What's ahead in 2007? Predictions from 7 thinkers.

The Los Angeles Times gathered predictions for technology's future from seven people -- John Brockman, Steve Ballmer, Ned Sherman, Rafat Ali, Kevin Werbach, Chris Anderson, Hank Barry -- and their responses are online today.

Here's a snip from what Chris Anderson (Wired, The Long Tail) had to say:

I'M WILLING TO bet that 2007 is the year that somebody figures out how to make video advertising work in a YouTube world. And if I'm right, the TV industry is going to get very rocky, very fast.

I doubt that the same disruptive force will hit movies, however. The big-screen home-theater boom created a market for high-def films, and that factor-of-10 increase in downloading time bought Hollywood another five years or so to figure things out.

And here's a snip from EDGE.org publisher John Brockman's thoughts:
WE WILL SEE migration of social applications as user-generated content moves to the WiFi environment. YouTube, MySpace and multi-user games will be available on hand-held devices, wherever you go. People will carry their digital assets much like their bacteria. Israeli tech guru Yossi Vardi calls it "continuous computing."

The nanotechnology world foreseen by K. Eric Drexler arrives in the form of MEMS, or microelectronic mechanical systems. Very inexpensive moving parts will be mass-produced like a semiconductor. But unlike semiconductors, they move. Useful for anything that employs moving parts.

Synthetic Biology pioneer George Church of Harvard University expects $3,000 personal genomics kits in stores.

"Pop Atheism" might include popular atheist TV and movie characters, professional athletes, political figures, etc.

Read the rest

Knitting mathematics

The latest issue of Science News profiles the work of several mathematicians who crochet and knit incredibly strange surfaces to illustrate certain complicated mathematical principles. For example, two researchers from the University Bristol used their computer algorithm as crochet instructions to create a Lorenz manifold, a shape that emerges from chaotic systems such as weather. Other crafty scientists crocheted Möbius strips, Klein bottles, and hyperbolic planes (seen here). From the article:
Mathematics has long been an essential tool for the fiber arts. Knitters and crocheters use mathematical principles–often without recognizing them as such–to map the pattern of a cable sweater, for instance, or figure out how to space the stitches when adding a sleeve onto a jacket. Now, the two crafts are returning the favor. In recent years, mathematicians such as Osinga have started knitting and crocheting concrete physical models of hard-to-visualize mathematical objects. One mathematician's crocheted models of a counterintuitive shape called a hyperbolic plane are enabling her students and fellow mathematicians to gain new insight into startling properties. Other mathematicians have knitted or crocheted fractal objects, surfaces that have no inside or outside, and shapes whose patterns display mathematical theorems. "Knitting and crocheting are helping us think about math we already know in a different light," says Carolyn Yackel, a mathematician at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
Link Previously on BB: • HOWTO crochet a Lorenz manifold Link • Chaotic crochet Link • Fabric brain art Link • Gigantic Klein bottle Link • Moebius strip playground equipment Link Read the rest
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Knit your own Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo

South Park's fecal ambassador of holiday cheer now lives on in a fan-made Etsy knitting pattern. Link to photos of the Christmas poo in repose, and here's the pattern ($6): Link.

Previously on BB: • South Park creators: download our shows!South Park: Make Love Not WarcraftSouth Park: Flying Spaghetti Monster, Richard DawkinsMore South Park-related posts on BB (about 80 of 'em) Read the rest

Wanted: your Michael Crook blog harassment testimony

Here's the latest on Michael Crook (shown at left), the nutty griefer who tried to bully a bunch of blogs including BoingBoing into removing this photo (despite the fact that Fox News, not Crook, produced it). Scott Beale, founder of the ISP Laughing Squid, says,
10 Zen Monkeys, the blog hosted by Laughing Squid which is currently at the center of the EFF lawsuit against Michael Crook, has just put a call out for Michael Crook DMCA war stories in order to help in the case against him. Link to post soliciting your documentation.

Crook is a deranged, serial troll, and his behavior is consistent with that of someone who craves attention, no matter how negative. But what does matter is the fact that the DMCA is so poorly conceived and written that even the nuttiest, most deranged of trolls can abuse it into silencing constitutionally-protected online speech.

For instance, others might use the same tactic to chill political speech: what better way to see to it that your opponent's campaign ads are yanked from YouTube a week before the elections? Laws this broken need to be fixed.

Related BB posts: • Michael Crook sends bogus DMCA takedown notice to BBEFF Sues Michael Crook for Bogus DMCA ClaimsRU Sirius show about EFF suit against Michael CrookEthan Ackerman schools us on DMCA and ISPs' obligationsTroublemakers enjoy harassing sites with bogus DMCAEFF fights another DMCA abuserHOWTO protect yourself from "The Craigslist Experiment"

Reader comments: Anonymous says,

YTMND does Crook: Link.
Read the rest

Scanning license plates to identify delinquent parking violators

San Francisco's Department of Parking and Traffic are testing a mounted camera that scans the license plates of parked cars and searches a database to identify vehicles with lots of unpaid tickets. When a match is made, the parking ticket crew locks on the boot. Apparently the system can scan at least 250 plats an hour. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco isn't the first city to use the license-plate scanning technology. Oakland uses it to find stolen vehicles. San Francisco just added the stolen car data to its system last week. The system isn't perfect. The cameras don't capture all license plates because some are tilted at the wrong angle or too dirty to read. The cost of software and equipment for one of the specially outfitted Department of Parking and Traffic vehicles is about $92,000, (said James Lee, assistant director of enforcement for the Department of Parking and Traffic.)
Link (Thanks, Jason Tester!) Previously on BB: • License plate scanner will bust people with overdue library books Link • License plate tracking for fun and profit Link • School becomes surveillance state Link Read the rest

Sara Lanzillotta's fabric freaks

My wife and I have fallen in love with crafter Sara Lanzillotta's Devout Dolls collection of stuffed oddities and fabric freaks. I bought my wife two Devout pieces as gifts--a Forest Friend deer doll and matching pin (image left)--and they're as beautifully constructed as they appear. I sense our Devout collection has just begun. Link Read the rest

Scott Teplin's floorplan art

Coop says:
My buddy Scott Teplin has a show coming up in Paris on Jan. 13th to feb 20. I really dig his work. For a while now, he's been doing drawings of three dimensional letters, filled with different substances. This has evolved into letters and abstract shapes drawn as axiometric floorplans for strange clubhouses filled with mysterious and enigmatic devices. It's like detention-room doodling, done by a pre-adolescent supervillain.
Link to Scott Teplin's site, Link to g-module gallery in Paris Read the rest
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Santarctica: Santas going bananas in Antarctica

This is how people at McMurdo Station in Antarctica keep from going crazy celebrate their craziness during the holidays. Above: a dude in a reindeer costume pauses for a moment of reflection. With a bunch of colored balls. At the South Pole. Photos, blog post. (Thanks, T.bias, via Wayne's list)

Related BB posts: • Santarchy in Antarctica (2003) • Will the real Antarctic Anti-santa please stand up? (2003) • More Santarchy in Antarctica (2003) • Astronaut in Antarctica to conduct fun experiments (2006) • More archive posts about Antarctica

Reader comments:

Jonathan Moore points us to a description of the "blue balls," which are actually an art project called Stellar Axis. Wow, Art in Antarctica! snip from the description:

Stellar axis is a giant art piece depicting the 99 brightest stars in the southern hemisphere. blue fiberglass spheres of various yet relative sizes represent the stars - with sirius being the largest. they are arranged as they are in the sky, in forms of constellations as they are when the solstice occurs. only we don't see the night sky here, therefore we don't get stars, but either way, it is beautiful, the contrast of cobalt and ice shelf. locally, the spheres had become known as 'blueballs.' ("hey sandwich, you really have to go out there and check out the blueballs... they're amazing!") the installation is about a 45 minute ride from mcmurdo, out on the ross ice shelf, near pegasus runway.
Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City says,
Related: Artist McKendree Key's earth art with balls at Lake Camplain.
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The Little Book of Hindu Deities

Sanjay Patel, (check out his doodles!) an animator at Pixar, sent me his delightful illustrated book, The Little Book of Hindu Deities. His style is a little Mary Blair, a little UPA, and thoroughly modern. This is my first introduction to the pantheon of Hindu deities, and Patel's descriptions of the cast of characters, which usually include illuminating anecdotes, are wonderful. It's a shame most schools in the United States skip over the Hindu gods when they teach mythology. What a terrific textbook this would be. Link Read the rest

Mark's video picks on ABC News

Here's a video of my appearance on ABC News talking about five YouTube video picks. Link

Previously on Boing Boing: BB video favorites Read the rest

Oil pipeline tapping in Nigeria

Kevin of the Virginia Quarterly Review says,
CNN reported today that over 200 people in Nigeria died today from a massive explosion and fire resulting from a tapped oil pipeline. VQR's Winter issue (in the mail as we speak) features a portfolio of essays on oil in Africa, and in light of today's news, we're posting in advance John Ghazvinian's important essay "The Curse of Oil." It offers some important background on the little-known practice (at least in the West) of pipeline "tapping" and on the larger issues of oil development and revenue in Africa.

Reader comment: Mark J-L says,

A good friend of mine is a photographer for the Baltimore Sun, and he shot for a story on Oil in Nigeria. It's a multi-part story with a pretty good set of pics (related story and links to pics in the right column). Link
Read the rest

Wikipedia founder Wales launches search project (CORRECTION)

CORRECTION: Jimmy Wales tells BoingBoing that the Times UK article excerpted below contains an important error:

"Amazon is a recent investor in Wikia, but they have nothing to do with this search project."
I've taken the liberty of striking out the Times' error below. - XJ

- - - - - - - - - -

Snip from Times UK article:

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, is set to launch an internet search engine with amazon.com that he hopes will become a rival to Google and Yahoo! Mr Wales has begun working on a search engine that exploits the same user-based technology as his open-access encyclopaedia, which was launched in 2003.

The project has been dubbed Wikiasari – a combination of wiki, the Hawaiian word for quick, and asari, which is Japanese for “rummaging search”.

Mr Wales told The Times that he was planning to develop a commercial version of the search engine through Wikia Inc, his for-profit company, with a provisional launch date in the first quarter of next year. Earlier this year he secured multimillion-dollar funding from amazon.com and a separate cash injection from a group of Silicon Valley financiers to finance projects at Wikia.


Wikiasari.com currently redirects here: Link, and on that site, Mr. Wales explains:

Search is part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Internet. And, it is currently broken. Why is it broken? It is broken for the same reason that proprietary software is always broken: lack of freedom, lack of community, lack of accountability, lack of transparency.
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In case you missed it: NRA's wacky graphic novel (UPDATED)

While visions of sugarplums and Wiis danced in your head over the holiday, blogs were abuzz over a promotional graphic novel attributed to the National Rifle Association of America (The NRA).

In short: Wonkette posted jpeg scans from a digital copy sent in by an anonymous tipster. Elsewhere, some at Daily Kos and a popular gun law forum (and, for a while, me) expressed doubts over authenticity (c'mon, it was so far-out! lobsterrorists!). Then, Wonkette shared the original doc with BoingBoing (PDF link), a Wonkette commenter determined it appears to have been illustrated by Chris Gall, and everyone agreed -- not a hoax (though we're still awaiting response from the NRA). Here's a link to the updated BoingBoing post with embedded blog-drama, and there are fresh posts at Wonkette (Link), Kos (Link) and the CA-CCW forum (Link). And below -- readers say Adobe Reader reveals what are apparently hidden notes from the NRA assigner to the illustrator.

IMAGE: Brochure excerpt. Guns will protect you from tsunamis. Who knew?

Previously on BB: • Fear-mongering graphic novel attributed to NRA (UPDATED)

Reader comment: Josh Larios says Adobe Reader reveals "hidden" notes in the NRA pamphlet:

If you use the text selection tool in Adobe Reader and highlight some of the half-page graphics in the recent NRA illustrated pamphlet, you can cut and paste into a text editor to see some of the instructions to the illustrator for those pages. That last page with the tsunami was originally supposed to be very different:

Idea: Good (American values) and evil (anti-American influences) are locked in a final, titanic moment of combat, and the reader must act now.

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To do in Berlin: 23rd Chaos Communication Congress

Mark O'Neil says,
Last year BoingBoing posted some info about the "Chaos Congress" here in Berlin, Germany and I haven't noticed any mention of it this year. This "hacker" convention is excellent and I've really been looking forward to it all year. I went last year because of a link suggested on Boing Boing and I loved it. Many of the talks are in English and the people there are super. I highly recommend stopping in even if someone is simply passing through the city. There is definitely no need to be a hacker and any technology interested person will find the speakers interesting. There is some info and a few links to help travelers find cheap places to stay in Berlin on the congress' web site.
Link to event info, 27-30 December 2006.

Among the many fine presenters scheduled are Annalee Newitz (link to session), Lawrence Lessig (link to session) Jacob Appelbaum (link to session), Seth Schoen (link to session), Johannes from monochrom (link to session) and Joi Ito (link to session). The opening keynote will be delivered by Tim Pritlove and John Perry Barlow (link to session)

Previously on BB: • Hacker-con videos: "150 hours of hardcode nerd education."Chaos Computer Club hacker con begins in Berlin

UPDATE: Jacob Appelbaum says folks are uploading photos to Flickr with the tag "23c3": Link. Read the rest

Treasure Chests book from 1967

How did people do photoshop like tricks in 1967? Check out this book of modded topless women for some impressive examples of pre-digital photo manipulation. (NSFW?) Link (Via Beware of the Blog) Read the rest

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