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via Joi Ito


Starting from about 19:00 into his talk, Larry Brilliant expresses his TED Wish: to build a global system, an early warning system to protect us against pandemics. He calls it International System for Total Early Disease Detection, and proposes to grow it from GPHIN (Global Public Health Intelligence Network) to make it a tool available to everyone in every language.

There is a web site that does something very similar: Whos is Sick?
From their about page:

“Who Is Sick was started in 2006 with a mission to provide current and local sickness information to the public – without the hassle of dealing with hospitals or doctors. With a strong belief in the power of people and a faith that user generated content can be extremely valuable, our team set out to create an entirely new system for tracking and monitoring sickness information.”

The information are displayed on a Google Maps mashup. The reports cover already all of the continents.


Inspired by all this, I have created a Twitter bot that listens to your health status reports. Think of TwitterVision and of WhoIsSick?, and imagine Morbus as a vehicle for early detection of pandemics.

Maybe Mr Brilliant can find something of his idea being implemented here.

[via information aesthetics]

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TED Blog: The New launches today Monday April 16th:

“With the launch of our new website, we’re really saying to the world: We want to share with you our best content for free, and we want you to connect with like-minded people inspired by these talks. In other words, we see the site as a way of dramatically expanding our community from the 1000 people who attend the conference to millions of knowledge seekers around the globe.”

Some of the most interesting features:

  • chapter-marking technology that lets users find and skip to key moments in a given talk
  • ratings system more nuanced than the typical 5-star approach, allowing users to describe talks with adjectives
  • high-resolution video that can be viewed online or downloaded for playback on a computer, iPod or set-top box
  • detailed talk summaries and speaker biographies to provide more context around each talk
  • innovative ways to browse talks, which are grouped into TED-like themes, such as “Inspired by Nature,” “How the Mind Works” and “Tales of Invention”
  • social-networking tools—including Profile Pages, Comments and Favorites—that allow for interaction among members of the extended TED community

Many of the  talks are so dense and often resound with each other: having tools to mark, rate, annotate, and link them can surely enhance their value.

I am looking forward to explore the new site, what it has to offer, and most of all I’m thrilled by the potential of an enlarged community that may build around it.

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The One Machine Epic

April 7, 2007


Few thoughts while and after watching it.

  • About the new Google.zon algorithm that can edit information sources into new stories for every user (from 5:23 to 5:40):
    The One Machine does not need to be conscious and free will to actually influence the behavior and thinking of the people connected (feeding on and/or feeding) to it.
    Note that the canonical fictional fears about the machines taking control of us, envision their self consciousness and determination.
    I call it The One Machine, assuming it will be the same things Kevin Kelly reasons about in this talk (which was at Google, btw) starting around 35:27 into the video.
  • When something along these lines will eventually emerge, Google.zon (or whatever it shall be) itself will be part of it: partly making it and partly being driven by it. In other words, there can be no puppeteer for this thing.

Anyhow, such a development will build on our choices; choices we are making already, as the video suggests up to around the Microsoft Newsbot release, in the early fictional 2004.

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Thanks to Robert Scoble for pointing us to an interview John Battelle did with Micheal Wesch.
I want to take note of some parts of that interview; italics are mine.

So if there is a global village, it is not a very equitable one, and if there is a tragedy of our times, it may be that we are all interconnected but we fail to see it and take care of our relationships with others. For me, the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected. It might help us create a truly global view that can spark the kind of empathy we need to create a better world for all of humankind. I’m not being overly utopian and naively saying that the Web will make this happen. In fact, if we don’t understand our digital technology and its effects, it can actually make humans and human needs even more invisible than ever before. But the technology also creates a remarkable opportunity for us to make a profound difference in the world.

I did not know it would reach so many people, but I had hoped that for those it did reach it would spark some reflection on the power of the technology they were using. Because without proper understanding and reflection, “the machine” is using us – all of us – even those that don’t have access to the machine at all.

I like to learn these technologies on my own through trial and error, because sometimes the errors turn out to be new uses for the tool that I might not have discovered through formal training.

Students are already frequently visiting Facebook, so we can bring our class discussions to them in a place where they have already invested significant effort in building up their identity, rather than asking them to login to Blackboard or some other course management system where they feel “faceless” and out of place.

Interconnected red 1998 photo by Feltbug

Marshall Kirkpatrick at Techcrunch nicely summarize a trend recently emerging among large companies to leverage their real and potential customers bases to help drive in-company decision making.
In practice, some companies are opening up structured conversations with whoever cares to join them to try to understand what they can do to try to match what’s best for user to what’s best for their business (that is loveocracy, as

Nothing really new here, but for the size of the company involved and the businesses they are in. Meaning they are in a position to really listen to what people want and to actually provide them with that.

It may well be that some of the companies are not seriously interested in what people have to say, and they are just trying to give a better impression of themselves by dressing some fashionable web 2.0 accessories, but that would be a wrong and risky strategy.

Below is an excerpt.
Dell Pays Tribute to Digg with New IdeaStorm Site:

Users can submit product and feature requests, policy changes or whatever else they care to share with the Dell community. Those submissions are then voted on Digg style. Dell’s move follows just one day after Yahoo! unveiled a similar site.

I think it’s more a testimony to the usefulness of paradigms made popular by Digg and YouTube.

These types of sites are just plain smart. If web lovers are critical of big companies trying to patent processes that are logical and widespread (like social networking or mash ups), isn’t it unfair to turn around and criticise them later for humbly following the lead of trailblazing startups?

I think Dell’s new sites are a brave move that many more companies will follow. Hopefully they’ll push this trend of online two-way communication to the limit and listen to what their users have to say.

Techcrunch » Blog Archive » Broadcast Photos To Cable TV:

“Imagine if you could watch your friends’ Flickr pictures or YouTube videos on a dedicated cable television channel.”

There’s no privacy for these shows, but the convenience factor for sharing these with people who want to view them on television is innovative.

The easiast way of convergence?