Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tracking the California Fires

TechReview has been discussing how the National Interagency Fire Center has called on NASA to use its unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a new thermal-imaging sensor to help track the fires:

The sensor is much more sensitive in the thermal range than are the line scanners that are normally used to map fires. The new sensor can also track a fire with greater accuracy, says Everett Hinkley, the National Remote Sensing Program manager at the U.S. Forest Service and a principal investigator...

...Capturing the images in real time is a major advance. Previously, images captured by a sensor had to be put on a "thumb drive" and dropped out of the aircraft through a tube as it flew near a command station, or the aircraft had to land so that the data could be given to a colleague to perform the analysis.

Read - Tracking the California Fires


Generation Mesh: Working at Wi-Fi Hotspots

The blog over at Institute for the Future mentions Laura Forlano's new published piece in Vodafone's Receiver, which provides a view on her ongoing dissertation research into how public Wi-Fi is reshaping work and collaboration:

Here are some excerpts:

For Generation Mesh, Starbucks – as well as independent cafés, parks and other public spaces where it is possible to access the wireless internet – is a vital site for social interaction, professional support, collaboration and, even, community. I use this term in reference to mesh networks, sometimes called ad hoc networks, which are decentralized wireless networks in which every node can both send and receive information. They are dynamic, flexible and self-organizing.....

Seeking to create an officelike atmosphere – in contrast to the prospect of working at home in their pajamas – pioneers have founded collaborative office spaces... In essence, these new, ad hoc organizational forms that rely on clustering, in a "smart mob"-like fashion, around WiFi hotspots are simulating the office environment that they lack as remote workers, telecommuters, freelancers or self-employed workers.....

Read full article at - Vodafone Receiver » #19 | Generation Mesh

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Green Mobility Futures

Jamais Cascio over at Open the Future takes a look at a green future full of photovoltaic clothes and smart walls:

What does a future world of photovoltaic material look like? How do smart walls, "Watt Torrent" power-sharing networks, and electric hyperbikes sound to you? In Metropolis' latest issue, these scenario fragments come to life -- or, at least, show up in a 2017 version of Craig's List. I wrote the piece a few months ago, and it was easily the most fun I've had building a scenario in quite some time...

I went with the Craig's List conceit because it gave me a chance to play with some different manifestations of this future, and to hint at some of what it might include. Not just in terms of solar power and materials, but little bits of plausible surreality, like carbon quota checks in apartment applications.

Read more at Green Leap Forward

Greener travel

Two posts here from Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends worth mentioning:

1) Toward greener jet fuels:

Researchers at Princeton University are currently working on two projects to reduce jet travel's role in global warming. The first one, a major project funded by the U.S. Air Force with $7.5 million, is focused on developing computational models that accurately simulate the burning of jet fuel, a complex process not well understood today. The second one, funded by NetJets, a company providing business jets, will help to develop new jet fuels with near-zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

2) The world's biodiesel potential:

Two researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M) have ranked 226 countries according to their potential to make large volumes of biodiesel at low cost. Their evaluation of the world's potential to produce biodiesel shows that Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, Uruguay and Ghana are the developing nations most likely to attract biodiesel investment for several reasons including agricultural and political factors. The researchers have estimated that 'a grand total of 51 billion liters of biodiesel could be produced annually -- enough to meet roughly 4-5 percent of the world's existing demand for petroleum diesel.'


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Biometrics testing at Gatwick Airport

Gatwick airport is the latest UK airport to trial biometric fingerprinting technology to boost immigration security:

The BioDev pilot has been running in the airport's North Terminal since 18 September and is due to end in April next year. At present only arrivals from Sierra Leone who have been issued with biometric visas in the capital Freetown will be included in the trial....

A Home Office spokeswoman explained that Sierra Leone was chosen because the main flight into Gatwick from the country arrives at a quiet time with a low number of passengers. This makes it logistically easier for immigration staff to trial the tech.

Read full story - 'Biometrics wing their way into Gatwick' - via Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #184


Google Earth used to target Israel

The Guardian reports in 'Google Earth used to target Israel' how Palestinian militants are using Google Earth to help plan their attacks on the Israeli military and other targets:

Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group aligned with the Fatah political party, say they use the popular internet mapping tool to help determine their targets for rocket strikes.

"We obtain the details from Google Earth and check them against our maps of the city centre and sensitive areas," Khaled Jaabari, the group's commander in Gaza who is known as Abu Walid, told the Guardian.

Abu Walid showed the Guardian an aerial image of the Israeli town of Sderot on his computer to demonstrate how his group searches for targets.

Another indication of the blurring between digital and physical worlds, a type of augmented reality...


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Google's Health Platform

Google plans to bring its immense data storage and organization capacities to the field of medical care and patient records, incorporating personal medical records, health care-related search features, diet and exercise regimens, a localized "find a doctor" application, and other elements:

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mayer outlined the ways in which the search giant plans to bring its immense data storage and organization capacities to the field of medical care and patient records. Google is already the starting point for a large majority of the health-related searches on the Web, she pointed out.

"If you look at health care, there's already a huge user need, people are already using Google more than any other tool on the Web to find health information," Mayer said. "And the health care industry generates a huge amount of information every year. It's a natural core competency fo us, to understand how to organize all that data."

Read full story - 'Google Says Its Health Platform Is Due In Early 2008'


Can a Flying Car be Successful?

This is a question that has been asked by many innovators. Now, a group of MIT alums believe that they are on their way toward overcoming this problem...or so they claim:

Founded in 2006 and called Terrafugia, their startup, based in Woburn, MA, recently produced the first automated folding wing for a light sport aircraft. (A light sport aircraft is a type of airplane deemed by the Federal Aviation Administration to be easier to fly and hence more accessible than regular private planes.) The wing, however, is just the first step toward an aero-auto hybrid that the company plans to call the Transition.

This summer, the group demonstrated its folding wing at the annual AirVenture aviation festival in Oshkosh, WI. With more than 650,000 attendees, the festival is the most important event in experimental-aircraft aviation.

Read in full - 'Flying Car About to Take Off?'


Monday, October 22, 2007

Mobile phones on planes?

This article from the BBC reports that passengers could soon be using their mobile phones on planes flying through European airspace. Is this an inevitable move?

Plans have been developed across EU countries to introduce technology which permits mobile calls without risk of interference with aircraft systems.

Regulators around Europe are calling for consultation on the potential introduction of the technology. If given the go ahead, the service would allow calls to be made when a plane is more than 3,000 metres high.

Individual airlines would need to decide if they wanted to introduce the technology, if the green light is given by national regulators.

Read full story - 'Mobile phone use backed on planes'


Hand-held supercomputers 'on way'

BBCNews reports that it may soon be possible for the creation of tiny supercomputers which could fit in the palm of the hand:

Engineers at the University of Edinburgh studied the behaviour of wires which were 1,000 times thinner than human hair. They then created a tool which could help develop tiny microchips.

German and Italian experts also worked on the project. Their findings will be published in the journal Science. It is hoped that the discovery will eventually lead to medical advances, as well as hand-held PCs and mobile phones as powerful as laptops becoming available on the high street.

Read full story - Hand-held supercomputers 'on way'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Solving the Climate Crisis

Open the Future has a worthwhile discussion on climate change that takes a specific look at the central issues of prevention, mitigation, and remediation:

They cover three broad categories: Prevention (actions that reduce the risks of global warming or soften its eventual impact); Mitigation (actions directed at reducing the harm of global warming, and as possible reducing its sources); and Remediation (actions intended to reverse global warming and its effects). Each of these entails its own set of political, economic and environmental risks.

One of the reasons why the answers are not cut-and-dried is an aspect of global warming that, as yet, still does not receive the kind of mainstream attention it deserves: climate commitments. It turns out that, no matter what we do, we are committed to a certain amount of continued warming and climate change. Moreover, the longer we wait to start acting seriously, the more of a commitment we'll build up.

Read full article - 'Solving the Climate Crisis'

SimCity Societies

Open the Future has an interesting post on the new version of SimCity -- SimCity Societies -- which is due out in the US this month. It appears to be a much more realistic simulation of how social forces operate in a societal context. Could be a useful educational tool too?

SimCity Societies takes a different path. Rather than worry about building zones and water supplies, the new game gives the player the tools with which to build the kind of society she or he wants: agrarian, totalitarian, creative, and so forth. The challenges that one faces depend on the kind of culture that has emerged:

In addition to building up simolians (the game's currency), each city generates "social energies." These energies come in six forms: Industry, Wealth, Obedience, Knowledge, Creativity and Devotion. Different buildings give off specific energies and citizens adapt according to the city's vibe. By using this design, players can toy with various social experiments that include eco-friendly buildings, whacky Creative cities with gingerbread houses or dystopian police-states. Or players can go for it all and even try for a free-wheeling eclectic society.

Go to full post


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cheating on the Carpool?

TechReview has a good article on a new infrared system that can tell people from decoys in an effort to catch people who sneek into carpooling lanes... are people really this desperate to go as far as costumed mannequins in passenger seats, dolls swaddled like babies--even dogs in bonnets?

A company called Vehicle Occupancy, based at Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, England, says that it has developed an infrared camera-mounted scanning system that foils 95 percent of such trickery.

Automated systems for counting passengers have a heightened appeal as many urban areas with crowded roadways contemplate occupancy-based tolls as a way to pay for new highway construction. "We are far better at looking inside the car than the human," says Tim Ballantyne, Vehicle Occupancy's director of business development. "We can see 95 percent of the people in the car, whereas a trooper sees just 65 percent." Vehicle Occupancy's system, dubbed Dtect, was tested against humans from a distance of 150 feet, with cars moving at about 50 miles per hour, Ballantyne says.

Read full article - 'Foiling Carpool-Lane Cheaters: A new infrared system can tell people from decoys'


personal rapid transit systems running through our cities?

The Guardian reports in 'Welcome to the transport of tomorrow' on the rise of personal rapid transport (PRT) systems that are coming closer to large-scale realisation:

When Heathrow Terminal 5 opens next year, a network of up to 18 driverless pods will ferry people between the main terminal and its car parks, where each pod will be controlled by an internal computer and onboard sensor systems.

Welcome to the pioneering world of personal rapid transport (PRT) - a feasible technological solution to the chronic problem of traffic congestion, offering public transport with the privacy of a car.

Basically, a driverless four-seater vehicle (call it a podcar if you like) that automatically runs on a guideway over a dedicated network, lighter than light rail and running on a fraction of its energy, PRT has been the ambition of a select group of engineers since the late 1950s. But only now are the first networks being constructed.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

matterealities, mobilities, innovation


matterealities, mobilities, innovation.

A growing body of studies show that in the detailed how of ‘how matter comes to matter’ (Barad 2003) the social and the material are inextricably linked. However, the very practices that join also often conceal such entanglement - in everyday practice, politics, science and design. In this interdisciplinary workshop we seek to explore a particular set of connections between 'matterealities', mobilities and innovation:

Matterealities: If social-material realities or orders are made, two questions arise: ‘How are they made?’ and ‘How could they be made ‘better’?’ Science and technology studies and ethnomethodological studies address the first, and – sometimes also the second question (e.g. through socio-technical innovation and ‘engaged’ research (Sismondo 2007). However, while these studies can powerfully draw our attention to the entanglement of the social and the material, they often struggle to escape the dualisms entrenched in our languages and epistemic practices. Non-representational philosophy and Barad’s agential realism in particular, open up new possibilities for a study of ‘intra-action’, not only by focusing on how epistemic practices and 'pre-cognitive' 'matereal' ethnomethods of embodied conduct make material agential forces ‘speak’ and matter, but also by formulating a new physical epistem-ontology. The convergence of increasingly powerful and small computing, sensor and actuator technologies with everyday materials, including the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the places we live, play and work in – presents a particularly rich challenge for this approach. Whereas research into socio-technical settings and practices has tended to look at human-computer interaction and 'the virtual' (cyberspace and life online), research must now also look towards the intra-actions of digital phenomena and the 'materealization' of socio-technical realities.

Mobilities: A new ‘movement-driven’ social science (Urry 2007) reveals movement, potential movement and blocked movement as constitutive of economic, social, political, environmental and material relations. Movement, momentum, and motion are also integral to epistemic practices. Moreover, they rely on and can reveal media (air, water) and infrastructural support (roads, cables, satellites, networks). Combining a focus on mobilities with studies of intra-action can make important aspects of the entanglement of the social and the material amenable to study.

Innovation: Can studies of how socio-material realities are made inform the making of ‘better’ realities? A first answer must be ‘No’, because by drawing attention to the entanglement of the social and the material, such studies show that it is difficult if not impossible to know what ‘better’ might mean, to go beyond the scale of ‘us, here and now’, let alone decide what steps would enable the matterealization of better futures (without treading loose an avalanche of unintended consequences). Yet, it is so tempting to think that ‘issues of social order and intelligibility must be understood before social problems can be intelligently addressed’ (Garfinkel 2002, p. 54) and that once such issues are better understood, social, material technical problems could be intelligently addressed. Experience from ethnomethodologically informed technology design reframes the ambition: First, by changing the way in which innovation is conceived of and achieved towards a more collaborative, iterative (pervasive and never-ending), interdisciplinary process (Suchman 1999), and second, by seeking to change the products of innovation, making technologies that support creative appropriation in the context of everyday innovation (e.g. Dourish 2001, Chalmers, PalCom). Agential realism opens up new possibilities for these approaches and provides an opportunity to widen the focus to other forms of socio-technical change.

In this workshop we bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners to fathom, formulate and shape these possibilities and opportunities.

A maximum of 40 participants can be accepted. Registration takes place on a first come first served basis.

Registration will cost approximately £ 80.00. Details will be published on our website

A limited number of student bursaries are available. For information about these or an expression of interest please contact m.buscher(at)

Wi-fi health study

It appears that the UK government is taking another look at the effect that wireless networks have on health:

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has announced it will carry out "systematic" research into how wireless networks are being used.

The research will aim to establish average exposure to the low level radiation emitted by wi-fi access points and wireless links on computers. The HPA said it expected the results of the research to be "reassuring".

The BBC reports in 'Wi-fi health study gets go ahead'

Also, The Guardian reports in 'Wireless computer network risks to be investigated' that 'the investigation will then shift to homes, offices and schools. Officials are particularly keen to measure exposure levels in classrooms, where tens of computers may be hooked up to a wireless network at the same time.'


Bloggers unite to go green

Worldchanging reports that on Monday's Blog-Action-Day bloggers were asked this year to spend the day typing about the environment:

UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall said people often felt overwhelmed by global environmental problems -- bloggers such as one called "" could help with their tips on recycling household items such as blue jeans or eyeglasses.

Jeans, for instance, can be cut up and used in other clothing. Glasses can sometimes be re-used, often by people in developing nations, if handed in to a specialized recycler.

Reuters reports also in 'Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green tips' that

15,800 sites had signed up and were offering ideas to millions of people via blogs, or online diaries, ranging from planting more trees to how to recycle plastics.

"Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future," according to


Monday, October 15, 2007

Technology To Detect Terrorists

ScienceDaily reports on new technologies that detect the 'dangerous intentions' of those people on the move:

Airport screeners, customs agents, police officers and members of the military who silently pose that question to people every day, may soon have much more than intuition to depend on to determine the answer.

Computer and behavioral scientists at the University at Buffalo are developing automated systems that track faces, voices, bodies and other biometrics against scientifically tested behavioral indicators to provide a numerical score of the likelihood that an individual may be about to commit a terrorist act.

"The goal is to identify the perpetrator in a security setting before he or she has the chance to carry out the attack," said Venu Govindaraju, Ph.D., professor of computer science and engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Govindaraju is co-principal investigator on the project with Mark G. Frank, Ph.D., associate professor of communication in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

Read in full - 'Technology Would Help Detect Terrorists Before They Strike'


Tokyo Motor Show

A sneak look at some of the exhibits and concept cars from this year's Tokyo motor show will reveal flashy concept cars that both try to mimic nature (such as 'the wind' in the above vehicle). There are also concept vehicles for individual mobility such as Toyota's I-Real:

Blurb - 'It looks like a roofless plush armchair that scoots about on wheels, with buttons and controls on the arms. It changes positions, straightening up for moving slowly to mingle with pedestrians, while shifting to lay back to travel faster at up to 30 kph (18.6 mph)'

See the full post here

More on Toyota's 'personal mobility vehicles' - Smartmobs writes that:

Toyota is planning to roll out the latest in its “personal mobility” vehicles at the 2007 Toyota Auto Show. The new RiN Concept monitors the driver’s mood and takes steps to keep it even-keel. It accomplishes this through seats designed to maintain good back posture, an oxygen-level conditioner, and a pinpoint humidifier. Presumably these features help eliminate subconscious, physical discomfort which could contribute to angry drivers. Another, more exciting feature is an image display that aligns with the driver’s psychological state. These image displays are conveyed within the meter cluster of the mood-training steering control.

Read more on this from 'How the Toyota PM Works'

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hydrogen Hybrid Canal Boat

Now here is a tempting look at possible future mobile-lifestyles - back to the days of the canal boats...something I have often considered myself (as long as it came with satellite communications...).

Green Car Congress reports on how engineers at the University of Birmingham (UK) have developed a zero-emission hydrogen hybrid canal boat - 'The boat, called The Ross Barlow, is fully operational and demonstrates how a combination of magnet and fuel cell technologies could be used to power inland waterways craft'. The post continues:

The Ross Barlow was created by converting a standard maintenance boat which was donated to the University’s Protium Project by British Waterways. Engineers replaced the diesel engine with a NdFeB permanent magnet electric motor, lead-acid battery stack, metal hydride store, and 5 kW PEM fuel cell.

Schematic for the propulsion system. Click to enlarge.

The motor is designed by the Lynch motor company, and is based on a brushed 4-quadrant axial flux motor, with a power output of 10 kW (13 hp) with a maximum efficiency of 89%. The NdFeB sintered magnets for the motor were manufactured by the Hydrogen Decrepitation process (HD process).

Read in full - 'Hydrogen Hybrid Canal Boat'


Germany to build maglev railway

BBCNews reports in 'Germany to build maglev railway' how the state of Bavaria is to build a high-speed maglev railway line from Munich city centre to its airport, making it Europe's first commercial track:

Maglev trains use electric-powered magnets that enable them to float above their tracks, allowing for much faster speeds than traditional rail services.

The 1.85bn-euro ($2.6bn; £1.3bn) project had faced financing problems.

It is notable that the only regular maglev service at present is in China,

where the floating train whisks travellers between Shanghai's airport and the city's financial district. The maglev, which has a top speed of more than 500km/h (310mph), is regarded as a symbol of German technological prowess.

I've often considered high-speed maglev train networks to be one of the better options for European mass-transit futures.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

New University Bicycle Scheme

Now here's an example of ethical, environmental, and business entrepreneurship - a new scheme set-up by recent graduates James Paton and Daniel Jones, both 23, will lend bicycles to Cardiff University students in exchange for a £20 deposit. They will then sell the space between the crossbars as advertising space, and make a tidy profit on it. The duo's business will then give the students £50 if they subsequently return their bicycles in a serviceable condition. Also: 'Just when you thought the scheme couldn't get any more brilliant, the duo decided to donate the used bicycles to charity at the end of the academic year, shipping them to Gambia as part of a project called Bicycles4Africa' -

Any qualms the students might feel will no doubt be assuaged by company's charitable side, which has also pulled in sponsors. Unicycles have been working with a charity called Jole Rider that ships vast containers full of used bicycles to Africa before distributing them to secondary schools...

...Despite such protestations, the pair seem to be well on their way to success. Fifty bicycles will be loaned to Cardiff students in September, a number that will be increased after Christmas. The company then hopes to expand to other university cities next academic year, and already has its eye on some high-end institutions.

Read in full - 'Bicycle advertising: Pump up the cash'


U.K. Social Network users spend all their time on Social Networking Sites!

So is this official? Do U.K. Social Network users spend more time on Social Networking Sites than the rest of Europe? Well, SmartMobs write that:

It’s confirmed, according to comScore, that if your British, and your into Social Networking - your probably more logged into your Social Networks than anyone else in Europe, all things being equal.

Usage of social networking sites in the U.K. proved heavier than the European average in terms of hours spent, pages viewed, and the number of visits per month.

The average visitor to social networking sites in the U.K. spent 5.8 hours per month on those sites in August and made 23.3 visits. This was a significantly heavier usage level than in France, which averaged 2 hours per month and 16.8 visits per visitor, or Germany, with 3.1 hours per month and 13.8 visits per visitor.

Read in - 'U.K. Social Network users spend more time on Social Networking Sites than the rest of Europe'

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Broadband Internet access on board high-speed trains

The ESA website has announced that from 2008 broadband Internet access will be available on board high-speed trains combining satellite and mobile telephone data technologies with wireless networks:

The consortium, lead by Nokia Siemens Networks, will combine satellite and mobile telephone data technologies with wireless networks similar to WiFi hotspots to provide a continuous Internet connection on board trains travelling across national borders at speeds of 300 km/h. The service is expected to be fully operational by 2008...

...In 2005, as part of the ESA-sponsored project, 21Net designed, built and trialled a Wi-Fi (wireless local network) access system for use on trains, with the capability to support broadband Internet access and the delivery of local multimedia content such as short films and up-to-the minute news.

Read in full - 'True broadband Internet access on board high-speed trains available in 2008'


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Social Web

Two valuable links here to posts on the 'social web':

Firstly - A History of the Social Web - a draft chapter from Trebor Scholz:

This is a cross-cultural, critical history of social life on the Internet. It captures technical, cultural, and political events that influenced the evolution of computer-assisted person-to-person communication via the net. Acknowledging the role of grassroots movements, this history does not solely focus on mainstream culture with all its mergers, acquisitions, sales and markets, and the (mostly male) geeks, engineers, scientists, and garage entrepreneurs who implemented their dreams in hardware and software. This is a critical history as it traces the changing nature of labor and typologies of those who create value online as much as it searches for changing approaches toward control, privacy, and intellectual property. It shows strategies for direct social change based on the technologies and practices which already exist.

citation: Scholz, Trebor. "A History of the Social Web (draft)." 26 Sep 2007. 1 Oct 2007

Secondly, 'Visualizing Wikipedia' generates a map of this social site -

The map is generated by first laying out the graph of Wikipedia (nodes are articles, edges are links between articles) and then decorating that substrate with colours (for topics: maths, science and technology) and images. Given the broad swath of science (green) articles, a question that springs to mind is: what is divided by this class - what topics are to the left and right?


The Bike Revolution

The Economist has an article on the recent bike revolution taking place in Paris, with moves to other European cities:

The Paris scheme is entirely financed by JCDecaux, which is counting on rental fees and the sale of billboard advertising to cover its running costs and recoup the €90m ($126m) investment required to set it up. (A one-day pass for Vélib' costs €1, a weekly pass costs €5 and an annual subscription costs €29 with no additional charge as long as each ride lasts less than 30 minutes. Users also agree to a €150 security deposit.) The city of Barcelona, by contrast, pays Clear Channel Outdoor to run its “Cyclocity” scheme and pockets the rental fees. It is another success, with a 3,000-strong bike fleet that will increase to 6,000 by March next year. It already has 90,000 registered users who pay a €24 annual subscription.

JCDecaux and Clear Channel Outdoor will continue to compete for new bike schemes as well as contracts for billboards, street furniture (public loos, bus shelters and the like) and transport (advertising in airports and train stations). The French recently won a bike contract in Toulouse, and the American firm will launch a cycling scheme next month in Washington, DC. Both are lobbying hard for the right to set up a scheme in London.

Read in full - 'Vive la Vélorution!'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Trans Siberian Train Journey Exhibition



26 October 2007 - 6 January 2008

Elly Clarke and Joram ten Brink's journey on the Trans-Siberian train forms the basis of the exhibition 'The Journey/Moscow to Beijing' at London Gallery West. Travelling together as part of the 'Capturing the Moving Mind'1 conference taking place on the train, the exhibition reveals two distinct yet related interpretations of the same event.

Joram ten Brink's 16mm film The Journey is a poetic essay that weaves together images taken on and off the train with stills of modern and ancient Russia and China. As the film unfolds, these images are blended with a soundtrack layering music, dialogue, atmospheric effects and station announcements to recreate the disembodied experience of travel. Drawing equally from the traditions of documentary, personal cinema and diary films, The Journey constantly shifts its parameters, forcing the viewer to reassess the origin and meaning of the exotic content of the film. In the repeated viewing context of looped gallery projection the numerous cinematic narratives and shifting points of view in The Journey are particularly effective as they allow for multiple readings of the work.

Opening Times: Daily 09.00 – 17.00

Private View: Thursday 25 October 17.00 – 20.00 at London Gallery West

Gallery Talk – Sarah Carrington, formerly of curatorial partnership B&B, in conversation with Joram ten Brink and Elly Clarke:
Wednesday 14 November 14.30 – 15:30 at London Gallery West

BT plans wi-fi world-beater

FT.Com has an interesting post titled 'BT plans wi-fi world-beater' which describes how the BT Group is attempting to create the world’s largest wi-fi network by persuading millions of UK customers to turn their home wireless “hubs” into public hotspots:

The move could create blanket urban wi-fi coverage, and allow the fixed-line operator to compete at least partially with mobile phone operators in offering internet services on the go.

“It is a potentially disruptive move. BT may see this as an opportunity to get into the mobile market through the back door,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight.

At present most people mainly use wi-fi to connect their laptop computers to the internet, without wires, in their homes or offices.

Is this the future of extensive distributed wi-fi?

Intelligent Parking Meters & Parking Problems

Here are two latest stories coming out regarding the issue of car-parking. One involves the introduction of intelligent parking meters in a UK town; the other is about the effect of building parking for many US cars.

The Guardian writes in 'Car park meters can call for help':

A town is introducing "intelligent" car-park ticket machines which can automatically text for help if anyone attempts to break into or damage them. The 150 pay-and-display ticket machines equipped with Sim cards will also automatically request a service if they malfunction and, if full, will call for their money boxes to be emptied.

The £3,000 solar-powered wireless machines will come into operation in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on Monday. Their cries for help will be sent via text and picked up at a 24-hour control centre in Bristol and a new parking information centre in Eastbourne.

Worldchanging's post titled 'How To Fix Our Parking Problems' discusses how

Roadbuilding unleashes a chain of detrimental effects on the natural world. Cars produce greenhouse-gas emissions; roads produce sprawl; sprawl necessitates more cars; more cars need more roads; the cycle continues.

What's been less fully explored is the effect of building parking for all those cars. Or, more accurately, building surplus parking. According to a surprising new study out of Purdue University, parking spaces "in a midsize Midwestern county" (Tippecanoe) actually outnumbered cars three to one. Because the study did not count every floor in multi-level parking garages, the actual number was probably higher, with those excess spots including oversized suburban lots in front of strip malls, driveways and residential carports; and parking garages to serve large office parks.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Digital Planet: 01 Oct 07

This week's Digital Planet podcast:

How technology has changed the face of political protesting in Burma; whether social networking is key to the US presidential elections; a new way to connect to the internet using QR codes; Gareth visits an exhibition of work by architects Neutral, who use digital dynamic approaches to communicate their designs.

Download here


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Privacy row over UK mobile mast website

Ofcom's website offering details on all the mobile phone masts in the UK is in doubt following a row over divulging "commercially sensitive" information:

The Sitefinder website is maintained by media regulator Ofcom, following a request from the government in 2000. But mobile firms stopped giving data to the site last year after Ofcom was told it must publish grid references of all the masts in a searchable database.

Ofcom is appealing the order from the Information Commissioner and Tribunal. Sitefinder also shows which type of mobile phone signal is being used, the name of the operator, the frequency of the signal and the height of the mast.

Ofcom was ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish all of that information, including the grid reference of each mast in the country, in a single database file.

Read full story - 'Data row hits mobile mast website'

I just let go of my balloon...

Now here's a lovely story on how mobile connections can form friendships... even when there is no high-technology involved.

In 'I just let go of my balloon – and found a friend in China' The Times reports on a story of a young girl's balloon travelling 6000 miles to find a recipient:

A helium balloon released at a school fête on a rainy day in Manchester has been found in southern China. After a 6,000-mile journey that has meteorologists baffled, the shrivelled remains were found by Xie Yufei in a park in Guangzhou, a sprawling metropolis 75 miles north of Hong Kong. The latex balloon had been released on July 15 by Alice Maines, 4, and was one of 100 launched in a balloon race at Flixton Junior School’s annual summer fair.

Distances do not necessarily have to be tech-mediated!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

UK to Log Phonecalls and Texts

It has been revealed that under new laws information about all landline and mobile phone calls made in the UK must be logged and stored for a year:

Data about calls made and received will also be available to 652 public bodies, including the police and councils.

The Home Office said the content of calls and texts would not be read and insisted the move was vital to tackle serious crime and terrorism.But critics said it was another example of Britain's "surveillance society".

The new law, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, was signed off by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in July. It requires phone companies to log data on every call or text made to and from every phone in Britain.

Here we go, slipping and sliding into 'full information dominance'.

Read in full - 'Phonecalls and texts to be logged'


Biofuel trial flight set for 747

BBCNews reports that Air New Zealand has announced it plans to mount the first test flight of a commercial airliner partially powered by biofuel:

The 747 flight is one part of a deal signed by the airline, engine producer Rolls-Royce and aircraft manufacturer Boeing to research "greener" flying.

One of the four engines will run on a mixture of kerosene and a biofuel, and is set for late 2008 or early 2009. But Virgin Atlantic is planning to beat Air New Zealand to the punch by having its own biofuel flight early next year.

Will these posturings really solve the solution for a resource-depleted future?

Read in full - 'Biofuel trial flight set for 747'

Monday, October 01, 2007

The 50 Worst Cars of All Time

Nothing else needs to be said on this post - its a great visual treat - a 'must see'!

From Time Magazine: The 50 Worst Cars of All Time


UK Police & PDAs

Now that its peak-politics time in the UK with all the party conferences - lets see whats been on offer!

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has 'pledged to arm police with thousands of "handheld computers" so officers can make more effective use of their time and increase the amount of frontline policing they do'. According to a recent article:

Brown, who was making his maiden speech as leader to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, said: "We will provide hand held computers - 1,000 now, by next year 10,000 right across the country - cutting paperwork so that officers can log crimes on the spot, stay on the beat and not waste time returning to the station to fill out forms."

Mobile data devices are currently being trialled by several police forces in the UK, including Cheshire Police, while the British Transport Police completed a rollout of handheld data devices back in March.

Read post in full - 'Police to be armed with 10,000 handhelds'