There is something wrong with the information today. First, we suffer from an information overload (1). We can know whatever we want, whenever we prefer. However, in most of the cases, this doesn’t make us more educated, as info touch us just the time to impress. Probably it will be disappeared in a moment of real need. Second and more important, “Information is not knowledge”, at least according to Einstein. Information is the skeleton, knowledge is its human application, colored by creativity, fixed by ad hoc application.
The founders of Jelly, which are Biz Stone -one of the Twitter co founder-, and Ben Finkel, started up from this intuition. Do algorithms really know us? Could friends’ advises be replaced by recommendation agents? Can Wikipedia answer all our questions? They said no. Technology, they thought, does a lot in terms of gathering the worldwide intelligence, but it will never be able to replace human brains. Phew, this is comforting.
So they created Jelly. Jelly is an app and an idea that like a jellyfish uses different tentacles to feed the same brain. Jelly is personalized. Last, Jelly is social.
Continue reading Jelly, “Let’s help each other!”
We all heard about Crowdsourcing, the popular business practice fostering innovation. We know it is useful for ideating products that satisfy unmatched needs, or to vote for existing business ideas. Surprisingly it was applied to bimolecular design. Even more interestingly, participants were not scientists, but just game players.
Let’s make it clearer. Crowdsourcing is defined as “ a type of participative online activity in which an individual, an institution, a non-profit organization, or company proposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via a flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task” (1). What this definition says is that internal expertise can be triggered by the help of outside knowledge, more diverse even if less skilled. And maybe sometimes, outside brains can see the bigger picture better than experts. That’s what happened with Foldit.
One day David Baker, a leading protein scientist of the Washington University, thought that crowdsourcing could have helped him in his struggle with Protein Engineering. The understanding of proteins’ structures is of paramount importance for science, due to the vital tasks they perform: they facilitate biochemical reactions, they copy DNA, they help to recognize viruses. What is also important is to create new proteins, non existing in nature. By creating new sequences of amino-acids with functions needed yet still unmatched in nature, researchers could even help fighting HIV through vaccines.
However, this is not an easy task. That’s the where the idea of Baker comes from.
Continue reading Science needs your help!
Let’s say that: the more pictures we take, the less we care about them. Not so long ago, pictures used to be memories: shots eternalizing beautiful moments. With the photographic film, we only had a limited amount of pictures to take. Not to waste them, we had to carefully choose the moment, the background, and the subjects.
Nowadays, it is a little bit different. Many people like to share a shot of their dinner on social networks. When you go to parties you can see how many people are more concerned with their camera than with socializing. But what do we do with this huge number of pictures?
Most of the time, nothing. We store them in the big memory of our computer, and we forget about them. Sometimes it happens that a nice picture we took some time ago comes back to our mind. But: “Oh no! I cannot find it anymore!”
Based on these changes, the founders of Everpix created a complex algorithm able to organize the pictures of a lifetime in meaningful folders. This app selects, organizes, tags, and renames them. After the installation, the software is able to upload the pictures from your desktop and your online profiles. It had a freemium business model: The basic version was free, while upgrading to store unlimited pictures had a price. The conversion rate reached an outstanding 12.4%; it could have been a success. Continue reading Everpix versus Snapchat – To pay or not to pay
Because of the economic crisis Italian travelers have less money to spend, while the B&Bs are increasingly threatened by cheaper options of room – or even couch – sharing. But there is plenty of opportunities where creativity exists, and today the holidays are object of barter.
“La settimana del baratto” (literally, “the barter week”) takes place in Italy once per year and gathers around 2000 B&Bs, which offer rooms in exchange of goods or services. By giving away your old books of literature, you can spend a weekend in a B&B located in Tuscany, as doing some plumber’ repairs will allow you to sojourn one night in a nice countryside near Rome. Started as a time-limited event of one week, it became a permanent opportunity which sees the participation of around 800 B&Bs. Continue reading Barter your holidays!