Category Archives: Sustainability

Mobil is transforming rural India, providing opportunities for hundreds of millions

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6 Years ago I worked with an organization called Openworld and we were concerned with helping people in places like rural Africa and Asia gain access to relatively inexpensive mobile tech tools which help actualize human potential.

Now it is possible to access almost all human knowledge with a few taps on an iPod. Entire curricula can be accessed by isolated schools in the bush. People with the general aptitude can lean advanced mathematics in places where there is no running water. Schematics for motorcycles can be downloaded, same for water pumps. We are just seeing the beginning of this thing.

Mobile tech is as important as the printing press was when it emerged for a large part of the human family. It may be even more important.

Click here for the article.

Why A Decentralized, Digital Economy Is A Magnet For Innovation

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Decentralized, open sourced economic action is the way forward. Instead of the centralized and highly hierarchical economic models of the 20th Century, the 21st Century (or at least much of the 21st Century) will be defined by organic and evolving economic activity.
Continue reading Why A Decentralized, Digital Economy Is A Magnet For Innovation

Want a Job? Learn how to work big data.

4 years ago I founded a small social media constancy. The idea was to manage the coming deluge of social media for businesses. Turned out to be a pretty good idea.

At first many businesses didn’t believe that social media was going to be as important as it has become. What seemed completely obvious to me was still not obvious to most businesses even into 2009. Then people began to wake up and the rest is history. Before I knew it I had Fortune 1000 companies emailing me. Companies which just 9 months before had no interest.

It has been a fascinating ride and one with many twists and turns.

Social media is by its nature a constantly evolving thing. This is one of 2 great challenges for businesses in today’s online world. Should a business spend time developing a Google+ presence? Many did. Not such a good idea, at this point. What about Foursquare? What happens if a company spends a million dollars on a social media engagement strategy only to have the environment turn on a dime?

The other great challenge is managing the crush of information which comes from doing social media well.

I can say from experience that this is a colossal task, and one that people have not yet figured out. So if you know how to run algos and know how to pick good trees from the forest, I suggest you look long and hard at a career in big data. It’s only going to get bigger.

Click here for more on this in the Huffington Post.

If the US went carbon neutral tomorrow, China’s output would make up for it in 3.5 years

Tech planet Journal is project of The Future 500. The Future 500 works closely with Rich and Liz Muller on global warming issues and the best ways to address the challenge.

The most pressing issue as Dr. Muller sees things is that China and India already eclipse the USA in carbon footprint and will only continue to expand this footprint if fracking is not introduced on a wide scale in China.

They argue that we have the know-how and that on some scale we should help China develop this technology more fully.

We are well aware of the issues surrounding fracking, however, it increasingly looks like for the issue of global warming to be addressed fracking will have to be embraced. Solar, wind, and other renewables are too expensive for the market in the developing world for the most part. In the developing world they are complete pipe dreams. They are far too expensive. Aside from some very high profile bits of tech highlighted by the PRC very little Chinese energy comes from renewables – or will anytime soon. Fracking is the only viable option if we want to reduce global carbon output.

Click here for the a video of Rich and Liz Muller discussing this issue.

Digital Energy May Prove the Cheapest Energy of All

How are we going to deal with the ever increasing energy demands of a growing global population?

As the developing world comes increasingly into the 21st Century, the demands of these people for a better way of life, what has been an energy intensive way of life, will only increase.

This (if nothing changes) will increase instability across the planet. Our world doesn’t need too much more of that.

Then how do we solve this problem? How do we make the good life available to hundreds of millions of new people without completely destroying everything?

The CEO of The Future 500 (of which TPJ is a part) Bill Shireman, thinks that at least part of the solution lay in innovation. We must do more with less. We must become more efficient to prosper in the 21st Century. This really is the only option.

Click here for THE NEXT ECONOMY by Bill Shireman.

How about a printed house which grows like, and has the structural strength of bone?

I’m up for it. In fact I’d put money down right this moment if I could get a house like the one described in the attached article.

3D printing is about to change a lot of things in manufacturing, housing may be revolutionized in the not too distant future. It would be cool to see neighborhoods of homes constructed with a more organic flow. Such a place might lend itself to natural human programming which was originally constructed when right angles were something almost no humans ever saw in his or her lifetime.

The picture of the home in the article reminds me of Gaudi’s work in Barcelona over 100 years ago which was inspired by flowers and honeycombs and trees.


A new concept design called Protohome was presented at last week’s 3D Printshow. Taking the more “traditional” method of 3D construction and turning it on its head, the team tested how large-scale 3D printing could be made lighter, more flexible and created without the need for adhesives.

The result? A computer algorithm which transforms printed material into fibrous pieces that can be “grown” and twisted in the same way that human bone builds – reinforcing stress-prone areas to keep breaks to a minimum.

Click here for the article.

Come Correct: 100 Quotes on Innovation

Innovation is what will drive a cleaner more efficient society. It is the continued development of technology, IT, transport, and energy where the low hanging (in relative terms) “green” fruit is.

So much emphasis is placed on a complete (and quick) revolution in energy and other parts of the economy. But revolutions often come at the margins over time. It is the innovators who are the world’s productive revolutionaries. Some inspiration for you.

From The Huffington Post

1. “I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

2. “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead

3. “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

4. “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering

5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

6. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

7. “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

8. “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

9. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung

10. “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

Click here for the next 90.

Kids in Ethiopia Get Tablet Computers, Hack the System, Learn to Read, No Instruction!

From the edge of the Rift Valley in East Africa comes an amazing experiment. The One Laptop Per Child Organization simply dropped off boxes of tablet computers at a couple of remote villages and observed what happened. The villages were illiterate and were not (according to the article) exposed to the printed word.

Without instruction the children of the villages customized their tablets and filled them with applications. In a few months they had even hacked their way through the operating system and enabled the disabled camera.

The next step is to do the experiment again in a more “scientific” way to prove that the experience these youngsters had, and some had even begun to read, is valid objectively.

Human potential is an incredible thing. A tablet in the hands of a child unhampered by creative restrictions imposed from the outside must be an amazing thing to see.


Early observations are encouraging, said Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC’s founder, at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week.

The devices involved are Motorola Xoom tablets—used together with a solar charging system, which OLPC workers had taught adults in the village to use. Once a week, an OLPC worker visits the villages and swaps out memory cards so that researchers can study how the machines were actually used.

After several months, the kids in both villages were still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to literacy games with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.”

“We Are Ok” Is #1 Shared Term This Morning (On Facebook)

I was on social media from the first drops of rain on. Of course I tend to spend a fair amount of time in various social media anyway. But as of last night it seemed as if everyone in the universe was on Facebook and Twitter- which apparently they were according to the attached article.

I did notice a common phenomenon last night. It usually started with a post that read something like “Winds getting strong.” Followed by “Lights are flickering.” And then that person vanished. That’s what happened to me last night.

(From TechCrunch)

“Here’s the top 10 shared terms by U.S. Facebook users as of this morning, compared to the 24 hours from Sunday to Monday morning, as shared by Facebook’s journalism program manager Vadim Lavrusik. Before Sandy hit, people were discussing weather forecasting and sending well wishes to friends in affected areas. Then as the storm hit over night, people began sharing their personal situation to reassure loved ones.”
Click here for the story.

Johns Hopkins Computer Model Predicts 10 Million Without Power Due to Sandy

I am just outside of Washington DC to the south and west, and even here, 100 miles inland, the winds have already started to pick up. The core is far out in the Atlantic right now. It is a massive storm.


“An engineer at The Johns Hopkins University predicts that 10 million people from northern Virginia through New Jersey and into southeastern Pennsylvania will be without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.”

Click here for a map.