For those of you still wondering about the awesome power of open-source software and web apps, which some forecasters believe will comprise 40% of all IT jobs by 2020, the Open Street Map (open version of Google Maps) editorial timelapse above is an illuminating demonstration of how individuals scattered across the globe can work together to quickly assemble a complex information graph.
Still doubting the power of digital altruism? Consider that over the next few years we'll move closer to always-on, hi-def, GPS-enabled life-logging devices, which will make contributing rich information to such 3D wikis much easier, if not nearly automatic. Mix in some smarter software that understands where to contextually arrange data and we're likely looking at serious acceleration of open-source graphing projects, which would help explain why the % of open-source jobs is expected to rise so significantly.
The Global Brain is hard at work. Emerging technology, software, information and social norms are speeding up its top-down, bottom-up and hybrid knowledge generation.
Putting a face to energy happened in a big way in 2008. From T-Boone Pickens' full court press promoting his Picken's Plan for wind energy and natural gas to Shai Agassi coming of age with his Wired cover story promoting his electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place, energy technology became humanized. And what do you do for an encore once you've cracked the Human Genome? Ask scientist Craig Venter and he'll tell you it's using algae to create bio fuels that replace oil. He's hoping to have something on the market in five years.
Could personality be the thing that takes a vital, but dry industry from infrastructure to top of mind in the eyes of customers?
There was a bit of hubbub in the socialmediasphere about Loic Le Meur's complaint that there was no way to filter Twitter posts by authority, or the number of users suscribing to a particular person's feed. Le Meur's beef was that he and other attendees of his conference had a problem - they couldn't sift through the deluge of Tweets about and from people attending their event to find the signal they were looking for. While signal clarity and information overload is a problem (which I will save for a later post) - what I found most interesting is that less than a day after complaining about the problem, an ambitious group of programmers dug in and created a basic product that addressed this problem.
This is something we will see much more frequently going forward.
TechCrunch and other sites that are leaders in authority and Zeitgeist have the ability to drive conversation, memes and ultimately influence production itself. And the collaborative tools that they make a living reporting on are empowering people to come together quickly and solve problems. This compressed market process is likely to accelerate rapidly in an economy where there are a lot of free agents (read un or under-employed folks) with time, expertise and awareness of these platforms and painpoints. By addressing a zeitgeist problem quickly you have the opportunity to garner a great deal of attention from the community, which can result in elevation of personal brands, team and give the solution you've created a chance to get quick adoption and possibly immediate financial backing.
Japan's largest shipping company, Nippon Yusen, has unveiled a cargo ship outfitted with enough solar panels to produce 40 Kilowatts of power. Named the Auriga Leader, the energy comes from 328 solar panels outfitted on top of the ship which set the company back about $1.7 million dollars. While 40 Kilowatts is a huge sum house-wise, it really only produces enough energy to power about 7% of the lighting systems on board. But when one considers the size of the ship (frickin' HUGE) it should save them quite bit down the road. When combined with Nippon's gel-like paint, it promises to save them hundreds of thousands down the road with this ship alone.
Honestly, it's surprising this kind of tech has waited this long in this market. Transportation eats up a huge amount of oil, especially things like ships, trains, tractor trailers and planes. And to be honest, any help is much needed help for these behemoths. Japan has its solar panels, China is working on solar sails for its cargo ships, and tons of people in America are calling for more efficient big rigs. Now we just need to press innovation ahead faster.
When I was growing up, Dufferin Street in Toronto was lined with factories producing incandescent light bulbs by GE. Those factories are long abandoned or turned into lofts or condos. The city and the federal government should be looking at attracting the next wave of lighting manufacturers ie the ones that will be producing smart lighting with light emitting diodes (LED) and organic light emitting diode (OLED) systems. (Link)
Consumers are already getting their first taste of LED technology...those outdoor solar-powered Christmas lights
The figure above compares the luminous efficacy (source efficacy) of conventional lighting technologies with the potential of light-emitting diode technology. (N.B. Log scale)
Been wanting to tinker with Augmented Reality? Now you can try it out with your iPhone. Go to Metaio and try out their Augmented Reality iPhone App for free (and unlike the last AR gadget we linked you to, these instructions are in English). You can determine his size, make him run around, even print it out on a holiday card so friends and family can see him. Enjoy!
The Google Earth Blog announced it has made a huge update to New York City regarding 3D buildings. "Google has completed nearly every building in Manhattan Island for Google Earth. Just fly to "New York City" and turn on the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth." Google engineers tried to keep a lot of user-submitted 3D buildings along with their own updates. Head on over to their site to see before and after pictures of the update, it gives you the same feeling the latest update for Google Streetview gives you — Awed and creepy.
2008 was a big year in energy and one that we could very well look back upon as the platform to the not so distant future of energy. Much has happened. To help you make sense of it all, we here at The Energy Roadmap have sifted through our bookmarks, Google Notebooks, back of the napkin lists, Twitter searches, interview transcripts, and RSS feeds to come up with the top 10 energy stories that will have an impact on our culture, society, and lives.
GE Labs, those crazy people who brought us bouncing water, have put together a nifty holiday greeting using a single band of flexible OLED panels. "The tree is made by wrapping a working 6 inch by 15 foot OLED around a stand." What better way to highlight their breakthrough OLED roll-to-roll producing technology than through a wacky video. Check out photos from the lighting over at the GE Blog.
In the blur of announcements from solar companies, oil company TV commercials, and news pundits, science sometimes get lost in the conversation. But it's science that will bring us to a workable energy future and this year has seen some significant breakthroughs. MIT's Daniel Nocera announced the development of a low cost catalyst that helps in the electrolysis of water into oxygen & hydrogen. The development of Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for solid hydrogen storage continued to evolve; Nanotechnology continues to bring promising experimental results across many energy related fields including, catalysts for fuel cells; conversion of waste heat into electricity; a new theory explaining molecular movement in polymers; and more.
Which of these scientific breakthroughs might change the commercial viability of cleaner hydrocarbons, bioenergy, renewables and advanced energy storage systems?
Continue Reading other Top 10 Energy Stories from 2008
By the fall of 2008, every major automanufacturer from GM to Nissan to Tata--and a few startups such as Tesla and Aptera--had announced production model plans for all manner of electric vehicles, from all electrc vehicles, to plug-in hybrid electrics, to fuel cell vehicles, with deliveries to consumers starting in 2010. 2008 could well be known as the nail in the coffin for the bulky combustion engine which has plagued the auto industry with its manufacturing and design liabilities, and association with volatile oil markets.
How quickly might the world re-tool the global auto industry to build new vehicle chassis based on electric motors and advanced energy storage systems?
Continue Reading other Top Energy Stories from 2008
What Happened? Responding to the US government's request that they provide plans for what they would do with government loans, the Big Three automanufacturers presented their plans. Here's an overview of what they're asking.
The Big Three automakers all describe a 'perfect storm':
- sales down 30% or so from last year due to downturn in economy - credit markets frozen so they can't offer credit to car buyers, accelerating the decrease in sales. - All in various stages of transition to new technology (smaller vehicles, electric vehicles, more fuel efficient gas engines & drive trains, etc.)
'Help us through this rough patch,' they all seem to be saying, 'and we'll help you by not tanking the economy even further.' GM is the most direct in articulating the threat. "A failure by GM will likely trigger catastrophic damage to the U.S. economy..." while Chrysler goes into detail why a bailout is preferable to bankruptcy. Ford's the most upbeat. "We note that Ford is in a different situation from our competitors, in that we believe our Company has the necessary liquidity to weather this current economic downturn – assuming that it is of limited duration."