ETech Day 3

Had another great day at the conference. Here are a few things that jumped out at me today:
  • Ecocities is the recurring buzzword. They are: people living at greater density, but humane and livable. With plants! (Sorry, more thoughts about the tension between density and sprawl to come. I live in a small town, and the speakers at this conference were very much focused on answering our current environmental problems with increased urbanism.)
  • Recently I speculated about what an audio Mechanical Turk project might sound like: TurkSmith. Now I know! Aaron Koblin recently paid for several thousand people to emulate bits and pieces of the first digitized song, a version of Daisy Bell. You can hear the (slightly creepy) results at Bicycle Built for 2,000.
  • The sensors are coming! You are probably being sensed right now! A company called Path Intelligence is using the unique radio frequencies emitted by the electronic devices people carry as a signature to find out where they go, and how much time they spend in their clients' locations. Similarly, Ben Cerveny talked about using sensors and location-tracking to make amusement parks more interactive—and eventually public spaces.
  • Japenese culture seems weird to us in the West (think: cosplay, anime, scrolling text over video, ultra-ultra-cute), and after a talk about demystifying Japanese culture, it still seems weird to me. But the talk was a fun tour of cultural differences.
  • We're beginning to track more and more information about ourselves and without some ethical guidelines, that data could be used against us. Gary Wolf is part of a Bay Area group called The Quantified Self where members share their own personal data-tracking methods. He's interested in how people are tracking and visualizing their own weight, mood, health care, productivity, biology, etc. Just as we try to keep the ideal that "all people are created equal" when designing people-related systems, he thinks "all numbers are created equal" is needed in relation to designing personal data systems.
  • I've been shoulder surfing (sorry, everyone) to see what apps people are using. Guess which one is up most often? Yep, Twitter. But not just Twitter. People have massive full screen grids of tweets up in applications like TweetDeck or to a lesser degree TweetGrid. Holy Twitter overload. Seriously, as I scanned the room today everyone was running TweetDeck at full screen. WTF?
  • Lots and lots and lots of food for thought. It's always simultaneously fascinating and terrifying to hear from people shaping the future.
Time to sleep and dream, the last frontier where I'm not yet sensed, tracked, measured, and visualized. AFAIK.