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Archive for November, 2007

It took a good few years for most academics to accept the notion of online classes, and many still aren’t there yet. So try this one on for size: a college class in Japan is being taught entirely on cell phones. Now, not only can you “go to class” in pajamas, but you can do so while watching YouTube videos and chatting on IM… because– seriously – your computer can’t sit there idle for an entire class period.

The class is taught via Cyber University in Tokyo, which offers only online (and now, mobile) classes. The class consists of a powerpoint presentation downloaded to students’ handsets, accompanied by streaming audio of the professor’s lecture.

The university is majority-owned by Softbank, a dominant Japanese carrier. And herein lies the catch: the classes are currently only available on select Softbank phones. This will be an interesting company to watch, as I’m curious to see if this single class spirals into a full-fledged marketing play.

As a sidenote— the topic for the class: “Mysteries of the Pyramids.” Random for a jumping off point, no?

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When CoolHunting calls something “awe-inspiring,” it’s gotta be pretty nasty; Earthdesk does not disappoint. Check this out– you can add a dynamic snapshot of the Earth, constantly updating, right on your desktop (mac or PC- compatible). It’s completely customizable, so you can focus in on a specific city, on the sun or the moon, or switch around your viewpoint daily. You can see live-updating weather patterns, city lights, and track phases of day around the world. There’s a licensing fee of $23.95 for a single user ($39.95 for 5 licensees), but that price seems fairly reasonable given its current buzzfactor. I’d love to see a free trial option to get a better feel for it before committing… I have a suspicion it’s even cooler than it looks (which, incidentally, is similar to the suspicion most people have about me).

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Smashing Magazine tipped me off to some hot new User Experience technologies, some of which are absolutely too cool to pass by. In particular, I recommend checking out the video for Photosynth– the resolution on the images is absolutely insane, and their multidimensional navigation tools are incredible. It’s more than worth your seven minutes. Looks like they have some mapping apps up their sleeves as well. The demo received a standing ovation at TED2007, and I must say I almost stood up and cheered myself. (Okay, fine, I did.)

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Thanks to Read/WriteWeb for linking to Tim Berners-Lee’s post about the “Giant Global Graph,” a broader take on the trendy-yet-weighty “Social Graph” concept, and how it relates to OpenSocial. It’s great to see the “Father of the World Wide Web” talking about OpenSocial, as he’s tended to shy away from most Web 2.0 Topics Du Jour over the past few years. Perhaps the “GGG” will become the semantically-powered iteration of the “WWW.”

In a nutshell, Berners-Lee breaks down the evolution of computer networks into three stages:

1. The Net: connects computers

2. The Web: connects documents

3. The Graph: connects people and documents (thus forming relationships)

Berners-Lee goes on to cite the implications of the Social Graph on the Mobile Web, noting that the content itself will soon trump webpages as the primary module, thus making “the network and the devices tertiary.”

That said, I have an addition to his list:

4. The Web Outside: connects people, documents, and locations (thus forming relationships linked to –yet not contigent upon– real world nodes).

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Big congrats go to Ripple for inking a deal with Border’s Books and Music. They’re set to launch a screen network of 60 locations, starting in major markets including Chicago, LA, New York, and San Fran. We’ve met the Ripple folks on multiple occasions, and we wish them all the best for a quickly expanding network!

Congrats also go to IKEA for being lauded by the Massachusetts Association of Retailers for having the best in-store signage. Now, how about making that signage even more engaging?
Mobile-Interactive Swedish Meatball TV? Well, naturally…

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