Liz’s Notebook
Posts Not Fully Formed


The theme is REFRAME.

1. Tim Berners-Lee

20 years ago, my boss said I could work on web as a side project. Was initially difficult to explain what the web is like, but it was a grassroots movement. The spirit of all these people getting together sending emails.

Then, putting data on the web is frustration — we haven’t got data on the web as data. Data you can’t use by itself, but it drives a huge amount of our life when someone puts it together and does something with it. Hans Rosling demonstrated that at TED, and still says it’s really important to have a lot of data.

Linked Data: People, products, places, concepts have names that start with http. When I fetch it, I get back some data in a useful format back. And it has relationships. Data is relationships.

I wrote an article about linked data a couple years ago, and things started to happen. Linking improves data, and it’s starting to grow, this is grassroots stuff again.

Examples: Government data. Obama said will put info up online. I hope it’s linked data. Not just transparency, but also value — in companies, in kid’s homework using that data. Before making a beautiful website, give us unadulterated, raw data. Raw Data Now!

Drug discovery. Great way of getting scientists out of silos. Genomics data, protein data, putting together gives you power to bridge disciplines.

Silos of social networking sites, tremendously frustrating.

Even though not an immediate return on investment, it’ll be great if everyone else does it too.

2. Yair Landau, former president Sony Pictures Digital, Mass Animation

Building CGI animation using Facebook app. Audience could download storyboard and upload shots — making CGI animation process transparent. 440 shots submitted. We selected 50 animators from 17 countries. We told our story using music as a universal language, we didn’t have to translate. Storytelling on a mass network basis.

3. Nandan Nilekani, Infosys

Why all the paradoxes in India?

Factors (I was dealing with some tech issues so this is spotty). He is basically laying out the outline to his new book.

English: changed from language of colonizers to language of aspiration and jobs
Technology: everyone getting mobile phones, many pre-paid
Globalization: Indians thought was form of imperialism, but as have gone abroad, realize it’s something they can participate in
Democracy: from one-party rule to 13-party rule
Education: access to primary schools, even though government schools don’t function
Cities: engines of economic growth, creativity, innovation — notion is finally being accepted
Single market: going from every state being its own market to whole country being a market — makes for seamless flow of goods
Political gridlock
Labor reforms: too much job protection
Higher education: completely regulated now, very hard to start private university
Health: replacing poor country diseases with rich country diseases
Environment: dirty growth

Why does this matter? Because it affects more than 1 billion people. Because it affects democracy. Because if you can solve these problems you can solve the problems of poverty in the world. You can solve the world’s capital problems.

4. Pattie Maes, researcher

We use senses to perceive information and help us make decisions. Increasingly information we can’t access in those ways is available online. Meta information that may exist somewhere that would help us make the right decision about something we are coming across.

My research group has been developing series of inventions to give us access to information in an easy way that does not require changing behavior.

$350 contraption: camera, projector, mirror, colored caps, phone (all off-the-shelf). You can walk up to any surface and use your hands to interact like a multitouch device. Camera recognizes gestures — e.g. framing with your thumbs and fingers tells the device to take a picture.

Similarity to Jeff Han, Microsoft Surface table — but the fifference is you can use any surface — demo of projecting a phone keypad onto a left hand and dialing with the right hand and making a call. Oohs and ahhs for this demo.

Completely mobile, in mass production would not cost more than today’s cell phones.

It really can act as one of these sixth-sense devices.

Can scan products in a store to get information about ecological consciousness, Amazon rating — all this is projected directly onto the product in the users’ hands.

Can project video annotations of events you’re reading about in a newspaper. See a tag cloud of a person projected on them. Draw a circle on your wrist and a watch pops up.

It’s unclear how the image recognition and people recognition is done here — if it is canned or what.

5. Al Gore

Update on polar ice caps. Carbon being emitted in form of methane from frozen ground surrounding the Arctic. Crazy video of a researcher punching a whole in the snow and setting it on fire. Drought, fires, weather-related disasters increasing at extreme rate. Shows some anti-clean coal video ads. Alternative ads: “Repower America” — 100% clean electricity, wind, sun…this stuff is not very specific.

6. Ray Anderson, sustainable-business pioneer

The best case on climate mitigation is a thousand-year recovery. I come offering a solution to the biggest culprit: business and industry. Founded Interface in 1973, providing carpet tiles. Then read Paul Hawkins’ book. Rejiggered formula to make technology in the denominator rather than the numerator of environmental impact. Unfortunately my computer crashed during this talk so these notes are just terrible. This was the first talk to get a standing ovation at Palm Springs, so make sure to check it out when it’s posted on


At lunch just now I met the producers of the upcoming Blue Man Group 3-D IMAX movie. They have just finished the script (it’s an original production, not a documentary or a video of an existing show) and are interviewing directors, but they don’t event plan to start shooting till next January, so there’s going to be a lot of down time before the final product.

Since the Blue Man Group is such a beloved known quantity, and since they are releasing the film in such a premium format, I don’t see how they couldn’t benefit from building anticipation on the web by hiring an embedded videoblogger-type person to give people a peek behind the scenes as things develop.

I went into my pet theory of how one of the greatest powers of the web is harnessing and rewarding obsessive fans and they at least smiled along like it was a good idea.


The theme is REBOOT.

1. Futurist Juan Enriquez

First, the economy.
Leverage = bad.
You have to stand behind currencies.
We must banish entitlement.
Only 18% of the U.S. federal budget is discretionary.
Punchlines coming from Flickr and Photobucket pics — hard to get down in writing.

Cells have quick development curve then level off.

Biological tissue engineering — stem cell research — generating organs — “life happens” — happening quickly

Robots — also advancing quickly

Bringing three trends together — athletes with prosthetics winning Olympics in the future. Hearing aid implants. “These are machine generations not human generations.”

Historically versions of hominids have overlapped.

Enriquez proposes new species of hominid: “homo evolutis” — our grandchildren are going to be beginning to live it — hominids that take control over their own species. “The Ultimate Reboot.”

Essentially we are making ourselves extinct. Yay!

2. P.W. Singer, military analyst

Robots change war. Mankind’s monopoly on war is breaking down in our lifetime.

Warfare going open source — a lot of robotics is off-the-shelf

Two trends:
Power of individuals against governments reinforced
Expansion of terrorism: Al Qaeda 2.0/Next-gen Unabomber

Relevant to NewTeeVee: The future of war is going to be a YouTube war — new technologies record everything they see. Thousands of clips of Iraq warfront footage from drones on YouTube. Soldiers call this “war porn,” set it to pop music. This ability to watch more but experience less creates a wrinkle in the public’s experience with war. But these are just the ESPN Sportscenter version of the game — not seeing the player in person — just slam dunk highlight reels.

We do things in the video game war that we wouldn’t do in person. What are “oops” moments with robots in war? What is unmanned slaughter? Armed autonomous systems with full authority to use force aren’t even here yet (but they’re coming).

The question we all should ask is: it our machines or is it us that’s wired for war?

3. New electric motorcycle (and company) introduced: Mission One, by designer Yves Behar and engineer Forrest North. Goes 150+ MPH. Sending info to Earth2Tech. Here’s the release.

4. David Hanson, artist and robotics researcher. Working on incorporating expression recognition into lifelike robots. Perceives your emotion through facial expressions — could be the seeds of robotic empathy.

5. Bill Gates.

Six months into new job. The market does not drive people to do the right things. Only by paying attention to these things — having brilliant people who care — do we make as much progress as we need to.

I am an optimist.

Malaria — how do we stop a deadly disease that’s spread by mosquitoes?

Because the disease has been eliminated in richer countries, they don’t care. More money put into baldness. Million deaths per year, 200 million people suffering from it at any one time, holds back economies. Releases mosquitoes into audience as illustrator!

We need communicators, social scientists, mathematicians, drug companies to get people to use bed nets, talk about it, analyze.

Education — how do you make a teacher great?

Top 20% of students in U.S. have gotten a good education, best in the world compared to other countries’ top 20%. But that’s starting to fade on a relative basis. And the education that the balance of people are getting is weak and getting weaker. Economy only provides opportunities to people with a better education.

We need to reward and retain good teachers — 10 percentage points difference between most effective teacher and least effective teacher — would close the achievement gap with Asia. What effects percentile gain in math the most? Masters degree in education — not at all. Teach for America — a little. Math major — a fair amount. Past performance — overwhelming. There are some people who are very good at this, and we’ve done almost nothing to draw that in.

Giving teachers data on how good they are helps.

Relevant to NewTeeVee: Digital video is cheap. Putting a camera in a classroom and giving feedback on teaching is very practical in public schools. Take video clips of great teachers and distribute them to other teachers. Assign videos of great courses to students. Put them on DVD to make them even more accessible.

Q&A: On economy: the next 3-4 years are going to be very tough. On encouraging overpopulation: The more disease there is, the more kids parents have to had to help take care of them in adulthood. Population growth correlated with poor health conditions. On Malcolm Gladwell’s “outliers” theory: it’s a cycle of luck and skill that lead to my outcome. Is philanthropy a hobby? It’s not about the legacy, it’s about the day-to-day activity. Huge setback in polio eradication in Nigeria in the last year, was there for the last three days, it’s fun to work on.