The deeper 21st century looks like nothing anyone ever imagined

[The] Economic calamity that hammered music hits literature. The “solution” for writers? There isn’t one… So literature collapses before our eyes, while the same fate awaits politics, law, medicine, manufacturing… finance and real estate… Diplomacy, the military… we’re not gonna die of this, but man, the deeper 21st century looks like nothing anyone ever imagined.
From three Bruce Sterling Tweets

September 28th, 2010

Craig Venter creates synthetic life form

On May 20th, J. Craig Venter and his team at J.C Venter Institute announced the creation of a cell controlled by a synthetic genome in a paper published in SCIENCE. As science historian George Dyson points out, “from the point of view of technology, a code generated within a digital computer is now self-replicating as the genome of a line of living cells. From the point of view of biology, a code generated by a living organism has been translated into a digital representation for replication, editing, and transmission to other cells.”
Craig Venter creates synthetic life form

May 20th, 2010

So, the iPad

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Apple has come out with the iPad. Here are my reactions, some quotes and payment wonderings around the new Apple gadget.

Initial reaction

I don’t like the name. I’ll get used to it and it makes sense with iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Nice alliteration and family of product feel but I still don’t like it.

I was very bad at our little event’s test but mostly on details, overall hardware wise it’s roughly what I expected. Look wise I think the black bezel around the screen is too wide but I admit it’s needed for easy handling, the rest is pretty cool. I was hoping to be blown away and I wasn’t but it doesn’t mean it’s not better than anything else on the market. Also, supposedly the blow away moment happens when you can actually try it out in person.

I expected a lot more content wise though. I really thought there’d be a huge rework of the store and that we’d get books, newspapers and magazines. I thought Derek had hit it out of the park with his “hope” post. All we (where “we” is US only, iBooks Store is not available in Canada) got is a wood panelled book store and that’s it. (See questions further down) So I’m disappointed on that front, I wanted comic books and magazine subscriptions, I get (maybe) books in a few months.

The best

Quite a bit of thinking has already been done, here are the best outtakes:

John Gruber

That’s where Apple is taking computing. A car with an automatic transmission still shifts gears; the driver just doesn’t need to know about it. A computer running iPhone OS still has a hierarchical file system; the user just never sees it. …

Lastly, a thought regarding the iPad’s aggressive pricing. Apple is obviously leaving money on the table here. They could easily charge $999 as the starting price and have hundreds of people lined up outside every Apple Store ready to buy one on day one. Then they could drop the price later in the year, as the holiday season approaches.

Clearly they’re more interested in unit sales than per-unit margin. The mobile computing landscape is in land-grab mode, and Apple is trying to stake out a long-term dominating position.
Various and Assorted Thoughts and Observations Regarding the Just-Announced iPad

Steven Fry

Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come, but also like iPhone 1.0 (and Jokanaan himself too come to that) iPad 1.0 is still fantastic enough in its own right to be classed as a stunningly exciting object, one that you will want NOW and one that will not be matched this year by any company. In the future, when it has two cameras for fully featured video conferencing, GPS and who knows what else built in (1080 HD TV reception and recording and nano projection, for example) and when the iBook store has recorded its 100 millionth download and the thousands of accessories and peripherals that have invented uses for iPad that we simply can’t now imagine – when that has happened it will all have seemed so natural and inevitable that today’s nay-sayers and sceptics will have forgotten that they ever doubted its potential. …

You know how everyone who has ever done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? always says, “It’s not the same when you’re actually here. So different from when you’re sitting at home watching.”? You know how often you’ve heard that? Well, you’ll hear the same from anyone who’s handled an iPad. The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device. And it will change so much. Newspapers, magazines, literature, academic text books, brochures, fliers and pamphlets are going to be transformed (poor Kindle). Specific dedicated apps and enhancements will amaze us. You will see characters in movies use the iPad. Jack Bauer will want to return for another season of 24 just so he can download schematics and track vehicles on it. Bond will have one. Jason Bourne will have one. Some character, in a Tron like way, might even be trapped in one.
iPad About

Jeff Croft

If you’re reading this blog, this is almost certainly not the device for you. At least not today. But stop for a minute to consider a regular person. What do they need? They need to browse the web. They need e-mail. They want to interact with the photos from their digital camera. They want maps and e-books and music and movies. But really, that’s about it. They’re consumers of media, not creators. What do they really want that the iPad can’t do out of the box?

Nothing, that’s what. …

Geeks are going to buy this thing. You’re going to see it in the wild. It’ll pop up in boardrooms, on planes, and in coffee shops. You’ll see it. You’ll admire it. And you’ll wonder, “Do I really need a laptop? Maybe that’s all I need.” And a year or two from now, you’re going to buy one. Resistance is futile.

This is the new PC. Sure, there are some things missing, and it’s not as capable as your HP netbook, but it really doesn’t matter: it does everything you need it to do, and it’s sexy as hell. Don’t pretend you didn’t ever buy a Britney record for exactly those reasons. …

There is no excuse for this thing not to have multi-user support. This could have been the world’s greatest coffee table device, if it only had support for multiple users. Think about it: the thing sits on the coffee table. Daddy logs in. He checks his e-mail and his sports scores. He logs out and puts it down. Little Timmy logs in. He IMs a friend and plays a game. He logs out and sets it down. Mom logs in. She get a recipe from her bookmarked Martha Stewart page and forwards some totally-not-funny cat video to her best friend. And so forth. This is the new PC. But it requires multi user support. If I can’t log in and have my own bookmarks, my own email accounts, my own IM lists, and my own Twitter feed, it’s useless as a family PC. And Apple, if you think a family is going to buy five of these things, you can dream the fuck on.
iPad Thoughts

Hugh Mcguire

But the iPad represents a fundamental shift in the metaphors and language of “computing.” Or rather it extends that shift that was tested first in our pockets with the iPhone, and brings it to our desks, our coffee tables … everywhere else. The iPad is a huge change. …

We have lived for the past twenty + years in an engineer’s universe of computing, where layers of implicit understanding – about file structures, multiple programs, menu idiosyncrasies, nomenclature – are required to figure out how to make your computer do what you want it to do. To many of us, these metaphors are completely embedded in our brains. So we can’t understand how someone like, say, my mother, can’t figure out how to use her scanner software
Why The iPad Matters

Fraser Speirs

What you’re seeing in the industry’s reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.

The visigoths are at the gate of the city. They’re demanding access to software. they’re demanding to be in control of their own experience of information. They may not like our high art and culture, they may be really into OpenGL boob-jiggling apps and they may not always share our sense of aesthetics, but they are the people we have claimed to serve for 30 years whilst screwing them over in innumerable ways. There are also many, many more of them than us.
Future Shock

Steven Frank

And maybe the best one I’ve seen so far, Steven Frank’s Old World and New World article. (I don’t want to quote too much, make sure to read the whole thing)

Then “next” arrived and it was so unrecognizable to most of them (myself included) that we looked at it said, “What in the shit is this?” …

In the New World, computers are task-centric. We are reading email, browsing the web, playing a game, but not all at once. Applications are sandboxed, then moats dug around the sandboxes, and then barbed wire placed around the moats. As a direct result, New World computers do not need virus scanners, their batteries last longer, and they rarely crash, but their users have lost a degree of freedom. …

The reason I’m starting to think the Old World is ultimately doomed is because we are bracketed on both sides by the New World, and those people being born today, post-iPhone and post-iPad, will never know (and probably not care) about how things used to work. Just as nobody today cares about floppies, and nobody has to care about manual transmissions if they don’t want to.
I need to talk to you about computers

I’m not taking any specific quote out of it but Check Mate: Apple’s iPad and Google’s Next Move is certainly worth a read.

Payments?

Knowing how much printed media companies are looking for new business models, it’s hard not to think that at some point there will be a way to buy “printed” media on the iPad. How? Are they on their own and have to each build an app for their own content? How can they find new ways to get payed for that content?

I’m wondering if Apple might not be working on an offering that will come later? But then, why is it called the iBooks Store and not the iContent Store or the iRead Store or something? Maybe written “non book” content is meant to go in a future re-branded re-designed iTunes?

Unless of course they are working on some kind of payment API where apps can offer a wider variety of payments through the App Store and Apple takes a cut? It’s already possible for example to sell a game and then sell levels for it. A more flexible and granular system might allow a magazine to be sold through the app as a subscription? Or bundles of articles for papers? Who knows? I just don’t see Apple stepping away from this completely and having every media property building it’s own app independently and with no advanced payment facilities. Doesn’t sound like a good offering.

Or maybe they will offer something through the browser? Maybe iPhone/iPad versions of Safari could have a payment gateway functionality built in and linking to the store?

Whatever the system, I think the content offering from Apple is still incomplete and something else is coming.

January 31st, 2010

Escalante Blue

The name of my company, Taste of Blue is taken from a William Gibson quote but I love how Matt Webb defines and relates blue to the internet in his Escalante presentation :

Blue is a good colour. It’s the colour of Neptune, of course; it’s the colour of the future of humanity. It is the colour of deep seas and of Cherenkov radiation.

When we finally move on from Earth in the late 24th century and take over the solar system, our city-sized generation ships will take off into clear blue skies just like this.
(slide 54)

And blue is the colour of hyperlinks. It’s the colour of the virtual, of potential, of what might be beyond this link. It’s the colour of what’s about to come. It’s the colour of possibility. It’s the true colour of the web.
(slide 55)

Outside of the blue thing, fantastic presentation all around.

January 21st, 2010

On the Continuing End of Business as Usual

Indeed. If you had told me in 1980 that thirty years hence anybody could write whatever they pleased, with ease, and publish it through a worldwide system that nobody owned, everybody could use and anybody could improve… and that this writing could be read on phones or lightweight personal displays, anywhere in the world, at little cost, by anybody… and that far more money would be made because of this new system than any company would make with it (including the phone and cable TV companies whose wiring this new system employed)… I’d call that a utopia.
On the Continuing End of Business as Usual

January 18th, 2010

Lettre aux boomers

Même si nous sommes constamment branchés sur le monde, notre génération rêve également pour ce cher Québec! Elle rêve d’une planète en santé, de transports en commun et d’organisation urbaine responsable. Elle rêve d’un Québec juste, équitable et ouvert, régulé par une économie coopérative à visage humain. Elle rêve de programmes gouvernementaux lui donnant les outils pour foncer vers les défis titanesques de demain. Mais aujourd’hui, alors que nous commençons à former des familles et sommes prêts à prendre des décisions pour elles, nous nous trouvons dans un gouffre. Eh oui, chers boomers, vous nous étouffez sous votre poids démographique!—Réfléchir autrement (citation d’une lettre au JdM)

December 7th, 2008

The Missing Near Future

That exaggerated fear governed the past decade. But unless there is a plausible, desirable vision of betterment, one that billions can agree on, another fear will have to be found… In that way I think there is a moral imperative to articulate our path towards something better. Not to leave it a vague post-modernist muddle. Not to shirk from the complexity and realities of costs. And not even to expect everyone to consent.—The Missing Near Future

November 19th, 2008

Vision?

Depuis quelques mois il y a deux thèmes qui me travaillent particulièrement, tous les deux reliés à notre société, je vais couvrir l’un deux dans une prochaine entrée mais pour commencer, le thème que je me disais ne pas vouloir attaquer ici : la politique. En se lendemain de St-Jean, je me lance tout de même.

J’était indépendantiste quand j’était plus jeune, je ne le suis plus depuis nombre d’années mais depuis 1 an – 1 an et demi, alors que je découvre et réfléchis de plus en plus à une variété d’enjeux politiques, j’aimerais qu’on me donne une raison de le redevenir.

Notre paysage politique, que ce soit au niveau provincial ou fédéral, est plutôt dépourvu de grandes idées. Même aux États-Units, ou ils ont la chance d’avoir un candidat fabuleux en Barack Obama, on ne peut pas dire que les grandes idées, les grands projets, les visions, soient légion. Obama est toute une occasion et pourrait (pourra? est?) être un leader fantastique mais il faut avouer qu’outre répéter “le changement”, ce n’est pas super révolutionnaire comme plan.

Stéphane Dion semble avoir des idées intéressante en matière d’environnement mais c’est quand même plutôt embourbé dans la merde politique et le compromis (sans parler de son manque de charisme et de leadership). Charest a quelques pistes, comme l’énergie renouvelable, mais là aussi c’est assez limité.

Nous nous retrouvons devant une multitude de grands défits et je ne vois personne qui offre un plan novateur, une série d’idées et de projets qui permettraient à notre pays (le Canada ou un projet de Québec) de prendre les devants, de devenir un modèle de par le monde.

Une des raisons principales pour mon éloignement du mouvement indépendantiste proviens de “l’occasion perdue”, je croyais que c’était trop tard, qu’en ses années d’Union Européenne, de globalization, que de se séparer allait a contre courrant et n’apporterait rien d’avantageux. J’ai maintenant plutôt l’impression qu’avec tous les défits qui se présentent, nous sommes maintenant à un moment ou un petit pays, qui pourrait manoeuvrer rapidement et innover dans ses solutions, pourrait vraiment bâtir quelque chose de solide et qui ferait des jaloux. Ce pourrait être le Canada mais peut-être qu’un nouveau pays aurait une meilleure chance de “décrouter” sa bureaucratie et de partir sur de nouvelles pistes.

Je ne suis quand même pas de retour du côté du PQ parce que, comme tout le monde au Canada, ils n’offrent rien de nouveau. “Être chez-nous”, protéger notre langue et notre culture, “je ne me reconnais pas au Canada” c’est bien beau mais ça ne constitue pas un plan.

L’énergie renouvelable, l’eau potable, le changement climatique, une réduction de notre consommation, un cycle de production équitable, des solutions globales aux idioties qui mênent à la crise alimentaire, l’accès uniforme à l’information / à internet, des solutions technologiques ouvertes, un gouvernement ouvert, des lois (copyright entre autres) qui définissent une vision du futur au lieu de protéger de vieilles compagnies aveugles, une démocratie plus transparente, une population plus impliquées, combattre l’étalement urbain, de bons plans d’urbanisme, l’équité sociale, etc.

Sacrament, il me semble qu’on ne manque pas de défits non? Je ne rêve pas d’un pays, je rêve d’un groupe qui montre de la vision, qui propose de repenser notre société. Dernièrement j’ai l’impression qu’un nouveau pays serait peut-être plus à même d’y arriver mais je suis ouvert à tout. En ce lendemain de St-Jean j’affirme : qu’on me donne une vrai vision pour un pays, un plan qui regarde vers l’avant et propose quelque chose de nouveau et je serai avec vous. J’aimerais que le Canada soit le pays qui relève ces défits mais peut-être aussi que le Québec pourrait être plus “léger”, bouger et être ce pays qui prend les devants.

En passant, la façon de se faire un nouveau pays—qu’à la base je ne supporte pas—n’est pas de regarder vers le passé, de chercher des conditions gagnantes qui se limitent à trouver un moment ou tout le monde est en criss contre les autres partis, c’est de regarder les défits qui sont devant nous et offrir des solutions nouvelles qui pourront intéresser tout le monde à participer.

Pistes

Arrêtez de regarder vers les États-Units, si vous voulez nous comparer et trouver des exemples, regardez vers la Scandinavie et vers de petit pays qui profitent de leur grosseur pour bouger rapidement.

L’Islande, la Suède, la Nouvelle Zélande et le Costa Rica ont annoncés des plans pour être “carbon neutral”, l’Estonie est partie comme une fusée à sa sortie du bloc soviétique et est maintenant un leader côté gouvernement électronique et accès à internet. La Norvège gère l’argent de ses carburants fossiles de façon novatrice. La Chine, malgré tous ses défauts, propose de nouvelles villes au profil environmental réduit.

Les solutions et les visions ne manquent pas de par le monde, les difficultés non plus, plein de gens sont prêts à relever ses défits, à attaquer ses problèmes, à quand quelqu’un qui soit prêt à bâtir quelque chose de nouveau et d’appropié au 21ème siècle? Nous avons toutes les ressources pour bâtir de nouvelles solution et personne qui prenne les devants1. L’occasion est là, qui va la prendre?

1 Dans les sens de parti politique évidemment, côté individus et petites compagnies, ça bouge.

June 25th, 2008