Archive for the ‘Data’ Category

Pre-existing Memory

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

What would it be like to be born with our parent’s memory already engraved in our brain, so that we could be able to remember situations and experiences that our parents engraved in their brains. And what if the new memories acquired in our lifetime, combined with out parent’s memories, were passed on to our children at the time of conception. What would the experience of living would be like?

I believe that some time in the near future, we will be able to download all our memories into a hard drive and store them, so we don’t forget them. With the same mechanism, we will be able to upload information to our brain and “remember” the things that were uploaded. This will lead the way for real-time thought communication. People will be able to plug their brains to each other and read each others thoughts and experiences. Pretty weird…

This article “Your Brain Has A ‘Delete’ Button—Here’s How To Use It” talks about the deleting of memories in the brain:
http://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-most-productive-self/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it

The 1% Have a Net-Worth of $96 Trillion

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

I’m not asking anyone to join anything, but this video has some interesting info.

Student Debt Approaches a Trillion

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Its incredible, but it’s true. America’s new debt is due to the institutional powerhouses. Who owns this crazy debt? People under 40 years old own most of it as per the chart below. And every year it grows like a wild fire.


from: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The combination of student debt plus unemployment have cause a mass increase of delinquent balances in the recent years. Notice the inverse effect of other debt in the graph below. When students can’t pay their loans, they can’t get credit. With out credit, these young unemployed professionals can’t get mortgages, car leases, or a credit card.

It’s a shame, but this problem is only getting worse. So if you re thinking about borrowing money to go to college; think again. With the mass availability of information in the internet. People can educate themselves and do the jobs that Undergraduates and Graduates are fighting for, without falling into the trap of borrowing money that will not pan out prosperity.

Enough Is Enough! 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance.

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Today I received an email from Barack Obama aka the democratic party email account at democrats.org and it was yet another email silently asking for a donation! Really another email from a DMC affiliated group asking for money!? What a surprise . So I decided that I need to unsubscribe from all of these email lists and distance myself from the Dems.

This is the email and my response, unsubscription:

I get that political campaigns need funding but I think fundraising is way out of hand! In the beginning of 2008 when Barak Obama began his campaign, it was a grass-roots type of campaign. Making the best out of the few millions he had gathered to run a campaign to get the democratic nomination. At the time, he use some powerful tools, such as online social channels and email lists, that would eventually become main stream in politics. The power of YouTube and Facebook, gained the candidate a lot of attention. Various groups chipped into create content (User Generated Content) in support of the candidate for free! Fast forward to 2012 and all that human capital has been traded by obama and the Dems for cold hard cash.
Even “Obama Girl” retracted her support for Obama!

The political campaigns for both parties are forgetting that “social capital” matters a lot and that a good campaign can be ran with out spending a billion dollars to pay for media time.

2008 was also the year when a candidate raised a record breaking three quarters of a billion dollars! This year the trajectory of fund raising efforts seems to indicate that Obama may raise a Billion or close to it. Look at this chart from the NY Times:



By July both Obama and Romney have over half a billion in the bank and that does not even include the amounts that will be raised for August, September and October which in the past are the months when the campaigns raise the most money!

I don’t know about you but I think that anything over $250 million dollars spent on a popularity contest is absurd. I think the right amount of money to get a message out in today’s world to reach the majority of households in the US is about 150 million. Actually, you can even get a massage out with less money if you resort to mobile and online advertising as opposed to the expensive and antiquated traditional media channels. Anything more than that is just a plain waste; preaching to the choir. At the end of the day the people seeing the ads are not the ones choosing the president; it is the electoral collage that needs to be impressed. All the public needs to know, is that the guy in the White House is trust worthy so we don’t have a rebellion and people know the system works.

The question I have now is why the independent party does not get organized and becomes a legitimate political party in the US? Oh yeah, because no politician in their right mind wants to be labeled an independent, unless you have over a billion net-worth. Sigh…

Some Notes on Playbadger.com

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Time is funny, sometimes it passes by very fast. Other times it passes by really slow. Either way, the only time you have to do anything is the present, so that is the time you have to make the best in life.

What else can I talk about other than playbadger.com and electronics? Maybe I can talk about #occupywallstreet or other political events that are important in this day and age. I think I’ll just talk about Badger.

Badger has definitely been a good project to develop. I have learned a great deal about people, business and technology. The most beneficial part of it all is the actual finding of things that interest me. Which is kind of nice since working so much for so long has fogged these things.

How many times have you been asked through out your life what are the things you like to do? This was especially true, in my experience, during Middle School and High School. Teachers, parents, parents friends and anyone who knew about you would ask about your interests in hopes of giving suggestions for possible career paths. This was the time when the sky was the limit and the only thing holding you back was interest.

What am I interested in?
What do I value?

Street Art

Playbadger.com has shed some light into that question. Through badger I have re-discovered a lot of interests that I enjoy. Aside from art related topics such as Street Art and Gallery Openings or Typography, I have re-enforced my admiration and intrigue with Bugs! Specially Bees. Another thing that I realized through badger is that the reason I take so many pictures is to compensate for my really awful short-term memory. Now when I go to an event or party and for some reason leave my bike over night, I “badge” it with my personal tag. “Badging” a picture of the bike takes less than a minute. I take a picture of the bike in its environment and plot the location. The next day when I wake up and freak out because I forgot where I parked my bike, I look at my phone and boom there it is. I found that this works well with parking my car in the city.

I noticed that Badger also answer the questions “Where did you see that?” and it also helps you keep track of the location of the things you shared.

An other cool development is using pictures from Badger for interactive installations. At my birthday party the other day, I projected the latest pictures that where uploaded to Badger. The software would grab the latest image and use a microphone to make pixels grow according to the intensity of the music. The result was people taking pictures of themselves to be projected with pixels that got bigger to the music.

Here is an example of what people saw:

Image from Badger:

Image processed with low sound:

Image processed with high sound:

It was a pretty cool experience. And best of all this little experiment is opening the door for more interactive installations in the future!

Long story short, I am looking forward to have people upload bugs to my bugs badge since I enjoy looking at them so much! Also Halloween, it would be cool to see Halloween pictures from all over the country.

Post-Analog Fashion

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I came across this video from Alexander McQueen’s fashion show:

It reminded me of the automated system in the commercial fashion world. Mass production of clothing is now a job for robots so why not give them a shot at making fashion too… Actually this performance is more that just a fashion statement, its a reflection of society and the integration of technology in our life.

Trends in fashion mirror trends in society. The current state of humanity is the adoption of technology to enhance our lives. Mobile technology, algorithms and micro-computing are allowing us to patch our personal flaws. Having bad memory is easily solved with a smart phone which can remember things for you or help you google something on the spot, so remembering something becomes a little trivial…

Elizabeth Fuller's Life Dress

Embedded technology will be the next generation of mobile tech. Just imagine a pice of clothing, kind of like Elizabeth Fuller’s “Life Dress” but who’s capabilities go beyond just emission of light. What if it was a reception-emission model. In other words, what if each little light in the dress also had sensors that would study your environment for you and then the dress tells you what it found out.

Maybe its co2 sensors that tell you that you may be in trouble like Kristin O’Freil’s CORSET which reacts to high levels of CO2

Kristin O'Freil's CORSET

Maybe its like Nike+ that has a little accelerometer in one of the silicone squares. Maybe every little square is a different sensor!

The bottom line is that the embedding of technology in our garments has great potential to extend our abilities to comprehend our world. It will also let us know great correlations from the data gathered from our behavior.

Sooner than later we will see Smart Clothes which will be replacing our dumb clothing. I can’t wait for my self drying vest to go with my hover board!! =)

Great thanks to Mr. McQueen for laying the foundation for this great movement in the fashion world.

So Simple Yet Complex

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

This pie chart by lunchbreath, reminds me of the pac man pie chart I posted a while ago and who’s creator is a mystery.
critical data

Elections 2008 – Political Media Strategy for 2012

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I wrote this paper for a class in 2008 and thought it would be nice to post on my blog since I have not been posting as much as I would like. Keep in mind that this paper was written in 2008 and much has change in the Metaverse, Also I have added images for those who like to see pretty pictures in articles ;) The “Cloud” has exponentially become more complex, yet easier to understand with the addition of a very simple variable; Location.

Location based technologies such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook and Google will become very important as we move closer to 2012. The other important variable that is not as prominent today as it will be tomorrow is semantic data gathering and accessing. With that said, here is the paper I wrote right after Obama’s win in 2008.

NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)
Class: Elections 2008
Professor: Clay Shirky
Author: Oscar G. Torres

Political Media Strategy for Elections of 2012
November 14, 2008

The Presidential elections of 2008, was the culmination of a major shift in political campaign strategies in the United States. How did a democratic “underdog” gain steam and come in as the leading candidate in the general election of 2008?

The Republican Party is scratching their head wondering how John McCain lost the election. They will look back at the campaign trails and realize that they lacked a very important element that proved to be a vital player in gaining people’s vote. The Republican Party did not embrace amateur political campaigns and their effect on the general population.

Amateur political media is not a new concept in the campaign process. Picket signs, homemade t-shirts, printing newsletters or flyers with personal printers are all examples of media created by “average Joes” in the past. In the election of 2008 we saw a new and powerful medium take center stage. This new medium is not your traditional broadcasting system, its actually more that just a way to send messages to a large audience. Social media is the new player in politics and quickly became a major component in winning the trust of people. What makes a “YouTube” video different than a hand drawn sign, a flyer or t-shirt? The answer lies in the comment section of web sites like YouTube, Facebook and the thousands of blogs out there.

“5th Grade Reporter Interviews Vice-President Joe Biden” by CanalPointKECTV is a video where, as the title describes, a 5th grade kid interviews the Vice-Presidential candidate. Normally a traditional broadcasted video would be seen and probably talked about by people and their close friends, perhaps some co-workers as well. The conversation has now moved to YouTube where viewers have the ability to leave a comment on videos or respond to someone else’s comment. A new form of communication has been set in place. Since these web videos can be seen any time and anywhere (with internet access), it makes it convenient for a person to access them and add their thoughts.

The comments left on the specific videos are a rich source of information about people’s thoughts and intentions. You can even see the commenter’s profile and content they have personally contributed, videos they liked/ added as their favorite, and comments others made about the particular person. With all this data you can make pretty good assumption about the person or “user’s” state of mind and can make educated guesses about what their position will be when they are standing inside the voting booth.

Blogs are another form of communication that is making an impact on the campaigns of potential candidates. People can write articles for or against candidates. Those articles are then available for anyone to find, via search engine, email1311 link and/or word of mouth. A group of videos, images and links can form a pretty good argument about why someone should favor a particular candidate. Although blogs are not as popular as other news sources or publications, they reach a niche audience that has potential to be influenced by the content. Blogs are part of the new digital landscape that needs to be considered when running a campaign. Blogs and video content are being viewed in increasing numbers through the use of new devices such as cell phones and iPods. The ability to carry around the information with you has enabled people to scrutinize the data being viewed during their commute, lunch break or random times that lend themselves to a quick browse at the web content. The question is weather this information can be used to sway people to choose differently. And the answer, as we have seen from Obama’s campaign results, is yes.

Mobile communication will become major contributor to media distribution to the masses. Cell phones have become a hub that allows people not only to view web data, but also to contribute data to the “cloud”. Minutes after the announcement of Obama’s projected win, a mass celebration was captured and shared via mobile phone by my close circle of friends. I received text messages accompanied by cell phone pictures and videos from fiends at various locations such as Fort Green-Brooklyn, Times Square, Union Square and even California. Everyone was cheering physically and virtually as they posted images to flickr.com and facebook.com along with status updates to twitter and Facebook.

Sharing real time events is becoming a very popular trend. On the morning of November 4, as I was just beginning to undergo my morning routine, I received a text message with an image from a friend. The text read “yay!” and the picture was a voting booth. Although it is illegal in some states to take pictures of the voting booth when you are voting, there is no way so far to enforce this rule and prevent people from doing it. The result is people disregarding the rules out of excitement in most cases. If the uploading of data is happening while or with-in seconds of voting, what is happening while people are waiting in line to the voting booth?


They are uploading information to the web, downloading information or having conversations with others. This precious time is vital if you want to make a difference on the result. And the only way to get there is through the use of mobile technology.

Advice for the new presidential candidates is very simple, put together a teams of individuals whose sole task is to monitor and respond to amateur media content. These two groups of people should have access to technology that will allow them to listen to a large amount of data sources at the same time and quickly formulate a response to counter any attacks and to praise compliments. This system should automatically highlight and arrange content by subject, popularity and by the size, type and location of the group generating the content. An example of this can be an application that can scrape the information on major social sites such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that can then analyze and organize the content by a list of desired variables. The application should look for information revolving around key words, such as the candidate’s name and topics in his/her agenda. Data that matches the key words can then be organized by popularity, relevance, time, location, network, etc. as well as the time it was added to the web site or origin. Perhaps image analysis can be done to the thumbnails or images associated with the data. This way in YouTube’s case, you can consolidate redundant content and group content that indicates similarities among image content. This algorithm would allow the identification of a popular piece of media that exists in various contexts and who’s meaning may be different according to the context it is presented. One example of a media that is placed out of context to incite different messages is a YouTube video titled “Obama Youth – Junior Fraternity”.

A second strategy is to crowd-source the gathering of data revolving the candidate. Getting supporters involved in the acquisition, contribution and distribution of information that benefits the candidate is very important because the people that find the information can make it more semantic to the presidential campaign context. If there is a system that allows the general public to easily share information they stumble upon, with their favored candidate’s party, it will dramatically increase the awareness of the candidate about their campaign. This will allow for better decision-making on the direction of particular parts of the campaign. This system could take form in a website.

A web site that gathers data specific to a campaign and a candidate that is generated by people and allows everyone to see what others have contributed is a good experiment that has the potential to be a great source of information that affects the candidate’s campaign. The website should be set up to make it very easy for users to upload data, such as, images, videos, links, audio and text data. It is also very important to have a tagging system that will put all the data into context. The website’s database should be set up to allow information to be added via mobil phone, email1311, or text message. This way there can be supporting software that makes the process easy for anyone to use. All the information that is tagged, as it is gathered in a database, can then be accessed, processed and displayed in a comprehensive way that lists the information in order of importance to the candidate.

My main advice for the candidates of 2012 is to crowd source as much of the campaign as possible. Empower people to help you gain aware of what they are experiencing in their worlds. The substantial increase of digital media generation and distribution is too large for a candidate’s personal team to analyze all the data that is circulating the web. So why not lean on your supporters to be your eyes, ears and brains to help you analyze the data and report their findings back to you, free of charge. This awareness will allow your team to formulate a strategic response that will steer the votes in your direction and preventing an underdog to trample all over you. Unless of course that underdog has a better system to identify with everyone and gain trust, in which case no digital technology will be
able to help.

Make A Difference By Eating The Right Fish!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

After Watching “The End Of The Line” last night there was a lot of interest in the little guide to fish that shows you which fish are good and which are bad. I have included a guide below that you can print out and keep in your pocket when you go to your favorite restaurant!

Spoiler alert: There are a lot of fish out there that is bad to eat… Bummer.

This fish guide below is meant to be used in the north east region.
Click here to find other regions in the USA!

fishguide

Who Cares About Twitter

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

A lot of people still have question about how or why web sites like Twitter are valuable. Why would anyone care? I guess the simple answer is that people do care. They care about other people and about random things that is hard for anyone to predict. I may not care about cats but I may care about kittens, which is indeed a cat but not really. So is that it, twitter is important because people talk about things that we care about? No, that is not why. Twitter is important because it is a tool, a tool that we (anyone) can use to figure out what people are talking about, doing, interested in, etc.

With that in mind, lets take a look at some interesting Twitter integration.

I recently saw this awesome example of a twitter search and visualization. Its a literal representation of Clay Shirky’s book titled “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations”

The web site isparade.jp allows you to see what people are saying in a new context. A cartoon animated world where clusters of people march and display their tweet. So this is a new step of group awareness and the advancement for collective action.

Its not hard to see the value of these technologies once you see them working in front of you. It would be awesome if more companies had these tools. Well maybe we will not have to wait too long. Currently, most major web sites have released their APIs which allows people to use the data and functions that the web tools offer. It allows for companies an organizations to get creative in very unique ways. Lets look at the Grammys for instance. Would Lady Gaga be interested in what people think about her?
Maybe not, but her agent sure does. Not only her agent, but other fans care as well. And who cares about fans more than the agents? Organizations like the Grammys, so let them come up with a nice visualization tool to allow people to see what everyone else thinks about a specific artist. This is a group of people being aware of their collective thoughts, actions, intentions and even feelings. http://wereallfans.com is a venue that allows people to explore what other people think of a specific artist in real time.

As it can be seen from the example above, this information can be very confusing, but beautiful at the same time. So how do we make sense of all this information. The more information we have the more confusing things get. If you have tried to organize a group of people to do something, you may have already found out that each additional group member exponentially increases the complexity of the organization process. So what do you do when you are trying to get data from every single web site that has data available for you to digest? How do you make sense of Google Zeitgeist, Yahoo Buzz, Trend feeds, Twitter, Etc? Your traditional Pie chart or line graph is not enough. You will easily go from a nice little graph:

to something that looks like a barf from a computer:

The goal is not just to show data. It is to visualize data in a comprehensive way. To accomplish this task you come up with tools to sort data for you. Maybe tools like Zoe Fraade-Blanar’s “Current” tool which organizes data into digestible visuals.

You can also use other tools like Circos which looks,
like pac man on < insert drug name here .>

Going back to Twitter; Who really cares about twitter and its potential? People who want to know a little more about everything. The new question is: how are individuals going to be able to digest 4 years of information (twitter was launched in 2006) submitted by the masses?

Soon, we will all be walking data generators and we will have apps that give us summaries of what all our actions meant. This is not too far fetched if you look at projects like Nike Plus. And people have already started looking at ways to visualize life in general like Nicholas Felton who likes to map and visualize the data he collects in his every day life: