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Showing posts from April, 2012

Lies es nicht! A reminder of consumer-power

April 25 is the release-date for a short little electro-booklet that will pound us to dry out trash by simply not supporting it. The idea is simple: consumers have the power to get what they want and to get rid of what they don't want: Don't read it! If we don't read the awfully badly written advice-literature, then it will not be printed. If we don't click cyber-trash it will diminish. All that stuff works because people pay, directly - or indirectly by driving ad-prices through click-rates. Don't buy what you don't want. The german author Sina Hawk reminds us of that simple power in her booklet "Lies es nicht!" ("don't read it!") - it will be available at amazon for about 1.25 Euro. And since it is in german, I continue in german :) Ein Kilogramm Hackfleisch, gemischt, für 4 Euro. Billig. Saumäßig billig. Für diesen Preis muss man die Qualität vergessen - und wie man dieses Fleisch 'produziert', wie das Tier  aufwuchs, das mö

Invention, innovation and carrier pigeons

We live with the bold categorization of research as being either 'fundamental' or 'applied'. The emphasis in funding - and broadly in the public understanding - is on the supposedly more valuable *applied research*. Scientists engaged in fundamental research, on the other hand, are widely seen as geeks, as nerds in ivory-towers of academia, kind of wasting taxpayers' money for their personal entertainment, dabbling with expensive machines, finding ultrafast neutrinos and dismissing them again... At the same time innovation is imperative. So innovate we do. All the time. But seriously, what kind of innovation could we expect when we are asked to do research on optimizing the rubber of a tire, or if coerced to develop a better mp3? What can we expect if somebody pays our research to make cars more fuel-efficient? Certainly there would be some neat progress. Some nifty inventions. But innovation? Let's look back. What would we have gotten when, 30 years