Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


quinta-feira, setembro 29, 2005

Arctic ice 'disappearing quickly'

The new data shows that on 19 September, the area covered by ice fell to 5.35 million sq km (2.01 million sq miles), the lowest recorded since 1978, when satellite records became available; it is now 20% less than the 1978-2000 average.

The current rate of shrinkage they calculate at 8% per decade; at this rate there may be no ice at all during the summer of 2060.

An NSIDC analysis of historical records also suggests that ice cover is less this year than during the low periods of the 1930s and 40s.

Mark Serreze believes that the findings are evidence of climate change induced by human activities.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Arctic ice 'disappearing quickly'

Uma situação que atinge dimensões nunca vistas...


At least five people have been killed during a mass attempt by migrants to get into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa.

"Three died on the Moroccan side of the border and two on the Spanish side," said Spanish deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

Officials in Ceuta said the migrants were crushed to death as hundreds tried to cross the border fence from Morocco.

Spanish officials have denied reports that police opened fire on the crowd.

Earlier this week hundreds of migrants crossed into nearby Melilla - another Spanish enclave seen as a way into Europe by the mostly African migrants.

More than 40 people, including policemen, have been injured in recent mass attempts to break through. Three would-be immigrants have died since August.

Many migrants are caught and many drown while attempting to make the sea crossing to enter Spain illegally.
BBC NEWS | Africa | Africans die in Spanish enclave

O Portátil de 20 Contos

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Labs, has been outlining designs for a sub-$100 PC.

The laptop will be tough and foldable in different ways, with a hand crank for when there is no power supply.

Professor Negroponte came up with the idea for a cheap computer for all after visiting a Cambodian village.

His non-profit One Laptop Per Child group plans to have up to 15 million machines in production within a year.

A prototype of the machine should be ready in November at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia.

Children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, and South Africa will be among the first to get the under-$100 (£57) computer, said Professor Negroponte at the Emerging Technologies conference at MIT.

The following year, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney plans to start buying them for all 500,000 middle and high school pupils in the state.

Professor Negroponte predicts there could be 100 million to 150 million shipped every year by 2007.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Sub-$100 laptop design unveiled

quarta-feira, setembro 28, 2005

Blogging v dogging

More people know what dogging is than blogging, according to a survey which suggests that Brits are not as tech-savvy as might be expected.

Most metrosexuals will know that blogging about their podcasting is perhaps a bit passé, while flashmobbing is decidedly retro.

Happy slapping a chav who is indulging in a bit of dogging, however, might be the way to go.

Whatever advertisers, journalists and residents of the internet community might like to think, much of the country finds hi-tech antics mystifying.

Research conducted among taxi drivers, hairdressers and pub landlords - backed up by conventional market research of more than 1,000 adults in the UK - has found that seven out of 10 people don't know what a blog is. Nine out of 10 don't know what podcasting or flashmobbing are. (See below for definitions.)

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Blogging v dogging

OECD says corruption threatens Chinese economy

The severe and widespread nature of corruption in China is becoming a major source of social discontent and poses a threat to the legitimacy of the country's leaders, according to experts at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Researchers at the Paris-based think-tank, which released its first comprehensive survey of China's economy earlier this month, also said that the problem posed a threat to the country's economic progress.

The OECD assessment highlights the complexity and far-reaching effects of corruption throughout the country - a problem that has become one of the most daunting challenges for the current generation of Chinese leaders.

“The economy is growing, so incidences [of corruption] are growing too,” said Janos Bertok, one of the OECD researchers in charge of evaluating corruption in China, and one of the authors of this month's ground-breaking report.

“The social dimension is equally as important as the economic dimension,” he said.

Mr Bertok said that corruption had already become a “danger to legitimacy” for Beijing because there was much popular dissatisfaction with corrupt officials, particularly in rural areas.

FT.com / World / Asia-Pacific - OECD says corruption threatens Chinese economy

terça-feira, setembro 20, 2005

There is not an iPod for the state of your health

The most intriguing point came up during the Q&A period, when Brian Gillooly, editor-in-chief for events at InformationWeek, asked Hawley what he saw was as the technology most likely to change our lives.

Hawley responded that health care and wellness has the greatest potential to be improved by IT. Significantly, wellness could be improved by developing telemetry that monitors the body's condition continuously and reports back to a health-care professional.

"For all the neat things we've seen with E-mail, Web work, and iPods, there is not an iPod for the state of your health. You know more about the state of your car than you do about the state of your health," Hawley said. Doctors take a pinprick of blood occasionally and use that to diagnose our overall condition.

A large portion of American spending comes from treating preventable heart attacks, and even so, only a fraction of heart-attack sufferers receive adequate diagnosis and care, Hawley said. "Only a small fraction are even shown something as simple as a USA Today chart that says they're at risk and maybe they shouldn't hork down that next piece of Boston cream pie," Hawley said.

InformationWeek Weblog: How IT Can Help You Live Longer

segunda-feira, setembro 12, 2005


Airworld is the name we have given to the invisible country that begins on the other side of the x-ray machines and extends in all directions beyond the concourses as the air corridors through which our airplanes fly. Among other things, this closed system of terminals and shuttling aircraft is its own vast media and retail ecosystem. Taken as a whole, it is one of the largest coherent stand-alone marketing venues on earth.

Airworld is a nation populated by nearly 100 million travelers in the U.S. alone, and passenger traffic -- even after 9/11 -- is expected to double in 15 years. The airports at the center of Airworld are the hubs of our economy, circulating the people and consumer goods that can’t be reduced to digital bits. They already generate tens of billions of revenues on their own, more than half of which has nothing to do with aviation. They’ve also evolved into giant hubs for the consumption of media -- billboards, magazines, duty-free and CNN Airport news -- key to the continued success of advertising and media giants like Clear Channel, JC Decaux and Time Warner.


sábado, setembro 10, 2005

On Oil Supply, Opinions Aren't Scarce

He subscribes to what is being called the peak oil hypothesis, which holds that there simply isn't very much new oil left to be found in the world. As a result, we are currently in the gradual process of draining the more than a trillion barrels of proven reserves that are still in the ground. And when it's gone, it's gone.

The best-known "peakist" these days is Matthew R. Simmons, who runs Simmons & Company, an investment bank and consulting firm in Houston specializing in energy companies. Mr. Simmons's essential belief, he told me recently, is that energy demand is about to exceed supply significantly. And that was pre-Hurricane Katrina - before the storm damaged refineries, pipelines and offshore rigs all along the Gulf Coast. "I would argue that we are in a serious energy crisis," Mr. Simmons added. He forecasts increasing oil prices.

There is a second group of forecasters, though, who argue with equal vehemence that the world is not in an energy crisis and it probably won't face one for a very long time. The best-known proponent of this view is Daniel Yergin, author of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power," a history of oil that won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, and the founder of a rather sizable consulting firm, Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

"This is the fifth time that we're supposedly running out of oil," Mr. Yergin said. But, he added, each time new technologies made it possible for oil companies to find new sources of oil and extract new oil from old sources. His firm released a survey a few months ago that says from 2004 to 2010, world oil supplies will have increased by as much as 16 million barrels a day, "outstripping the likely demand increase." Most of those who hold this view say that oil prices will eventually drift down.

DOES it surprise you to learn that when it comes to one of most vital resources known to man, there could be such an incredible divergence of opinion? It sure surprised me. Even some of the oil majors are on opposites sides, with Chevron taking the peakist view, and Exxon Mobil more aligned with the Yergin camp.

There are three reasons for this lack of consensus. First, because oil is buried underground, it is hard to measure. So basic "facts" - like how much oil remains, and how much can be ultimately extracted - are as much the product of guesswork as science. Second, the world of oil can be shrouded in secrecy. As an article in The New York Times Magazine recently pointed out, Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer of them all, won't even allow its reserve and production data to be audited.

Finally, though, the fact that this enormous divergence has developed speaks volumes about the very different way each camp views the world. "It's the geologists on one side and the economists on the other side," was the way the energy analyst Seth Kleinman of PFC Energy in Washington put it recently. That's an overgeneralization, of course, but one that contains plenty of truth.

The two sides do agree on one thing: the recent run-up in oil prices, which began well before Hurricane Katrina, has come about because demand for oil has caught up with supply. The enormous burst of economic activity in China, the generally good economic conditions in the United States and the rest of the West - these and other factors have led to a surge in oil demand.
I wish I had the confidence to make my own forecast, but in this case, I don't. What I do know - what we all know - is that oil is a finite resource. Surely, the peakists are right about that. What I also know is historically, the economists have generally been right about how the price of oil has wound up fixing the problem.

As Gary N. Ross, the chief executive of the PIRA Energy Group, puts it: "Price is the only thing that matters. The new threshold of price will do its magic on the supply-and-demand side."

After all, it always has before. And it will again. Until it doesn't.

On Oil Supply, Opinions Aren't Scarce - New York Times

TV on mobile phones

So perhaps there is something to the idea after all. Even sceptics such as Ms de Lussanet concede that mobile TV might prove popular—eventually. The problem is that, as usual, the industry is being far too optimistic about how quickly it can launch the service. Several operators will probably try to launch mobile-TV services next year, she says, but as with web-browsing, picture-messaging and video-telephony, the initial service will be “far from perfect”. Operators and broadcasters must strike deals, regulators must allocate spectrum, and national mobile-TV broadcasting networks will have to be built. Users will also have to upgrade to new handsets with built-in TV receivers, which will have to be easy to use and not too bulky, expensive or power-hungry. “Those things take years to come together,” says Ms de Lussanet. Then, and only then, will it be possible to tell whether mobile TV is something that people really want.

Economist.com | Articles by Subject | TV on mobile phones

How public-sector work is reshaping management-consultancy

MANAGEMENT consultants used to be people with MBAs and large egos who wanted to reinvent General Electric. But more and more of their work is for the public sector these days, and that is changing the nature of the business.

Kennedy Information, an American firm that monitors the consulting industry, estimates that the public sector (including health care, which straddles both public and private sectors) now accounts for over 30% of the global consulting market. Kennedy forecasts that the business will grow by 6-9% for each of the next three years; private-sector business, it says, will grow by only 1-4% over the same period.

Britain's Management Consultancies Association (MCA) reckons that the value of public-sector consulting to its members grew by 46% last year, while private-sector business grew by only 4%. Two-fifths of the British consulting business of Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms, is now for the public sector. Moreover, much private-sector work is for privatised businesses that are still shedding public-sector habits. In Britain last year, for the first time ever, utility companies (gas, electricity and water) were the biggest single private-sector market for the MCA's members.

Economist.com | Articles by Subject | Management consultants

Most people will never turn their homes into electronic control centres

Why not? Because convergence usually goes against the grain of human nature. A converged device is invariably complex, and people like simplicity. A converged device represents a single point of failure, and people like to know that they can still look at baby photos even if the TV breaks down.

The digital-home technorati boldly beg to differ. Their visions are predicated, yes, on specialised devices as “spokes” around the house, but also on all of these spokes connecting to one central “hub”. Their disagreements, which are passionate, are only about whose box and whose technology should constitute that hub, with Microsoft, Intel and computer makers pushing the PC, the telecoms and cable operators lobbying for their proprietary set-top boxes, and the consumer-electronics makers fighting for their consoles, TV sets or digital-video recorders. Collectively, they seem unbothered that the few instances of converged super-gadgets that already exist, such as the so-called “media-centre PC”, have been utter failures.

That intransigence is a pity because not all parts of their vision are ridiculous. Downloading entertainment (as opposed to buying it on physical discs) is convenient, and if consumers were confident that such “content” could play on any sort of device, they might do a lot more of it. But this is not the case, because each company is also aiming to recreate the sort of dominance that Microsoft achieved in the PC era by anointing its own technology as the universal standard, reducing other firms to royalty-paying serfs. Thus each is refusing to bring its own standards into harmony with those of rivals.

For consumers, this means economic risk (if they bet on a technology that goes extinct) or lots of fiddling with manuals full of gibberish. Admittedly, at least around Silicon Valley, there are people (mostly men) who quite like the sound of this. They, however, tend to live near, or even with, other Californians (mostly women) whose Feng Shui consultants are vehemently opposed to it. The Economist reckons the latter will gain the upper hand.

Digital living | The home of the future | Economist.com

sexta-feira, setembro 09, 2005

A "rational business case for having a broad base of open technology standards"

In a report to be presented at the World Bank today, a group that includes senior government officials from 13 countries will urge nations to adopt open-information technology standards as a vital step to accelerate economic growth, efficiency and innovation.

The 33-page report is a road map for creating national policies on open technology standards, and comes at a time when several countries - and some state governments - are pursuing plans to reduce their dependence on proprietary software makers, notably Microsoft, by using more free, open-source software.

The project, begun by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School, gathered government officials from China, India, Thailand, Denmark, Jordan, Brazil and elsewhere at a three-day meeting in Silicon Valley in February to discuss technology standards and economic development. The meeting was followed by e-mail exchanges, conference calls and postings on a shared Web site.

The group defines an open standard as technology that is not owned by a single company and is openly published. Still, there is a huge debate in industry and among policy makers about how far openness should go.

The report makes clear that government policy should "mandate technology choice, not software development models."

It also points out that open technology standards - the digital equivalent of a common gauge for railroad tracks - are not the same thing as open-source software. Open source is a development model for software in which code is freely shared and improved by a cooperative network of programmers.

Plan by 13 Nations Urges Open Technology Standards - New York Times

rip, mix and share

The BBC has released the first TV clips from its archive onto the internet for people to "rip, mix and share".

Almost 100 clips, from shows such as Walking With Beasts and Tomorrow's World, are for the UK public to use for free in their own creative works.

The BBC hopes to foster innovation by letting anyone re-use its material for personal and educational purposes under the Creative Archive Licence.

BBC Radio 1 launched the scheme with a competition to produce a music video.

The clips, mostly a few minutes long, range from animals to landscapes and art.

The licence says they must not be used in commercial or campaigning ways and must not be used to defame other people.

The scheme has been in the pipeline since former BBC director general Greg Dyke first mooted it in 2003.

The British Film Institute, Channel 4, Open University and Teachers' TV are also set to make more material available.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | BBC opens TV archive to remixers

quarta-feira, setembro 07, 2005

America's hard-core game players have shifted four more hours of their weekly TV-watching time to online activities

During the last year, America's hard-core game players have shifted four more hours of their weekly TV-watching time to online activities, according to a new survey by Ziff Davis Media Game Group.

The study, "Digital Gaming in America," also reports that the number of hard-core game-playing households increased by 900,000 from 18.9 million to 19.8 million over the same year's time.

There are 76.2 million game-playing households in the U.S. in 2005 -- up 11.4% from 67.5 million in 2004. The importance of hard-core gamers in this overall universe is underscored by the study's finding that they account for 56% of the industry's revenue.


segunda-feira, setembro 05, 2005

Katrina - Innovative Use of Google Earth, Wikis and Other technology

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of displaced residents and their relatives - along with people like Mr. Sprague - have turned to the Internet for information about a home feared damaged or destroyed. Many are using Google Earth, a program available at the Google Web site that lets users zoom in on any address for an aerial view drawn from a database of satellite photos.

By the end of last week, a grass-roots effort had identified scores of posthurricane images, determined the geographical coordinates and visual landmarks to enable their integration into the Google Earth program, and posted them to a Google Earth bulletin board - the place ZuluOne turned for help.

Most of the images originated with the Remote Sensing Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has been posting them to its Web site (noaa.gov) since Wednesday.

Taking inspiration from the online volunteers, Google, NASA and Carnegie Mellon University had by Saturday night made the effort more formal, incorporating nearly 4,000 posthurricane images into the Google Earth database (at earth.google.com) for public use.
Yet many who have no particular personal connection to the hurricane's devastation joined the effort.

Douglas Hillman, a disc jockey and dance instructor who lives near Chicago, created some 80 overlays. He said he was fascinated by Google Earth and also interested in "the results of a natural disaster, in the way people react to it, and also in the technology used to cover it."

As for methodology, Mr. Hillman says he downloads an aerial image from the NOAA Web site to his computer, then tweaks it with tools in the Google Earth software until it lines up as closely as possible with the existing satellite image.

"This is not an entirely precise process, as the pictures are taken from slightly different angles, so it's not exact," he said. But it is close enough to pinpoint houses, even cars.

Kathryn Cramer, a science fiction editor in Pleasantville, N.Y., whose Web site (www.kathryncramer.com) has served as a clearinghouse for overlay information, said the effort started early last week when she and a few others wondered about the exact location of a levee break and created an overlay using a photo from the news media.

"We were getting a lot of decontextualized disaster photos that didn't give you a real understanding of what was happening," she said.

In a related online collaboration, at www.scipionus.com, people are plastering a Google street map with electronic pushpins marked with information like "casino boats destroyed" and "minor wind damage." And at Google Maps, posthurricane images are also available for flooded areas of New Orleans.

Of the many lessons learned since the 2001 terrorist attacks, "one is that there is an overwhelming desire for geospatial data," said Mr. Aslaksen of NOAA. "It's become a tool as necessary as a word processor."

For Victims, News About Home Can Come From Strangers Online - New York Times