Floating in my bowl taking movies

Wish I was a Kellogg’s Corn Flake
Floating in my bowl, taking movies

Simon and Garfunkel, Punky’s Dilemma

Take a look at what Dr Curtis Ebbesmeyer does for a living. A retired oceanographer, he studies flotsam. I was reading about the flotilla of rubber ducks heading Britain’s way after they confounded earlier predictions and made it through the Garbage Patch. Apparently they’re due for landfall here any moment.

And it made me wonder. What if these ducks had had GPS? How much more information would we have gained?

We are heading towards a world where GPS-ed plastic ducks are part of the wisdom of crowds.

4 thoughts on “Floating in my bowl taking movies”

  1. Yes, that would have been a great experiment. GPS is the one technology that continues to surprise and delight with its unexpected benefits. It is hard to believe that this was a Pentagon project. (and it is a wonderful example of how you can make a lot of money, albeit indirectly, by making it free)

    An example of the unexpected. I bought a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch, believing that knowing how fast and far I am running would improve my training.

    Yes it did help but by far the most important contribution was something I did not expect at all. In recording the data I was automatically creating a running logbook, something that previously I had always tried to do but always failed to do.

    And I found some weeks later that it was this automatically created running logbook that was doing more to motivate and improve my training than anything else.

    To take advantage of the law of the unexpected we must, to quote an infamous leader, ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’.
    And this is why we must fight tooth an nail the stifling effects of DRM, copyright extensions, software patents and other attempts to maintain monopolies. They deny us the delights, surprises and progress that always comes from the unexpected.

  2. I love how Moore’s Law is driving pervasive computation, sensing and communication.

    Can you imagine a world where everything touchable (and some things that aren’t) radiates waves of identity, their status/situation, what they want and what they offer?

    That’s presence. That state of being in, or at least near, the now.

    Putting that noisy cacophony to use is presence too. Assembling related sources into sensor networks. Correlating information to discover interesting or actionable patterns. Making markets among people/things who can help each other (like helping a roomba robot and a power outlet discover each other and negotiate services with each other).

    With GPS you might have had your rubber ducks not just report their positions but, with a little adaptation, flock (not terribly useful to the gent studying flotsam). Personally, if I was sticking smarts in rubber ducks, I’d help them sing in chorus, changing songs with their environs.


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