fellowship and invited to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, Atlanta, USA, to work alongside the world’s leading scientists in the fight against bioterrorism.

Please note that the Winston Churchill Fellowship Awards will be publicly announced sometime after March 14, 2003.

"Current scientific practices take several days to establish whether or not there has actually been an outbreak. These new cutting edge techniques will act as an early warning system for detecting these killer bugs in our water supplies. The method can equally be applied to routine monitoring of food and drinking water quality for the natural occurrence of these deadly pathogens," explained Dr Lowery.
He also added that "Because the DNA finger printing technology is so fast it will be invaluable in the event of a biological attack, allowing the quick detection of the source and type of agent that has been used. Subsequently, it will be easier to treat victims and prevent more outbreaks. The bottom line is that the introduction of these new technologies will help save lives."

For more information about DNA fingerprinting, check this National Science Foundation page.

Source: University of Ulster, March 10, 2003

[Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends]
6:44:29 AM    comment []

Marion Parker. "Be kind - Remember every one you meet is fighting a battle - everybody's lonesome." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
6:39:44 AM    comment []

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