Today, the U.S. State Department launched HumanRights.gov, an attractive and informative website that not only should provide value to a community, but is branded in such a way to be emotional and connect with an audience beyond what the primary agency branding does or, perhaps, can. In their words, the site is “a portal for international human rights related information from the United States Government.”
Cars are now electronic mobile devices. At least according to Toyota and Microsoft, that is. Today Microsoft and Toyota announced a strategic partnership to build the “ultimate ‘mobile device.’” This 1 billion yen investment in Toyota Media Service, the partnership teams the companies to collaboratively build a global cloud platform to support next-gen telematics in Toyota’s hybrid and plug-in vehicles. Read more about this at Fast Company.
Which companies are the most innovative, and how is that related to how much they spend on research and development? And what are the advantages to being “innovative” on the bottom line? Forbes.com has the new rankings, data, and analysis for companies like Microsoft, Toyota, and more.
In the shadows of a looming U.S. government shutdown possibility, one of the victims may be Data.gov, among other “open government” websites making government and its workings and information more transparent and useful to the public. Data.gov and related sites are slated for a budget slash. But how much would a stagnant Data.gov really affect the open data movement? The Guardian (UK), in a piece aptly titled “the open data movement is bigger than just one site,” breaks down the budget numbers, the website traffic that the Data.gov actually gets, and alternative possibilities for where the data could still reside and be useful.
Conde Nast Traveler has an article on the youngest prime minister in the world, from the new country of Curacao (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). His youthful campaign tactics put some of the U.S. political campaign and “open government” initiatives in perspective. He says, “On billboards I gave out my BlackBerry PIN, so you could talk to me directly. I got 1,500 to 2,000 PINs back and created a database.” Now that’s Government 2.0, if you ask us.
USA Today recently reported (“How do companies stand out at SXSWi?”) that CBS was leveraging the augmented reality platform SCVNGR to promote its new TV series Chaos, about a group of rogue CIA spies. SCVNGR describes itself as “a game about doing challenges at places.” What SECTOR:PUBLIC wants to know is, when will the public sector get better at leveraging SCVNGR and similar platforms for government, educational, and other uses? (And will that look something like Interrobang?)
The Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect has been put to its most imaginative use yet, and it’s no game: saving lives. Surgeons and scientists are using the motion-sensing games controller in medical procedures and research, helping surgeons operate and more. Read more in a new CNET story, Microsoft Kinect Scrubs In.
Sunshine Week happened March 13-19, and was an effort by various journalism organizations to highlight government transparency. While some of it was certainly positive, with blog posts by White House and administration officials highlighting their Open Government efforts, Wired had a different take. Read more at David Kravets’ Wired Threat Level blog, where he highlights many ways in which is government is still opaque, particularly but not exclusively in the Legislative Branch.
On April 16th in Chevy Chase, MD (just outside Washington, DC), the Mobile Citizen Summit, or mCitizen Summit 2011, will take place. The mCitizen Summit is sponsored by Microsoft Windows Phone 7, and it’s a one-day learning laboratory for people interested in applying mobile technologies to empower, fuel, and drive citizen engagement in the public good. Co-founder Julie Germany writes more about mCitizen on the DCI Group blog.
Today, just outside Washington DC, USA Today is hosting a “Unite to Make a Difference” Education Forum and webcast. The event will feature superintendents from some of the country’s largest urban school districts and a host of education and industry leaders. You can join the conversation at the new USA TODAY Educate LIVE website, powered by Microsoft Town Hall technology, an online forum for submitting your questions and ideas for improving education in the United States.
Microsoft had a big hit with its Kinect extension for Xbox, with a big community of people 'hacking' it for new capabilities. But there’s more “natural user interfaces” where that came from. Fast Company reports that one project Microsoft Research is working on is “Skinput,” a system allows you to control devices by hitting specific points on your arm. Not a device on your arm. Just your arm itself.
Boston Dynamics, the developer of BigDog - a four-legged robot that became a YouTube star in 2008 - is now working on a humanoid robot called Atlas and a cheetah-like machine. The research, slated to have initial models coming down the assembly line in about 20 months, is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.