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April 05 2013

20:04

No art, no life: Fellows Friday with Cyrus Kabiru

  Posted by Karen Eng

Cyruskabiru_tedfellow_blog

Cyrus Kabiru crafts striking, whimsical, colourful pieces — most famously his one-of-a-kind spectacles, C-STUNNERS — from recycled waste and objects he finds on the streets of Nairobi. In a candid conversation at TED2013, the Kenyan sculptor and painter told us about his journey to becoming an artist … and how he’s struggled to forge a life path uniquely his own.

You’ve said that until recently, your family didn’t know about your art. What do they think you do?

My grandmother is always trying to find me a job. When you visit her, the first thing she’ll tell you is, “If you have an extra job, if you can get a job for my boy here, he needs one.” She doesn’t understand the meaning of art and being an artist.

My mother and father don’t know my art, but when I left Nairobi to come here to TED, they all wanted to know why. So they Googled me, saw my work, and said, “OK, so this is what he does.” In our family, they don’t bother with art, except for my brother. He encourages me.

Screen_shot_2013-04-05_at_17
C-STUNNERS: African mask

Wait – your family didn’t know that you were an artist until you came here to TED?

They know that I’m an artist, but they never bothered about what kind of art I do. They didn’t know my artwork until this week. My sister has a Facebook page, but we’ve never been “friends.” Today she sent a friend request, and said, “Oh Cyrus, congrats. I saw your work. Keep it up.” So she discovered it today.

I live very far, far away from my family. It takes two hours from my father’s place to mine, driving.My mom and dad, they live at the eastern edge of Nairobi, and I live at the northern edge. I used to visit them every weekend. But now I visit them every two months.

Being an artist, for me, was that I was a rebel — I was a bit rude to everyone. I don’t care. I don’t follow what people want — I follow what I want. I don’t really like people. I want to go my own way. So I do everything the opposite to others, and they feel this guy is a bit of a rebel. When I was a little boy, grownups thought I was a bad example. They used to tell their kids, “Work hard. If you won’t work hard, you’ll be like Cyrus.” I was very different. I was always in my house, doing art, painting and making sculptures, and no one understood what I was doing. I didn’t study, I wore shaggy clothes. To them it was a bit weird. I didn’t know Sunday, I didn’t know Monday, I didn’t know.

In Africa, we live in a package.

What do you mean?

Monday you need to go to work up to Friday. Saturday you need to wash your clothes, you need to prepare for Sunday and Saturday. Sunday you need to go to church. You need to walk around in town and see friends. But me, I don’t have Sunday or Monday or Saturday. So if it’s visiting people, I visit any day, any time. I didn’t do homework, I didn’t study, I didn’t do exams.

But you didn’t fail at school?

All my classmates used to be much more clever than me. So they used to do homework for me. I’d pay them with artwork. “You do the exam for me, I’ll pay you in a sketch, sculpture, glasses, anything you want.”

You’ve been making glasses since you were a child?

Yeah. My dad is the one who wanted me to make the glasses: he challenged me to make them. He used to have real glasses when he was young. And one day, he messed with them and crushed them by accident. He was beaten by my grandmother because of this. So he hid the glasses from that day. And I used to admire wearing glasses when I was young. He used to say, “Cyrus, if you want to wear the glasses, maybe make your own glasses.” And that’s how I started making my own glasses. I was about seven years old.

So I think I did only one exam in my life. My dad used to be angry with me because of that. He knew. And I never performed well. After I finished high school, he said he wanted me to go to college to do electronic engineering. And I refused to join. I don’t like reading. Even after I finished high school, he used to say, “Cyrus, you know, I feel ashamed when I meet friends.” “Why?” “Because they keep asking the grades you got, your performance. And I feel ashamed to tell them.” And I was like, “Don’t listen to them. It’s my life.” And he said, “Okay.”

To read the full interview, visit the TED Blog >>>

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April 04 2013

18:59

TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits: The emergence of "4D printing"

  Posted by TED Fellows

 

3D printing has grown in sophistication since the late 1970s; TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.

Skylar Tibbits, a TED Fellow, is an artist and computational architect working on "smart" components that can assemble themselves.

Source: TED.com

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April 03 2013

21:35

What Brands Want That I Had on My Birthday: An 18% Facebook Engagement Rate

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

3128207481_d93dd2f1e9
 

My birthday was yesterday. It was a fantastic day in Chicago and I had plenty to celebrate. New(ish) baby boy, healthy family, and rewarding client projects that keep my day humming.


What made my day extra special were the simple ‘Happy Birthday’ messages posted to my timeline. Of the 1046 friends I have, about 188 (at last count) wished me a Happy Birthday. By Facebook terms, this is an engagement rate of 18%. As I reveled in the warm and fuzzy feeling of being virtually loved, I thought, ‘There are so many brands who would kill for a one-day engagement rate of 10%, let alone 18%.’


It’s true that 85% of the interaction on a user’s wall happens in that powerful newsfeed. Personally, I visit Facebook and check out the birthdays everyday. Whether it’s mobile device or desktop, I like to know what new ‘events’ popped up. Come on, you know you are one of those people. If you’re not (and this is where the power of friends comes in)...


There is a high likelihood that you wished me a happy birthday because a mutual friend of ours wished me a happy birthday. Or, you may have seen Facebook’s rollup of mentioning how many of your friends wished me a happy birthday. Peer pressure, perhaps? Come on, it’s ok. Don’t feel bad if it was. I am still appreciative for the time you took to recognize me on my special day.


Now, let’s talk about brands and gifts.  Facebook does prompt their users with the ability to buy their special birthday friends a gift.  I would hope that more company integrations are in the works? ‘Hope’ with my Marketing hat on.  As a regular everyday user, I could care less, but boy oh boy, that is one powerful piece of real estate.


Social media manager friends:

The next time you sit at your desk and think about a new jpeg your agency can make that adds quick thumbs ups and shares to your interaction rates, how about asking your Facebook rep about what their plans are for beefing up the birthday/event section?

Then again, there is a high likelihood that your reps don’t know what is up Zuck’s sleeve.

 

To you 18% ers, thanks again. To the 82%ers, I’m sorry the almighty Facebook algorithm makes our connections few and far between.

image c/o synx508

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21:30

What Brands Want That I Had on My Birthday: An 18% Facebook Engagement Rate

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]My birthday was yesterday. It was a fantastic day in Chicago and I had plenty to celebrate. New(ish) baby boy, healthy family, and rewarding client projects that keep my day humming.


What made my day extra special were the simple ‘Happy Birthday’ messages posted to my timeline. Of the 1046 friends I have, about 188 (at last count) wished me a Happy Birthday. By Facebook terms, this is an engagement rate of 18%. As I reveled in the warm and fuzzy feeling of being virtually loved, I thought, ‘There are so many brands who would kill for a one-day engagement rate of 10%, let alone 18%.’


It’s true that 85% of the interaction on a user’s wall happens in that powerful newsfeed. Personally, I visit Facebook and check out the birthdays everyday. Whether it’s mobile device or desktop, I like to know what new ‘events’ popped up. Come on, you know you are one of those people. If you’re not (and this is where the power of friends comes in)...


There is a high likelihood that you wished me a happy birthday because a mutual friend of ours wished me a happy birthday. Or, you may have seen Facebook’s rollup of mentioning how many of your friends wished me a happy birthday. Peer pressure, perhaps? Come on, it’s ok. Don’t feel bad if it was. I am still appreciative for the time you took to recognize me on my special day.


Now, let’s talk about brands and gifts.  Facebook does prompt their users with the ability to buy their special birthday friends a gift.  I would hope that more company integrations are in the works? ‘Hope’ with my Marketing hat on.  As a regular everyday user, I could care less, but boy oh boy, that is one powerful piece of real estate.


Social media manager friends:

The next time you sit at your desk and think about a new jpeg your agency can make that adds quick thumbs ups and shares to your interaction rates, how about asking your Facebook rep about what their plans are for beefing up the birthday/event section?

Then again, there is a high likelihood that your reps don’t know what is up Zuck’s sleeve.

 

To you 18% ers, thanks again. To the 82%ers, I’m sorry the almighty Facebook algorithm makes our connections few and far between.

image c/o synx508

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Leave a comment  »

21:30

What Brands Want That I Had on My Birthday: An 18% Facebook Engagement Rate

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

3128207481_d93dd2f1e9
My birthday was yesterday. It was a fantastic day in Chicago and I had plenty to celebrate. New(ish) baby boy, healthy family, and rewarding client projects that keep my day humming.


What made my day extra special were the simple ‘Happy Birthday’ messages posted to my timeline. Of the 1046 friends I have, about 188 (at last count) wished me a Happy Birthday. By Facebook terms, this is an engagement rate of 18%. As I reveled in the warm and fuzzy feeling of being virtually loved, I thought, ‘There are so many brands who would kill for a one-day engagement rate of 10%, let alone 18%.’

 

It’s true that 85% of the interaction on a user’s wall happens in that powerful newsfeed. Personally, I visit Facebook and check out the birthdays everyday. Whether it’s mobile device or desktop, I like to know what new ‘events’ popped up. Come on, you know you are one of those people. If you’re not (and this is where the power of friends comes in)...

 

There is a high likelihood that you wished me a happy birthday because a mutual friend of ours wished me a happy birthday. Or, you may have seen Facebook’s rollup of mentioning how many of your friends wished me a happy birthday. Peer pressure, perhaps? Come on, it’s ok. Don’t feel bad if it was. I am still appreciative for the time you took to recognize me on my special day.

 

Now, let’s talk about brands and gifts.  Facebook does prompt their users with the ability to buy their special birthday friends a gift.  I would hope that more company integrations are in the works? ‘Hope’ with my Marketing hat on.  As a regular everyday user, I could care less, but boy oh boy, that is one powerful piece of real estate.

 

Social media manager friends:

The next time you sit at your desk and think about a new jpeg your agency can make that adds quick thumbs ups and shares to your interaction rates, how about asking your Facebook rep about what their plans are for beefing up the birthday/event section?

Then again, there is a high likelihood that your reps don’t know what is up Zuck’s sleeve.

To you 18% ers, thanks again. To the 82%ers, I’m sorry the almighty Facebook algorithm makes our connections few and far between.

image c/o synx508

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Leave a comment  »

April 01 2013

19:40
11:23

March 29 2013

20:10

Playing with sound in silence: Fellows Friday with Christine Sun Kim

  Posted by Karen Eng


Through visual art, composition and performance, deaf artist 
Christine Sun Kim explores ways of transmuting sound and silence to come to terms with her relationship with it. In the process, she challenges the ways in which the hearing take sound for granted. Here, she talks about her work and career path.

 Did you always know you wanted to become an artist?

No, I just had a lot of small experiences. I remember my mother always took me to the laundromat with her. To keep me busy, she’d draw pumpkins on napkins. It was around Halloween time, and I would draw in all the different faces. Little things like that. I always liked church because at Sunday school, the Bible was taught using pictures. All these different experiences and exposures slowly added up to my life as an artist.

So I knew it was in me, but I was uncertain for a long time. When I first went to grad school — I went to the School of Visual Arts — I had a hard time expressing myself and I never really enjoyed painting, so I had to find a balance. And that was a struggle. Finding your path as an artist is difficult. So I feel really lucky that I’ve now found my way.

You talked about sound etiquette in your TED2013 Fellows talk. You were told as a child to not make noise. How can you have known how not to make noise if you couldn’t hear it? That must have been very confusing.

It’s based on my intuition. I could sense people’s reactions. For example, in school, if I dragged my feet on the ground, people would say, “Shhhh.” My family’s Korean, so they’re somewhat somber and still. I tend to be loud with my expressions, and my family would tell me to tone it down. I knew I was very animated, but that was my language. People always say, “It’s like you’re performing,” and I respond, “That’s my language.” It’s funny. But yeah, I just had to follow social cues.

All the customs and social norms, all the rules were in my face every day. I’d go into a theater and I knew that I’d have to sit, be quiet and walk slowly. It was learned behavior from people’s reactions around me: it depended on how and if people looked at me. If everyone’s eyes were on me, I knew I was being loud or doing something “wrong.”

Even now, I always like to stay in control of my sound. I have my phone off. I often don’t have it on vibrate. My TV has the sound off. This allows me to have control, so I know it’s not making noise. I was dating a hearing guy. He would come stay at my house a lot and would turn everything on. I kept telling him I wanted it off. He would reply, “Well I’m hearing.” But that was strange because it was my relationship with sound. I wanted to be in control, so I wanted everything off. I didn’t like the extra noise floating around me because I wouldn’t know what it was.

"as forte as possible", black ink on paper. Photo: Christine Sun Kim“as forte as possible”, black ink on paper. Photo: Christine Sun Kim
 So you are very aware of this thing called “sound,” even though you’ve never experienced it…
Right.
…because it’s mirrored back by the people around you.
As a society, the majority of people hear. And I mirror them. I have to follow what they’re doing. It was not like society gave me a clear, safe place to do whatever I wanted. I had to learn how to integrate to their ways. And the more aware I become of the noises and the norms, the more I play around with that in my artwork. The more experience I had trying to become accustomed to the norms, the more I tried to use that as material for my artwork. And oddly, that made my voice clearer.
You translate sound into other forms as an investigation and performance. Is this investigation primarily for yourself, or is it for others? To what degree do you keep your audience in mind when you’re playing?
It’s mostly about myself and my journey as an artist. Its about my relationship to and my perspective of sound as it keeps changing. It’s everlasting, it’s nonstop.
In my past work, I was doing a one-to-one translation like sound to vibration, working with sound to create painterly imprints. I don’t know if that really translates. It’s very limited and deals with low frequencies only, and that’s just one aspect of sound. That’s why I let go of the idea of translating it. Now I’m trying to develop my own information system and new theories of what sound should or could be, using new forms.
Most people who write music have this idea of silence, but they can hear and they use that to define or shape silence, or vice versa. So how can I learn the idea of sound and silence from their perspective? I can’t relate to that. So I’m starting over from scratch with everything. I’m redefining things. It’s not scientific evidence. People always ask me if I use sound waves in my art, but I’m not really interested in that.floating
To read the full interview, visit the TED Blog >>>

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March 28 2013

21:16

Email First Startups

  Posted by Sachin Agarwal

Last month, Ryan Hoover had a great post about building email into your startup first, before moving on to other platforms. His awesome points:

  • Email lets you validate ideas quickly
  • Since email is async, you can fake functionality with manual processes
  • Forces focus
  • Email is a part of users daily habits
  • Email is ubiquitous
  • You can use email to upsell users to other platforms when you're ready

Posterous was the ultimate email first product. I started the project because I wanted to email photos from my iPhone to my blog. I wrote thousands of lines of email code, which posted to my Blogger blog, before I ever wrote a line of web code.

There are a few other reasons why I think email an amazing platform to build on top of:

  • Email has identity built in. Email is identity. Whether you're sending or receiving email from users, you don't need a login system. Posterous was able to completely eliminate signup from our flow.
  • Email is mobile. It's on every device, including super low end feature phones. Even people in developing countries on slow internet connections can use email.
  • Email isn't blocked in China. You open your service up to another billlion users.
  • Email is integrated in all the apps you use. You can email photos from iPhoto, or a link from Safari, or a Tweet from Twitter.
  • Email supports rich content. You can send photos, documents, video, audio, and any arbitrary attachment. There's nothing email won't transfer.
  • iPhones will send email in the background. If you're sending a video and your internet is slow, the iPhone will keep uploading while Mail is in the background.
  • Users get notifications instantly, on all devices, without managing extra notification permissions or settings.
  • So easy, your mom can do it.

Email is a powerful and flexible platform used by billions of people around the world. Start your company with email first in mind, and integrate it deeply in everything you do.

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March 26 2013

22:25

My Life Without a Carrier Contract

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

Nexus
It’s been six months since I severed ties with the concept of a two-year carrier contract  - and it feels damn good.


 

Today’s T-Mobile Uncarrier news is a breath of fresh air.  I give John Legere credit for making such a bold statement.  If this were a game of tech chess, T-Mobile’s CEO just moved his bishop near the queens of the Top 3 carriers. For ex mobile heads like me, we sit and wait to see if Legere is on his way to be the Bobby Fischer of the industry.


 

When I was working for one of the large cell phone manufacturers, I learned alot. I learned that a phone can be built with every consumer request in mind - only to be reversed because the carrier(s) wanted something else stripped out our built into the device. Did you know that? Maybe not? But yes, the majority of cell phone manufacturers plan an intense song and dance with the carriers...and often need to do what they want. Apple is an anomaly. When they first came out with the iPhone, AT&T followed Steve Jobs’ exclusivity rules.


I would sit at my desk and read online comment upon comment, tweet upon tweet of consumer phone requests that I would then pass on to engineering.  I would sit on the phone with some of the brightest minds in the business and ask the same question over and over, ‘Why’?


I started my career in the cell phone business feeling like a naive sheep.  When I questioned the power of the carrier, I was told that no matter how hard I pushed, the industry wouldn’t change.  The formula was simple: consumers received a kick ass subsidy for their phone, in exchange for an iron clad two-year contract with a carrier. A contract that, if severed, would result in a financial penalty to the consumer.


Meanwhile, the relationship was being built between consumer and carrier...versus consumer and manufacturer. Drove me nuts, but I fell in line and did as much as I could to try and bridge the gap between everyone.


When I left the business, I had a bad taste in my mouth for the back door dealings and conversations I knew carriers were having about product launches and consumer requests. I wanted to break away from contracts and chose a web only deal I saw advertised with T-Mobile. I’m currently on a $45 a month plan. This includes 100 minutes, hotspot and unlimited data (4G).

 

T-Mobile's new $50/$60/$70 plans are worth a look, too. I may convert to one of those, versus adding on to my 100 minute plan.


So how has my life been in a no contract world?


I’m on 4G, not LTE, as I was used to with Verizon. There is a difference, hands down. In many instances, Verizon was faster. There are some spots in Chicago where my network takes a while to load. It gets annoying.  I have 100 minutes per month and usually add some cash to my account every month to make up for the extra talk time my business is costing me. Still, the most I’ve spent in one month is $65. $65 to tether my MacBook Air to my personal hotspot.  $65, tops, for the freedom of owning my phone outright and not being attached to a carrier. $65 for 4G unlimited data. I’ve been using a Google Nexus and just ordered the Nexus 4. Why Google? Because I want the pure experience of the Android operating system.


Is the system broken? I think so. I spent some time in Europe and never got over the way in which consumers had the choice to do what they wanted...manufacturer, carriers, SIM cards, ec.  


Are cell phone carriers bad people? I don’t think so. This is the system we’ve been accustom to and hell, the carriers are responsible for putting up those lovely towers that give you connectivity in your backyards.


At the end of the day, I acquired a boatload of information about how things work and it makes me feel even more empowered as a consumer today. In addition to the no contract with the carrier, I only agreed to use Comcast because we signed up with, you guessed it, no contract deal. Our household is a avid user of Google TV, Netflix Streaming and Amazon on Demand. When/if we see less of a need for our lovely Comcast offerings, we will bail on that, too.


And now, the true test begins. How many consumers will convert over to T-Mobile? How many contracts will be severed, with a sudden surge in penalty revenues to the carriers? Only time will tell.


If I were John Legere, I’d take a day and let today’s announcement soak in. Tomorrow? He should ride the backs his social media team to try and convert potential consumers into T-Mobile fans.

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22:25

My Life Without a Carrier Contract

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]

It’s been six months since I severed ties with the concept of a two-year carrier contract  - and it feels damn good.


 

Today’s T-Mobile Uncarrier news is a breath of fresh air.  I give John Legere credit for making such a bold statement.  If this were a game of tech chess, T-Mobile’s CEO just moved his bishop near the queens of the Top 3 carriers. For ex mobile heads like me, we sit and wait to see if Legere is on his way to be the Bobby Fischer of the industry.


When I was working for one of the large cell phone manufacturers, I learned alot. I learned that a phone can be built with every consumer request in mind - only to be reversed because the carrier(s) wanted something else stripped out our built into the device. Did you know that? Maybe not? But yes, the majority of cell phone manufacturers plan an intense song and dance with the carriers...and often need to do what they want. Apple is an anomaly. When they first came out with the iPhone, AT&T followed Steve Jobs’ exclusivity rules.


I would sit at my desk and read online comment upon comment, tweet upon tweet of consumer phone requests that I would then pass on to engineering.  I would sit on the phone with some of the brightest minds in the business and ask the same question over and over, ‘Why’?


I started my career in the cell phone business feeling like a naive sheep.  When I questioned the power of the carrier, I was told that no matter how hard I pushed, the industry wouldn’t change.  The formula was simple: consumers received a kick ass subsidy for their phone, in exchange for an iron clad two-year contract with a carrier. A contract that, if severed, would result in a financial penalty to the consumer.


Meanwhile, the relationship was being built between consumer and carrier...versus consumer and manufacturer. Drove me nuts, but I fell in line and did as much as I could to try and bridge the gap between everyone.


When I left the business, I had a bad taste in my mouth for the back door dealings and conversations I knew carriers were having about product launches and consumer requests. I wanted to break away from contracts and chose a web only deal I saw advertised with T-Mobile. I’m currently on a $45 a month plan. This includes 100 minutes, hotspot and unlimited data (4G).


So how has my life been?


I’m on 4G, not LTE, as I was used to with Verizon. There is a difference, hands down. In many instances, Verizon was faster. There are some spots in Chicago where my network takes a while to load. It gets annoying.  I have 100 minutes per month and usually add some cash to my account every month to make up for the extra talk time my business is costing me. Still, the most I’ve spent in one month is $65. $65 to tether my MacBook Air to my personal hotspot.  $65, tops, for the freedom of owning my phone outright and not being attached to a carrier. $65 for 4G unlimited data. I’ve been using a Google Nexus and just ordered the Nexus 4. Why Google? Because I want the pure experience of the Android operating system.


Is the system broken? I think so. I spent some time in Europe and never got over the way in which consumers had the choice to do what they wanted...manufacturer, carriers, SIM cards, ec.  


Are cell phone carriers bad people? I don’t think so. This is the system we’ve been accustom to and hell, the carriers are responsible for putting up those lovely towers that give you connectivity in your backyards.


At the end of the day, I acquired a boatload of information about how things work and it makes me feel even more empowered as a consumer today. In addition to the no contract with the carrier, I only agreed to use Comcast because we signed up with, you guessed it, no contract deal. Our household is a avid user of Google TV, Netflix Streaming and Amazon on Demand. When/if we see less of a need for our lovely Comcast offerings, we will bail on that, too.


And now, the true test begins. How many consumers will convert over to T-Mobile? How many contracts will be severed, with a sudden surge in penalty revenues to the carriers? Only time will tell.


If I were John Legere, I’d take a day and let today’s announcement soak in. Tomorrow? He should ride the backs his social media team to try and convert potential consumers into T-Mobile fans.

 

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22:25

My Life Without a Carrier Contract

  Posted by Blagica Bottigliero

Nexus

 

It’s been six months since I severed ties with the concept of a two-year carrier contract  - and it feels damn good.


 

Today’s T-Mobile Uncarrier news is a breath of fresh air.  I give John Legere credit for making such a bold statement.  If this were a game of tech chess, T-Mobile’s CEO just moved his bishop near the queens of the Top 3 carriers. For ex mobile heads like me, we sit and wait to see if Legere is on his way to be the Bobby Fischer of the industry.


When I was working for one of the large cell phone manufacturers, I learned alot. I learned that a phone can be built with every consumer request in mind - only to be reversed because the carrier(s) wanted something else stripped out our built into the device. Did you know that? Maybe not? But yes, the majority of cell phone manufacturers plan an intense song and dance with the carriers...and often need to do what they want. Apple is an anomaly. When they first came out with the iPhone, AT&T followed Steve Jobs’ exclusivity rules.


I would sit at my desk and read online comment upon comment, tweet upon tweet of consumer phone requests that I would then pass on to engineering.  I would sit on the phone with some of the brightest minds in the business and ask the same question over and over, ‘Why’?


I started my career in the cell phone business feeling like a naive sheep.  When I questioned the power of the carrier, I was told that no matter how hard I pushed, the industry wouldn’t change.  The formula was simple: consumers received a kick ass subsidy for their phone, in exchange for an iron clad two-year contract with a carrier. A contract that, if severed, would result in a financial penalty to the consumer.


Meanwhile, the relationship was being built between consumer and carrier...versus consumer and manufacturer. Drove me nuts, but I fell in line and did as much as I could to try and bridge the gap between everyone.


When I left the business, I had a bad taste in my mouth for the back door dealings and conversations I knew carriers were having about product launches and consumer requests. I wanted to break away from contracts and chose a web only deal I saw advertised with T-Mobile. I’m currently on a $45 a month plan. This includes 100 minutes, hotspot and unlimited data (4G).


So how has my life been?


I’m on 4G, not LTE, as I was used to with Verizon. There is a difference, hands down. In many instances, Verizon was faster. There are some spots in Chicago where my network takes a while to load. It gets annoying.  I have 100 minutes per month and usually add some cash to my account every month to make up for the extra talk time my business is costing me. Still, the most I’ve spent in one month is $65. $65 to tether my MacBook Air to my personal hotspot.  $65, tops, for the freedom of owning my phone outright and not being attached to a carrier. $65 for 4G unlimited data. I’ve been using a Google Nexus and just ordered the Nexus 4. Why Google? Because I want the pure experience of the Android operating system.


Is the system broken? I think so. I spent some time in Europe and never got over the way in which consumers had the choice to do what they wanted...manufacturer, carriers, SIM cards, ec.  


Are cell phone carriers bad people? I don’t think so. This is the system we’ve been accustom to and hell, the carriers are responsible for putting up those lovely towers that give you connectivity in your backyards.


At the end of the day, I acquired a boatload of information about how things work and it makes me feel even more empowered as a consumer today. In addition to the no contract with the carrier, I only agreed to use Comcast because we signed up with, you guessed it, no contract deal. Our household is a avid user of Google TV, Netflix Streaming and Amazon on Demand. When/if we see less of a need for our lovely Comcast offerings, we will bail on that, too.


And now, the true test begins. How many consumers will convert over to T-Mobile? How many contracts will be severed, with a sudden surge in penalty revenues to the carriers? Only time will tell.


If I were John Legere, I’d take a day and let today’s announcement soak in. Tomorrow? He should ride the backs his social media team to try and convert potential consumers into T-Mobile fans.

 

 

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11:28

Usman Riaz: thoughts from the stage

  Posted by Karen Eng

When young Pakistani composer and instrumentalist Usman Riaz shyly took the TEDGlobal 2012 mainstage, he stunned the audience with his virtuosity. Since that moment, his life has unfolded in extraordinary ways. Here, he reflects on what he was feeling that day and some of the experiences he's had since then...

I might be the youngest and most inexperienced Fellow in the room but I am not nervous.

I am anxious.

How could I not be? 

I am about to step on the same stage I've seen so many of my heroes speak and perform on. Kaki King, Andrew Bird, Sarah Kay, Bono all had their moments – and now it is my turn. 

Having already delivered my talk on accelerated learning on the Fellows stage a few days ago, I can't wait to get back on and perform on the main stage and apply all the things I learnt.

I desperately want to keep learning. After I was done with school, I had planned to study music further by attending Berklee School of music in Boston. However, after getting signed to EMI and being offered the rare opportunity to record all my orchestral and instrumental compositions in a professional studio, I asked the good people at Berklee if I could change my audition date to a year later. After not hearing from them, I wondered if I had completely blown my chances of attending and learning more about music in a professional institution. 

I told myself it would be all right, having studied classical piano since I was 6 years old and maintaining those lessons gave me a firm grip on the fundamentals necessary to write and perform my own music. Using the Internet to learn guitar and many other instruments at the age of 16 gave me the confidence to keep going on my own. 

With all this knowledge available to me, I was sure I would be able to put all my efforts into making the best possible work that could hopefully get the world's attention. 

Still, never did I imagine I would end up here, standing next to Preston Reed, the inventor of the percussive guitar style I adopted, waiting to go on stage and deliver our very special TED talk. 

It is all a bit surreal. I am getting antsy. With nothing to do before going on and having run through my warm-up routine, my mind begins to wander under the red and blue lights reflecting off the metallic decorations backstage.

Will they edit out the mistakes? I'm bound to make a few, aren't I? 

What might happen after this performance? 

What if after TED I get selected to be a OneBeat fellow – one of 32 musicians specifically selected by the US State Department to be part of a huge musical and cultural exchange program to perform and tour all over the east coast of the United States? What if we make the most incredible and truly 'world' music the likes of which has never been made before under such circumstances?

What if I get invited all over the world to places like India, Costa Rica, and Istanbul to speak and perform at TEDx and Global Leaders Conferences that are almost as large and grand as TEDGlobal?

What if I get to perform at a Google conference in Boston, where I might meet the dean of admissions for Berklee – who will invite me to audition and I end up getting a scholarship? 

Surely all these things can't unfold just from my one performance on this stage. 

I don't feel 21 years old. I feel like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, only I am thoroughly enjoying it!

"Usman!" hisses a voice behind me.

"Hmm?" I reply, snapping out of my woolgathering. 

My eyes focus on a small slit backstage through which I could see what is going on. I see the audience clapping enthusiastically as a speaker walks off stage and Chris Anderson steps up to introduce me. 

"You're on in 30 seconds. Good luck!" 

I take my first few steps leading up to the stage. The red and white lights dim out with only blue filling the stage, reflecting off the stainless steel ornaments hanging behind the projection screen. 

I only wear blue. Blue is my favorite color. 

I have a good feeling about this. 

 

TEDxPuraVida jam with Fellow tap dancer Andrew Nemr

 Ruckus - A Film by Usman Riaz

 

 

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March 25 2013

16:20

TED Fellow Jessica Green: Good germs make healthy buildings

  Posted by TED Fellows

Our bodies and homes are covered in microbes -- some good for us, some bad for us, and some just along for the ride. As we learn more about the germs and microbes who share our living spaces, TED Fellow Jessica Green asks: Can we design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments?

Jessica Green wants people to understand the important role microbes play in every facet of our lives: climate change, building ecosystems, human health, even roller derby -- using nontraditional tools like art, animation and film to help people visualize the invisible world.

Source: TED.com

Learn more about Jessica here.

See more TED Fellows here.

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12:54

March 22 2013

15:27

Spatzle in space: Fellows Friday with Angelo Vermeulen

  Posted by Karen Eng

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Angelo Vermeulen takes soil samples for microbial analysis during the shakedown mission at MDRS in Utah. Photo: Kate Greene

Can real food be cooked on Mars? Thanks to the work of artist, biologist and space scientist Angelo Vermeulen (watch his TED talk), the answer may one day be yes.

When the Universities of Cornell and Hawai’i put out a call for participants for their NASA-funded HI-SEAS Mars simulation, investigating the feasibility of real food on Mars, Vermeulen – known for his Biomodd art installations creating symbiotic relationships between plants and computers — landed the crew commander position. The HI-SEAS crew has now been in training for months and, on April 15, they’ll enter the simulation habitat itself — located in Hawaii — for four months.

Vermeulen will be blogging about his experience from within the simulation for the TED Fellows blog. In the meantime, we ask him about the mission, what it means to be a space crew commander and why boredom in isolation isn’t actually a problem.

What will the HI-SEAS simulation be investigating and teaching us?

The Mars simulation we’re setting up is called Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation or HI-SEAS. It’s primarily a food study. One of the main problems during long-term space travel is so-called menu fatigue. It’s basically astronauts getting tired of their food and losing appetite. By the way astronauts do not eat out of tubes and do not swallow food pills. That’s an old persistent cliché which is still in a lot of people’s minds. It’s almost an archetype of astronaut life. However this dates to the ’50s and ’60s, and has been long abandoned. The food that astronauts currently eat is pretty good, but it’s all pre-prepared. It’s add-water-and-heat, and you have your meal. But even those meals, even when they try to make variations, after a couple of months people get tired of that, and so they start to eat less. As a consequence they might also perform less, and jeopardize the mission.

For example, in the Mars-500 experiment — an isolation study of 500 days near Moscow, a collaboration between Europe and Russia — food became the item that people constantly talked about. Food is absolutely crucial to the psychology of your crew, and you need to handle that carefully.

One of the solutions could be to allow the crew to cook. Because cooking empowers you over your food. You can make endless variations, and there’s an interesting bonus: it improves social cohesion. You talk about food, you share food. It’s a basic human thing. The reason that space agencies have been holding it off are twofold. First of all, current human space exploration is done in microgravity conditions — like in the ISS — and as such cooking has hardly been possible. One needs a good deal of gravity to cook meals. In HI-SEAS we’re talking about simulating life on the surface of Mars, not about traveling to Mars. And since there’s a decent amount of gravity on Mars (38% of Earth’s gravity), you can do your regular cooking.

So what you’re doing is not for people in a space vehicle.
No, it’s not for the transit phase. It’s for an actual stay on a planetary surface, such as Mars, but also the Moon. The second reason space agencies have been holding off cooking is because it takes more time, water and energy, and all of those things are extremely precious in outer space. A pre-prepared meal is indeed way more efficient. But it’s a tradeoff: if your crew becomes unhappy and starts to perform less, you might want to invest a little bit by allotting more time and resources for preparing food.

We are actually the first crew in the history of space exploration to be allowed to cook properly. Obviously we’re not real astronauts, we’re simulating astronaut life. But still. This is the very first, very thorough study of the potential of cooking. That’s the baseline research — that’s why we’re funded.

 

To read the full interview, visit the TED Blog >>>

 

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10:30

Durreen Shahnaz's IIX nominated for Rockefeller Award

  Posted by Karen Eng

Durreen Shahnaz, photo: TED

TED2010 Fellow Durreen Shahnaz's company, Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX), has been nominated for the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award – which honors individuals and organizations who are addressing modern day challenges – particularly in social and economic development – through innovative means. 

Durreen began her career on Wall Street and brought her financial acumen to Grameen Bank to start bringing capital to the marginalized, before conquering the publishing world and in 2009 launching her own social enterprise IIX, an impact investing intermediary whose mission is to create vibrant social capital markets that democratize investments for all. IIX’s biggest initiative to date is the launch of Impact Capital, which will be the world’s first social stock exchange, bringing together a global network of impact investors and Asia’s most promising and impactful social enterprises.  

The Rockefeller prize is a US$100,000 grant – and if IIX makes it into the finals, public voting will commence after May 1. You can help IIX into the finals by Liking its nomination page on Facebook. Find IIX on the Rockefeller Foundation's website, scroll over the photo, and click "Like" – and watch this space for further voting information!

 

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March 21 2013

22:47
19:36

Someone reached way down into the archives to retrieve these pictures.

  Posted by Big Picture

Someone reached way down into the archives to retrieve these pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 20 2013

18:22

Happy Plankmas to you!

  Posted by Karen Eng

8508588193_610afeafba_b

TED2013. Long Beach, CA. February 25 - March 1, 2013. Photo: Ryan Lash

Tomorrow, on 21 March 2013, the much-anticipated cosmological results from the Planck satellite will be released. In a recent blog post on her own website, TED2013 Fellow and cosmologist Renée Hlozek describes why this will be a big day for astrophysics and cosmology. We asked her to explain what the excitement is all about.

"Planck is the 'next generation' satellite that measures the tiny fluctuations in the temperature and polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) – which is light that comes from shortly after the Big Bang, and has been travelling towards us for over 13 billion years," she says.

"Planck has been operating in space since 2009, and will dramatically increase the precision with which we can measure this radiation, which tells us about the physical conditions of the universe at very early times. We use this data to fit a cosmological model, to figure out what the universe is made of, its properties (such as that the universe is flat) and how it is changing with time. So Thursday is a big day because it further refines our picture of where we came from and where we are going on the grandest scales imaginable!"

Planck results will be available to the worldwide community at the Planck Legacy Archive on 21 March 2013.

 

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