Kinecting Communities

On April 16 I will be speaking at the Mobile Citizen Summit in Washington DC (registration still open), which brings together “practitioners across the  government, nonprofit, advocacy, and political spaces—the kinds of  people who develop the strategy and the tools to reach, engage, educate,  and enable citizens across the country and around the world.”

But I’m going to be talking about “mobile” in a different way than others still use the term, i.e. they focus on a handheld device, while I will be focusing on the mobile citizen. As I have said before I don’t believe our future involves experiencing “augmented reality” by always holding up little 3-inch plastic screens in front of our faces. Natural user interfaces and immersive computing offer much more to how we access computational resources – and how technology will help us interact with one another. Here’s an example, in a story from the past week.

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Using the body in new virtual ways

This is CHI 2010 week, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta. Top researchers in human-computer-interaction (HCI) are together April 10-15 for presentations, panels, exhibits, and discussions. Partly because of our intense interest in using new levels of computational power to develop great new Natural User Interfaces (NUI), Microsoft Research is well represented at CHI 2010 as pointed out in an MSR note on the conference:

This year, 38 technical papers submitted by Microsoft Research were accepted by the conference, representing 10 percent of the papers accepted. Three of the Microsoft Research papers, covering vastly different topics, won Best Paper awards, and seven others received Best Paper nominations.

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Fighting Social Ills with Social Media

This week I’m traveling in Mexico as part of a unique State Department delegation, bringing American social-media professionals together with Mexican public and private efforts working on building civic society. In particular, the trip is focused on bolstering civic participation efforts aimed at countering the enormous spike in narco-violence in Mexico, including the state of Chihuahua, whose capital Ciudad Juarez we visited on Monday and Tuesday.  I’m joined on the trip by colleagues from Facebook, Google, AT&T, MIT Media Lab, and several other leading social-media professionals. Continue reading

Immersed in Augmented Reality

Here’s a quick post, about a talk I gave this week – but as an excuse to link to a much more compelling presentation given at the TED Talks recently. Yesterday I had the good fortune to deliver the “Technology Keynote” address at the annual International Field Directors and Technology Conference, in Delray Beach, Florida. The IFD&TC is a well-known group in its field – no pun – of the world’s leading academic and government researchers, conducting large-scale and longitudinal social-scientific research studies.

As an example, think of the U.S. Census – and indeed I had the opportunity to spend some time with Cheryl Landman, Chief of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Demographic Surveys Division. You know those large studies drawn from every decade’s data? She runs them. That division’s work should feature prominently (I hope) in the forthcoming U.S. government’s “Data.gov” set of services.

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The Scientists Behind the Headline

Obama Promises Major Investment in Science” – AP News story (April 27, 2009)

“The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of new technologies being developed on US soil, you should be pretty damned excited.”Alex Koppelman, writing in Salon.com

President Obama announced today an effort to increase the nation’s investment in research and development spending for the sciences and new technologies.  As Alex Koppelman points out:

One particularly striking point to note about this: That level of funding [an increase to ‘more than three percent of GDP’] would almost meet the amount of money spent on defense. To some extent, that may simply represent a shift in where on the budget certain funds are accounted for, as defense spending has always been a key driver of American scientific research, but it’s still a sharp difference from the normal state of affairs.

I’ve written before (“How to Find Research“) about the need for increased R&D spending, and about the role of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy in its main role: advising the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the impacts of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.

OSTP does the hard work – but it is guided in part by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST.  This group can be a quiet backwater – as it has been on and off for years – or it has the potential to be a dynamic leading voice in advising the Administration on S&T policies, particularly in investments in scientific research and tech innovation.

It looks like we’re on the dynamic upswing, given that President Obama also used today’s high-profile announcement to name his appointments to an all-new PCAST. 

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Top Undergrad Business Programs in the U.S.

FACT: In the recently-released annual BusinessWeek ranking of top undergraduate business programs, Wharton (the feeder program for UPenn’s better known Wharton MBA program) once again leads the field, and the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce again comes in second.  The Top 10 this year are:

1. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
2. University of Virginia (McIntire)
3. Notre Dame (Mendoza)
4. Cornell University
5. Emory University (Goizueta)
6. University of Michigan (Ross)
7. Brigham Young University (Marriott)
8. New York University (Stern)
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
10. University of Texas-Austin (McCombs)

ANALYSIS: My alma-mater bias compels me to mention that “The big news this year is the University of Virginia,” as noted by Louis Lavelle, Business School editor for BusinessWeek, during an online chat outlining the results. “It really gained on Wharton. The ranking is based on an ‘index’ number, and the No. 1 school is always an index number of 100. Last year Virginia was way behind — it had an index number of 92.7. This year it was 99 — a virtual dead heat” for the top spot.

Oddly, my grad-school alma mater Stanford, which ranks high perennially on MBA program lists, has no undergraduate business school or program, so it’s missing from this list entirely. 

The big question is, what explains movement in the ranks?  What are some schools doing right, and some wrong?

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