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The Lotus Esprit, shown here at the New York Auto Show, will be available in 2013?

Lotus is a storied brand but currently a house divided, with Group Lotus and Team Lotus existing as separate and distinct entities — even competing against each other in Formula One racing. Hopefully they will find common ground to work together for the sake of the children (Elise, Elige, Evora etc.) and the automotive world.

One bright spot is that Detroit legend, Bob Lutz, is an advisor to Group Lotus — increasing the liklihood of good things happening there.

One day after announcing his return to Twitter — the company he created, Jack Dorsey visited the Columbia Jounalism School on March 29 for a general discussion on technology and social media matters, as well as some particulars on Twitter & Square. He was joined in conversation by Julia Angwin, tech editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Yiying Lu, creator of the Twitter “fail whale,” was also on hand (pink glasses).

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Asked if cyberspace was becoming a “technical utopia” or a “tool of oppression?” Dorsey responded that “Twitter is a tool, pure utility” — like electricity and water, being used by humans. He suggested that Twitter is valuable because it can help to “extract information in a relevant way in real time” — and added, “I welcome more information to make better, and well informed decisions.”

At a time when information is increasing exponentially — knowledge and wisdom are decreasing exponentially. Maybe that’s why war advocates can get away with saying that the lessons of Rwanda and Bosnia now mean that the U.S. must act militarily, for “moral” reasons in Libya — a completely different situation — to prevent a “genocide.”

This year’s SES conference included a session called Google Ad Innovations, that focused special attention on advertising campaigns that utilize mobile devices.

Google and the other search engines have a particular interest in what happens in the “mobile space,” given the 3.9 billion searches/day (on all platforms) and 500% increase in “search” on mobile devices, during the last 2 years.

A Google manager spoke about the new “click-to-call” enhancement available to some advertisers. With it, Google is offering unique phone numbers that can be put in ads, with metrics to follow. This means that the phone conversation between a customer and a retailer, for instance, using a Google phone number, will be recorded and offered by Google as part of the data they make available to their advertising customers.

For people who use computers/devices and the internet, it’s important to have an idea about what’s going on behind the scenes (tracking, targeting and data mining), and the effects they have on individuals and society — good and bad. There are health issues, physical and mental, as well as security and privacy issues that need to be weighed against the benefits.

One of the Google speakers mentioned “Android people,” saying that the “phone is like your mind.” For Google, “being there” means being in the mobile space, searching with Google. When people see everything as Googleable, they can fail to think well for themselves.

Just last Sunday, at St.Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC, a priest mentioned in a homily that some people had come to him recently — asking that they pray together for someone who had died in their family. The priest said that his next step was to “Google” for a prayer that would be appropriate in the moment. That may be great for Google but not so great for the rest of society. It seems the priest ought to have had some kind of prayer already in his head (or heart). The priest went on to say that his guests rejected the prayer that he had found by Googling, and then went on to criticize the grieving family for rejecting his Google enabled prayer.

As always the right tech balance is critical for individuals and society.

On Media NYC 2011 brought together CEOs of tech start-ups and investors, for an intensive three day conference that highlighted issues and opportunities related to digital and mobile advertising, investing in digital enterprises, video on-demand, social media and e-commerce.

One of the issues discussed was how to close the “advertising gap” (estimated to be $50 billion) — between what advertisers spend on-line and what they ought to, based on the size and viewing patterns of the audience. Many think the answer is more “audience targeting” and data collection. Some dispute that, asking how much more targeting can be done? And some believe the answer is in better content and more courageous marketing managers, willing to advertise with bloggers.

It’s often the case that bloggers are more trustworthy and accountable than “journalists,” working for big media companies. For marketing people, who care about authenticity, that should matter.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

A man sitting on a New York City subway is so focused on his device that he is oblivious to the money streaming out of his pocket.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

For some people, “being-in” means being part of a 360 degree digital world, with different devices for different “personas.”

But is it all good?

There are security issues related to devices and apps, many of which leak personal information and propogate malware. Security experts say 20% of all apps are infected with malicious code. When it comes to security, people should treat devices the same way they treat a P.C.

There are also health issues related to spending a lot of time in front of a computer, that are compounded with devices. Psychiatrists have linked depression with excessive (>5 hours/day) computer use. One pediatrician we spoke with recently believes there is a connection between ADHD and Wi-Fi exposure. Plus, smartphones emit high doses of harmful radiation.

Books could be written about the psychological effects of living with a digital device — from the seduction of power and instant gratification, to being isolated on a digital island.

American youth average 300 text messages a day, and over 12 million young people are taking antipsychotic medicine. Is there a connection? Some mental health professionals say “yes.”

Industry is promoting “personalization” in the digital space, and yet what it often delivers is depersonalization, even dehumanization.

Collecting data and making money, by targeting and exploiting the weaknesses of people, is the modus operandi of many digital organizations today — even non-profits.

There are growing numbers of people, especially women, who are addicted to their devices. A 12-step program has been created to help them.

The challenge of the 21st Century is for people to maintain (and perhaps even grow) their identity, their humanity and their society, in a digital world. For that to happen — the digital audience will need to practice moderation and balance with their tech habits, which means not letting oneself go with everything that industry is serving up.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

At a recent forum on digital innovation, organized by the DMA — Direct Marketing Association, one of the presenters was the Director of e-Commerce for a major U.S. airline.

The first part of his talk was on the vision that “all interactions should be digital” — meaning no “human” customer service. The second part of his talk was on using digital innovation to create a highly “personalized” experience. So in essence, to build a platform that delivers a personalized experience starts with getting rid of all the “persons.” Hmmm.

Cell phone towers are dangerous. Just ask the folks who install them. I did recently — asking a Verizon worker, in Queens, NY, if he would live in an apartment on the floor below a cell tower. He said “no.”

Theodore Hilgeman, Senior Technologist at Northrup Grumman, told me last week that microwaves from cell towers have adverse effects on people up to 100 yards from the source. The only thing that stops them is metal — not bricks, concrete or trees.

If society was healthier, landlords would be seeking tennant approvals before cutting deals with the Verizons of the world, to put cell towers on the roofs of their buildings. They would also be exploring ways to protect occupants from the harmful effects of the microwaves. If people are going to be exposed, they should be told what’s going on — so they can leave the building if they chose, or at least be able to share in the compensation paid by phone companies to landlords.

Government officials should be looking out for the well being of citizens and not allowing landlords, utilities, and phone companies to harm them — in the spirit of progress and making a buck.

U.S. Air Force Colonel Mike Convertino prepares for a simulated cyber attack on a company, at the SC World Congress — Data Security Conference, Nov. 10.

Convertino is commander of the 318th Information Operations Group at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He has held assignments at both the NSA and CIA.

At another session of the conference, a lawyer working for DHS (Department of Homeland Security) lamented the fact that India and China both have more students specializing in math and science than the U.S. And that in recent years, many Americans who majored in math and science have taken Wall Street jobs where they “manipulated economic growth rather than supported it.”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Advanced Energy 2010 has brought together leaders from government, academia and the private sector, to discuss energy issues — global and local.

The convergence of aging infrastructure in the U.S., along with inefficiencies in the electric system, and the emergence of new technologies, has made the nation’s energy infrastructure — specifically the electric power grid —  the focus of attention. Add to that, the availability of stimulus money, the need for jobs, and ongoing security threats, and the result is a bit of a scrum — with people seeking to exploit the moment.

The Smart Grid has become the holy grail for various interest groups both public and private. And yet absent a comprehensive national energy policy, one has to wonder about the wisdom of letting big privately owned utility companies (acting like oligarchs) drive the nation’s energy agenda — and along with it the price of electricity.

According to some disinterested parties, a better and more secure way to proceed, would be to include distributed resources (DR) and micro grid solutions. But for that to happen, lawmakers need to do what’s best for society, which may not be what’s best for big utility companies.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

This year’s New York City Marathon featured a runner timing and tracking system, by ChronoTrack Systems out of Evansville, Indiana.

The system includes UHF RFID controllers and antennas that specifically read tags on each runner’s shoe 30 times during the race. 

The hope was, that with an Apple app — family/friends could see the runner’s progress during the race on their idevices. But with 1.3 million times to process (44,000 x 30), there was anecdotal evidence that the Apple app part of the program was not as spectacular as the weather.

“Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible — or even sinful — that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes.” Dr. Paul MacCready Jr.

Clean energy technology is getting more attention these days, as the harmful effects of greenhouse gases are becoming apparent — especially with 33% of all greenhouse gases (GHG) coming from transportation. Add to that the poor efficiency of fuel combustion engines (10-30%), and it’s easy to see why the race is on to produce a more efficient engine to accommodate the needs of more drivers in the world, and to protect the environment.

There are three American start-ups with significant resources, patents and human talent, committed to producing more efficient engines for cars and trucks. They are: AchatesPower, EcoMotors and Scuderi Engine.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the companies and the world. Electric cars are seen by many to be the future. And yet there will always be a market for vehicles, especially trucks, with efficient internal combustion engines — that don’t compromise on performance, put out less CO2, and save money at the pump.

At least two of the companies are hiring.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

With humans failing to reach a final solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, why not let computers have a go at it?

People are expensive; they make mistakes, and they’re not always trustworthy. Therefore, let’s feed the data into a computer (like the one in the photo), add some alogorithms and in micro seconds the problem will be solved.

The Red Sea will flow into the Dead Sea.

It’s becoming more common for people to want to replace each other with computers or robots. The mindset of “self-interest” — so common in the West, has paradoxically left people damaged and less willing to defend their own dignity and that of their neighbor.

Going forward, “self-interest” needs to give way to a more holistic way of being, one where people are responsible for themselves and each other. Only then can true freedom, technology and Democracy flourish, together.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Mobile devices are fast becoming the vehicle of choice in the 21st Century.

Just as automobiles carried the hopes and dreams of people and economies, in the 20th Century, so it is with mobile devices today. 

At the recent Clinton Global Initiative, held in New York, Arianna Huffington quoted Eric Schmidt of Google as saying “the starting point is always mobile, now.”

Jack Dorsey of Twitter said recently, that “technology is bringing us back to our humanity.”

Clearly technology is changing the way people think and act, but not always for the better. Just as cars can improve the way people live, they can also be deadly. So it is with technology. The important thing is for people to be humanists first and then technologists.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn addressed the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) in Manhattan today. The theme of the conference is 3D — Diversity, Digital & Demographics.

In her remarks, Ms. Clyburn mentioned the “sting of being offline,” and the lack of internet access as a “major disadvantage” for some. She hopes the ‘national broadband plan’ will give every American access to the internet.

A lot of people in government, academia and business view technology, particularly the internet, as a silver bullet for society’s problems. There is little if any critical thinking among thought leaders, as to the societal and personal costs associated with technology, including health risks to mind and body attributed to being online — especially using mobile devices.

New research out of Holland, conducted using American students, showed significantly lower grades among students who used Facebook while studying, compared with those who didn’t.

Technology is a double edged sword — offering opportunities for progress and growth, but also opportunities for inhumanity and oppression.

To find the right “tech balance,” requires that people — especially leaders, possess the necessary wisdom and determination to work for the common good, long term.

At a recent conference for surgeons held in NYC, there were sessions dedicated to the use of “robots” in healthcare — from dispensing medicine and caregiving, to colonoscopies and minimally invasive surgery.

One of the speakers was Tod Loofbourrow, (photo right) of iRobot, maker of the robotic vacuum.

Mr. Loofbourrow started by asking — “Will a robot care for my mother?” — given the unsustainable costs of healthcare, the exponential growth of technology, and the lifestyle choices of people like himself. The unambiguous answer was “yes.” “I can’t do it (care for Mom) and maintain career, family and health” — he said.

It’s interesting that Mr. Loofbourrow didn’t factor in his mother’s mental health and her role in the “family.”

Just hours after listening to Loofbourrow, I ran into Sally, a Holocaust survivor, and her caregiver Shauna. I asked them what they thought about a robot taking Shauna’s place, Sally said “I’m happy with her.”

Shauna said that “human” caregivers can help keep people in Sally’s position, “from getting depressed.”

Sally showed me the numbers on her left arm (given to her by the Nazis). I commented that in American society, people (even those who claim to be “believers”) are treating each other more and more like numbers. Shauna agreed.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Innovations in inkjet printing offer new possibilities for publishers with print-on-demand while reducing the cost and number of people needed to produce books, brochures, signs, labels etc.

However in most cases the visual experience of inkjet printing is not as satisfying as traditional offset printing, especially for black & white images. We have a book, Shepps Photographs Of The World — that was printed using low cost (for the time) lithography in 1891, which is better in terms of black and white tonal range, than the books made with a $400,000 Canon printer today.

For those who seek to print on plastic, backlit or otherwise, the Canon Oce LightJet and Arizona printers deliver impressive results.

“I announce the day when man shall disappear from the earth and Superman shall be enthroned in his place.” Friedrich Nietzche

One of the paradoxes of progress in technology is the sense that people have of becoming Supermen, while at the same time using technology to eliminate or annihilate jobs, communities and even their very self.

The drama of being human in a technologically progressive society continues to be played out at the Eastman Kodak Company. This week Kodak’s CMO, Jeffrey Hayzlett, was in New York City talking about their pocket HD video cameras — designed to help people create and share their own content on-line.

From its beginnings, Kodak has prided itself on being innovative while helping to humanize society by giving people tools to record and preserve their special moments. However in recent years the shift away from film and paper products has left people having to store their pictures in the cyber “cloud,” rather than the shoe boxes, scrap books and photo albums of the past. After his talk I asked Mr. Hayzlett if Kodak was planning to put attention on “consumer market printers” (under $200) that people can use to make lab quality prints in their home (like Epson & Cannon have). He said they were “not interested in being in that space” (Kodak’s All-In-One printer isn’t considered a serious player in the field).

That’s too bad because they are missing an opportunity to help people make prints that can be held in their hands, looked at and enjoyed. Not just by amateurs but pros as well. There’s something special about making a print — in the darkroom or digitally, that can be formative and make the memories even better.

It was announced on 5/14 that Mr. Hayzlett would be leaving Kodak at the end of the month.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

At the Search Engine Strategies Conference going on this week in New York City, there is a lot of talk about SEO — search engine optimization, web analytics, pay per click, and key words. But at the end of the day yesterday, the last and best attended session was on “Developing Great Content.”

People who are trying to build serious internet brands are realizing that just getting people to click on their site is not enough. What matters is “converting” site visitors, and that requires meaningful content.

One of the vendors, specializing in “content marketing,” was giving out a book titled: “101 Content Marketing Tips.” Tip #2 says: Great Content from Great Writers — “After all searchers and browsers are readers. So a successful content marketing strategy begins with great writers who know how to craft a story and tell it well.”

It’s nice to see techies moved by stories, not just data.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

With technology contributing to the exponential growth of “information,” we now see digital “information” playing a larger role in the lives of more people — with mixed results.

In Latin “Dei” means God. In contemporary society DEI has come to mean Data, Evidence and Intelligence. So powerful has DEI become, that it now can stand alone, as an actor on the stage of human affairs. 

As America’s elites fail to produce sustainable outcomes throughout their society, the hope/blame is being shifted to Data, Evidence & Intelligence. And along with that shift, DEI is getting blamed for human errors (like in Iraq), or manipulated to support human fraud and incompetence (as on Wall Street).

In the last Mayor’s race in New York City, Michael Bloomberg, the unpopular (among the people) incumbent used lower crime stats (DEI) to buttress his bid for a third term. Most people new the numbers were bogus, but the official word came this week when a number of retired NYPD Captains said they had been pressured to manipulate crime data, to create a better picture than what was actually happening.

At a BioTech conference yesterday, one of the biggest investors in the U.S., emphasized the need for a good “data set” — which includes clinical trial information pertaining to new drugs, that companies are seeking investors for. He described how the FDA had denied approval for a drug he had invested in, but then eight weeks later approved it, with a new data set — DEI.

People think that Data, Evidence and Intelligence are rock solid, but not in the hands of humans who are not.

Perhaps it can be said that “technology” is used in the legal system today much the same way that drugs are used in the health care system — for good and for ill.

In the wake of numerous corporate meldowns and scandals in recent years, along with the 2006 E-Discovery Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP), there has been a joining at the hip of information technology and legal services.

The need to analyze, preserve and protect electronically stored information (ESI) has produced thousand of new organizations in the U.S., specializing in end-to-end eDiscovery and computer forensics.

With the volume and types of data collected by businesses growing, along with the risk of litigation — there exists an ever growing need to manage information properly. To deal with all this, the “overwhelmed” humans are being augmented or replaced by “meaning based computing,” which is intelligent software, designed to connect-the-dots and even make decisions. How often do we hear people say: “I can’t do anything, the system won’t let me.”

As the forces in society produce a “tsunami” of drugs and data, it’s clear that “more” isn’t necessarily better, and in fact can lead to a new set of problems as humans lose control of their situation — and with it their humanity.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Some tidbits from David Pogue, at this year’s INTEROP IT Expo:

Google has a free business directory: 1-800-GOOG-411

AT&T has a free service that allows callers to ask any question and get a text response: 1-800-CHACHA

It’s possible to use an iPod Touch to make calls to cellular or land line phones using Skype.

The Apple App — “Ocarina” allows the iPod Touch or iPhone to be used as a flute. A worldwide community of players is forming.

carrierethernetEver wonder how “stuff” moves around the internet, how HD movies can be downloaded in less than a second, or how a live event can be seen on a mobile device? It’s easy to take for granted progress in information technology and yet if we take time to learn about it, we can have a “wow” moment, which is always good for the soul but can also help us in our job and daily life.

At this year’s Ethernet Expo, vendors from around the country are showing off the latest in networking technology. “Ethernet is a metaphorical reference for the physical transmission medium in the workplace (and at home) that propagates digitized information in electronic form. ” (trade brochure)

One way to think of it is as a container used to carry cargo on a ship. The ethernet facilitates the movement of information in a standardized and inexpensive way. The Skype video-phone is an example of an ethernet enabled service.

One of the leading providers of network infrastructure solutions is Ciena out of Linthicum, Maryland. They introduced, at the Expo, a Certification program for college students and working professionals — who want to learn more about the Ethernet.

It’s nice to see American innovation helping to evolve the infrastructure of information technology.

For those interested in previously owned networking equipment, check out: Worldwide Supply, LLC.

CyberdatasecurityWe are seeing “cyber” threats grow exponentially and along with them an industry of IT security products and services. Industry analysts claim that individuals and organizations have lost over $1 trillion to cyber crime in the last year.

However, the price of our “personal information” is not growing exponentially. According to one security expert, the price paid, by the bad guys, to get our information is down from $10 to 6 cents per person. That has everything to do with the recession and the fact that so many Americans are maxed out.

For the latest in “authentication,” check out the Yubikey by Yubico.

eyescanThis is a scan of the back of a human eye. 

Advances in technology have allowed us to go places unimaginable just a few years ago, and yet “human development” doesn’t seem to be keeping pace with scientific development.

The irony is that we can see the back of the eye. We can see inside the eye, but can we see “with” the eye? More importantly, can we see with our heart?