terça-feira, maio 30, 2006
Nine EU nations have pledged to provide aircraft and patrol boats to support Spain in its effort to stem the flood of illegal migrants from Africa.
Spain says it needs additional five patrol boats, five helicopters and a surveillance plane to track refugees arriving to the Canary Islands.
Austria, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal are backing the request.
Some 7,500 migrants have arrived in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic in 2005.
This is five times more than in the same period last year.
About 1,000 more are believed to have died making the crossing in small fishing boats.
BBC NEWS | Europe | Spain to get migrant patrol help
quinta-feira, maio 25, 2006
Los call centers en otras partes del mundo nunca atrajeron demasiada atención artística
Los call centers en otras partes del mundo nunca atrajeron demasiada atención artística, pero la industria de la India tiene elementos inherentes de drama que no están presentes en otras partes del mundo: en la India, miles de estudiantes universitarios jóvenes de ambos sexos se pasan la noche encerrados, pegados unos a otros (quebrando la distancia tradicional entre los sexos), trabajando en oficinas modernas e inteligentes con el horario de Estados Unidos, adoptando identidades norteamericanas falsas, realizando tareas estúpidas, pero ganando salarios mucho más altos de aquellos a los que sus padres pueden aspirar.
En las telenovelas, como “India Calling”, que recientemente terminó su primera temporada, el ambiente del call center se utiliza para ubicar la trama en la India moderna y mostrar las actitudes y la manera de vestir de los nuevos ricos jóvenes de la India. En la película de Bollywood “American Daylight”, es el pretexto (poco convincente) para un romance a larga distancia entre una telefonista, Sujita (conocida por sus clientes como Sue) y un millonario norteamericano que se enamora de su flamante acento americanizado y atraviesa el mundo para pedir su mano.
El punto de vista político se torna más evidente en el trabajo de Bhagat, donde el negocio del call center simboliza la dominación norteamericana y la debilidad india. En su novela, los nuevos empleados aprenden la regla “35=10” el primer día. “El cerebro de un norteamericano de 35 años es igual al cerebro de un indio de 10. Esto ayuda a entender a los clientes”, explican los instructores en los cursos de capacitación.
Los call centers de la India se convierten en fuente de inspiración artística
"Creating a web that can be interpreted by machines"
The idea was articulated in an article in Scientific American five years ago by web creator Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Jim Hendler of the University of Maryland, and Professor Ora Lassila of phone giant Nokia.
It was their idea to try to start to make sense of the tangle of data on the World Wide Web.
Until now, almost all of the information on webpages is produced by humans for humans.
Although a computer is good for viewing the information on webpages and crunching some of the numbers contained in databases, it is no good for extracting the meaning of words and numbers on websites.
Efforts to build this next wave have been going on since the Scientific American article was published.
But before the general public will start to notice the benefits, researchers must make sure that software is developed and, importantly, that the data is available and classified correctly.
According to semantic visionary Jim Hendler some of those pieces are starting to fall into place quite quickly.
There is now even a test version of a semantic search engine called "Swoogle" at the University of Maryland.
But just as getting a coherent definition of the semantic web is tricky, finding out when it will arrive is harder still.
However, one thing that all the researchers at the conference agree upon is that when it does appear, anything that has gone before on the web will seem mundane in comparison.
"You ain't see nothing yet," promised Professor Hendler.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Smart sites to power semantic web
terça-feira, maio 23, 2006
Web inventor warns of 'dark' net
The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said.
Recent attempts in the US to try to charge for different levels of online access web were not "part of the internet model," he said in Edinburgh.
He warned that if the US decided to go ahead with a two-tier internet, the network would enter "a dark period".
Sir Tim was speaking at the start of a conference on the future of the web.
"What's very important from my point of view is that there is one web," he said.
"Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring."
BBC NEWS | Technology | Web inventor warns of 'dark' net
segunda-feira, maio 22, 2006
Web inventor says brainchild ready for big leap
The World Wide Web is on the cusp of making its next big leap to become an open environment for collaboration, and its inventor said he has not been so optimistic in years.
Still, Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented and then gave away the World Wide Web, warns that Internet crime and anticompetitive behavior must be fought tooth and nail.
A lot of new technology is becoming available after many years to make the Web smarter and easier to use, he said.
"My personal view is that a lot of it is coming together now. That is very gratifying to see ... I'm very optimistic at this moment," Berners-Lee said in a telephone interview ahead of the annual World Wide Web conference, which opens in Edinburgh on Monday.
"The whole industrial environment is more exciting. We had the bubble and the burst, but now you see a lot of young companies again. There's renewed enthusiasm among VCs (venture capitalists) to invest in start-ups. I get a feeling of upsurge in activity."
Roughly twice as much money is being invested in European Internet start-ups than the figure two years ago, according to venture capitalist community Tornado-Insider.
Net neutrality issues
Berners-Lee is no fan, however, of fenced-off Web areas specially designed for mobile devices such as the new .mobi suffix. He wants Web sites and devices to be smart enough to figure out what the best way is to present information to consumers.
He is also concerned that some Internet providers in the United States have started to filter data, giving priority to premium data for which the operator receives an additional fee. They can do this because they own the cables, the service, the portals and other key applications.
"The public will demand an open Internet," he said.
On his blog, Berners-Lee pays homage to the designers of the Internet who decided that all data packets were created equal. "I tried then to make the Web technology, in turn, a universal, neutral platform."
Another element of concern to Berners-Lee is "spam in general and particularly phishing," referring to criminals trying to fish for credit card details and other private data.
Web sites have to be much clearer in showing consumers that they are safe, he said.
...Web inventor says brainchild ready for big leap | CNET News.com
sexta-feira, maio 19, 2006
Modernism: Designing a New World
The Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition, Modernism: Designing a New World, is to its credit an ambitious attempt to summarise the tumultuous cultural history of 1914-1939, charting how revolutionary ideas became mass movements in art, mass production and architecture. This movement was driven to build a better society in the wake of the First World War; a rejection of the past, and a focus on new technology, was perceived as a way to achieve this.
|It seems that for such critics, to have the temerity to want to change society or master nature, is inherently sinister, arrogant and perilous. They propose that utopianism is nihilism, in an embryonic form 'They turned a fad into a political programme, asserting "we" as sovereign over "them."', says one. 'The modernists were the neocons of 20th-century art. They took a sound methodology…and made it a dogma that brooked no opposition, even from reality.' (9)|
|Even the V&A's title, 'Designing a New World', actually reflects how uncomfortable the cultural establishment is when tackling the idealism embedded within the movement, choosing instead to frame the works in a sterile design light that artificially separates the intellectual or progressive impulses that drove the works.|
|We shouldn't let the panicky perceptions of the works thwart the progressive desires or inspirations that Modernism offers. If there had been a manifesto room, the curators would have done well to look again to Gramsci's praise of Futurism for a more uplifting gallery wall soundbite: 'they had confidence in themselves, in the impetuosity of their youthful energies.' (3) Re-engaging with such optimism might counteract current cowardice. These beliefs and hopes need to be dusted off as aesthetic and political curiosities, and we need to reconsider some of Modernism's bold aims to reshape not just objects but society itself.|
spiked-culture | Article | Modernism: "Victoria & Albert Museum"
quarta-feira, maio 17, 2006
Top 15 Countries by Web Usage and Properties, March 2006
The U.S. trails other nations in online engagement, according to data released by comScore Networks's new World Metrix panel.
The worldwide average number of hours spent online in the month of March was 31.3. The top 15 countries include Israel (57.5 hours), Finland (49.3 hours), South Korea (47.2 hours), and the Netherlands (43.5 hours). Each of the top countries are reported to have high broadband penetration.
|Average Monthly Online Hours per Unique Visitor by Country, March 2006|
|Country||Avg. Hours per Visitor March 2006|
|Note: Visitors are 15 years old or older.|
|Source: comScore World Metrix, 2006|
Top 15 Countries by Web Usage and Properties, March 2006
More generally, standardisation and automation, the established tools of productivity improvement, are unlikely to yield results when tacit workers are involved. Management must shift its focus from efficiency to effectiveness, which requires changing from measures of output to measures of outcome, fostering organisational change, learning, collaboration and innovation.
Understanding tacit interactions is important not only in business but also in the public and nonprofit sectors – wherever activities are specialised and people interact, worker to worker. With due respect to Drucker, the management of workers (knowledge or otherwise) involved with transformations and transactions is now relatively well understood; increasing the effectiveness of tacit interactions is not; it is the biggest management challenge – and perhaps the biggest opportunity – of the modern era.
*McKinsey examined the performance of 8,000 companies across several sub-sectors and found that as tacit interaction intensity increases from low (less than 14 per cent of economic activity) to high (greater than 62 per cent), performance differentials between top and bottom quartile performing companies increases significantly. An analysis using revenue growth yields shows similar performance differentials.
segunda-feira, maio 15, 2006
Concurrent media usage
As media companies plunk down billions of dollars in advertising at the major networks' fall presentations this week, market researchers are still struggling to understand the realities of what has been called "concurrent media usage."
Thus far, the researchers have found some common ground, but differ widely in crucial areas of interpretation. They do seem to agree on two points: that this kind of multitasking does not apply only to young people and that the amount of time spent multitasking is rising across the board.
For advertisers, the challenge is getting their message across in one medium while the consumer is active at the same time in several others. The buzzword these days is "engagement" — as in how engaged, or involved, the consumer is in a particular activity, a notion that is still relatively new in a media world that has for decades relied on stable indicators like the Nielsen ratings.
The question for programmers is whether it is possible to break through the clutter and offer material that commands more of their viewers' attention, and perhaps more advertising as a result.
At an Industry Media Lab, Close Views of Multitasking - New York Times
"You can't make good technology predictions if you only look at technology."
"You can't make good technology predictions if you only look at technology."
chairman, Future in Review
[print version] Tech luminaries swap ideas on the future | CNET News.com
domingo, maio 14, 2006
The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present.
The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages. It is a familiar hope, in part because long ago we briefly built such a library. The great library at Alexandria, constructed around 300 B.C., was designed to hold all the scrolls circulating in the known world. At one time or another, the library held about half a million scrolls, estimated to have been between 30 and 70 percent of all books in existence then. But even before this great library was lost, the moment when all knowledge could be housed in a single building had passed. Since then, the constant expansion of information has overwhelmed our capacity to contain it. For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future.
The reign of the copy is no match for the bias of technology. All new works will be born digital, and they will flow into the universal library as you might add more words to a long story. The great continent of orphan works, the 25 million older books born analog and caught between the law and users, will be scanned. Whether this vast mountain of dark books is scanned by Google, the Library of Congress, the Chinese or by readers themselves, it will be scanned well before its legal status is resolved simply because technology makes it so easy to do and so valuable when done. In the clash between the conventions of the book and the protocols of the screen, the screen will prevail. On this screen, now visible to one billion people on earth, the technology of search will transform isolated books into the universal library of all human knowledge.
Scan This Book! - New York Times
The Next Big Thing Is Us
The authorship of innovation is shifting from the Few to the Many. Take as an example something called the open-source movement. The basic idea is that while most software is produced by the aforementioned People in the Room, open-source software is offered to the entire world as a collaborative project. Somebody posts a piece of software on the Internet and then throws the joint wide open. It's like American Idol for software. In the open-source model, innovation comes from hundreds of thousands of people, not just a handful of engineers and a six-pack of Code Red. One open-source program, the truly excellent Web browser Firefox, has been downloaded 150 million times. SourceForge.net a website that coordinates open-source work, is currently host to almost 15,000 projects. Internet behemoth AOL, which shares a corporate parent with this magazine, open-sourced its instant-messaging service just last week.
The idea that lots of people, potentially everybody, can be involved in the process of innovation is both obvious and utterly transformative, and once you look for examples you start seeing them everywhere. When Apple launched iTunes and the iPod it had no idea that podcasting would be a big deal. It took the rest of us to tell Apple what its product was for. Companies as diverse as Lego, Ikea and BMW are getting in on this action. And it exists in the cultural realm too. Look at websites like YouTube, or Google Video. Anybody anywhere can upload his or her little three-minute movies, and the best ones bubble to the top. Who knows what unheralded, unagented Soderbergh will come crawling out of that primordial tide pool? Granted, some of the movies are of people falling off jungle gyms. But some of them are brilliant. Some of them are both.
Two things make this kind of innovation possible, one obvious and one not. The obvious one is--say it with me--the Internet. The other one, the surprising one, is a curious phenomenon you could call intellectual altruism. It turns out that given the opportunity, people will donate their time and brainpower to make the world better. There's an online encyclopedia called Wikipedia written entirely by anonymous experts donating their expertise. It has the unevenness you'd expect from anything that's user-created and user-edited, but it's still the most useful reference resource anywhere on- or off-line; earlier this month Wikipedia posted its 1 millionth article.
You would think corporations would be falling all over themselves to make money off this new resource: a cheap R&D lab the approximate size of the earth's online population. In fact, they have been slow to embrace it. Admittedly, it's counterintuitive: until now the value of a piece of intellectual property has been defined by how few people possess it. In the future the value will be defined by how many people possess it. You could even imagine a future in which companies scrapped their R&D departments entirely and simply proposed questions for the global collective intelligence to mull. All that creative types like myself would have to do is sit back and harvest free, brilliant ideas from the brains of billions. Now that's an idea my inner cynic can get behind.
TIME Magazine Archive Article -- The Next Big Thing Is Us -- Mar. 20, 2006
The party that's never over
It is not often that The Economist uses its pages to pass on party invitations, but here is one that might be of interest not only to existing readers, but also to future generations. For this is a party that you may attend retrospectively. On May 7th, the students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology plan to hold the first (and they believe only) convention for time travellers. Their reason for arguing that it is the only one is that only one is necessary. After all, time travellers of whatever period will be able to attend, provided only that news of the convention survives into any future period that might invent time travel. That may, of course, be quite a long way into the future. As the party's website puts it, time travel is a “hard problem, and it may not be invented until long after MIT has faded into oblivion”. Whether the irony is intentional is difficult to say (this is MIT, after all). But for those who wish to attend without the assistance of time machines, the party starts at 8pm. The venue is East Campus Courtyard, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts. People of Cambridge, you have been warned
The Changing Face of China
Mr Gittings is sceptical of the view that China's huge internal stresses—from dysfunctional banks to religious unrest—have pushed it to the verge of catastrophe. Yet his argument is hedged with sufficient caveats that the pessimist could still feel vindicated. “The Chinese miracle is a precarious one: the leadership...only has a few years to get it right,” he suggests. The leadership needs to initiate “serious reforms” of the political structure within this period. But the leadership Mr Gittings describes is one that has a congenital disinclination to reform itself.
The author's biggest concern is about the ravages to China's environment caused by breakneck industrial growth. Environmental degradation and rising pollution, he argues, represent a far more serious threat to the Chinese people than either political or economic instability. He even proposes a nightmare scenario in which China will run out of water. Mr Gittings is altogether too gloomy on this issue. Another, and in this reviewer's opinion, more likely, scenario is that China's huge environmental problems will cause widespread suffering. But they will also become part of the powerful cocktail of emerging challenges to an unreformed party that will force it to change the way it rules.
Modern China | Fear of the future | Economist.com
sábado, maio 13, 2006
The words and symbols of politics are chucked about liberally, leaving little trace
The words and symbols of politics are chucked about liberally, leaving little trace. Political rhetoric seems to exist on a different plane to political action. 'Nationalisation' once meant a major shift in capital, the state direction of industry and the incorporation of mass unions: now it means a fudging of ownership and discussions about new terms, but we'll have to wait 170-odd days to find out for sure. Tanks foreign gas companies' lawns would have once sparked major diplomatic incidents, or wars that meant the loss or gain of territory: now everybody carries on as if nothing was happening, with the receptionist at one occupied refinery saying that the soldiers are 'guarding things…. Making sure everything's in order. That's all we know' (10).
Political language has become more extravagant as it has been emptied out. Fidel Castro experienced decades of economic embargos from the USA and hostilities that at one stage approached nuclear war, but he never approached Hugo Chavez's fiery rudeness. There is a high level of tolerance of political rudeness, which is perhaps seen as necessary to maintain stability in a disgruntled continent. Ambassadors maintain relations behind the scenes while the president blows off steam in the streets.
Democratic and revolutionary rhetoric flies around too. Every political imitative is prefixed with 'the people's', as if this were Bolshevik Russia circa 1919. Chavez, Morales and Castro dubbed their exchange of trade goods and social assistance 'the people's trade agreement'. The operations chief for the Bolivian state energy company Nelson Cabrera said: 'In this decree, is the hope of the people'. Morales announced that oil and gas were now 'under the control of the Bolivian people'.
spiked-politics | Article | Bolivia: 'nationalisation' isn't what it seems
sexta-feira, maio 12, 2006
"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans"
USA Today claims that after 9/11, the National Security Agency (NSA) asked all the major phone companies for access to their records of all calls.
An anonymous source told the paper the agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders.
The spy agency was not listening to or recording the content of the calls, but tracking the phone numbers and call duration to try to analyse patterns for potential terrorist activity.
BBC NEWS | Americas | Spy charges pit security against privacy
What's the point of rating shows if people skip the ads?
DVRs, DVDs, iTunes Video - no one watches TV in real time anymore. So Nielsen Media Research, the venerable monitor of America's viewing habits, is rebooting. It now reports on TiVo'd programs and may track shows on iPods and cell phones. But Nielsen's empire was built to serve Madison Avenue when people still watched commercials. We asked CEO Susan Whiting how it'll survive the advent of time shifting.
Wired 14.03: START
If Google is a religion, what is its God? It would have to be The Algorithm. Faith in the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent algorithm appears to be what Messrs Page and Brin have in common. It's “in their DNA,” says Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist famous for investing early in both Yahoo! and Google. Whereas Yahoo! was started by two Stanford students who turned a hobby into a business, Google was started by two Stanford students who turned an intellectual obsession into a quest, says Mr Moritz. And what is that quest? Merely upstaging Microsoft would be almost banal. “We're not trying to build a better operating system,” says Mr Schmidt (although that will not kill the rumour). Part of the plan is certainly “organising the world's information”. But some people think they detect an even more grandiose design. Google is already working on a massive and global computing grid. Eventually, says Mr Saffo, “they're trying to build the machine that will pass the Turing test”—in other words, an artificial intelligence that can pass as a human in written conversations. Wisely or not, Google wants to be a new sort of deus ex machina.
Face value | St Lawrence of Google | Economist.com
domingo, maio 07, 2006
Planet of Slums
Any moment now, in fact it may have already happened, the world will reach a tipping point: for the first time, the urban population will outnumber the rural. Those new urbanites will not be living in city-centre lofts, Victorian terraces or even tower blocks, but in shacks of recycled plastic and corrugated tin. They will be on the peripheries of the most polluted and overcrowded cities, built on land made valueless because of its vulnerability to flooding or landslips, or its proximity to toxic industry. The streets of this new world will not welcome new inhabitants with pavements of gold but with makeshift streets of sewage.
The astonishing facts hit like anvil blows. China added more urban dwellers to the world population in the 1980s than did the whole of 19th-century Europe; there are 200,000 slums in the world; Nairobi’s Laini Saba slum has 10 pit latrines for 40,000 residents; 99.4 per cent of urban Ethiopians are slum dwellers; Mumbai, with up to 12 million slum squatters, remains the global slum capital. The relentless barrage of statistics crowds the reader into a fetid world of unimaginable despair, as if trying to evoke the tragedy of the slums through numbing drudgery rather than language alone.
This is only part criticism. Planet of Slums is far from an enjoyable read but the reliably leftwing Davis does his best to bring to our attention in the most direct way the scale of a problem too easily ignored from our privileged position.
There could be few things more depressing for an architect than a book like this. While we rave about a hugely expensive new art gallery, building’s real growth area is the slums and there is so little that can be done. Davis has produced a heartbreaking book that hammers the reader a little further into the ground with the blow of each new and shocking statistic.
Our great metropolises will soon be left as mini-Venices, little enclaves of civility in an encroaching world of unimaginable squalor and poverty. This, it is painful to admit, is the real future for cities.
FT.com / Arts & Weekend / Books - A slum prospect
sexta-feira, maio 05, 2006
Isto só video
The US has pounced on the clips in a bid to undermine the impact of Zarqawi's original video message, believed to have been his first.
"We have a warrior leader, Zarqawi, who doesn't understand how to operate his weapon system and has to rely on his subordinates to clear a weapon stoppage," said Maj Gen Rick Lynch, spokesman for the US military, who presented the clips to the media on Thursday.
"His close associates... do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.
"Makes you wonder," said Gen Lynch.
BBC NEWS | Middle East | US seizes on Zarqawi out-takes
segunda-feira, maio 01, 2006
Irrational Exuberance 2.0 ?
Several million fickle teens + dozens of curious advertisers x reams of breathless press - some perverts = $2 billion, please.
The ever heady combination of ballooning price tags, youth appeal and gauzy PR signaled to some a second-coming of the late-1990s Internet bubble forming in the fast-growing social-networking and media realm, where tens of millions of young consumers congregate -- and have turned sites like YouTube, MySpace and Xanga into hot new properties for VC firms and titans of old media. Just last week Viacom announced it has dropped $102 million in cash for Xfire, an online gaming community that will be part of MTV Networks.
While neither the power of consumer-generated content nor the marketing cachet of digital communities united around similar tastes is being questioned, there's a feeling that the exorbitant figures being tossed about for Facebook signal some fin-de-siecle exuberance about properties that, though successful at reaching large numbers of an elusive demographic, are untried over the long haul.
Advertising Age - MediaWorks - Social-Networks' Valuations: Irrational Exuberance 2.0?