The promise of mobile augmented reality

Robotvision appMy intention with this blog is always to write medium-length “think-pieces,” about technology, government, or preferably both. I’m working on several (the Jefferson Gov 2.0 piece, the Evil Twin 2.0 piece, and one on “whither the multilingual web”), but they do truly require thought and some free time, so they percolate a bit.

In the meantime, readers like the latest cool demo videos, so for Friday fun here’s another one (watch below or on youTube), which was featured on TechCrunch last night (“Bing comes to the iPhone via Robotvision”), with an augmented reality app for the iPhone which uses Bing Maps and Bing’s real-time data (website here). The company describes itself this way:

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Social Media goes hyper local for emergencies

For the past year, whenever my group has had government visitors to Microsoft labs in Redmond to see advanced technologies, we’ve considered whether or not to show them a demo of a particular “secret project” being developed, now called Microsoft Vine.

vineIf the group was with local or state government, or related to homeland security, or emergency responders and the like, the answer was easier, because that’s the sweet spot it’s designed for.

But I was always tempted to show it even to my federal government friends – and anyone else – just because it’s so impressive!

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Elbowing for Obama influence between new CTO, new cyber czar

Today’s Friday – usually a big news day in Washington, whether by design (bury bad news late in a deep weekend news hole) or by human error (bureaucrats tried all week to get something done and slipped it in at the deadline).  There should be Obama cabinet announcements today, and meanwhile tech luminaries across the country are sitting by their phones, drumming their fingers and hoping for a call offering them the position of the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer. Norm Lorentz, who was OMB’s first-ever CTO, told C-SPAN this week that “If I were asked, I would serve in a heartbeat.”

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MS Office Wired, OpenOffice Tired, Google Docs Expired?

google-newsFact: “Google Docs Struggles to Gain Foothold.” “Google Docs Use: Just a Blip.” “Study: Office Fights Off Google Docs Threat.” “OpenOffice Five Times More Popular than Google Docs.”  These are news articles covering the release of a new ClickStream study of typical use of “productivity software” like the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel), Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, OpenOffice, etc. The study “among adult U.S. internet users showed that use of free productivity applications such as Google Docs and OpenOffice remains low, while Microsoft Office is in use by over 50% of adult U.S. internet users and shows no signs of declining popularity.”

Analysis: Well, yesterday I gave Google some nice words because of our joint work with DoD on improving military health IT. So I’m itching to tweak the Big G now, and we have some numbers to examine.  And I wasn’t cherry-picking the titles above either, they were the “most relevant” results on a Google News query this morning for <“Google Docs” OpenOffice Microsoft>.

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Using Web 2.0 to Track a Political Crisis

My gut tells me that the latest round in the Georgian-Russian crisis is going to get ugly.

CNN’s “Russian Tanks Rolling into Georgian Breakaway” shows one thing: our old friend Vladimir Putin feels free to call the shots.

Twitter alerts can only get you so far, in following a crisis.  Check out these first attempts: this Twitter search or this one, or this Live News feed.  You can RSS any of these by the way.

I’m working on several Popfly-designed orchestrations of alerts and newsfeeds to keep me updated on the latest news from South Ossetia, incorporating crowd-sourced information as much as I can. 

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How to Surf the Multilingual Web

Fact: According to an official press release issued yesterday by a Chinese-government-related organization, “1,500 translators and scholars from 76 countries and regions attended the opening ceremony of the eighteenth International Federation of Translators (FIT for “Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs”) World Congress today at the Shanghai International Convention Center. The theme of the congress is translation and cultural diversity.”

Analysis:  Sure, you’re tempted to scoff at these carbon-based units and their old-fashioned “human translation skills”  – because you  like technology so much – but in the realm of language translation, computers are still lagging behind. There’s a long-running debate over the promise of “machine translation” (MT), as a Wikipedia entry argues:

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One of My Dream Web Toys – Now Live

Oh, am I happy.  Here’s where I’ll be, every day, for at least some little period of time: xRank on Politicians.

Every pollster and political consultant will like this – and okay, just plain political junkies anywhere, in this heightened political campaign year.  Politicians themselves will also want to check out their up/down arrow (Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was hot “with a bullet” for a while because of the Obama VP rumors, but he’s falling now; John Edwards love-child stories are hot-hot-hot! right now).  Check it out yourself

xRank has been live for a while with celebrities’ names – but who cared about that?  Politicians – ah, good stuff.  Maybe we’ll give geeks their Andy Warhol moment and add technologists soon 🙂

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