Who killed the electric car?

The website for this movie/movement is full of facts, a timeline, and other interactive goodies (good job 1trickpony). I was happy to see Sony Pictures funding this film. About:

It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert?

WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? chronicles the life and mysterious death of the GM EV1, examining its cultural and economic ripple effects and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

The Nobelity Project

Great documentary reccomended to me by David James. Watch the trailer. About the film:

Nobelity is a feature documentary, which looks at the world’s most pressing problems through the eyes of nine distinguished Nobel laureates. Filmed across the U.S. and Europe, in India and Africa, Nobelity follows Turk Pipkin’s personal journey in learning about these problems and what we can do about them. The true stars of the film are the children that Turk met along the way, for it is our kids and grandkids whose lives will be most affected by the decisions and actions of today.

The project:

One of our principal goals is to connect people all over the world with reliable information and innovative thinking on pressing global problems like global warming, the energy challenge, global health, economic disparity and development, cultural understanding, nuclear proliferation and general question of war and peace.

Centralized Identity Management

Services like this are, I believe, just the start of.

I believe social networks are the catalyst for the gradual move towards centralized identity management. Maybe I’m using the term Social Network too loosely, but I’m not sure there is descriptor yet for what I’m attempting to express. Maybe we can fill it in:

  • online identity
  • information integration
  • networks, groups

The “networking” part is only a drop in the puddle. It’s the idea of centralized management of your online identity AND all the information and resources that are pertinent to you.

It’s the unity of services like start.com or google.com/ig with Facebook or MySpace. It’s all the data and the resources on your computer, its all your pictures, its everywhere you leave your mark in cyberspace, its your bookmarks. …If it is all that, is it also you credit score, your social security number, your bank accounts?

And, it’s available anywhere – via Wi-Fi. 🙂

If only there was a social-network standard. Like AT&T of the past, yes, it was a monopoly, but what unfolded was one of the greatest telecommunications infrastructures in the world.

Evolution of Reputation

There is a lot to be said on the future of online reputation systems and additionally – identity management. Howard Rheingold discusses these topics comprehensively in chapter five of Smart Mobs. Explaining, for example, eBay’s public Feedback Forum, where buyers and sellers can comment on the quality of a transaction and contribute +1, 0, or -1 to the aggregate score of the reciprocating party. This system allows potential patrons to foreshadow the quality of a future transaction, and implies trust. The use of avatars or screen names to detach true-identity by a degree or more is what allows even the most privacy-conscious individuals to participate in this system.

This brought to my mind another interesting example: the reputation structure used by Prosper.com, a person-to-person micro-lending service. At Prosper individuals loan money to other individuals based on general institutional criteria, such as credit scores and homeownership, but also their profile and group affiliations. Here, it is advantageous to merge and share the details of your personal life with your identity on Prosper; including posting a picture, discussing past financial endeavors, and in some cases medical conditions, and the like.

What both of these examples have in common is the creation of trust based on identities and the narrative associated to that identity.

Similarly, most students have realized that their identities on Facebook and MySpace are subject to a comparable scrutiny by potential employers. Profiles and pictures give an inside look at the real life of a candidate. Now, how you fill-in the “about me” section is very important. I believe most millennials take it as healthy pressure to do the right thing, in general. After all, even if I don’t post those pictures of me acting belligerent, someone else might and they will probably tag my face to my name. This could be called transparency – it’s like everyone is running for political office.

What’s the other side? The fear and pressure of being watched can lead people/kids to take on secondary identities; going by an alias, or many. Generally this is not bad. People do this indirectly in the real world all the time. However, I would theorize that being void of all pressure is not the best case. Especially for already repressed youth.

Conversely, applying the concept of transparency in the classroom, creating a social classroom, I believe, would be a move millennials could handle. If I knew my work could be seen by my peers I might want to do a better job; even if I don’t care what my teacher thinks, I probably care what my peers think.

Like our identity on eBay, we cultivate trust through our public dealings, through transparency, through a narrative. Some will choose to reveal all, good or bad, some will claim privacy, others may never catch on. I believe, like on Prosper, sharing, because it encourages responsibility and empathy, is the best option.

Smart Mobs and Smart Business

Smart Mobs is an amazing book. Though I read pieces of it two seasons ago, the words and metaphors hold new meaning in light of my recent research. It is incredible to me that in 2002 Howard Rheingold could predict the future so accurately.

In the first section Howard talks about privacy and virtual identities. This got me thinking about a new technology we are using here at the University of Texas and some other recently widespread services.

The deal is, Mobile Campus finds businesses local to UT who want to advertise to students via their mobile phone. To facilitate their growth, they pay our Student Government one dollar per signup and give them other perks, such as paying for the redesign of the SG website (these details are accurate to the best of my knowledge). SG then push MC on the student body (especially freshman) as the official student discount program, replacing those little coupon books.

Yeah, it’s cool that SG gets some extra money, etcetera, but is the trade off really worth it? It’s a game of ratios and reach. The database Mobile Campus is creating is worth far more than anything they are giving SG. If MC could they wouldn’t give SG a cent (a better business model), but without them a corporation would never have the kind of reach that SG can provide.

These kinds of tradeoffs seem to be the trend amongst today’s successful marketing and advertising corporations. Take Google’s GMail for example, great service, I use it. But now because Google’s bots can search the contents of my inbox (one where I never delete anything) they can more accurately classify me. True, if I have to see ads it’s nice that they are relevant and I do trust Google, but isn’t our identity our own? Shouldn’t we receive most if not all of the revenue generated by its use? We are so used to our identities being sold and traded and getting nothing in return that we love GMail because it gives us something in return. However, that something is given in exchange for a type and scale of profiling that was never before possible.

Will we ever have a say in who sees the information that makes up our identity or see any of the revenue generated by their commodification? Reheingold’s second chapter, Technologies of Cooperation, made me envision a way it could be possible (I’ll elaborate more on this idea in another post).

You’re going to create breadcrumbs, if you don’t pick them up someone else will.

Escalating connectivity, commentary, and consciousness

There are and have been many predictions on the path Wi-Fi will take and the role it will assume. The concluding chapter of Going Wi-Fi, published in 2003, gives 20 predictions – 10 of which I believe have come true. Some predictions are far fetched. A faculty member at the University of Texas at Dallas predicted that by 2007 mobile communications devices will “be voice-controlled and use heads-up holographic display[s].” Unfortunately for many, it doesn’t look like 2007 will embrace this kind of future.

Nevertheless, these predictions were very insightful, covering the topics of business (maybe a wireless PBX), medical care (24hour vital monitoring and reporting), etcetera, but something was missing. And that was any allusion to the growth of social networks, virtual identities, or the like. Social networking, used in a broad sense, is big now, but the spread of wireless, I believe, will transform the revolution; connecting people, groups, and intelligence in ways never before possible.

We, the participants in the MySpace generation, the blogging generation, and others are connected to an identity, and/or identities, in cyberspace. The strengthening of that bond is parallel to the spread of Wi-Fi (most importantly, free Wi-Fi) and the doggedness of cellular; simply, more convenient, efficient, and economical access to the World Wide Web.

The blogosphere and projects such as WeFeelFine.org have been invaluable to sequentially interpreting the status of society as a whole. However, the nature of blogging is not conducive to real-time feedback. Wi-Fi, the great Last Mile, offers this.

Moblogging, radar.net, mobile video sharing, elements of Web 2.0, to name a few are the current tools moving a nearly synchronous Info Strada. What does the future hold? I believe the exponential growth of social networks and their assimilation of mobile communication devices is foreshadowing a trend towards increased Interconnectedness.

As it becomes easier to mirror ourselves and our lives virtually, it becomes more significant to mirror the state of cyberspace as a whole, and relay it back to its elements. Components seeing themselves as an integral part of a whole, then acting and reacting based on the state of the collective, the world – this is the model for self-consciousness; and a step for progress.

Billionaires that are worth sometime

Though I cry at the sight of near altruism, I have never had a hero. I may never have one and that’s ok. However, as I have said before I would like to find a group who I aspire to be among the ranks of. I have begun looking for this group. In the meantime, I decided on an easy faction to checkout.

Not all outrageously rich people are alike. To inspire me, to make my list you have be worth something. What does that mean? Well, you have to use your money and/or power for the good of mankind. Yes, many normal people do this, but when you are a billionaire the need to do/be this is much greater, because your power is greater. In fact, I would say it goes both ways, if you are not making a difference you are even worse. Sorry, but to me that is something that goes along with being super rich, a celebrity, a president, a leader –

Continue reading Billionaires that are worth sometime

Social Networks for Good

socialnotesRecently, I have been staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading everything I can on social networking and giving other people’s blogs and inboxes lots of love. So, this is the start of collecting those messages and adding them to my blog.

I spent some of tonight on Networked Publics. A very cool blog sponsored by The Annenberg Center for Communication at The University of Southern California. The topic was “Is MySpace a place?” There were other comments before mine. In response to those and the original topic I had to say:

I love all this talk about something I do every day, something I have grown up doing: hanging out on mySpace, facebook, AIM or a chat room.

MySpaces is a space. It is a “space” because that is the word my generation uses to refer to the concept you are debating. Remember, we look at things different. If I like a band, I can be that band’s friend, if I like Al Gore’s new movie I can be friends with it on mySpace. These things (movies, bands, political movements, people) are just ideas and concepts that we think are cool enough (in mySpace terms) to friend.

Reputation: How you fill your space tells who you are and what you care about (marketers love this); or more likely, how you would like to be seen. Who would you let hang out in your space?

I think as more and more employers do Google searches, etc of potential employees, how you fill these spaces becomes very important. This is good for me. I take it as healthy pressure to do the right thing. After all, even if I don’t post those pictures of me chugging beers and running around naked, someone else might and they will probably tag my face to my name.

What is the bad side? The fear of being watched can leading people/kids to take on secondary identities; going by an alias, or many. Generally this is not bad. People do this indirectly in the real world all the time. However, I would theorize that being void of all pressure is not a good thing. Especially for already repressed youth. What would you do if you were invisible?

I’m very interested in discussing these topics. I see so much potential for good, such as using the excitement and addiction of social networks to increased communication within teams and teach online collaboration. Creating a social classroom, if I knew my work could be seen by my peers I might want to do a better job, because even if I don’t care what my teacher thinks, I probably care what my peers think.

Any thoughts from the 20+ people that visit my blog but never comment? 🙂