The increasing importance of Lithium is highlighted in both Wired (UK) and National Geographic in their September issues:
• National Geographic: Lithium Rush
• Wired: Batteries Included
UPDATE 6 September - The BBC have also had their say with an interesting edition of Global Business which discusses how a growth in demand for electric car batteries would impact on Bolivia, the country with half of the world’s supply of the metal: Battery Power.
Location is going to be one of the big aspects of the Web as we go forward. There are some interesting points being made about the effect on your privacy of making your location available:
• Electronic Frontier Foundation: On Locational Privacy, and How to Avoid Losing it Forever
I tried to like this book, I really did, but for the first time I’ve failed to finish a business / technology book. I gave up – even skim reading some of the way to see if I would miss anything, I only just made it half way through. If there is anything in the second half of the book that is life-changing then I’ve missed it and I doubt if I’m going back.
Don Tapscott’s last book was the great Wikinomics. That was one of the books that made me start blogging again after a few years’ break. I had high hopes for this new book even though I had heard that it was a lot “drier” than Wikinomics, with lots of figures and graphs. A mine of information about the “Net Gen” (those born between 1977 and 1997) – how they have benefitted from being the first generation to be “bathed in bits”.
What a disappointment. The principal impression gained from reading this is that Tapscott has a mantra of “the kids are not lazy / spoilt – they are brilliant and will change the world through their ways of communication, interaction and engagement”, and it is repeated over and over. The examples of young people he gives (and the basis of this book was a survey of 11,000 of them) all seem to be highly educated, highly motivated and have quickly become rising stars in the large multinational companies they have been cherry-picked for. The praise he lavishes on his seemingly perfect children is impressive from a fatherly point of view but otherwise repetitive and highly sickly sweet. Not all young people are priviledged to the same degree as many that he quotes.
One big point that he makes is that companies are going to have to change the way they work and accept the new ways of the young, because competition for these young minds will be great. In the long term I think he is right in so far as the young do bring new ways of working and that the rise of computing, technology and the internet has sped up this process. His timing is unfortunate, however, as the global recession has put a dampener on this kind of optimism. Many companies are struggling to survive. Large numbers of the “Net Gen” – especially those between 16 and 25 – are facing the prospect of longer term unemployment and the possibility of not being able to secure a university place even if they do get the grades. See, for example, The lost generation: surge in joblessness hits young. Things have already changed, we already work differently to how we worked five years ago and there are may things coming in the next few years that will change not just the workplace and the young but everyone of every age in everything they (we) do. But then I would say that, as one of the people who just missed out on being one of the fabled “Net Gen”. Those of us who belong (apparently) to the arse end of “Generation X” can – and are already – changing the world. We just don’t need anyone to stand up for us; we don’t need someone to explain to the “baby boomers” that we aren’t all a bunch of little shits. Many of us aren’t little shits any more – we are responsible adults who have been working for a decade. In this sense, Tapscott’s book may even be a bit late.
Maybe this is why I don’t appreciate the book – I’m more of the subject than the target audience.
I really enjoy watching the videos and interviews that come out of the Web 2.0 summits / conferences. Now the organisers (Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle) are thinking out loud about what is coming next: Web Squared. Here are some of the things that are likely to change the way we work and play in the next few years:
• the Web getting smarter – developing a better understanding of meaning and context, with more information from sensors (and humans too…) and better ways of finding patterns in data, leading to previously unnoticed (or unobtainable) insights (also see Wired on the “petabyte age”)
• real time – what’s on the world’s mind; live information and reaction and the impact on business
The next summit is coming in October – will be well worth checking out. In the meantime…
The latest podcast from Leo Laporte is covering some very interesting stuff – mostly Google, but other web news / technologies too. In the second show they cover the Pushbutton web in detail – well worth listening to.
I’ve just finished Season 4 – I’m going to miss one of the best shows ever…
Up until the release of Firefox 3.5 I switched between browsers without thinking too much. That all changed with version 3.5 due to its great speed increase.
Then I found a few more things that have tied me irrevocably to Firefox. The first is Ubquity – an add-on from Mozilla that gives you access to commands that allow you to do a Google search (other search engines too…), look things up on Wikipedia and a lot more. All just a keystroke away. It shows so much promise, and it soon becomes central to the way you work in a browser – so much so that you miss it when you go into other applications.
I had been installing the betas of v3.5, so once it was out I started thinking about v3.6 (codenamed Namoroka or Firefox.next)… and came across something that made this really easy: Minefield. This is Firefox nightly builds made available as a standard Mac application that you treat like any other. Very smart – I’m updating about once a week.
Next is a small but really handy feature – an add-on for Twitter search. Brings it into easy reach…
… and I can send a Tweet from Ubiquity too – so less having to jump to other applications.
The next 12 – 18 months are going to be great for internet users as the browser makes some huge advances (and, of course, not just Firefox, but Safari, Opera and their impact on browsing on mobile devices). Those little windows on the web are going to really improve the experience. Tie that in with all the things coming our way, this is really is going to change the way we interact with the web.