Horizon highlights – 6.20.08

We’re rolling out a new weekly feature. Each Friday, Horizon Highlights will link to five must-read stories from the past week. They touch on top news, interesting angles, cool gadgets, silly features, etc. From time to time, we’ll pair these articles with ones offering the Monitor’s take.

If you think I missed a great story, feel free to post your links as a comment down below – that way, the other readers can enjoy them as well. Let’s kick it off:

GizmosSprint's Instinct prepares to do battle with the iPhone
“Sprint is not about to take the launch of the iPhone 3G lying down. The No. 3 carrier announced it's moving ahead with a June 20 launch this Friday of the Instinct from Samsung, which will sell for $129.99, less than originally planned.” [Via the San Francisco Chronicle]
From the Monitor archiveiPhone reality check: "Before you start drooling or start ignoring tech websites, here’s a dose of reality: BlackBerry not only outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of 2008, but also increased its smart-phone market share by almost 10 points."

CultureIs Google Making Us Stupid?
"What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski." [Via The Atlantic]

Green designSolar Harvesting Textiles Energize ‘Soft House’
"If architect Sheila Kennedy gets her way, textiles will soon be able to take the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity. Kennedy is an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture. And, her team from KVA Matx has designed the Soft House, a structure that can create close to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity by transforming household curtains into flexible, semi-transparent, solar collectors." [Via Inhabitat]
From the Monitor archiveHurdle for future cities: human habits: "Among the United Arab Emirate’s seemingly endless construction sites, developers outside of Abu Dhabi have broken ground on perhaps the most ambitious green-city project in the world. With government support, the Masdar Initiative will create a carbon-neutral city capable of housing 50,000 residents. Upon completion, the city will act as a living test site for the latest in sustainable urban innovations.

Workplace/PrivacyCourt limits employer access to worker messages
"A federal appeals court has made it more difficult for employers to legally snoop on their workers' e-mails and text messages sent on company accounts." [Via AP]

Industry newsIBM's Roadrunner breaks petaflop barrier, tops supercomputer list
"Good news for green tech: The fastest supercomputer in the world is also one of the most energy efficient. That's according to the Top 500 supercomputers list, to be released Wednesday." [CNET's Crave blog]
From the Monitor archiveComputers master the game board: "The encroachment of lifeless data crunchers into our favorite pastimes marks more than just a countdown until computers are better at virtually everything. Any tabletop defeat is also milestones in the advancement of artificial intelligence."

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