Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oh, fungibility!

Crowd resource models continue to grow as “on-demand third-party asset rental platforms” become their own sector.

Some of the most familiar names in fungible resource marketplaces are on-demand automobiles (ZipCar, Getaround, and Uber), apartments (AirBNB), and local marketplaces for physical-world task outsourcing (TaskRabbit, ViaTask), products (CraigsList, Peddl), and services (Zaarly - e.g.; cooking, organizing, personal training).

Some nice new verbs could arise like "I AirBNB’d my house, and I getaroundt or getarounded (grammarians?) my car." Payment structures are emerging to support third-party asset rental, stalwart models like Paypal and newly-launched Flattr (social micropayments) - "Just flattr me that dinner payment..." Other neologisms are needed for new situations like where you list your asset only to find a market surplus already exists in your area, like the over 400 user-owned Getaround cars currently available in Berkeley CA (Figure 1). The 'amazonification' of pricing is also an issue as the market may be flooded already with similar items and how low are you willing to go to price your asset.

 Figure 1. Over 400 Getaround cars available in Berkeley, CA!

Future Implications
Third-party asset rental is a nice intermediary step towards other imaginable near-future scenarios like on-demand driverless transportation pods and portable housing through mobile airsteading modules. Soon enough, some level of resources may be automatically fungibly allocated without human intervention.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quantified Self Uplevels to Quality of Life

The quantified self movement has barely gotten going in the last five years but contemporary shifts can already be seen such as the idea that the current activity is just an intermediary node on the way to the future exoself.

The quantified self refers to any individual engaged in the self-tracking of biological, physical, behavioral, or environmental information, often with a proactive stance towards action. At the center of the quantified self movement is, appropriately, the Quantified Self community with thousands of worldwide participants.

Quality of Life
A key contemporary shift is a push beyond the basic self-tracking of ‘steps walked’ and ‘hours slept’ to examine more complex qualitative phenomena like emotion, happiness, and productivity. The overall objective is to improve the quality of life.

One example of improving the quality of life is by using ‘calming technologies’ to reduce stress. Whereas technology generally seems to speed things up, calming technologies do the opposite, helping to slow down and de-stress life.

The Calming Technology Lab at Stanford designs solutions to identify stressors, and respond to them by evoking a state of restful alertness in the individual. Calming technologies draw on the general principles of behavior design, where three aspects are required to produce a behavior change: sufficient motivation, sufficient ability, and a trigger. Calming technology is essentially a quantified personal stress management system.

Core Calming Principles
The CalmingTech lab has suggested ten core design principles to use in creating calming technologies, including reducing feelings of overwhelm, and having the ability to control interruptions. 

NewTech, ArtTech, CalmingTech…what could be next? HumorTech? SerendipityTech? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to be a Philosopher

One of the great values of philosophy is that it can be a helpful tool for thinking through any question of deeper puzzlement. Philosophy is needed now more than ever in a world that seems to be changing quickly, and the field could enjoy a renaissance in wider popular application. The practice of philosophy need not be confined to experts but is accessible to all. Here is a short-list of how anyone can be a philosopher:

Level 1 
  • Study the ancient texts 
  • Claim a new read on the old texts 
  • Claim that no one understands what [old philosopher #1] really said/meant and explain it yourself
Level 2 
  • Find basic concepts in philosophy that no one has really thought through yet such as performativity ("...really performativitie...") Examples: Heidegger’s being and metaphysics, Deleuze’s difference 
  • Invent strange neologisms (really neo-spellisms) by spelling existing words in new ways that no one can understand, and use them brazenly without definition: “…this is to say not just Possibility Space, but really Possibilitie Space…” or "the conceptologie here..." Examples: Heidegger's existens and phenomenologie, Deleuze's differance and differenciation, Derrida's linguage
  • Invent new compound word combinations: "...the singularity of the self-other and the plurality of the group-crowd..." Examples: Foucault’s power-knowledge, Heidegger’s standing-reserve 
Level 3
  • Submit a paper to a philosophy conference with a title like: "Rethinking [ancient philospher]'s [important concept] in [modern philospher #1] and [modern philosopher #2]"
  • Offer a critique of the history of Western philosophy and propose a new/real metaphysics (examples: Heidegger, Deleuze)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Top 10 Technology Tends for 2013

  1. Big data ubiquity, along with machine learning algorithms, and information visualization
  2. Video is the platform (example: individual YouTube channels with over 100,000 people making more than $10,000/year from ‘home video’ properties like My Drunk Kitchen, the ShayTards, and Right This Minute) 
  3. Wearable computing and objective biometrics: Fitbit, myZeo, WiThings, smartwatch, smartring, wearable electronic patches and tattoos, Google’s Project Glass
  4. Fracking
  5. eHealth biohacking: Quantified Self-tracking, self-experimenting, group health collaboration, $99 personal genomics (23andMe), $99 personal microbiomics (American Gut Project), $5 home blood-test cards (Talking20) 
  6. eLearning: Coursera, Udacity, edX, Class Central (MOOC aggregator)
  7. Mobile is still the platform: worldwide smartphone adoption crosses 1 billion
  8. Crowdsourced labor marketplaces: CrowdFlower, CrowdSource, oDesk, ClickWorker, Mechanical Turk, mobileworks, TopCoder, Elance, vWorker/Rent a Coder, Guru, 99designs, crowdSPRING, CloudCrowd, Soylent, microtask, LiveOps, Gigwalk
  9. Computer security: increasing power of Internet-based activist hacking groups (e.g.; Anonymous)
  10. New economic models (crowd-based): crowdfunding (Kickstarter, indiegogo, etc.), sustainable business, and crowdfunded debt forgiveness (from the Occupy movement’s financial arm: Rolling Jubilee)
Up and coming: Consumer EEG rigs wearable 24/7 (Axio, Interaxon) and attendant neural and biometric data privacy rights, ideally sans Faraday Cage 2.0

Still waiting for: nanotech, 3D printing, eHealth data commons with public longitudinal phenotypic data sets

Predictions for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009