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Every once in a while some new, little-noticed technology arrives on the scence that has the potential to disrupt the status quo. The software dKos and other blogs use is an example (scoop). I noticed two items yesterday which may qualify.

The first is some new software that can make anyone a Rush Limbaugh on the cheap. The second is a new kind of solar cell with five times the conversion efficiency of current cells that can be, literally, painted on any surface.

More below the fold.

1. A new p2p broadcast technology is now avilable from Peercast at:

http://www.peercast.org/

What is important about this software is that it reduces the amount of bandwidth required for streamcasting. Streamcasting is just a fancy word for continuous broadcasting, like a radio station or television broadcast. In other words, with this software ANYONE can become a radio personality with a HUGE audience at minimal cost.

The problem with current methods of internet radio broadcasting (Shoutcast, etc.) is that all connections are at a central server, whose owner must pay the full costs of the bandwidth used (it's all about bandwidth). Peercast has developed software that uses the Gnutella p2p networking technology to spread the bandwidth costs out among all listeners. Anyone with kids who listen to internet radio knows that bandwidth costs can mount up in a hurry. Or just ask kos how much his bandwidth costs every month.

So, if you think you've got the right stuff, you can now go online, live, and bloviate to your heart's content. You can now cheaply produce your own 24/7 radio broadcast or low-bandwidth television broadcast. You can stream music or videos LIVE. This is politically disruptive technology at it's very best. Talk about power to the people. This may be the death knell for right-wing dominance of talk radio. I wouldn't rush out and write a bunch of naked calls on Clearchannel Communications just yet, but the handwriting may be on the wall.

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The second item of interest is this development out of Canada:

http://www.canada.com/technology/story.html?id=33fd3e6d-70d9-41d8-8c80-20a9d1cbf555

Here are the money quotes:

"Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that's five times more efficient at turning the sun's power into electrical energy than current methods.

The discovery could lead to shirts and sweaters capable of recharging our cellphones and other wireless devices, said Ted Sargent, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university."

The big question will be economic feasibility, as usual, but if it works out to anywhere near $0.50/kwh, it's a winner. Sell your oil stocks if this one works out.

Of course, the big political benefit of this technology would be to sever US dependence on supplies of crude oil located in politically unstable locations and reduce the massive influence energy companies have on foreign policy.

Originally posted to skrymir on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:31 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cool stuff. (none)
    Although I would suggest, just like "all politics is local", "all technology has political implications".

    That said, thank you for highlighting these potentially especially impactful items.

    And now I'll butt in with a note I just received from the DDN mailing list, because this seems like a good place to put it (hope the diarist doesn't mind):

    from A.J. Mollo of DDN:

    I'd like to call attention to the report just released by the Pew Research
    Center and Elon U. School of Communications. "The Future of the Internet" is
    a 62 page PDF document, the link to which can be found at
    http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/145/report_display.asp

      Over 1,200 experts were surveyed on the future of the internet and its
    impact on society and individuals' lives. While the findings may not be
    earthshaking to the readers of this list, they should provoke some lively
    discussion about where the internet is headed over the next decade and
    whether or not those who are not onboard can ever catch up to this
    fast-moving train.

    Threats to the very infrastructure of the internet, disappointment at the
    failure of education to quickly embrace change (?!), and doubts about the
    role of online democratic process are just a few of survey's findings.

    Also of interest is the database maintained by Elon U. of more than 4,000
    predictions made over the last 10-15 years about the direction of the
    internet. Check them out at http://www.elon.edu/predictions/

    AJM

    ...to see America turn, and to know that we helped it in the turning. - John Kerry, 1971

    by MH in PA on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:37:36 AM PST

    •  There may be attacks.... (none)
      but , IMHO, they won't be that disruptive. Unless the attackers can manage a massive 'denial-of-service' attack, the internet is designed to route around damaged and clogged networks. Once Microsoft figures out that they can't leave these dumb vulnerabilities in their operating systems, the chance of someone gaining control over enough 'zombie' machines to launch a big attack will be slim. The big danger would be a physical attack on nodes of the high-speed backbone - this would screw things up royally.

      Progressive Rationalism is NOT a skin disease.

      by skrymir on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 09:55:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There will be attacks (none)
        And they will be legal ones.  Either the Bush Administration (and its hopeful successors) or the Internets must go.  The Dark Side will not go without a fight.

        Rubus Eradicandus Est.

        by Randomfactor on Tue Jan 11, 2005 at 10:27:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's the democrats too (none)
          who are trying to stop internet technology.  See the
          INDUCE Act sponsored by none other than Barbara Boxer and thank-god-he's-gone Tom Daschle.  

          Democrats are slaves of Hollywood just as much as Republicans are slaves of Halliburton.  Hollywood would like nothing better than to kill the internet for reasons having nothing to do with copyrights.  Quite simply, the internet means we have less use for Hollywood's products.  Even TV viewership is down because of the internet.

          Dems need to stay out of the way of progress and let the internet expand.  If the internet rolls over Hollywood, well, Hollywood has made some good movies over the years but its day is over.  We'll have replaced it with something far more important.

  •  Since this appears to be a form of Nano (none)
    technology, will there be issues of nano pollution. (Spare me the jokes that it would be too small to notice.)
  •  on the P2P stuff (none)

    I'd rather like to see extended coverage with multicast-able ISPs/peerings some time BEFORE IPv6 gains wide acceptance.

    The upside is the same (reduced bandwidth at the sender) and edge traffic (as total traffic) is greatly reduced.

    Peercast only reduces the traffic at the "senders" edge, but the topology sucks overall compared with multicast.

     

  •  My tech picks. (none)
    1. Improved Voter Databases  In Larimer County, Colorado, you can vote anywhere you want.  A voter registration database is checked, you name is marked as voting, and you are given a ballot appropriate to your precinct.  It is only a short time before this will happen at a state level.  Denver, Colorado has a similar system, but it applies only for early voting.  For example, Maryland already has a statewide EMS system, and I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the next decade, a voter in Maryland will be permitted to vote at any polling place in the entire state.  This will revolutionize get out the vote, and if, as I suspect, political parties will have real time access to the data base on election day, it will greatly change how resources are allocated on election day -- with less focus on busy work and more on getting voters to the nearest possible polling place.

    2. Telecommuting  We are just starting to see the onset of virtual offshoring, where services are provided overseas from places like India at lower cost via phones and other telecommunications technology.  In the next couple of decades, this will do to the technology, education and financial centers of the United States what moving manufacturing centers abroad did to the rust belt.

    3. New Drugs/Old Drugs  New drugs are going to revolutionize the treatment of common diseases like cancer, tooth decay and heart disease, but will come with a very high price.  Today's hot drugs are going to go generic, leaving an increasing pool of "pretty good medicine" that makes not getting the new drugs look less dire.  Who will get the new drugs and how they will be paid for is going to be a major political issue.

    4. Hybrid drives  Hybrid drive vehicles can operate at any scale from a train locommotive (where they are already common) to a compact car.  They can work with diesel or gasoline motors.  Twenty years from now, the vast majority of vehicles on the road will be hybrids.  This will put a lid on emissions growth and domestic oil demand.  Conservatives will use this to argue that no further action is necessary.  Liberals will push to implement this technology sooner and take the next steps to retool ourselves for rail and fully electric vehicles with a still undetermined type of battery.
  •  and another thing (none)
    Before investing any brain power into their new p2p scheme, peercast.org should try to grok ECN and configure their firewall accordingly.

    Sheesh.

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