Local funding in real life.

The gap between theory and reality can be pretty wide and deep. Especially if it is your faith, like mine,  to live on that razors edge of dreams and economics.

A while back I proposed  the idea, that a combination of crowd sourcing/design thinking/crowd funding could help to develop projects that benefit the locals and are funded by the locals.

Here is a real life example of a local architect and a local entrepreneur who wanted to build an underground park, yes you read it correctly an underground park…..but that’s not where the story ends, the local community believes so much in this project  that they decided to fund it themselves.  I will leave the technical details for you to explore in the link bellow, but as a reference they still have 8 days on the clock and are already 50+ % above target.

You may wonder why I am such a strong supporter for social funding, let me explain it without the abstractions and the jargon:

Imagine that you are walking through this park with a local person as your tour-guide, sooner or later you will hear this phrase pass his lips: “Our community made this park happen… for us…..and for the generations to come” , and as you notice the twinkling in his eyes you realize that it wasn’t due to the sunlight from above but the pride from within. That reaction of empowerment is social funding to me.

Now back to reality, yes that persistent and all-encompassing reality which you  can’t avoid……..but you are able to hack it! Therefore the most obvious question is: “how do you get natural sunlight into an underground park?”  The hack has elegance, but I will let you find it out for yourself, its cooler that way LowLine.


Crowd funded journalism

I assume that everybody at one point or another, has wondered why certain “news” is… well… news. Shouldn’t  newsworthiness be more constant?  And what about  following important news subjects  to the end,i mean has global warming been fixed ?!  Was it just me who didn’t get that memo and what story is big enough to bump something like that anyway!?  How are we suppose to fix things great and small if the focus keeps changes? Who is to blame for  this  ‘news schizophrenia’  which creates a perpetual state of mild confusion  at best and a  persistent unconscious anxiety at worst?!.

All ranting aside, this is a problem and apparently there are some people who seem determined to fix it, at least a part of it, so much so that they launched a kick starter project for a new long-form journalism magazine called “MATTER”.

The crowd support for MATTER has been phenomenally successful, the initial goal was 50K, while at the time of writing  the counter is on 124K ( and still 8 days left). Obviously the message resonated with people. The magazine wants to  focus on subjects that are important and therefore demand more time and dedication than regular magazines can afford. Most of the revenue for this long-form journalism will be on  pay per view scheme with a standard fee of  0.99 dollar per article.

But this method of crowd funded journalism is not without its critics, out of the blogosphere there has been substantial critic on the longevity of a magazine being funded in this manner. I belief some points are valid but I feel that the staggering amount of crowd funded capital is not getting its due credit, crowd funding is the closes to ‘democratizing demand’  as we are able to get, instead of market research firms and/or product marketeers who push products onto the market assuming consumers will purchase it,the crowd can now  pull  products into the market, products they wish to have. This is significant not only from a consumer empowerment perspective but also from an ecological perspective,less unneeded products being produced, also read Don Lehman ‘s excellent article on the subject.

There are several hurdles that MATTER needs to successfully overcome in the coming future, but the crowd has given its stamp of approval and that should count for more than it does now.

human genome – when science catches up with science fiction


Gattaca is a film written and directed by Andrew Niccol, it tells the story of a not to distant future where the human race is obsessed with the human genome.  Crudely said, your genome determines you standing in life, the better your genome the better your career options and vice versa.

The film itself is intimate and engaging  Andre Niccol’s characters are believable and well acted and accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that glides you through the film. But I always considered the story to be a metaphor to our society, that human spirit should not, and in this case cannot, be stifled by a rigid system. I never considered the possibility that the story could be an early warning  for a realistic future.

Until recently mapping the human genome was a long and difficult process, which made it very expensive. Consequently, very few people on the planet could say that they “know their genome”, making the pro’s and con’s discussions about human genome, really not that relevant.

But times are changing, and exceedingly fast it seems. There are several genome sequencing companies active at the moment, navigenetics, 23andme and decodeme. That offer to sequence your genome,  for varying prices of 200 to 1100 dollars, the difference in price seems to depend on how much you want to know about yourself.

This puts genome sequencing in the hands of the common man and this lowering of the threshold will help fill the data bases of the genome companies with the potential to mine the data, for better or worse. However, Gattaca does not have to become reality, says Lone frank, a science writer and author of the book “my beautiful genome”.

Only time will tell if humanity is mature enough to use this technology for the greater good. However, one thing is clear, human genome sequencing is going to become a fact of daily life  for everyone within the next 5 to 10 years, its simple a matter of time before the sequencing machines are economical enough to sit in your  doctor’s office.

3d printed panoramic ball camera


Simple solutions to hard problems always fascinate me, elegance rules. Panoramic camera’s have been around for a while but the quality has been a little lacking and honestly it never was 360 degrees, the top and bottom were often missing.That is why Jonas Pfeil solution is so interesting. Now the title of Jonas Pfeil final university thesis  is ‘Throw able Camera Array for Capturing Spherical Panoramas’, ‘throw able camera’ seems like a strange string of words,  like ‘ throw able glass’  or ‘dispensable babies’ , but anyway out of this, the panoramic ball camera was born.

The ball consists of 36 camera of 2 megapixel mobile phone camera’s, they are fixed by a 3D printed skeleton, which is so intrinsically made that it seems to be the best manufacturing method for the job. see here for further information.

The throw ball is an elegant solutions for 3 reasons  1) the pictures are taken at the high point of the throw where it is the most still, now by taking the picture at that moment the ghosting or blurring of people/cars/animals that occurs due to movement, is radically reduced 2)  the ball is not mounted on a ‘tripod’ or other device, that means that this camera can make pictures of the ground as well as the sky, making its pictures true 360 degree panoramic.3) you throw a ball into the air…it really doesn’t get much simpler than that.

This isn’t a tool that you use to get pristine pictures of undisturbed landscapes or for the interior of houses that are up for sale, more for city trips or outdoors activities, since you’ll always see the person who threw the ball. But all in all its an elegant  and fun solution for a complex problem.

You cannot buy this product yet, Jonas Pfeil has patent(s) on the camera so chances are that it will be available in the near future.