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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category


The Declining High Tech Balance of Trade

As the global economy evolves, the U.S. continues to become a net importer, rather than exporter, of advanced technologies.  Which sectors are “winners”, and which are lagging?  And is there coherence between our performance in international trade, and our national R&D investments? Read more »


A Common Crowdsourcing Platform?

Here’s the executive summary:   A common smartphone app interface and underlying open API could unlock crowdsourced data collection across a number of different fields.  The trick … how to get critical mass. Read more »


Social Networking, Semantic Searching and Science

Executive summary: The tools and tricks of scientific collaboration are still pretty old school.  With the ivory tower not being a major profit center, how can innovations in the private sector (which far outstrip academia’s capabilities) be brought over to accelerate scientific research and discovery?  (Caveat: I have no answers, just a problem statement!) Read more »


Virtually Mirroring The Physical World

A recent conversation about upgrading some of our NASA public exhibits to “self-narrated tour” capabilities has sent me down a speculative rabbit trail of thinking more broadly about virtual interactivity with physical world objects.   Museums have, in some ways, paved the way here: from self-guided Walkman tours to self-guided iPod Shuffle tours to museum cell phone tours, allowing portable end-user interactivity, but I think this interactivity is typically decoupled (absent user intervention) from real world objects.   I think (and I suspect many others have thought) that it’s not too far downstream that we’ll have sufficient standards, automation and capabilities in place to allow key (if not many) real world objects to accessible, virtual-world analogues (yep – full circle to the Coffee Pot Webcam). Read more »


The omnivore’s stopgap: Self-fertilizing corn

This brainoid popped while reading Michael Pollan’s (compelling) diatribe against the evils of industrialized corn production in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.   Pollan points out that it takes approximately as much fossil fuel energy to grow corn (thanks to industrialized fertilizer production) as the corn yields in food calories, leading to the uncomfortable realization that we’ve fully switched from a solar-based food system to a fossil-fuel based food system. Read more »