“The maze of electronics on a typical circuit board can be difficult to decipher, but as hackers and tinkerers grow in number, an industry and web community have emerged to provide them with instructions to make their work simpler.”
We build the parts, you build the product
The creator of Zoybar, an open-source hardware platform that lets anyone invent their own instrument, talks about “decentralized innovation.”
Neil Gershenfeld (MIT) on the future of invention
By digitizing not just the communication of ideas but also the fabrication of things, the campus can now effectively come to the student.
Future of Open Source: Collaborative Culture and Hardware Hacking
Douglas Wok talks on the new open source culture, in which anyone with an internet connection can make their creations available to the public, unmediated by the old gatekeepers of mass media, whereas Ryan Paul discusses what the open source movement will generate now that it is extending its reach to the hardware industry.
Now think what all this could mean in emerging markets:
UN and HP bring technology training to youth in Africa and Middle East
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the technology company HP announced today the opening of 20 training centres in Africa and the Middle East to expand youth entrepreneurship and information technology education.
And finally there is the truly unbeatable video Arduino the Cat, Breadboard the Mouse and Cutter the Elephant, which I posted about a month ago on Core77.
The latest confirmation comes from The Institute for the Future, which for the last six months has been researching the “future of making,” exploring how the stuff of our world may be researched, invented, designed, manufactured, and distributed in the next ten years.
At last weekend’s Maker Faire, they released the results of their research in the form of a visual knowledge map, summarizing drivers, trends, and implications.
“Two future forces, one mostly social, one mostly technological, are intersecting to transform how goods, services, and experiences—the “stuff” of our world—will be designed, manufactured, and distributed over the next decade. An emerging do-it-yourself culture of “makers” is boldly voiding warranties to tweak, hack, and customize the products they buy. And what they can’t purchase, they build from scratch. Meanwhile, flexible manufacturing technologies on the horizon will change fabrication from massive and centralized to lightweight and ad hoc. These trends sit atop a platform of grassroots economics—new market structures developing online that embody a shift from stores and sales to communities and connections.”
(via Boing Boing)
Edited by Drew Hemment and Anthony Townsend
2013, 96 pages
This publication aims to shift the debate on the future of cities towards the central place of citizens, and of decentralised, open urban infrastructures. It provides a global perspective on how cities can create the policies, structures and tools to engender a more innovative and participatory society. The publication contains a series of 23 short essays representing some of the key voices developing an emerging discourse around Smart Citizens.
- Dan Hill, Smart Citizens pioneer and CEO of communications research centre and transdisciplinary studio Fabrica on why Smart Citizens Make Smart Cities.
- Anthony Townsend, urban planner, forecaster and author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia on the tensions between place-making and city-making on the role of mobile technologies in changing the way that people interact with their surroundings.
- Paul Maltby, Director of the Government Innovation Group and of the Open Data and Transparency in the UK Cabinet Office on how government can support a smarter society.
- Aditya Dev Sood, Founder and CEO of the Center for Knowledge Societies, presents polarised hypothetical futures for India in 2025 that argues for the use of technology to bridge gaps in social inequality.
- Adam Greenfield, New York City-based writer and urbanist, on Recuperating the Smart City.
FutureEverything is an art and digital innovation organization based in Manchester, England, founded in 1995 around an annual festival of art, music and digital culture. The organization runs year-round digital innovation labs on themes such as open data, remote collaboration, urban interface and environmental mass observation. FutureEverything presents an international art and innovation award, The FutureEverything Award, introduced in 2010.
Pew Research Center found that 86 percent of surveyed adult Internet users in the U.S. have made efforts to obscure their “digital footprints” — which could include simple measures like clearing cookies in your browser or something more involved like encrypting your email, writes Ingrid Lunden on TechCrunch.
Some 55 percent have taken this one step further by trying to block specific people or organizations — services like Disconnect.me, for example, have built an entire business on creating these tools.
These efforts are not directed solely at state or government groups — despite all the recent attention from the PRISM revelations and the government’s role in gathering data.
“[Users'] concerns apply to an entire ecosystem of surveillance,” writes Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and one of the report’s authors. “In fact, they are more intent on trying to mask their personal information from hackers, advertisers, friends and family members than they are trying to avoid observation by the government.”
> See also this Fast Company article
The hyper-connected smart home of the future promises to change the way we live. More efficient energy usage, Internet-connected appliances that communicate with one another and cloud-enhanced home security are just some of the conveniences we’ll enjoy. It’s going to be amazing. It will also open up major questions about privacy. John Paul Titlow reports on ReadWriteWeb.
“Every time we connect another one of our household appliances to the Internet, we’re going to be generating another set of data about our lives and storing it some company’s servers. That data can be incredibly useful to us, but it creates yet another digital trail of personal details that could become vulnerable to court subpoenas, law enforcement requests (with or without a warrant) or hackers.”
Meanwhile, OvenInfo, the oven review site by Reviewed.com, is running a five-part series about smart appliances and connected homes. Where they are now, how they got here, and most importantly, whether they’ll earn a place among our smartphones and tablets as an everyday part of our lives. So far, three have been published:
1. What is a smart appliance?
The next generation of “smart” appliances will likely connect to your phone, negotiate rates with the power company, and even communicate with other appliances.
2. The history of smart appliances
Everything seems to be trending toward highly automated households, controlled by a mobile device. What’s different now is that this trend is being pushed not merely by what’s possible, but by technologies that are practical and already integrated into our daily lives.
3. The business of smart appliances
Smart appliances are not big business yet—at least not within the scope of the entire industry. In 2012, smart appliances sales totaled a modest $613 million, a fraction of the worldwide bottom line. But that isn’t stopping a few manufacturers from trying to make the future of smart appliances happen right now.
4. The future of smart appliances
Touchscreens and Twitter are fine, but smart appliances will need to save time and money.
5. How to buy a smart appliance right now
Smart appliances still can’t do your laundry on their own, but a few good models are ready for a place in your home.
As a grad student in anthropology, Gabriella Coleman was warned that studying the culture of computer hackers would make it hard to get a job teaching in a university. She went ahead anyway, becoming one of the first academics to explore the meaning and implications of the open source movement in software.
Coleman now holds an endowed chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill University in Montreal, and is currently researching the digital activism of the hacker collective Anonymous for a new book.
In an interview with Fast Company, she discusses why software wants to be free, why hacker culture matters for the rest of us, and whether traditional academic disciplines are still relevant.
Samsung’s 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition, writes HD Guru. While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.
“While Web cameras and Internet connectivity are not new to HDTVs, their complete integration is, and it’s the always connected camera and microphones, combined with the option of third-party apps (not to mention Samsung’s own software) gives us cause for concern regarding the privacy of TV buyers and their friends and families.
“Recent studies show consumers now spend more money tweaking and inventing stuff than consumer product firms spend on research and development. It’s more than $3.75 billion a year in Britain, and U.S. studies under way now show similiar patterns. Makers are even morphing into entrepreneurs, with some of the best projects, including Kleinman’s, raising money for commercial development of self-funding Web sites such as Kickstarter, where anyone with a credit card can chip in to back cool ideas.
Major companies such as Ford are, after years of resisting inventor gadflies, inviting makers to submit product tweaks. “This is the democratization of technology,” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, a senior engineering executive at Ford.
“Policymakers and economists always assumed that consumers just consumed and that they don’t innovate,” said Eric von Hippel, who studies technological innovation and makers at MIT’s business school. “What’s clearly happening now is that all of a sudden it’s easier for us to make exactly what we want.””
“Tinkering is growing in importance as a social movement, as a way of relating to technology and as a source of innovation. Tinkering is about seizing the moment: it is about ad-hoc learning, getting things done, innovation and novelty, all in a highly social, networked environment.
What is interesting is that at its best, tinkering has an almost Zen-like sense of the present: its ‘now’ is timeless. It is neither heedless of the past or future, nor is it in headlong pursuit of immediate gratification. Tinkering offers a way of engaging with today’s needs while also keeping an eye on the future consequences of our choices. And the same technological and social trends that have made tinkering appealing seem poised to make it even more pervasive and powerful in the future. Today we tinker with things; tomorrow, we will tinker with the world.”
(In short, we are all hackers now).
“User-Generated Devices (UGD), allowing people to enjoy themselves making their own equipment with friends, are making a showing in the electronics industry, fueled by the outsourcing of development and manufacturing, open constituent technologies, and other trends. Only companies capable of discarding the paradigm of volume production will be able to evolve apace with this new dimension in user participation.”
The article cites Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sony. In an interview with Stringer, he endorses customer understanding and open technology:
“Consumers today are a lot different from how they were 20 years ago. They aren’t passive any more. The spread of the Internet has given them the power to dictate how products are used, and an increasing number of people are discovering new ways to have fun, such as by creating their own content.
A diverse range of electronics will be connecting to the Internet in the near future, tapping Web-based services, and we have to think about what we need to do to make our customers – the king – like our products. I think the key to this lies in watching our customers. If a Sony employee were to ask me what a reasonable market price might be for distributing video to the home, I would tell him, “Don’t listen to me; watch our customers.”
Understanding customers will also help us uncover hidden customers. The Wii from Nintendo Co Ltd of Japan is an excellent example. They didn’t develop any unique technology; they just realized that there was potential demand out there for something different from conventional games, and thought about how to satisfy different demands from different age groups.”
Privacy in an age of terabytes and terror
Introduction to SciAm’s issue on Privacy. Our jittery state since 9/11, coupled with the Internet revolution, is shifting the boundaries between public interest and “the right to be let alone”.
How loss of privacy may mean loss of security
Keynote essay by Esther Dyson
Many issues posing as questions of privacy can turn out to be matters of security, health policy, insurance or self-presentation. It is useful to clarify those issues before focusing on privacy itself.
Internet eavesdropping: a brave new world of wiretapping
As telephone conversations have moved to the Internet, so have those who want to listen in. But the technology needed to do so would entail a dangerous expansion of the government’s surveillance powers.
Tougher laws needed to protect your genetic privacy
In spite of recent legislation, tougher laws are needed to prevent insurers and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic tests.
Beyond fingerprinting: is biometrics the best bet for fighting identity theft?
Security systems based on anatomical and behavioral characteristics may offer the best defense against identity theft.
Digital surveillance: tools of the spy trade
Night-vision cameras, biometric sensors and other gadgets already give snoops access to private spaces. Coming soon: palm-size “bug-bots”.
How RFID tags could be used to track unsuspecting people
A privacy activist argues that the devices pose new security risks to those who carry them, often unwittingly.
Data fusion: the ups and downs of all-encompassing digital profiles
Mashing everyone’s personal data, from credit card bills to cell phone logs, into one all-encompassing digital dossier is the stuff of an Orwellian nightmare. But it is not as easy as most people assume.
Cryptography: how to keep your secrets safe
A versatile assortment of computational techniques can protect the privacy of your information and online activities to essentially any degree and nuance you desire.
Do social networks bring the end of privacy?
Young people share the most intimate details of personal life on social-networking Web sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, portending a realignment of the public and the private.
Does an advertiser know you clicked on this story?
Facebook, Yahoo, and Google come under fire for allowing advertisers to follow online consumer behavior to create targeted messages.
International report: what impact is technology having on privacy around the world?
ScientificAmerican.com, with help from our international colleagues, highlights privacy and security issues in China, Japan, the Middle East, Russia and the U.K.
How I stole someone’s identity
The author asked some of his acquaintances for permission to break into their online banking accounts. The goal was simple: get into their online accounts using the information about them, their families and acquaintances that is freely available online.
Pedophile-proof chat rooms?
Can Lancaster University’s Isis Project keep children safe online without invading our privacy?
Industry roundtable: experts discuss improving online security
Experts from Sun, Adobe, Microsoft and MacAfee discuss how to protect against more numerous and sophisticated attacks by hackers; security professionals call for upgraded technology, along with more attention to human and legal factors.
(via Bruno Giussani)
“South Bay residents Curtis McGovert, Dave Ritter and Leon Mendiola have at least three things in common. They own cell phones. They bank at Wells Fargo. And they didn’t realize that they effectively have an ATM in their pockets that they now can use to do some of their banking – anytime, anywhere.
Make that four things in common: As intriguing as “mobile banking” sounds to each of them, none is dying to try it. They either don’t see a clear need for it or worry that it’s vulnerable to hackers.
“I’m just a basic user,” said McGovert, a 33-year-old personal trainer from Milpitas. “I’m not into all the high tech. I’m old school.”
And there, in a nutshell, is the challenge that banks face as they race to roll out the next big thing for on-the-go consumers. To succeed, they must show customers it’s convenient and easy to use their cell phone to check balances, transfer money and watchdog their finances even if they’re miles from a computer.”
Although a good introductory article to the issue, it doesn’t contain a word on Africa, where mobile banking has taken off quite spectacularly and where mobile banking services are much more innovative than in the Bay Area.
“They are well aware of the problems of viruses, hackers, paedophiles and online scams, and most claim that threatening text messages are no different to any other form of bullying and admit to being victims and perpetrators.
The older children get lighter supervision from their parents. But they recognise that parents are right to supervise them and only 12-14 year-old girls get angry when Mum wants to read what they’ve said in an email.
Children worry about damaging the family computer with a virus, running out of credit on their mobiles, becoming internet addicts and damaging their eyesight or losing sleep if they stay online too long.
They know not to give out their email address or mobile number to strangers and never to agree to a meeting with a stranger, although some admit to breaking these rules or know of friends or apocryphal friends of friends who have.”
The study covered children (age groups 9-10 and 12-14) in 29 countries (the 27 member states plus Iceland and Norway) and was based on group discussions.
A long story in the New York Times Magazine explores HCI, the study of office work and the nascent field of interruption science.