The 10th anniversary Aspen Ideas Festival,
produced by the Aspen Institute in collaboration with The Atlantic magazine, continues to trumpet optimism over the future, as the event has from its inception a decade ago. Yet this year’s theme of “Imagine 2014″ – looking a decade ahead rather than at the decade past – felt tempered also over concerns about the limitations of progress yet to be won, ranging from the perception of Congressional gridlock and Supreme Court setbacks to deficiencies of funding and civil liberties quandaries resulting from medical and scientific advances, to name a few.
A theme running across many of the talks and conversations engaging luminaries in the audience as well as on stage was how to address issues of scarce resources in the face of vulnerable infrastructures, underperforming education institutions, opportunities to conduct hugely promising research and the challenges of war, human suffering and environmental degradation.
But before proceeding, let me describe the IdeasFestival a bit more. Begun in 2004, the event seeks to bring together hundreds of leaders in fields of business, government and scientific endeavor, as well as social entrepreneurs, into a weeklong series of talks and conversations.
The festive conference…
In keeping with the spirit of “WeBlogTheWorld”
and having a global perspective, I flew from Stockholm to Oslo to London to Washington, D.C., to San Francisco en route to Aspen, Colorado to cover the second half of the 10th Anniversary of the Aspen IdeasFestival, an annual gathering of luminaries meeting in this alpine paradise to discuss burning issues of the day.
In the middle of the six day, two session marathon of seminars, talks and panel discussions spanning 16 topical tracks is an “afternoon conversation” plenary involving attendees of both segments. This year, interviewees included Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, former vice president Al Gore, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, and former CIA director David Petraeus. Impressive that the first three speakers on this top profile stage in the Benedict Music Tent were women, as was noted by David Gergen, who interviewed Al Gore. Watch this space over the remainder of this week for highlights and themes from this august gathering.
Of course, if you are reading this, you…
Relatively new to the market, Dwellable, now in beta, is the world’s foremost online vacation rental search engine. Dwellable is just like Google except that the search focuses specifically on vacation rentals. They list high quality listings from other web sites. When visitors want to book a rental, they send them directly to the vacation rental site to complete the booking. At the moment, they feature more than 250k rentals worldwide and are continuing to expand. They include reviews, photos, maps and more.
Some of the areas they cover in the early days of their beta product include Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach, Outer Banks, LA, London, NYC, Park City, Whistler, Vail, Disneyland, DisneyWorld, Legoland, Hawaii, Caribbean (St. Barths, St. Maartin), Mexoci, England, France, Italy, Spain and more.
Getting known in the Seattle start-up tech scene, one of the founders of Dwellable, Adam Doppelt had a history with startup launches. He bootstrapped Urbanspoon to success, and now he’s trying to do the same with Internet veteran Brenda Spoonemore at online vacation rental startup Dwellable.
Dwellable is the top vacation rental app on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and supports, Android, iPhone and iPad. Go to dwellable.com to learn…
There’s nothing easier than taking a road trip with a GPS system which can do all the work for you. I’ve been checking out the Magellan RoadMate Automotive PND GPS system
, which features EasyTouch Screens and now supports the Android OS.
The RoadMate Personal Navigation Device (PND) units also include traffic and lifetime maps for a more powerful navigation experience. The EasyTouch screens react to even the softest of finger touches, which is a nice feature given how unresponsive my last GPS unit was to the “touch.”
It comes equipped with many premium features such as landmark guidance, PhantomALERT, junction view, and free lifetime traffic alerts and map updates. All of this data helps drivers when they’re on long road trips make critical driving decisions and get to where they want to go quickly and efficiently.
In addition to the built-in PND/GPS technology and DVR (Digital Video Recorder) capabilities of the dashcam, the newer units out can also handle a wireless back-up camera. The RoadMate 6230T-LM can display either where they are headed on the PND map, or what the live camera feed(s) immediately ahead or behind them are showing.
The Internet Archive is housed in a wonderful San Francisco building that used to be a Christian Science church. In the pews along both sides of the large, skylight-lit auditorium, there is always a congregation: half-sized ceramic figures representing 100 ”archivists” — people that contributed at least three years of service to the non-profit organization.
A recent reception honored Nuala Creed (above), the California artist, who created the figures over a five-year period. They were commissioned by Brewster Kahle (above), founder of the Internet Archive, following a visit to China and seeing the famous terra cotta warriors.
The 100th ceramic figure is that of Aaron Swartz (above), a brilliant young software engineer, co-founder of Reddit, and political activist, who took his own life last year following prosecution by the US government. It stands in the front pew next to the figure of Brewster Kahle.
The text on the computer screen reads:
Be curious. Read widely. Try more things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.
Aaron Swartz 1986
Despite all the great reviews Macintosh computers have garnered over the years, we rarely see it stated that Apple’s groundbreaking platform has attracted some of the best designed software on the market today. In fact, we would venture to say that with few exceptions the Mac offers the best possible software for the task at hand.
And that’s from a former Windows user. This bias is partly due to the fact that Apple was first on the market with an integrated smartphone design, pointing the way for Mac developers to create seamless synchronization solutions. But the real story is that the innovation the Macintosh GUI ushered in will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. Here are our picks for the coolest Mac software:
Adobe Creative Studio 6
Adobe’s Creative Suite includes four useful applications: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat X Pro. If you’re a designer, you can’t get by without these famous tools. Now that Adobe has gone Creative Cloud, CS6 is your last opportunity to own Adobe tools outright.
Publisher: Adobe Systems
1Password can create strong passwords, organize…
I happen to be a fan of and support the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts (GAFFTA) and its projects, which generally try to link the art and tech worlds of San Francisco, along with an awareness of the challenges facing urban residents of all incomes and backgrounds. GAFFTA has found a new home (2665 Mission Street, above) after several exhausting short-term moves. Co-founder Peter Hirschberg announced on Facebook:
This Saturday night: come party at Gray Area’s new home in San Francisco. The former Grand Theater, a fabulous 1940s movie house in the Mission, is being reborn as the Gray Area Art and Technology Theater.
We’ll share our plans for the future, and immerse ourselves in DJ sets and generative art.Our new Art and Technology Theater is 10,000 square feet of possibilities. There will be classrooms to learn, a cinema to experience and share, a large open space to meet and collaborate, desks and studios to move forward.
As an organization that was almost priced out of San Francisco, we are passionate about bringing this historic cinema back to the artistic community at a critical time in the city’s history.
Recently, I have been spending some time with the Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (and the Gear 2 smartwatch).
Last year’s Galaxy S4 felt a safe bet of a device. It continued Samsung’s smartphone plans, and the familiarity helped the sales. Iterating the Galaxy S5 was the easy option that would ensure nobody’s job was at risk. Like a Ford pick-up truck, this smartphone is a workhorse that gets the job done. That approach trades the impact of a fashionable and cutting edge device, it trades away the idea that you are an innovator and working at the edge of the hardware envelope, and it trades away the ‘must have’ status for guaranteed sales from people looking to make a ‘safe’ choice of smartphone.
The Galaxy S4 was clearly a safe device. The Galaxy S5 continues that impression, but one year later I was expecting more from the hardware and the design. Instead the S5 has a few more gimmicks that don’t appreciably add any value to the handset.
Sony has made different decisions to Samsung, Amazon, and Apple with the Xperia Z2 Tablet. Those decisions (go for a thin design, focus on media consumption, and beef up the
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