By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a longer version of an upcoming syndicated column.) When people look back at the last decade for a technology zeitgeist they may choose SMS, or the iPod, or maybe even Facebook. Me? I’d choose the cellphone call that rings, briefly, and then is silent. It’s one of those social phenomena that has so embedded itself in the culture that we don’t even notice it. It developed its own syntax, its own meaning, and even shifted the boundaries of cultural mores and social intercourse. Even I didn’t realise it was so widespread until I started researching this article. And yet, at
Here’s a piece I wrote for the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation on how satellites and space technology are helping, and might help, in the case of big medical emergencies, from earthquakes to Ebola. It’s a slightly different tack for me and perhaps not the usual fare for loose wire blog, but I thought I’d throw it in here anyway. When former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was seen leaving a conference in Geneva in November 2005 clutching maps of the south Asia earthquake disaster, it was evidence that satellites – as a key weapon in humanitarian emergencies – had arrived. In the hours and
I’ve written before about how I think Google Earth, or something like it, will become a new form of interface — not just for looking for places and routes, but any kind of information. Some people call it the geo-web, but it’s actually bigger than that. Something like Google Earth will become an environment in its own right. I can imagine people using it to slice and dice company data, set up meetings, organize social networks. Google is busy marching in this direction, and their newest offering is a great example of this: Google Book Search. This from Brandon Badger, product manager at Google Earth:
Interesting piece in Intelligence Online (subscription only) which mentions the growth of both software to intercept VoIP traffic, and services to thwart it. Companies mentioned: Amteus [company website] which “has developed secure software for Voice over IP (VoIP) communications but also for e-mail and file swaps.” Amteus basically works by establishing a peer to peer connection and encrypts with a one time key. On the other side of the fence, the article says, are companies “like Israeli firms Nice Systems and Verint as well as France’s Aqsacom, are already marketing solutions to break into and record telephone conversations on the Internet.” [all corporate websites] An
Spammers should understand that if the best way into our inbox is by entertaining us. Most spam is just awful: offensive, grammatically dreadful (even allowing for efforts to get around filters) and revealing of the piteous lives the spammers and their drones lead. But if they could only smarten up their act we’d probably let them through. The guy, or guys, with a random “from” address creator get my vote. I just can’t help scouring my junk folder for gems. Here were some I found a few months back. Here are a few more: Microwaving C. Grammes Maillol L. Shrews Lofting C. Amendable Monomania I.
I don’t use hair gel anymore — no, really — but I do remember wandering around war-torn Kabul trying to find some when my stash ran out during an unexpectedly long stint there shortly after the Taleban takeover. Needless to say I felt somewhat superficial about it, given all the suffering around me, and was worried it was frowned upon by the puritanical Taleban. I shouldn’t have worried: most of them wore eyeliner, took way too much interest in my babyish features and in any case, there’s a long history of wearing hair gel, as National Geographic News reports: Male grooming has an ancient history in Ireland,
It seems that there’s renewed interest in Plaxo, the contact sharing service that has attracted attention both for its inventiveness and its privacy implications. First off, a reader from France, Vincent Prêtet, wrote in comments to a previous post that Plaxo is an amazing great tool to manage an adressbook. I use it since a few months and I am really happy of doing so. However, in France too the use of Plaxo gives rise to a real debate: is Plaxo’s system and are Plaxo’s users respecting the Laws as far as individual rights are concerned. An EU-law (directive) goes as far as writing that
From the BBC: France nabs gun-toting pensioner An 81-year-old Frenchman has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for firing a hunting rifle at helicopters dropping water on a forest blaze. David Thiel opened fire on 21 July when the low-flying helicopters disturbed his afternoon nap near Grasse in the south of France, court sources said. During his arrest the man swore at the policemen and hit them with saucepans.
I was intrigued by this effort to count the number of blogs around the world and offer a break down by region, if not country. The results, though very rough, and which include large slabs of the world (like South America), offer up some interesting conclusions, particularly for Asia. Bottom line is that there is a huge chunk of the world blogging outside the English language. Here, just the hell of it, is a rough treemap I put together of the data provided by The Blog Herald’s Duncan: The overall total is in the 60 million mark (and of course this figure is open to
The folks at Nielsen//NetRatings have released their latest Global NetView Analysis (PDF only) which shows, as they put it, that ‘the majority of usage growth has come from increased frequency of access or user session growth. Australia, France, Hong Kong and Italy saw double-digit growth in the number of monthly user sessions (see Table 2). In comparison, the U.S. experienced no growth, second to last in the rankings.’ To me, though, the most interesting part is how much time Hong Kongers spent online last month compared to anyone else (22 hours), including Japanese (15 hours) and Americans (14 hours). This is new: It represents significant