In one person's career…

I interviewed Brian Dexheimer who works for Seagate. He’s worked there for 24 years.

He told me that when he started working for Seagate selling hard drives the devices were as big as a file cabinet, only held 300 megabytes, and cost $12,000.

The drives Seagate started selling this week are about the size of a paperback book, hold 500 gigabytes, and cost $200 retail.

I love this industry, don’t you?

I’m so glad Seagate sponsors my show over on FastCompanyTV.

Visiting the Library of Congress and Meeting the Flickr team

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I’ve always wanted to visit the Library of Congress (I shared a car once with THE Librarian of Congress, James Billington and he invited me to come and get a tour). If you haven’t been there, it’s the largest library in the world and their collection has about 14 million images.

But today was even better than just that. I met the team who manages millions of photos and images. You can even see a very small part of their work on Flickr.

I did some cell phone videos, which you can see here.

Part I. Meeting Helena Zinkham and introduction to prints and photographs division and discussion of how they get those images onto Flickr.
Part II. Meet the blogger from the Library of Congress. Now read his blog. He gives us a verbal tour of what is cool at the Library of Congress.
Part III. Stereograph collection (they have about 100,000 3-D images, I could spend hours just looking at these).

While there I learned about Flickr’s “commons,” which includes images from many of the world’s best public photo collections.

You can see thousands of images from the Library of Congress at its Flickr account, too.

Thanks Helena Zinkham for giving me a great tour and introducing me to many of the interesting images on Flickr.

Oh, before I forget, there’s a point to this post.

By opening up the images to Flickr they’ve gotten a ton of information about the images that they didn’t know. In my HD interview, which will be up in a few weeks, she shows me how people from around the world add onto the images with their own stories (one of the granddaughters of one of the photographers, for instance, gave the library a lot more details). This is a great example of what happens when you use these tools to open up items to discussion by everyone.

It’s so sad that there are still millions of photos that we can’t look at yet unless we visit Washington DC. The stereograph collection alone is unbelieveable. Hundreds of thousands of images — all categorized. I was lucky enough to take a look at a few and realized I could spend hours just looking through all of these.

I’m glad there are people who try to save all this stuff for future generations, though.

It also makes you realize just how far we are from getting all of the world’s knowledge and information available to us online.

Avoid the "fail whale" webinar

Ahh, here’s a free webinar coming up on October 9th: “Avoiding the ‘Fail Whale’.”


* Matt Mullenweg: Founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
* Paul Bucheit: One of the founders of FriendFeed and the creator of Gmail.
* Nat Brown: CTO of iLike, a music community service that had one of the first Facebook apps.

Aimed at entrepreneurs who are trying to plan their systems and avoid architectural problems like the ones that Twitter went through.

For those who don’t know, iLike had to scurry to find enough server space as they got millions of people in just a few days. Automattic is the publisher of WordPress and hosts this blog. FriendFeed is my favorite new service and I reload it hundreds of times a day and I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t get to the service.

Looking forward to this.

AT&T sees iPhone/voice controlled world

Mazin Gilbert of AT&T shows off research project

That’s Mazin Gilbert of AT&T showing off a research project to John Biggs, who runs CrunchGear, one of the best blogs that cover consumer electronics. You’ll notice the research project is running on Gilbert’s iPhone.

ComputerWorld wrote up the event
and you’ll see that iPhones played a key role in a lot what was demonstrated.

There CTO John Donovan showed me around, and in between a cool lab project that uses Second Life I kept noticing a trend. I visited the living room of the future (that’s what I called it) and they showed me a remote control that I could talk to “turn on CNN” and it did. But then they said “and you can do the same thing with your iPhone.”

Next to that was a cool search engine. “You can use your iPhone to find pizza.” And it worked. I want that!

Across the room was an online shopping service. Yes, you guessed it, you could use your iPhone to look up lots of things about the products you were thinking of buying.

Now, I’m being a bit over the top. It wasn’t all about the iPhone. Lots of stuff about videoconferencing and telehealth technologies too.

But I kept coming back to the iPhone-based world. It’s one that resonates with me.

Now, I think it’d be pretty weird for most people to talk to their iPhone to switch channels on their TV, but I could see a world where I could get rid of all my remote controls and that I could completely control via voice.

“Switch to ESPN.”

The demos they showed me worked pretty well. The living room scenario has a lot of edges that the engineers haven’t thought about yet. You can’t turn up the volume yet, for instance, because the prototype was actually a set top box that voice could control.

“Record ESPN.”

But think about the kind of world we’ll have when more and more of our services are available to be controlled by our voice.

“Turn off stove.”

To have such a world we’ll need devices that have been “IP-ized.” That way a voice controller could understand your voice (that part is getting very close to being done) and send your commands over via a, say, REST interface to the device.

That is further off. I know Dave Winer has had a Denon receiver for quite a while that’s had a Web server embedded inside of it (if you knew the IP address of Dave’s receiver and knew his password, you could turn on and off his receiver from anywhere in the world).

“Make it warmer in here.”

Imagining such a world where everything is controllable via voice. It’s an interesting idea, but the industry has a long way to go, even to just “IP-ize” all the consumer electronics hooked up to my TV.

That’s why the one thing I think you’ll see out of the research projects we were shown on Monday is a new search engine that uses data that AT&T has access to. An iPhone-based Yellow Pages.

“Order a pizza please.”

Oh, well, I’ll take my pizza, even if I won’t be able to control my TV anytime soon.