Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Women in science & technology

Ada Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage in the 1800s and between them they laid the foundations of modern computing. Ada, in fact, wrote the world's first ever computer program (October 1842). March 24 has been set aside as Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. Ada remains one of our enduring science and technology heroines.

But, just in case you were worried that women are not getting enough acknowledgement for their contributions to science and technology, fear not. The two latest Barbie careers have been released: computer engineer and television host!

With thanks to Naghmeh for pointing out the computer engineer Barbie!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Urbanisation is unstoppable

This is the Urban Age.

This ...

The newly released UN report "State of the World's Cities 2008/2009: Harmonious Cities". Its preamble: "Half of humanity now lives in cities, and within two decades, nearly 60% of the world's people will be urban dwellers. Urban growth is most rapid in the developing world, where cities gain an average of 5 million residents every month. As cities grow in size and population, harmony among the spatial, social and environmental aspects of a city and between their inhabitants becomes of paramount importance. This harmony hinges on two key pillars: equity and sustainability"

leads to this ...

Justin McQuirk's design focused blog in The Guardian outlining the role that designers must play in creating livable urban spaces. He writes, "By 2050, three quarters of us are expected to be urbanites. But here's the scary part: most of this growth is happening in places where millions of people already live in slums: Mumbai, Delhi, Karachi, Shanghai, São Paolo, Kinshasa: these are the fastest-growing cities in the world, most of them destined to have populations of more than 20 million by 2025". In additional already large cities will over-run each other, becoming 'mega-regions'. Some of these will swell across national borders. The endless city.

leads to this ...

Meanwhile, an article by Simon Romero for the NYTimes draws us back to the scene of a large-scale urban crisis: the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. He describes the chasm between wealth and absolute poverty that has been exacerbated since the earthquake. He writes of the "surreal contrasts along the streets above Port-au-Prince's central districts. People in tent camps reeking of sewage are living in areas where prosperous Haitians, foreign aid workers and diplomats cone to spend their money and unwind. Often, just a gate and a private guard armed with a 12-gauge shotgun separate the newly homeless from establishments like Les Galeries Rivoli, a boutique where wealthy Haitians and foreigners shop for Raymond Weil watches and Izod shirts".

Equity and sustainability?

Friday, March 26, 2010

I use 'The google'

Interesting, funny, slightly scary You Tube video called 'What is a browser' filmed by a Google employee.

If you find it a little worrisome that so many of us don't actually know how we get online and stay there, reading Adam Engst's TidBITS Opinion piece "Have we entered a post-literate technological age?" will make you shudder. I am as guilty as anyone. I just want stuff to work!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Identity jigsaws

According to the NYT's Steve Lohr, "Services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are oceans of personal minutiae - birthday greetings sent and received, school and work gossip, photos of family vacations, and movies watched. Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person's identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number".

Given how many of my colleagues, relatives and young people have close online relationships mediated via Facebook this is fascinating. Read the complete article here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Goodbye Margaret Moth

Margaret Moth died yesterday. The world is smaller.

Go here to start watching "Fearless: The Margaret Moth Story" and here to read Jessica Ravitz's moving piece remembering her.