America’s Innovation Deficit

Judy Estrin – former Cisco CTO – has written a book entitled Closing the Innovation Gap.

She is Featured today in a article at Wired.

America is facing an innovation crisis. To fix it, corporations need to find new ways of funding fundamental research into physics and environmental sciences.

There is no question this is true. If you operate outside the echo chamber of the Bay Area you know this is the case. We have completely abandoned fundamental research in basic science. With China and India churning out advanced degrees in science and engineering at fantastic rates the numbers in the US continue to decline. While we continue to price our children out of higher education while other countries seek to educate their way of third world status.

It is even worse in the corporate world:

“Corporations focused on efficiencies and productivity started to make research more short term and tailored to the company’s needs,” says Estrin in an interview with, “with the result that most research done at corporations now is applied research.”

Neglecting research in basic science also has big repercussions for computing and other applied science areas, because many innovations, such as the transistor, originated in basic research, not applied research.

So new innovation models have to be created to fill the vacuum created by the cutbacks in corporate research spending, says Estrin.

The net effect of this is that the base innovation fired by research is being done outside the US. Most of our large established corporations are openly hostile to innovation (see the behavior of the telecoms where VoIP is concerned). Our patent system has become a significant barrier to research and innovation – not because you might get sued by a patent holding company, but because of the risk injected into the process of innovation.

This is what happens when you are so busy protecting what you have that you fail to recognize what comes next.

Read the article and the book…

Snowl: Drinking water through a fire hose?

There is a new Mozilla project called Snowl that is supposed to bring all of you communications together…
Take a look and let me know… doesn’t this look like drinking water through a fire hose? I know just keeping up with my RSS, Twitter and Facebook information is impossible. At what point is too much… just TOO MUCH?

Mozilla Labs announced a new project today called Snowl. It is an add-on for Firefox that aims to bring all of your messages together in one place, whether it is from email, SMS, Twitter, or RSS/Atom feeds. The project right now is an early, buggy prototype that only supports RSS/Atom feeds and Twitter. So that is nothing special.

But once email and SMS is folded into the mix, it could become a very powerful messaging center, built right into the browser. It will allow you to search through all of your messages and feeds, both public and private, no matter where they originate.

[From Snowl: Unified Messaging In Your (Firefox) Browser]

Free World Dialup moving to $30 annual membership

From Jeff Pulver’s blog this morning comes news that FWD (Free World Dialup) is going to begin charging for VoIP Service. FWD has long had a very large user base and significant challenges generating any revenue from that base… they’ve seen Vonage, Broadvoice etc create businesses from the basic idea they’ve been working since 2001.

Full post from Pulver’s Blog

I do not see this as a bad thing… FWD will need to generate revenue to survive in the near/mid term. This, however, doesn’t really change the reality that the cost of making a call is on a steady march to 0.

more after the jump…

Continue reading “Free World Dialup moving to $30 annual membership”

AZ Should be Trumpeting this from every rooftop – Phoenix Lander Has Touched Martian Water For the First Time

Everyone (and there are A LOT of them) who say Arizona is a engineering, math and science wasteland should read this and understand just how big of a deal for Arizona this is. The UofA is leading this entire mission from Tucson – for the first time in the history of NASA. The mission has been wildly successful and many, many Arizona educated engineers and scientists were at the fore.

Congrats to everyone down at UofA – and thanks for reminding us (Arizona), the US and the world that the future in AZ is bright (not just sunny).

NASA just announced that the Phoenix Lander has successfully scooped up a Martian water ice sample and placed it in its oven for scientific analysis. “Mars Odyssey discovered this ice six years ago, but we’ve now touched it and tasted it, which is something that hasn’t been done before,” said a scientist at today’s press conference. The sample has been dubbed the “Wicked Witch” (because it’s meeeelting, meeeelting—get it?) and it will continue to be analyzed over the course of the coming weeks as data trickles in. Exciting, exciting stuff from this very successful mission. More details are rolling out right now.

The team has also decided to extend the mission to the end of the fiscal year, to a full 126 martian Sols (was scheduled for 90 sols initially). A new full-color, 360° panorama should hit the web soon as well. [NASA]

[From Phoenix Lander Has Touched Martian Water For the First Time [Water On Mars]]