Swapping dog poop for free Wi-Fi
May 7th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Swapping dog poop for free Wi-Fi

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - OK, I know this sounds ridiculous. But hear me out. An Internet company in Mexico City recently tested the idea of giving responsible pet owners a treat for picking up after their dogs in public parks.

People put their dogs' droppings in a special container which measured the weight of the poop. The container, which doubled as a router, then emitted a set number of minutes of free Wi-Fi for every pound of feces it collected.

Yeah, that's kind of gross. And no, there apparently was nothing stopping Wi-Fi cheaters from putting rocks or other heavy objects in the bins instead of dog poop. But it's yet another example of game mechanics getting tacked on top of the real world we live in - trying to influence our behavior, for better or worse, with rewards. The same kind we give to our pets. FULL POST

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Filed under: Environment • Gaming • Innovation • Internet • Tech
May 4th, 2012
03:11 PM ET

Ben Kaufman: Innovation happens outside the boardroom these days

Editor's note: Ben Kaufman is the CEO of Quirky.com, which helps inventors bring their ideas to the market. Kaufman is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.

By Ben Kaufman, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Ninety-nine percent of consumer product companies are incredibly disconnected from the people that they serve. The process of trying to learn about what those people want only creates more distance.

We used to live in a world in which Big Companies made things, and people bought them, sometimes because they were the right things, sometimes because they were the only things. Before the Internet came along, this kind of worked. Before the Web, people’s expectations of how, where and to whom they could express themselves were very low. FULL POST

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Culture • Design • Internet • Tech • The Next List
May 2nd, 2012
02:12 PM ET

This week on 'The Next List': Quirky.com brings invention to the masses

By The Next List staff, CNN

(CNN) - How many times have you been in the middle of a routine day then - BAM! - a great idea pops into your head. Maybe it's a way to solve some annoying problem or to make a household chore easier. But for almost everyone, the next thought is this: "Never going to happen.”

That’s because bringing a product to market takes so much more than having a great idea. Invention, it sometimes seems, is largely the domain of large corporations, people with access to big time cash or big-time connections.

And that’s where Ben Kaufman comes in. He’s the 25-year-old founder and CEO of Quirky.com, a start-up website that gives would-be inventors a place to go with their ideas.

The CNN show "The Next List" will feature Kaufman on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Check out the preview video above. FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Internet • Tech • The Next List • Thinkers • Video
May 1st, 2012
02:36 PM ET

How computer code could better our cities

Check out this CNN video. Code for America's Jennifer Pahlka explains.

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Filed under: Design • Innovation • Internet • Social change
5 extra-creative Webby Award winners
May 1st, 2012
02:29 PM ET

5 extra-creative Webby Award winners

By Doug Gross, CNN

(CNN) - The winners of the 2012 Webby Awards were announced on Tuesday.

Established in 1996, the Webby Awards are arguably the Internet's best-known honors.

After starting small, the Webbys now hand out more than 100 awards each year.

Many of each year's honorees tend to be celebrities, big companies or well-known online entities. Among this year's big winners are Pinterest (best social media app), photo-sharing app Instagram (breakout of the year), and the comedian Louis C.K., honored by the Webbys for creating "a new precedent for distribution" by releasing his comedy special through his own website.


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Filed under: Culture • Innovation • Internet • Tech
Do we really need digitally enhanced Google glasses?
This parody video imagines ads that could show up on Google's digital glasses.
April 5th, 2012
11:41 AM ET

Do we really need digitally enhanced Google glasses?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Google on Wednesday unveiled something really future-y: Glasses that display digital info on top of the real world.

The prototype glasses project all kinds of information - walking directions, instant messages, phone calls, weather info, calendar reminders and the location of your friends - on the world all around you.

That probably sounds pretty bizarre. So, first, check out Google's vision of how this will look: FULL POST

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Filed under: Design • Fashion • Future • Innovation • Internet • Tech
April 2nd, 2012
04:21 PM ET

How you can 'print' 3-D objects at home

If you hate waiting for days to get an item that you bought on the Internet, here's some good news. Now you may be able to print the object yourself, at home.

Here’s how it works: You design an object, and then a 3-D printer applies small strands of plastic in thin layers until it’s built your product. These machines have been available for professional use for years, but have only recently become (relatively) affordable for personal use.

“It’s about as close as you can get to teleportation,” says Bre Pettis, the inventor of MakerBot, one of the most popular 3-D printers. “It’s like physical objects over the Internet.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Design • Innovation • Internet • Tech
Ray Kurzweil on our 'machine-human civilization'
March 13th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Ray Kurzweil on our 'machine-human civilization'

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

Austin, Texas (CNN) – Any author or filmmaker seeking ideas for a sci-fi yarn about the implications of artificial intelligence - good or bad - would be smart to talk to Ray Kurzweil.

Kurzweil, the acclaimed inventor and futurist, believes that humans and technology are blurring - note the smartphone appendages in almost everyone's hand - and will eventually merge.

"We are a human-machine civilization. Everybody has been enhanced with computer technology," he told a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 tech-savvy listeners Monday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference. "They're really part of who we are.


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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Internet • Robots • Social change • Tech
DARPA wants to crowdsource the apocalypse
March 2nd, 2012
11:03 AM ET

DARPA wants to crowdsource the apocalypse

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - For being such a secretive and sometimes-frightening agency, DARPA also knows how to have a lot of fun with technology. In 2009, you may recall, DARPA, a branch of the U.S. Defense Department, set loose 10 red weatherballoons all over the contiguous United States and then paid $40,000 to the team that used social media to be the first to locate all of the balloons. What made the challenge so awesome was that no one person could possibly solve that puzzle alone. They had to use the Internet to do so.

A team from MIT (shocking, right?) won that contest in less than 9 hours.

Now the agency has launched a new project involving a global hunt for QR Codes. The "CLIQR Quest Challenge" started on February 23 and continues until Thursday at noon. DARPA says the contest is designed to "advance the understanding of social media and the Internet, and explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems." The blog TechCrunch saw right through that government-speak and declared, more or less, that DARPA was preparing to crowdsource the aftermath of the apocolypse: FULL POST

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Culture • Innovation • Internet • Smartphones • Social change
When making a game is a game in itself
February 10th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

When making a game is a game in itself

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Something strange happened earlier this week: The people of the Internet - not exactly known for their generosity - gave $1 million in a SINGLE DAY to an online game that hasn't even been created yet.

Not only is this a milestone for Kickstarter, the "crowd funding" platform that made these donations possible; it's also an experiment in, as the blog ReadWriteWeb aptly described it, making a game out of the game-making process.

The game is called Double Fine Adventure. As of Friday morning, it had raised $1.2 million on the promise that:

With this project, we're taking that door off its hinges and inviting you into the world of Double Fine Productions, the first major studio to fully finance their next game with a Kickstarter campaign and develop it in the public eye ... This year, you'll be given a front-row seat as they revisit Tim's design roots and create a brand-new, downloadable "Point-and-Click" graphic adventure game for the modern age. FULL POST

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Gaming • Innovation • Internet • Tech
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