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In this video lecture, neuroscientist and fiction writer David Eagleman speaks for two hours about how the Internet, and how humans are connected to it, provides six essential steps to avoid the collapse of civilization. The steps are pretty obvious in retrospect:

  • Try not to cough on one another
  • Don’t lose things
  • Tell each other faster
  • Mitigate tyranny
  • Get more brains involved in solving problems
  • Try not to run out of energy

It’s well presented, reminiscent of James Burke’s Connections and The Day The Universe Changed. Well worth the nearly 2 hours of the lecture.

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Welcome, Human 2.0.

We may not realize it, but the Internet has given us superhuman abilities. We acquire new capabilities each year, and technology lets us to do things that would have seemed impossible 30 years ago.

Here are ten superpowers that you and I have today:

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This short (20 minute) film, “Play”, by David Kaplan and Eric Zimmerman, explores a world where the lines between augmented reality, virtual worlds and computer games have become so blurred that people begin to lose track of reality. Drawing on themes explored by films like The Matrix, Surrogates and Total Recall, this film is fascinating, thought-provoking and just a little disturbing.

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For those who have been a part of the AR community since its infancy and those who are just entering the field, these are very exciting times. After decades of research, mass market AR applications are finally viable and can be delivered on a variety of platforms. If developers, investors, analysts, and consumers can develop a real understanding of what AR can and cannot do, the future of AR technology is bright, and I look forward to its evolution as an innovative and inspiring medium for creativity, communication, and commerce.

There’s a lot of news around Augmented Reality, fueled by a flurry of apps for location- and video-enabled smartphones like the Android and the iPhone. Here’s a good overview of how some of them are blending the world around us with the virtual world. Read the full article at laboratory4.com


Image by Paolo Tonon

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Internet devices

Canadians spend more time online than watching TV, according to new research. Not surprising, since most of the content we encounter is born online.¬†Blogs, e-mails, tweets and YouTube videos wouldn’t exist without the Internet. You need a connection. And since it’s largely just computers and phones that have Internet connectivity, this often means digesting this digital content on devices that weren’t designed for consumption. Read more »

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Fossil frog, by kevinzim on Flickr

We’re rethinking many of the fundamentals on which our society is based: identity theft, privacy, employment background checks, freedom of speech, and the burden of proof. But the elder statesmen of the high courts aren’t keeping up.

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The e-memory revolution has begun

Vannevar Bush's Memex concept, from 1945

In this Sep 2009 episode of NPR’s On Point, Tom Ashbrook interviews Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, authors of the new book “Total Recall: The E-memory revolution”. Gordon Bell has, for over ten years, been digitizing his entire life as part of the MyLifeBits project, inspired by the concept of a “Memex” (pictured left), put forward by Vannevar Bush in 1945. Bell outsources much of his memory to computer systems designed to make him more effective. The book (and the podcast) explore the ways in which this e-memory revolution has already begun and will transform aspects of society from privacy and healthcare to learning and extra-marital affairs.

Listen to the episode (streaming audio provided by NPR).

Image credit: Memex image by p373 on Flickr

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This concept video demonstrates a powerful application of augmented reality. With technology that exists today, retailers could bring their wares to your living room, solving one of online shopping’s biggest drawbacks – a flat 2D representation is often not enough to make product decisions. A 3D online furniture store could allow you to try out different furniture in the real physical space of your living room with minimal effort – something that both physical and online stores can’t currently do. You can read more about the video and how it was made on phedhex’s blog.

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Hashtag searches (note that this may be a technical constraint of how Twitter parses emoticon characters)
Hashtags are the standard way of adding meaning and context to online content, providing explicit context and making it easier for computers to understand what’s being said. And emoticons are a de facto standard for expressing sentiment that work across cultures and languages. Why haven’t we combined the two?

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The perils of inadvertent sharing

Pipes, from MWichary on Flickr.There’s hidden plumbing behind our online lives. As we link our online accounts to one another, it’s easy to lose track of what’s connected to what. Social sites make it easy to inadvertently share content with an audience you didn’t know you had. Social sites that want to quickly generate the appearance of traffic mine all our online accounts in search of things to include in status updates.

Which can have some awkward consequences.
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