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Archive for March, 2009

Marc Newson Shows Geek Pride

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Sometimes it seems as though and are trying to occupy the same space in the world of super-star designers, having notched successes in “designing” just about everything that they can, from bottle openers and wallpaper to luxury mixed-use developments in Asia. Newson has an edge though, he’s a total geek. Starck is just a bit crazy, which he uses to his advantage, but Marc Newson displays that special geeky enthusiasm that we often see in people who are absolutely obsessed with something. I especially enjoyed seeing his studio and how he prototypes many of his designs. Newson trained as a jewelry maker, not a designer, and this is definitely evident to me as you tour his studio in the video.

The video above is the first part in a five-part BBC feature on Marc Newson, called , which I came across the series a while ago at . It’s a great window into Newson’s thinking and approach, and showcases some pretty incredible, and incredibly beautiful, work. If you cannot sit still long enough to watch the entire series, definitely watch part 5, which is where Newson gets into his work in aerospace. Beyond designing aircraft interiors that I would kill to fly in, he is essentially pioneering the user experience of space tourism, which is utterly fascinating.

A Graphical Report on the State of the World

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A graphical report on the state of the world

Via the very cool comes a comprehensive graphic representation of the latest data from of The United Nations. There’s a ton of information to represent, but FlowingData does a clear, concise, and incredibly well-designed¬† job with its , from which the image above is excerpted.

The World’s Innovation Hubs

Monday, March 9th, 2009

map of world's innovation hubs

The graphic above is from a report by management consultancy (click to see entire report and larger image of the innovation hubs map) in partnership with the World Economic Forum. For the report, researchers investigated 700 variables (including infrastructure, demand, regulation, human capital and business environment) in order to assemble a clearer picture of innovation activity around the world, and this activity is visualized in the “map” above. This shed light on some interesting revelations, and emphasized other points that are very probably common sense… things like the importance of political stability and the quality of transport and technical infrastructure being in place in order for innovation to thrive.

It is interesting to see confirmed that “innovation hubs” typically develop an area of focus (think Silicon Valley), and over time begin building credibility and awareness as the specific, central, geographic area for that area of focus. This is usually driven by a core, small group of companies (again, think Silicon Valley), and in this way innovation success begets future success by consolidating talent, resources, and ambition.

Release The Planet Hunter

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Tomorrow evening, at about 9:50PM CST, NASA is launching (depicted in the animation above), its new planet-hunting space telescope on a mission to find Earth-sized and Earth-like planets that might have liquid water.¬† This is important, of course, because it means that these planets could be home to life. It is also important as this means these planets might be “habitable”. To understand the significance of this quest, I point you to the recent TED Talks presentation by , which is well worth the time to watch:

At the heart of this mission is the effort to determine just how common planets such as our own are. Some fear we are a unique occurrence in the universe, others believe that earths are possibly quite common. Kepler is departing to bring some resolution to this schism.

The Kepler mission is named after , astronomer and author of .

The Bright & Shiny Future by Microsoft

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

, put together by Microsoft, is a window into what the world of gestural interfaces, touchscreen, data portability, and the future of newspapers just might be like in the year 2019. It is very nicely done, and full of optimism, though I struggle with the point of exercises such as this as the ways in which technology develops is nearly impossible to anticipate over a ten year time horizon. To be fair, they acknowledge this reality and assert that this is more an ongoing exercise for Microsoft to continually research and envision their own place in the future. Honestly, for insights into what the future may be like I believe there is more value in looking to science fiction (Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, etc…) as opposed to promotional vids from enormous global enterprise. Regardless, this is still an interesting perspective for Microsoft to share with the rest of us.

via .

Latest Cassini Eye Candy

Sunday, March 1st, 2009


The Cassini robotic explorer continues to send back incredible imagery from its mission amongst Saturn and its moons. The latest series of images are part of the Equinox mission to observe the changing seasons on Saturn, and are rendered to expose the incredible detail of the stormy atmosphere underneath the signature rings of the planet. If you look at the lower left corner in the image above you will see an especially well defined storm, seen essentially as a blue dot in Saturn’s atmosphere.

This image was taken with the wide-angle camera on-board Cassini on Dec. 29, 2008 at a distance of approximately 680,000 miles from Saturn.

More on the . More on the . More on my own following of Cassini here on schneiderism.