Captured at 720p on a Canon Rebel T1i. The HD version looks good but my computer can’t keep up (even allowing the full video to download first). The non-HD YouTube version doesn’t really do justice to the “magic”. The original video looks great on the camera screen :-)

When Bridges Collapse

August 9, 2007

It is interesting to watch/read/hear the response to the Minneapolis 35W bridge collapse. Most of the talk has been about the crumbling infrastructure and lack of funds for maintenance. A built-in assumption is that, because the 35W bridge was old, that it collapsed because of corrosion/decay/neglect.

The security camera video shown on CNN starts when the collapse is underway and it does not show one critical section of the collapse but I have a tough time jumping to any conclusions. Maybe it is because structural collapse is not normally caught on video (Tacoma Narrows Bridge and WTC Twin Towers being exceptions) but man I didn’t expect to see the middle span go like that.

Are the calls for action a type of prescient Wisdom of the Crowds or just a symptom of our impatience?

I feel like we need a Getting Things Done system for news/events that impact public safety/health/security. We need a collective WaitingFor item for the analysis of the failure. Once the final analysis is complete a TakeAction item may be needed but until then the discussion about the best response seems a bit speculative.

When politicians hold press conferences in the days following a shooting, calling for extra gun control or other speculative measures, I wonder about their motivation and whether they have information that I missed. Did the police release information about the gun/shooter/victim that may help understand/prevent future shootings? Maybe its just a tickler, an early reminder that we are WaitingFor details and we may need to TakeAction.

I dunno.

Slap That Guy

March 30, 2007

Funny flash video/application. Use “the hand” to slap that guy around.

Hat tip: V

Didn’t NY City recently consider a ban on crossing the street while talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod? How ’bout filming a video podcast while driving.

Lindsay: Why do you have your blinker on?

Howard: You never know when I’m going to turn.

perfectpepsis_7234.jpg

As Tom Slee discusses in his post The Long Tail 0.2 – Introduction, Chris Anderson sees a long tail in flour.

People often ask me to name some product category that does not lend itself to Long Tail economics. My usual answer is that it would be in some undifferentiated commodity, where variety is not only absent but unwanted. Like, for instance, flour, which I remembered being sold in the supermarket in a big bag labeled “Flour.” Then I happened to step inside our local Whole Foods grocery and realized how wrong I was: Today the grocery carries more than twenty different types of flour, ranging from such basics as whole wheat and organic varieties to exotics such as amaranth and blue cornmeal. There is, amazingly enough, already a Long Tail in flour.

The man responsible for the diversity in flour, spaghetti sauce, and mustard is the food scientist Howard Moskowitz. I learned about Dr. Moskowitz through the wonderful story teller Malcolm Gladwell. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his article The Ketchup Conundrum, Dr. Moskowitz had the following revelation:

They had been asking the wrong question. There was no such thing as the perfect Diet Pepsi. They should have been looking for the perfect Diet Pepsis.

Watch this video [18 min] and remember Howard Moskowitz the next time you bite into a zesty pickle.

The video “In My Language” is a fascinating window into the world of a woman with autism. The first three minutes show her interacting with her environment, humming, tapping, touching, in what she later describes as her language. In the final five minutes she appeals to us “typicals” to ummmmmmm….. smarten up I guess.

The more I learn about autism the more confused I get. After reading the book Mindblindness and related theories about the role of mirror neurons, I thought that social cognitive abilities, like group identity, should be underdeveloped in autistics. An autistic painter would not identify with other painters and she certainly would not care what other people thought of her paintings.

That would have been my conclusion if I observed or attempted to interact with the woman in the video. Give her a keyboard, however, and she writes an “autie” manifesto deriding the closed mindedness of the “typicals”. Sheesh, no problem with group identity there.