Horizon highlights – 6.27.08
Our weekly roundup of must-read stories covers harnessing tornadoes for electricity, zen and the art of keeping up with e-mail, and a resistance movement against the Google goliath.
If you think I missed a great story, feel free to post your links as a comment down below – that way, other readers can enjoy them as well. Let’s kick it off:
Space – Can the Martian arctic support extreme life?
"Bizarre microbes flourish in the most punishing environments on Earth from the bone-dry Atacama Desert in Chile to the boiling hot springs of Yellowstone National Park to the sunless sea bottom vents in the Pacific. Could such exotic life emerge in the frigid arctic plains of Mars?" [Via AP]
Bubble 2.0 – Can social-networking sites make money?
“It's a model that stirs memories of the first Internet bubble: Build the user base and hope the money comes – from an IPO, a buyout, or ads. At this point, KickApps does not reveal revenue figures, or even what kind of a cut it is taking from the ads. That, too, brings back memories: staying mum about revenue was always a sign that there wasn't much to talk about.” [Via Technology Review]
From the Monitor archive – Online social networks try to play nice with others: "Imagine a Web where your profile comes with you. Rather than manage contact info, friend lists, and descriptions of yourself across several websites, you’d maintain an overarching account that would be open to whomever you like."
The resistance – Stopping Google
"Google's influence grows, a number of scholars and programmers have begun to argue that the company is acquiring too much power over our lives – invading our privacy, shaping our preferences, and controlling how we learn about and understand the world around us. To counter its pervasive effects, they are developing strategies to push back against Google, dilute its growing dominance of the information sphere, and make it more publicly accountable. The solutions range from programs one can install on one's computer to proposed laws forcing Google to reveal parts of its proprietary search algorithm." [Via Boston Globe]
Energy – How a Man-Made Tornado Could Power the Future
"Coiled up in a tornado is as much energy as an entire power plant. So a Canadian engineer has a plan to spin up his own twister and extract energy from its tethered tail." [Via LiveScience]
From the Monitor archive – MIT team plays with fire to create cheap energy: "Out on a lawn at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with joggers and traffic passing nearby, Spencer Ahrens is demonstrating what looks like either the future of solar power – or perhaps a death ray."
Autos – Chrysler will offer wireless Internet access in 2009 models
"Struggling Chrysler is hoping that providing motorists access to the information superhighway will set it apart from competitors and help reverse a dismal year." [Via LA Times]
Work/Life Balance – Podcast: Inbox Zero – How to deal with e-mail overload
This week's episode of CNET's The Real Deal discusses ways to take control of that flood of e-mail. Special guest Merlin Mann of 23Folder.com explains his idea of Inbox Zero and how to cut the e-clutter. Podcast length: 28 minutes. [Via The Real Deal]
From the Monitor archive – Mastering the high-tech tools that help us: "Multitasking has long been a badge of honor for the digitally well-armed, a term equating high personal productivity with computerlike efficiency. But also widely discussed in recent years has been the notion that – as with computers, so with people – there is a price to pay for distributing attention too widely across tasks. What seems like a hyperproductive approach to work can actually be counterproductive."