ETech Day 2

Here's a quick list of talks I saw yesterday at ETech and something I took away from the talk:
  • Alex Steffen, the author of Worldchanging talked about how deeply unsustainable our western lifestyle is, how aggressively we're exporting it, and how the demographics of developing nations make this situation a train-wreck. One positive point that he mentioned is: that which is measured and shown is used differently. Of course, this reminded me of stuff we're doing with Fuelly.
  • Sameer Padania of witness.org talked about the network they're building to document human rights violations. He mentioned offhand that the ability for anonymous communication needs to be built into our tools so people can report problems safely. That's tough to do and has been sticking with me.
  • Mary Lou Jepen talked about innovating at the bottom of the financial pyramid and designing for developing nations can drive innovation here as well.
  • Mike Kuniavsky talked about the new ability with GPS and RFID to track individual products, not just classes of products. He had a great term for metadata about a product: "data shadow". He talked about porting subscription models in the context of consumer goods like bicycles, cars, airplanes, handbags, etc.
  • Lane Becker and Thor Muller shared some thought experiments about what a new post-consumer business environment might look like. Like Kuniavsky, they discussed how a "loanership society" might impact how we think about owning things.
  • Nick Bilton talked about some things they're working on at The New York Times R&D lab. One idea was repurposing disposed cellphones into a network of sensors to collect data for measuring the city. He mentioned printed semicodes and SMS codes as a big part of their current strategy for attracting advertisers to print.
  • Greg Elin explained how Washington DC works in terms that computer programmers would understand. He described government as a legacy system without the built-in logic of a compiled coding language. He works for the Sunlight Foundation trying to bring more transparency to government.
  • The last session I saw had folks from BioBricks, a Creative Commons for synthetic biology. They're trying to speed up the legal hassles of sharing synthetic biological, umm, "inventions"? The talk was a bit over my head, but it was interesting to hear about some of their approaches to sharing "content".
Now it's back to the second half of Day 3 for me.