Thinking alternatives: From “Mobile” to “Mobility”

Shai Agassi is the CEO of The Better Place to get rid of oil dependency (especially for running vehicles). The idea: Give away electric cars for free (like mobile phones) and make the batteries part of the electric grid system (instead of a costly component of the car). You basically pay for miles, thus the service of mobility – not for the hardware.

Here is an interesting interview with him:

Fundamental changes ahead: petaflop barrier broken

According to this WIRED blog entry IBM and Cray have both cracked the petaflop barrier.

Computer scientist Mark Seager of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claims that this will change the scientific method for the first time since Galileo invented the telescope (in 1509)”.

The reason for that is that simulation and approximation can be used to come to acurate models of complex phenomena instead of just reasoning about formula by theory and experimenting to prove those.

With 362 terabytes of memory and 1.059 quadrillion floating-point calculations per second the Jaguar of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is tuned for scientific calculations like climate and energy models, drug discovery, new materials, etc.

The question arises if these amounts of speed and data processing could one day break one fundamental rule: that some problems will always be beyond discovery through calculation. Neurology, psychology, sociology, economy and cultural studies are scientific areas that haven’t really started yet. Large scale simulation can be the one scientific method that is missing for those (implied that the methods of observation deliver enough data to model upon).

And if so, there is a danger that even governmental policies may one day be driven by probability and not ethics.

Web 3.0? Maybe user generated applications…

In few seconds I was able to create a new music browsing application combining puzzle pieces together without any effort:

All I needed was Fluid and an example to learn from.

Fluid basically is a bare-bones web browser that turns a website into an double-clickable application. It is a website – but it feels like an application (as long as you are not offline of course). The original idea for Fluid was inspired by Mozilla’s Prism project.

But wait… what’s happening here?

Is this a step back because it disregards the openness and hypertextuality of the web by suggesting to constrain web pages that are not meant to be pointing to other sites into windows?

It is an interesting trend that — after big browser vendors now finally comply to standards — new concepts appear that require users to use certain devices or browsers (or plug-ins) to use them. Actually the initial design goal (and the reason for standardisation) was to get rid of these dependencies.

But this is not just about the web as standard. It is about users being able to create applications from the rich offerings of the web. It is about DJ-ing with code, mingling logic and shining ideas. Users that can translate “cool ideas” into fun things without becoming an expert first. And it’s about developers creating pieces that are basic and yet well crafted and interoperable. It is about everyone contributing to the story.

While it right now does conflict a little bit with the device-independency that has made the web strong… it may turn out big on the long run.