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  • Pacific Northwest Earthquakes Could Strike Closer to Home

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    Tectonic movement close to home >>>


    Major earthquakes occurring along the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Washington state could strike closer to the state’s urban areas than some models have suggested, a new study notes.

    sciencenewsGPS data gathered at dozens of sites throughout western Washington hint that slippage along the interface between the North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates could occur as deep as 25 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, says Timothy I. Melbourne, a geodesist at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. That depth, in turn, would place the epicenters of quakes triggered along that portion of the subduction zone — some of which could exceed magnitude 9 —more than 60 kilometers inland, he and CWU colleague James Chapman report online and in the November 28 Geophysical Research Letters.

    Seafloor spreading is shoving the eastern edge of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, which runs from northern California to southern British Columbia, eastward beneath the North American plate. Long-term observations indicate that the plates are converging at an average rate of between 3 and 4 centimeters each year, says Melbourne. “With GPS, you can see plate tectonics happening on a week-to-week basis,” he notes.

    At shallow depths, where Earth’s crust is relatively cool, the tectonic interface is locked, and seismic stress builds up there until it is released during a quake. But deep beneath western Washington, at depths between 25 and 45 kilometers, the two tectonic plates slide past each other for a few days each 18 months or so. These slippage episodes are sometimes described as “silent earthquakes” (SN: 4/27/02, p. 260) but actually do register on seismometers, says Melbourne. “They’re like a magnitude-1 quake but they go on for a couple of weeks,” he notes. The total energy release in each slippage episode, if let loose all at once, would equal that in a quake with a magnitude between 6.3 and 6.7.

    NOAA Ocean Explorer: Submarine Ring of Fire 2002: Explorer RidgeThe long-term GPS data provide information about where slippage is occurring and how the plates are deforming. For instance, while average plate convergence rates offshore are greater than 3 centimeters per year, those along the coast are about 2.5 cm/yr. Convergence inland, near Seattle, only adds up to about 0.5 cm/yr, says Melbourne. These trends, when combined with previous seismic data, hint that stress is accumulating along the tectonic interface at depths less than 25 kilometers, where the tectonic interface is locked.

    GPS data are a more direct way of telling where tectonic slippage is occurring and where it isn’t, says John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “That data from both GPS and seismic instruments are pointing in the same direction is comforting,” he adds.

    A major quake rupturing the 300-kilometer length of the Cascadia subduction zone that runs along the Washington coast would measure magnitude 8.9, Melbourne and Chapman estimate. If the entire 1,100-kilometer subduction zone slipped at once, the quake would be a magnitude-9.2 whopper rivaling the tsunami-spawning quake that slammed Indonesia in December 2004 (SN: 1/8/05, p. 19). Field studies suggest that quakes of such magnitude happen along the Cascadia subduction zone once every 550 years, on average. The last one struck the region in January of 1700 (SN: 11/29/97, p. 348).

    Quake hazard analyses for the region, based partially on seismic data, already account for possible tectonic slippage at depths of 25 kilometers, says Garry Rogers, an earthquake scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada in Sidney, British Columbia. Nevertheless, he notes, the new findings provide “more precise measurements than we’ve had before…. This study confirms a lot of what we’ve known about.”

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  • Get Inspiring National Geographic Images to Use as Desktop Wallpaper

    As an amateur photographer, I like to have a nice image as my desktop wallpaper to provide me with some inspiration throughout the day. Thanks to a post on freewaregenius, I just discovered that National Graphic magazine makes a huge selection of inspiring images available for desktop wallpaper use for free.

    You can get National Geographic wallpapers from two locations. The first is in the main photography section of the site. Wallpapers here are handily categorized (Adventure & Exploration,  Nature & Weather, Underwater, etc). Unfortunately, the images available in this section are only a maximum of 1280 pixels wide, which isn’t big enough for many of today’s monitors, although they should be fine on most laptops.

    Fortunately, you can also use images submitted to National Geographic’s International Photography Competition, and these are available in larger sizes (up to 1600 pixels wide). These photos aren’t categorized — you need to browse by month, but flicking through the range of beautiful images isn’t much of a chore. I currently have this image of melting ice set as my desktop background.

    If you’re still looking for more images, another great location to try is Flickr’s Explore page, which always has a huge selection of interesting and inspiring pictures.

    Where do you get wallpaper images from?

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  • After 35 Years, Another Message Sent From Arecibo

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    Likely the highest, best example ever of what digittante is all about: creative expression using the latest technology >>>

    0xdeadbeef writes "Two weeks ago, MIT artist-in-residence Joe Davis use the Arecibo radio telescope to send a message to three stars in honor of the 35th anniversary of the famous Drake-Sagan transmission to M13 in 1974. It was apparently allowed but not endorsed by the director of the facility, and used a jury-rigged signal source on what will now be known as the 'coolest iPhone in the world.' The message encoded a DNA sequence, but no word yet on whether it disabled any alien shields. You can get the low-down on Centauri Dreams: Part 1, Part 2."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Thanks to Megan Seling at Seattle's rocking alternative weekly, The Stranger, for bringing this to my attention. No matter how tired you might be from hearing Arcade Fire's debut Album Funeral in every coffee and hipster resale shop, buck up and listen to it again performed by a the Seattle Rock Orchestra:


Megan notes:

I wish the video could do it justice—to have been there in person, sitting just a row or two away from the mess of instruments, getting the perfect mix, and hearing every subtle shift of dynamics in each song... it was amazing.

The Seattle Rock Orchestra is going to do this again in February, when they celebrate the work of David Bowie.

If you dig this then be sure to 'fan' the SRG on their Facebook page: Seattle Rock Orchestra.

Source: The Seattle Rock Orchestra Does the Arcade Fire | Line Out | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper.

I learned recently there's no standard accepted definition for the term 'robot'. Is it anything automated to repeat the same function, must it be autonomous, can it be self-powered, must it change location or be self-guided? Does it require sentience to be a robot, or is that a cyborg? If we made it (versus it regenerating or procreating itself) does that mean it's a robot?

If theres a continuum between 'us' and 'them' where on that line is the Donut Maker Robot II, and how far away from Toasters and Cylons would it be?

  • Man Spoke Only Klingon to His Son for Three Years [Star Trek]

    d'Armond Speers isn't really a huge Star Trek fan. The reason he spoke only in Klingon during his son's first three years of life was to learn about the language acquisition process. Yeah, sure. What a petaQ.

    Yes, I think That Speers is such a horrid person that I had to learn how to say so in Klingon from our intern Don. It just baffles me that Speers actually sounds genuinely proud of his personal pseudo-academic project:

    I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language. He was definitely starting to learn it."

    It's great that he wanted to see how languages are picked up, but did he not think that there's potential that he hindered his son's social development by keeping focus away from a real language? I'm all for teaching foreign languages early on, but lets make it ones that are spoken on this planet, please. [Citypages viaGeekologie]

    Photo by Star Wars Blog, probably not d'Armond Speers.

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  • Punks Assault People, Post Video w/Their Names in Credits

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    Smart F*cking Punks At It Again >>>

    A video of a group of boys knocking bikers over, tackling unsuspecting runners from behind, shoving kids and generally threatening folks for what appeared to be the pure fun of it was posted with the assailants identifying themselves in the credits. Cops got involved and the punks took the video down, but we have it right here.

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  • Google Backs Out Of NewsHour Debate With Open Book Alliance, And I Don’t Blame Them

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    Update on Google's attempts to secure & digitize all books >>>

    There was lots of news late last week about a proposed modification to the Google Books settlement agreement. Today there was going to be more news – a televised debate about Google Books on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour. But, alas, Google backed out.

    The details are of the fight are subtle, but all the hubub centers around what’s broadly called orphan works – where it’s hard to figure out the author/rights holder of a given work. Depending on how broadly you define orphan works, they make up between 2 million and 8 million of the 15 million or so books that have been published in the U.S. And while this is the apparent battleground, the real fight is over the whole Google Books scheme.

    Google says they’re saving humanity, or something close. Which is probably a stretch. Their opponents, fueled by donations from Google competitors (among others), says Google wants to “establish a monopoly over digital content access and distribution; usurp Congress’s role in setting copyright policy; lock writers into their unsought registry, stripping them of their individual contract rights; put library budgets and patron privacy at risk; and establish a dangerous precedent by abusing the class action process.”

    As usual, Paul Carr sorts it all out for us. And while the details of a legal settlement on how the rights around digitized copies of old printed books aren’t exactly riveting, the players involved sure do make it a lot of fun to watch.

    …Because the Open Book Alliance isn’t led by just anyone. No, one of the guys in charge over there is Gary Reback (pictured above). The man who many credit with taking down Microsoft. I interviewed Reback a few months ago, and Google Books was one of the topics we discussed.

    Reback was set to go on NewsHour to debate Google Books with the engineer that does most of the talking for Google – Dan Clancy. Both are quite able to defend their positions intelligently. Or at least, they would have. Clancy never showed up, leaving Reback at the studio, alone.

    Why did Google back out? According to Reback, Google told the show that they didn’t want to put an engineer against a lawyer on TV: “They said I was a lawyer but Clancy was not, so the debate would be unfair.” Reback says that’s ridiculous. “Clancy goes around pedaling his story and appearing on panels with lawyers all the time,” he said (which is true). Reback also notes that “Google has hundreds of lawyers, dozens of whom have worked on this. Surely, they could find a lawyer to debate if they were afraid to put Clancy up” (which is also true).

    For their part, Google says they aren’t interested in debating the legal niceties of Google Books on broadcast television. Gabriel Stricker, head of search communications at Google, says that they were told Harvard profession Robert Darnton would be their opponent on the debate (his thoughts on Google Books are here, and wow he desperately needs an editor), and that Reback was added at the last minute. When they found out about the change, Stricker says, it was too late to find an appropriate Google attorney as a replacement.

    Stricker says Google wants to have a “philosophical and ideological conversation about Google Books” in front of a mainstream TV audience, not a legal debate. And he adds “the fact that Gary finds it necessary to try to create conflict surrounding the existence of the conversation is exactly why we would prefer not to have a conversation with him.”

    And I don’t blame him. Reback is the last person I’d want to debate anything with on TV.

    Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

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  • 5 Impressive Real-Life Google Wave Use Cases

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    Somethings to help get you over Google Wave's conceptual learning-curve >>>

    breaking waveThe Google Wave invite rollout extravaganza started more than a month ago. While in some respects the buzz around Google Wave has started to subside, the term is still constantly one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and new gadgets, extensions, and applications are now starting to appear on a daily basis.

    Each day more and more people are opening up their email inbox to find an invite to Google Wave. With that shiny new invite comes the inevitable quest for ideas about to how to put the medium to good use.

    Should you happen to be one of those people, we’ve got a number of different resources that you can use to get up to speed with Google Wave. This time around, however, we wanted to look at how people are actually using it now. From process modelling and customer service, to project collaboration, annotation, and gaming, the examples listed here highlight the power of the newborn medium, and in part, showcase what we can expect as the platform matures.

    1. SAP Gravity: Modeling within Google Wave

    Understanding the power of real-time collaboration and its relevance to clients, SAP Research in Australia has developed a business process modeling tool called Gravity that works within Google Wave.

    The sophisticated tool, which can be embedded within a Wave as a gadget, allows for team members to remotely build complex models in unison, or after catching up via playback, without having to leave Google Wave.

    Gravity and Google Wave work together harmoniously to create a modeling environment that appears to be just as robust as, if not more flexible than, expensive desktop software built for the same purpose.

    We think SAP is certainly on to something here, and we encourage you to watch the video demonstration of Gravity in Google Wave in action.

    2. Salesforce: Google Wave for Customer Service

    Salesforce, like SAP, has figured out that they can use the Google Wave platform to support client needs and tackle real-life problems. As such, Salesforce has created a Google Wave extension that clients can use to help automate, and even personalize, the customer service experience.

    Watch the demonstration video to see how the Salesforce extension gives customers the ability to use Google Wave to interact with an automated support robot. Of course, customers can request assistance from a human within the Wave as well.

    What makes this example stand out is the fact that not only is the Google Wave dialogue being stored as a case record within Salesforce, but, because the robot is connected to the Salesforce Service Cloud, the robot can access previously stored customer data for tailored service. Ultimately, Salesforce has found a way to potentially save clients money on customer service efforts, all the while maintaining active records, with the assistance of Google Wave.

    3. Mingle: Integrated Project Collaboration


    Mingle is a project management and team collaboration tool developed by ThoughtWorks Studios, who realized that they could add Mingle’s project management metadata to conversations in Google Wave.

    The integration is still a work in progress, but a demonstration of the concept was highlighted at Enterprise 2.0, and the basic idea is to give Google Wave users/Mingle clients the ability to bring their Mingle task data, which takes the form of cards, into Google Wave. Existing Mingle cards can be embedded into Wave conversation threads, and new Mingle cards/tasks can be created within Google Wave.

    This particular use case highlights how Google Wave can work with existing project management systems for more streamlined and cohesive communication, creating parity regardless of where the user is accessing project data.

    4. Ecomm Conference: Annotating a Live Event

    Just last week our CEO, Pete Cashmore, wrote about how the savvy people behind the Ecomm conference doled out Wave accounts to attendees so that they could collaborate, in real-time, to annotate presentation content. The result was arguably a much better way to consume conference content than attempting to follow hashtag tweets on Twitter.

    You can read the full account, which was documented by Charlie Osmond, on the FreshNetworks blog, but here’s an excerpt that we think drives home the utility of the use case.

    “Here’s what happened: an audience member would create a Google Wave and others in the audience would edit the wave during the presentation. The result would be a crowd-sourced write-up of the presentation: a transcript of key points and a record of audience comments.”

    We happen to think this particular use case is genius, especially for content-rich seminars and events where attendees are typically taking their own individual notes. With the shared Google Wave experience they can combine forces to create a more meaningful and accurate recounting of information shared in conference sessions.

    5. Gamers: Google Wave RPGs

    rpg index

    A very detailed Ars Technica post highlights that there’s a growing collection of Google Wave users who are using the medium to play wave-borne RPGs (role playing games). As mentioned in the post, there’s a even a Wave dedicated to serving as an index for all the Wave RPGs currently in existence, and the last time we counted it included upwards of 300 contributing members, and a combination of 30 different ideas or full-fledged games.


    According to Jon Stokes, the author of the post, Google Wave is adequate for some RPGs, but it could certainly be improved to allow for a more enjoyable experience. In the excerpt below, Stokes describes the current RPG experience within Google Wave:

    “The few games I’m following typically have at least three waves: one for recruiting and general discussion, another for out-of-character interactions (”table talk”), and the main wave where the actual in-character gaming takes place. Individual players are also encouraged to start waves between themselves for any conversations that the GM shouldn’t be privy to. Character sheets can be posted in a private wave between a player and the GM, and character biographies can go anywhere where the other players can get access to them.

    The waves are persistent, accessible to anyone who’s added to them, and include the ability to track changes, so they ultimately work quite well as a medium for the non-tactical parts of an RPG. A newcomer can jump right in and get up-to-speed on past interactions, and a GM or industrious player can constantly maintain the official record of play by going back and fixing errors, formatting text, adding and deleting material, and reorganizing posts. Character generation seems to work quite well in Wave, since players can develop the shared character sheet at their own pace with periodic feedback from the GM.”

    Image from watch4u on Flickr

    Reviews: Australia, Flickr, Google Wave, RPG, Twitter

    Tags: Google Wave, mingle, rpg, Salesforce, SAP

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  • Top 5 Must-Read Social Media Books

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    A great place to start if you're new to the whole soshal medja thang >>>

    books-computerSteve Cunningham is the CEO of Polar Unlimited, a digital marketing agency. To win a signed and personalized copy of each of the books mentioned here, visit Read It For Me.

    So you want to get up to speed fast on the latest social media thinking. Maybe give your colleague, boss or friend a dose of new social strategies. But where to start? Amazon nicely suggests 44,444 titles that they would be delighted to overnight direct to your bookshelf. Ummm, no thanks. Fortunately, you’ve got your own social media fairy right here. (Hi!) We’ve already done the hard part for you, and have narrowed down those 44,444 titles to 5 killer must-reads that can get you on the road to social media stardom. Abracadabra!

    5 Social Media Lessons

    This story is magically formatted for 2 types of people: readers and watchers. Look up for the video, or scroll down for the text. Magic. You’ll learn why trust is the new currency, from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, how the social media revolution has “turned the bullhorn around” from Tara Hunt, the two pillars of social media success from Mitch Joel, why you need to work your face off from Gary Vaynerchuk, and lastly, the nitty gritty of some of the most effective tools out there to grow your business and personal brand with Tamar Weinberg. These 5 ideas are (almost!) all you need to create and execute a powerful social media game-plan. Let’s go…

    Lesson #1 – You Need to Build Trust

    This lesson comes from Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

    trust-agentsThe first step in building trust is to turn yourself into Donnie Brasco. That’s right, you have to become a member of the community. The movie Donnie Brasco is the real life story of Joe Pistone, the FBI agent who infiltrated the Mafia and brought them to their knees. Joey spent 6 months sitting on a barstool in New York, drinking, eating peanuts, and watching the scene around him. He knew that the only way to integrate himself into the mafia community was to watch and learn how it operated first.

    You should feel free to take the same approach, sans peanuts. Go to the websites of the people you want to connect with, and watch how they interact with each other. When you feel comfortable knowing how to interact, start leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs. That lets the blogger know you’re listening and it helps them build up credibility. Your credibility will follow.

    Lesson #2 – Turn the Bullhorn Around

    This lesson comes from The Whuffie Factor by Tara Hunt.

    whuffieWhat you’ll learn, while sitting on your virtual barstool, is the fascinating part: you’ll learn quite literally how to transform your products and services. And that’s a big deal. Hunt gives us some great tips on how to properly put all this new information to work to your advantage: (1) use it to design a product/service for the broadest possible community, (2) make sure you respond to all feedback, even if it’s with “no thanks,” and (3) give credit to the people whose ideas you implement.

    Lesson #3 – Learn the Pillars of Social Media Success

    This lesson comes from Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel.

    six-pixelsYou’ve listened to and integrated feedback, and now you are ready to communicate. The 2 pillars which should guide your communication are permission and content. Permission is grade-school easy: only share relevant and timely information with the people who have agreed to receive it. Content comes next. As Joel says, your ability to create compelling text, audio, video, and images is what’s going to build your story and get people excited about staying connected. He says to ask yourself these hard questions to decide what content to create: (1) What expertise and knowledge do I have, and how can I best share this with my customers? (2) Is there something I can create that will empower my consumers to connect to one another better? (3) Which medium am I most compelling with – text, audio, images, or video?

    Lesson #4 – Work Your Face Off

    This lesson comes from Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck.

    crush-itVaynerchuck’s not drugs, it’s drive. He wants you to work your 9-5 day job, go home and hug your spouse, kiss your baby, and then get working again from 9-2 AM on the thing you love. As he so eloquently puts it, “you’ll be bleeding out of your eyeballs at your computer.”

    When you want to change the world, there’s no place or time for couch surfing Grey’s Anatomy, Wii, Scrabble, book clubs (there’s always time for 10 minute reviews on Mashable, of course), or online poker. So, be sure to pick something you are very passionate about, because there’s NO way you will work this hard at something you don’t enjoy.

    Lesson #5 – Get Smart About the Tools

    This lesson comes from The New Community Rules by Tamar Weinberg.

    Editor’s Note: Tamar Weinberg is Mashable’s Director of Community.

    new-communityWant the nitty gritty details of social media success? Weinberg (the Queen of Smart) has literally hundreds of great tips in this book. Some of the gems include: submitting your blog to various directories (a simple but often overlooked step), learning how to run contests on Twitter to drive traffic, how to become a power account user on the social news sites, and how to use Yahoo! Answers to create thought leadership for your brand.

    So that’s the scoop. Five killer social media must-reads. This is a tech democracy we’re living in here – where the net and content overcomes traditional media gatekeeping. These 5 books are your roadmap to becoming a social media rockstar in 2010 – rock on!

    More business resources from Mashable:

    - 5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
    - 4 Ways Social Media is Changing Business
    - 6 Must-Follow Steps for Selling in Any Economy
    - 5 Easy Social Media Wins for Your Small Business
    - HOW TO: Use Twitter Hashtags for Business

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, f4f

    Reviews: Mashable, Twitter, iStockphoto

    Tags: book review, crush it, List, Lists, six pixel of separation, social media, the new community rules, the whuffie factor, trust agents, Whuffie

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  • HOWTO kill wiretaps when making a phone call

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    A theoretical model for disrupting Federal wiretaps enabled by telco operator switches >>>

    CALEA is the terrible US federal law that requires that all switches that carry voice-traffic be built with an easy-to-access remote wiretapping capability so that cops (or bad guys who know cop secrets) can listen in on your voice conversations without cooperation from the phone company. A team of University of Pennsylvania researchers (already notorious for finding flaws in the previous version of the CALEA standard that let callers lock out wiretaps) have found a solid theoretical attack against the newer, shinier CALEA standard.

    "We asked ourselves the question of whether this standard is sufficient to have reliable wiretapping," said Micah Sherr, a post-doctoral researcher at the university and one of the paper's co-authors. Eventually they were able to develop some proof-of-concept attacks that would disrupt devices. According to Sherr, the standard "really didn't consider the case of a wiretap subject who is trying to thwart or confuse the wiretap itself."

    It turns out that the standard sets aside very little bandwidth -- 64K bits per second -- for keeping track of information about phone calls being made on the tapped line. When a wire tap is on, the switch is supposed to set up a 64Kbps Call Data Channel to send this information between the telco and the law enforcement agency doing the wiretap. Normally this channel has more than enough bandwidth for the whole system to work, but if someone tries to flood it with information by making dozens of SMS messages or VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) phone calls simultaneously, the channel could be overwhelmed and simply drop network traffic.

    That means that law enforcement could lose records of who was called and when, and possibly miss entire call recordings as well, Sherr said.

    How to Deny Service to a Federal Wiretap

    (Thanks, Adam!)

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Stopped in at Beltown Pizza last night after a long bus ride from the East side. ''Let's see what's in the By-The-Slice window'' I suggested. ''If you see something you like, we'll get a few slices. Otherwise we'll go home for dinner.' I didn't recognize the toppings myself, but she picked out a sausage, gorgonzalo, artichoke pie. So we got 3 slices and a fresh squeezed orange juice.

  • Bill Gates’ Plan for Fixing the World

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    Interesting perspective on Bill Gates' world-saving strategy >>>

    It’s been more than a year since Bill Gates stepped down from day-to-day operations at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropic efforts through the Gates Foundation.

    In that time, Gates has traveled the world (in the past week alone, he’s been in China, India, and today, New York), strategizing the best use of his enormous fortune and that of his foundation, which, also includes $31 billion of Warren Buffett’s money.

    Tonight at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Gates shared a progress report of sorts in an interview with Matthew Bishop of The Economist, which also included some broader questions from the audience.

    What Gates Is Trying to Do

    Rather than spread his money over dozens of causes, Gates is focusing on a few specific issues, where he hopes his hands-on approach and vast resources will make a significant difference. In his case, those causes include providing necessary medicine and equipment to help stop the spread of disease, finding vaccines for the likes Malaria and AIDS, and improving education, both in the US and around the world.

    As for how he measures the success, at least on the healthcare side of things, it’s pretty simple: fewer people, especially children, dying. Gates is optimistic that the problems he’s focusing on can be significantly aleviated or outright solved within his lifetime. He doesn’t see an AIDS vaccine within the next 10 years, but thinks it’s possible within the next 20. He thinks by 2025, there’s a good chance that no one will have to die from (though the disease will likely still exist) Malaria.

    Gates executes in these areas by talking to scientists, deciding where to invest, and hoping that in the long-run, some of those investments pay off in the form of successful vaccines and cures. He says this isn’t dissimilar to his work at Microsoft, where investments in things like speech recognition and robotics wouldn’t yield any tangible bottom results for many years, if at all. Here’s a map of where the Gates Foundation has issued grants to scientists around the world:

    Even more related to Gates’ history in the technology world, his vision for education revolves largely around online universities, where lectures would be available to all, and anyone can complete coursework and receive the same accreditation as someone who attends a four year university. In this area, Gates believes we’ll see significant progress within the next 5 years.

    Gates said if he could, he’d like to be able to use some of his resources to fight terrorism and nuclear proliferation, as well as rid African nations of corrupt governments. However, he doesn’t believe he’d be effective in those areas.

    On Philanthropy and Getting Involved

    Bishop asked Gates about comments that the Microsoft founder had previously made about the relative stinginess of some of those in a position to give major amounts of money (i.e. – the Forbes 400), as well as the role that the financial crisis has played on philanthropy. Gates jokingly said that last he checked, the people on that list are still in a good position to give, but it’s not his interest to go recruit people into philanthropy.

    Looking around the globe, Gates is optimistic that emerging markets like China and India, where vast amounts of wealth are being created amongst the super rich, will eventually become #2 and #3 in the world in philanthropy, behind the US.

    As for those of us without billions of dollars to spare, Gates believes the best way to get involved is with a similar approach to his, albeit on a micro scale. His theme can be summarized as ridding the world of inequality – which for regular people, means finding an inequality that you care about and doing what you can to help, first locally, and then if you can, on a wider scale.

    Selective Sound Bites

    Asked if he thinks that two of the world’s richest men (him and Buffett) working together creates the lack of a competitor in philanthropic efforts akin to the likes of Larry Ellison or Steve Jobs from his Microsoft days, Gates says “the fact that Malaria kills people makes it a bit worse than what those guys did.”

    Moving on to the financial crisis, Gates offered a couple interesting pieces of commentary:

    (1) He’s not so sure the government should have a role in running private companies like AIG. For example, he thinks the whole “sales trip to the spa” fiasco is a perfect example not necessarily of corporate excess, but of why the whole thing is a dicey relationship.

    (2) He thinks the pay limits imposed on Wall Street were the biggest thing that’s ever been done to increase executive pay. Why? Because they’re simply finding other ways to compensate executives, like with stock options.

    Gates’ Closing Advice

    It’s hard to imagine a Bill Gates Q&A without someone in the audience asking for his business advice. And, sorry to tell you, there’s no cheap and easy secret to becoming a billionaire.

    Instead, Gates’ advice is not much different than that you’ve likely heard from countless other successful entrepreneurs: don’t fit the business to an economic opportunity, but find something you have a passion for and do it. Gates says that when he founded Microsoft, he was passionate about software, had been doing it for the better part of his life, and at the time, didn’t completely realize the enormity of the economic opportunity.

    In Case You Missed It

    Earlier this year at TED, Gates touched on many of these same themes, while also offering the Web a memorable video moment by unleashing mosquitoes into the audience. It’s definitely worth a watch:

    Tags: bill gates, microsoft, philanthropy

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