Robert Bee's blog

BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Future of Computer Interfaces

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If you’ve ever seen Minority Report you may have been impressed with Tom Cruise’s gesture-based computer interface. The interface was cool and cinematic, as Cruise waved his arms around in swirls of colors, graphics, and information, but it required too much effort, your arms would get tired after awhile.

But it does raise an interesting question: will human-technology interfaces be radically different in the future? What will replace the mouse and keyboard?

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BEE-LINE TO THE FUTURE: The End of Progress

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Neal Stephenson, the famed SF author of mammoth novels, has just published an intriguing essay “Innovation Starvation” in the World Policy Journal (http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation). Stephenson worries that we can no longer build big things in this society: the space program has dwindled in significance, and we still have not solved the energy problems that plagued the country since the 70s. Overspecialization in the sciences and engineering has made it difficult to achieve large goals.

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SCIENCE FICTION MUSIC REVIEW: "Seeking Major Tom" by William Shatner (2011)

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Over the last ten years or so, I’ve greatly enjoyed William Shatner’s career, from his acting to his “musical performances.” I appreciate the camp and self-parody he displays on his CDs.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: Internet Personalization

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The co-founder of MoveOn, Eli Pariser recently published The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Pariser’s book discusses “Internet Personalization,” which is the tendency for Internet filters to adjust information to topics that you’re interested in and agree with. For example, Facebook has algorithms that filter the information encountered on the service. If Facebook sees that you are interested in rockabilly, it’ll feed you lots of information about rockabilly events in your area.

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SOFTWARE REVIEW: Out of the Park Baseball

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In Robert Coover’s novel The Universal Baseball Association, the protagonist Henry Waugh creates a detailed stats-based baseball game played with dice, similar to games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic that many of us played as kids and beyond. He creates entire seasons with his eight-team league, keeping intricate statistics for the players and teams. He imagines back-stories and personalities for his players, serving as the league’s official historian as he records reams of articles and pages.

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