Zahi Hawass

World-renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass currently serves as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Director of Excavations at Giza, Saqqara, and the Bahariya Oasis. Dr. Hawass is responsible for many exciting recent discoveries, including the Tombs of the Pyramid Builders at Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya. He supervised a major conservation project on the Great Sphinx and developed site management plans, including the Unfinished Obelist Quarry in Aswan and the temples of Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Dendera.


Berkeley Breathed

Famed Cartoonist of Opus.

I just quit my cartooning career after 30 years. In the EG spirit of open intimacy I’m going to review how I got to this place of shame. It was 1973, senior assignment. The only art class I mostly stayed awake in. [image] Worthless in many artistic regards. I have no idea what compelled me to draw it but my father saw it and gave me a title.

Here is what my teacher who hated me wrote about that piece. “Grade D Mr. Breathed. One day you’re going to be very rich.”

So it was then that I discovered the witches brew – the combination of crappy drawings and words.


I got a contract from the Washington Bureau about a comic strip. I named it after a place: Bloom County. I had no idea what characters were going to be in this comic strip. I drew a penguin ordering a Whopper. A few months later I created a cat, to make fun of the Garfield merchandising culture that was vomiting across the country in 1982. We sold millions of merchandise of this comic character. Maybe it was because I did what you weren’t supposed to do, mistreat a comic icon.

As a cartoonist I got into newspapers worldwide and won me a readership of about 70 million people and dinner at the White House with Ronald Reagan. Three months earlier, 7:30 am in Iowa, phone rang, just got out of the shower: Please hold for the President. He got on the line and because that Sunday strip had a Xerox of Nancy Reagan on the back wall of the panel. He was so charmed when he saw Nancy Reagan ‘drawn’ (he did not realize it was a Xerox). And he wanted to tell me he loved the drawing. And it was the golden opportunity that everyone always dreams about and I said: Mr. President I’m not wearing any pants. And he thought that was funny and it got me an invitation to the White House. But in the Blue Room with a cigar in my hand I had a conversation with Nancy about why comics are no good. They gave me a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, which the committed demanded to be canceled and returned to Columbia University. I signed the petition myself.

My confession: I have loved newspapers all my life. Cartooning has been huge fun. I respect the art form. But I’ve never opened a comic book in my life. I have struggled to get beyond the naked inappropriateness of this.

Why do I find them unrewarding? Because they lack something. Just like a television show, they are an endless loop of episodes that do not end but only evolve. It goes off in many directions but has no end. Episodes are not stories. Nothing is ever settled in a Spiderman movie. Give me a story, a begin, a middle and an end.

I’m amazed how the world revolves on stories. In lives, politics, administrations and in wars. I think karma is bullshit. When folks see bad things happen to bad people, they say it’s karma. We know in the movie that the slutty teenager is going to get knifed. It’s karma. No, it’s the story structure we expect to happen.

Guess why today’s crappy big screen epics are all structured in the crappy, same way. Though a structural prisons we try to see that the ‘evil characters’ don’t fit into the template of the story we want to tell.

Stories are the most powerful, creative force on the planet. Cartoons lack them. So finally after 30 years I do what I love, write stories. No episodes, pure stories with a beginning, middle and an end.

Some of my books:

Mars Needs Moms! Being turned into a movie.

Pete & Pickles. All copies were sold out at the bookstore, I’m hoping someone will ask me to sign it afterwards. I’m very proud of it.

Flawed Dogs. A picture book, a collection of portraits of the most desperate, pathetic dogs in the world.The story is about these dogs, my novel is about these dogs, taking over the Westminster Dog Show – and destroying it.

Todd Rundgren

My latest CD is Areana, if you like raging guitars and a guy screaming like he has his nuts caught in a belgian waffle maker you may like it.

What is your most memorable moment? What are you most proud of? That just tells you they never listened to the CD. You predicted everything that has happened in the music industry, what is going to happen next? I didn’t predict, I mostly precursed it. I’ve been in it 40 years. I went to the the Wikipedias. The music industry is only a bit more than 100 years old. [showed video of first phonograph playing Mary had a Little Lamb.] This was the first time that music, which had been a service, became a product. Beatles, jazz, Elvis, Elvis… And then in 1979 Sony came out with the Walkman. Previous to that the music that you wanted to hear rarely left the home. this allowed you to make music part of your lifestyle, and adapt it.

I began to deduce things about how this had changed people’s music listening habits. How the impression of what them usic industry was started to change, and it was in control of the audience. People started taking the music where they were and it became background to their lives. The music was returning to their original purpose which was a service, it was doing something for you, you weren’t a slave to it.

I began to deduce that music was beginning to break down in terms of its originality, recycling was starting to happen. Most significant example of this was M.C. Hammer’s Can’t Touch This, which was actually a James Brown song. They were such a hit with this song “Relax” that every two weeks they would release a remix and it would go to the top of the charts. Got a concept, No World Order, because I was into music and computers and programming I moved to CA in the mid-80s began going to MacWorld conferences, it was technically possible for us to create a system that would allow users to completely tailor music to whatever they were doing at the time and even do it in real-time, to change it in real-time.

Philips decided to experiment with it, Andy Levine a friend of mine and anti-social, they had something called a CDI box, made music to be adaptable. I changed my ideas of composition, it was still songs, but they had to have discrete entrances and exits within it. The idea was to give people control over the music in a number of vectors, took the 1000 music bits and gave it to 4 other record producers, they all did their own version, each came up wih radically different ideas conceptually. One liked the instrumental way more than the vocals, another tried to make songs out of the pieces even though they weren’t in song form. So those were the preset mixes, but all of the rest were customizable. Program (presets), direction, form, tempo, mood, mix (take instruments in and out), and video (screensaver). Core piece is a continuously variable random generator, you have all the numbers in a hat, and you pick more and more than they’re all gone. If you want ot have something less than random but still kinda random you apply a Gallsian (bell-shaped) filter to those numbers.

Were approached by Time-Warner for full-scale experiment in interactive television, put fiber to the curb. Used a SGI Envy, almost crushed half the TVs they put it on. ’94, designed a system to have on-demand music into people’s homes, needed to get the content though. Went to 6 remaining record labels, at least half wouldn’t take a meeting, of the ones that did they were polite but nobody could wrap their minds around it, one was getting licensing from each of the artists, and second that they depended on retail. They would piss off Walmart and they would shelve their records. We couldn’t even get Warner Brothers to license a single artist, and it was owned by the same company. They decided the internet was a great way to get exposure for unsigned bands, it was an evolutionary concept. IUMA existed until just about a year or two ago.

Then came Napster. Suddenly the record industry is having their lunch eating right in front of them, 3-4 years after they tried to do the experiment. Who gets involved but the RIAA? Napster fended them off for a pretty long time. iTunes was the first program I had that allowed me to just take my entire CD collection and just automatically capture everything. My first MP3 was the Neo Jukebox, for hackers it’s great, got a regular laptop-sized hard drive, no DRM crap, about the size of a paperback book and carried it around for years and used it in live performance often. Along came the iPod, he managed to accomplish was to get the numbskulls to put their music on a server. Interesting lexographic point – server, service, music is turning back to its original purpose, which is a service not a product. A CD is a license to listen to the music, not even the industry undestands that which is why they’re so f-ed up.

RIAA started suing their customers. Is there another industry that sues their own customers? Record industry kept looking for ways to make up their money, it never occured to them that they were making crappy music and charging to much for it. They started licensing ringtone stuff. Wasn’t long before people figured out a way to take songs you had already paid for and turn it into ringtones. Here’s where it’s going. “Warner Music pushes for mandatory music tax on your internet bill.” There’s a model for the music industry, it’s the cable industry. Once you get a cable account, nobody keeps track of what you watch anymore, you can watch hundreds of hours per month, you can go on vacation and watch nothing, but you wouldn’t cancel your cable bill just because you went on vacation. It’s a great mode, which is why they come up with great programming with like Deadwood. People are still buying songs at 99 cents a pop. Music is never worth 99 cents a song, there are hundreds of thousands of songsn thta are worthless, there are hundreds of thousands of songs that are priceless. If I were to sit down the four major labels, why don’t you tell Steve Jobs where to go, get together and set up a subscription service, we’re willing to pay $10 a month to listen to anything anywhere anytime.

Music is supposed to be a service, not a product. The last 110 years of the music business has been an abberation, and it’s time for everybody to get over it.

Ralph Osterhout: Inventor

Known as a serial productizer of technology, Ralph Osterhout regularly ricochets between Advanced military Systems, High-tech Toys, Electronic Intelligence and Consumer Products. his major customers: Department of Defense, major Toy Companies and perfromance-oriented product companies, worldwide. The common thread: high performance, low cost and meaningful innovation.

~ ~ ~

I used to be a defense contractor.
What toys & military have in common.
The military poaches from the toy industry and vice versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Ralph is a man who loves toys. He goes to the toy store, collects the best of the best, for example, when looking at robots he’ll dissect R/C trucks to see how they work. What components are they made out of? And then figure out how they can provide value and meaning in a military situation – like robots diffusing bombs.

We need affordable, low cost robots that can be deployed in real life scenarios. This is technology that we’ve already invested in, paid for, via military R&D.

Ralph’s work can be viewed via his company website: The Osterhout Design Group

David Pogue

We’ve got the video now!

Here’s our original post:

I’ve been reading his work for years so I’m thrilled to be listening to David Pogue, technology columnist and blogger for the New York Times. Tagged in the Gizmos & Gadgets session I wonder what he’s going to focus his presentation on. Well, we all get pleasantly surprised, and share in immense laughter, as David opens up his presentation with a self-written and piano-played song (sang to the tune of Imagine by the Beatles).

Imagine there’s no Apple. No products that start with I.

Imagine all the people, finding other things to do ~ ~ ~

Imagine there’s no bloggers, it isn’t hard to do. No viruses or spyware, no Windows Vista 2.

Imagine all the people, learning to get a life.

You may save me a nightmare, without Google Mac or Dell.

You might have real conversations. But the world would be dull as hell.

Imagine there’s not cell phones. Kiss console games goodbye.

No David Pogue or Mossberg, to tell you what to buy.

Imagine all those people, getting some exercise.

You may say I’m a looney. But rest assured I’m almost done. I’m pretty sure it’ll never happen.

So we nerds can live as one.

So I’m the weekly tech critic for the NYT. What I’m mostly doing this year is going on cable TV an answering the same question: What are the tech trends for next year.

Trends of 2009: What is most interesting is the combination of the Phone & Internet

We’ve come a long way since VOIP. Like Vonage. Now you hear a dial tone but it’s a fake out, a .wav file of a dial tone. As a result of VOIP, landline home phone service has gone down 30% in the last 3 years. College kids are most likely to have Skype. Free, 250 million downloads, computer-to-computer. The downside is you have to use a headset, like a nerd. Where VOIP gets interesting is when they start putting it on cell phones. Even though the technology for this has been available for 5 years, for some reason, no cell phone carriers offer it. Hmm, wonder why.

Actually there is one company who does it: T-mobile (I’m not paid for plugging them). “T-Mobile Hot Spot @ Home

We have a choice of phones that have wifi and anytime you’re in a wifi hotspot all your calls are free. How often are you in a hotspot? All the time because they give you a regular router for your house. This in effect becomes a stealth cell phone tower installation program – they give us a $7.99 router that functions as a cell tower, and we’re doing it for them. What’s amazing is that it’s a seamless switch over between wifi and the cellular service.

Another favorite of mine. Grand Central. They give you a new phone number and all your phones get rung at once. All going through the internet so you can set up the features – people get customizable messages and you can limit time intervals where people can or can not get through to you, etc.

Google Cellular: text 46645 – and save the $2 you get charged when dialing 411. The downside is it requires you to know how to text. Google just launched a voice service [800-GOOG-411]. It connects you directly. It’s like having a personal valet.

ChaCha [800-2CHACHA] – this is a service that you can ask anything. How does it work? There is a human being on the other end of the line – 10,000 people who get paid 20 cents per answer.

There are services that transcribe voicemail into text and then email you, and attach the audio file to the end of the message. Services: PhoneTag, Callwave. Type in your phone # and the exact minute you want to be called. This is great for blind dates. But since in some instances people can overhear you, they have pre-set voices – check it out, it’s hilarious.

iPhone: The Legacy. The iPhone is a flawed masterpiece – has good and bad things to it. But one thing that is genius is the applications marketplace. It broke the dike. We’ve entered the new world of innovation where your cellphone becomes your laptop and you can do amazing things with it.

~ ~ ~

David Pogue is a riot. Great presenter, like Colbert for technology. On a personal note, thank you for the pre-lunch chuckles.

Bruce Shapiro

Not a very sexy term. It’s the term industry uses “motion control” to describe what we often call robotics.

I was a med student the topic was chaos theory and smooth tissue in the male urethra. I learned about the idea of algorithmic art. Started computing my own Mandelbrot sets. Then and even today I don’t get that jazzed looking at at computer screen. I happened upon a stepper motor, stepper motorslet you create motion pixels. Maybe by using a computer program and messing with motion pixels you could create cool things. It took me a couple of months to really understand how to make a stepper motor run, then how to hook it up, then how to program it.

Brought the whole family together to see, they weren’t impressed. If I want to communicate how cool motion control is, I need to have a compelling demo. My kids came to the rescue, it was a week before Easter, and created a simple easter egg colorer. If you can control the position of two motors you can draw pictures, and etch-a-sketch is an excellent tool for that.

At a 3M auction I was able to get equipment that was really high-end, spent several years building my own CNC, built a plasma cutting rig. I’m passionate about using motion control for education, not just art. Was science in resident at Minneapolis science museum, from bits to bytes to bots. We used lightbulbs in class because learned painful lesson with eggs, and you can erase lightbulbs. Been really impressed to see the number of girls increase. Also got a chance tohave a more prolonged experience with math crew a middle school.

Art machines. I got better at building my CNC machines, then eBay happened making it easier even if you don’t live next to 3M making it easier to get access to this stuff. Pipedream I had 16 pixels with bubbles going through pipes. Pipedream III was trying to capture visitors faces in bubbles. Sisyphus I is a CNC machine where a magnetically controlled ball creates really interesting patterns in sand.

This may seem unrelated, inspired by ribbon dance. Created a ribbon dance CNC in Iowa. Now going to show Undula prototype. 5 years ago I got to be a visiting artist at the exploratorium, a good friend and exhibit designer had created a table-top exhibit called rope-shooter and visitors play with it. It’s like water but it’s not wet.

Ian Dunbar, dog whisperer

How can you compete with a puppy? First I want to say I’m sitting in the audience I had a tear in my eye. Last year I left EG very inspired. I changed my business, went home, digitized everything. Save a tree, download the book, download the DVD. Launched Jan 26, doggy newspaper, doggy magazine, doggy radio channel, and TV channel. Conventional media isn’t doing it for dog community. Dog training is a very strange profession, if any other profession you give advice and people listen to you, but here they don’t. [See Dog Star Daily.]

We want specific solutions to easily resolvable problems. When it comes to dog trainers owners don’t just make mistakes, they just get it all wrong. For example, let’s say someone has taken their dog to the park, the dog goes crazy, they put it on a leash, rewarding the dog for going crazy, they get pulled to the park and they keep walking rewarding the dog, and then they take it off the leash the biggest reward in urban dogdom, and then they call the dog over and when he comes they punish him by putting on the leash and wonder why he doesn’t come when called the next day.

Dog feedback is binary. Differential reinforcement. Punishment is the most misunderstood tool, doesn’t have to be painful or fearful to work, all we have to do is be calm and consistent. It’s not about dogs though, it’s about people. If you can’t house-train a puppy, how are you going to potty-train a child?

Nicholas Negroponte: One Laptop per Child

I presented last year at EG. So this is an update: What’s happened, where has it gone? What are the kids learning and what are the teachers telling us from around the world?

Netbooks, a new layer of affordable laptops in the $350 price point, by sometime in the next year will represent 50% of the market worldwide. That’s an incredible change. I should feel good about it but I don’t. Because the reason the people who created Netbooks, the people who took our idea – well, they don’t care about the reason why we started this program, and Netbooks don’t satisfy the various elements the XO does (lack of electricity issues, sturdiness, focus on kids & education, the ability to view the screen in the sunlight bc many schools are outside). They copied it but they did not really copy it in its totality.

Half a million laptops are in the hands of kids around the world, in very remote places. Half a million are in transit and half a million are in construction. It’s going all over the place.

Teachers say they have never enjoyed teaching so much. [image: children grouped around a professor]. What types of results are happening? Reading comprehension going through the roof. 100% more kids are going to school. A lot more peer to peer teaching. Now parents are learning from children.

There are parts of this world where we can’t bring them in on our own. Just last week we were in Columbia handing out laptops in the far regions – we went in with the Minister of Defense (not the Minister of Education), so we had a ton of security. Thousands of these laptops are going into a zone that has been isolated for 40 years. Why is the Minister of Defense doing this? It’s a way to bring a window into the rest of the world for a part of the world that has been isolated. (All of the machines are bi-lingual.)

Saturation. Every child in Uruguay is getting a laptop. The numbers are interesteing. 450K kids in Uruguay. 200K have them today. Uruguay is so saturated they are now issuing postage stamps with the laptop image on it.

Give One Get One. The $0 laptop. We’re able to go to places that really do distinguish the mission and the market. We’ve been caught up in this competitive market stuff – Intel, IBM. But this is about kids in the developing world. So this program is starting but given the economy it’s off to a slow start.

Thank you very much. Give one, get one.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

360 degree view of the $100 xo laptop

$25,900 to send a package of 100 laptops anywhere in the world. And you can do this via Amazon.

Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational

Dan Ariely is a Professor of Behaviorial Economics at Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational.dan-ariely

Good morning. I’ll tell you a little bit about irrational behavior – not yours, other peoples’.

Writing academic papers are not that exciting. Often not fun to read, and often worse to write. So I tried to write a cook book – Dining Without Crumbs: The art of eating over the sink. MIT Press turned me down by saying, “cute, but not for us.” I was told if I really want to do a creative book like this – free, less constrained – I was advised to first write a book about my actual research and then I’ll get to do my cookbook.

Writing my book about my research turned out to be pretty fun.

I want to tell you a little bit about irrational behavior, and I’ll start with some examples. Our intuition is really fooling us in a predictable way and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“Decision Illusions”

Illusions as a metaphor. In visual illusions, we can easily demonstrate the mistakes. In cognitive illusions it is difficult to do that.

Example: Organ Donations. Certain countries have a higher rate of donations. Why? Turns out it had to do with the DMV form, the person who is designing the form has a big impact on changing behavior.

Opt-in – “Check the box below if you want to participate in the organ donor program.

Opt-out – “Check the box below if you don’t want to participate in the organ donor program.

People tend to NOT check the box, and the statistics change, the decisions change.

What about professionals?

Take a group of physicians and a patient with hip issues. You decided a few weeks ago nothing is working for this patient so you refer the patient to get hip replacement. Yesterday you review the patient’s case and you realized you had not tried Ibuprofen. What do you do? Pull the patient off the line for hip replacement? Yes, most physicians will try the Ibuprofen.

Another group of physicians do some testing and realized that they had not tried Piroxicam or Ibuprofen – now that’s adding another decision factor. Moving forward with hip replacement becomes an easier solution – and many physicians go for hip replacement.

I give you a choice. A trip to Rome, all expenses covered. Or a weekend in Paris. Or having your car stolen. But what if I added a condition. You get a trip to Rome, all expenses paid, but no coffee is included. You have to pay for it. Now Rome with coffee becomes more superior than Rome without coffee.

Example: The Economist subscription offer = $59  ::  Print = $125  :: + Print = $125

I tested this offer with some students and this was the result: = 16%  ::  Print = 0%  ::  Both = 84%

I tested again by taking away the useless option. The numbers changed: = 68%  ::  Both = 32%

When the offers are pitted against each other, “Both” seems more superior. When we don’t know our preferences, we are influenced by these types of offers.

The general point: Are we Superman or Homer Simpson?

If we understand our limitations we can build around it. We somehow forget the idea we are limited. If we understand our cognitive limitations, along with our physical limitations, we can build a better world.

Peter Hirshberg and Tim Kring

Kring: I’ve been involved with TV for 20 years now, and I’ve told stories in a very linear and flat way. TV has had trouble holding its audience, so the networks are interested in tying online and offline.

Hirshberg: With Crossing Georgia you tried to do new media?

Kring: It jsut didn’t feel like it was an authentic extension of what the show was. It’s a quest to stay relevant as your audience is going away. So it was built-in from the beginning with Heroes, and that’s the whole idea behind transmedia storytelling.

Hirshberg: Compare the Heroes poster vs website. The birth was Star Wars Holiday Special.

[rolls clip]

Kring: So in the middle of this thing they run this cartoon, with Han Solo and R2, C3PO, they start to interact with Boba Fett, at that point there were probably several million 13-17 boys who is this guy and why is he talking to these characters I love? Next they started pushing the action figure, and it becomes the most fascinating thing for all these people, this strange character from outside the Lucas canon. 3 years later when he shows up in the sequel, millions of people had a personal experience with his appearance.

Kring: About three months before the show launched on TV we launched it at ComicCon, and from that an incredible viral movement launched and the early adopters went on the website, it became a phenom even before it launched.

Hirshberg: 30 years later history repeats itself, there’s a character that you built offline and then shows up on the show one day.

Kring: Hannah Gilman, the basic transmedia idea, to run concurrently with the show a series of online comic books that would carry on from where the show leaves off. And the she shows up in the show. For the fans who had been accessing the online content it was an incredible easter egg to have found. it gets to the psychology of transmedia, you get more social currency as a fan of the show, you dig deeper into the canon and mythology of the show.

Hirshberg: The NBC ad folks put together a promo of everything that was going on off-TV to say we’ve got you covered like with the Olympics. With so much canon, how do you balance people who are really into it and not confusing casual viewers.

Kring: It’s always been a challenge, we’ve tried to keep everything as additive. We want to use every part of the buffalo, in a way, nothing is wasted. If a character disappears on the show, he or she can live online, and vice versa.

Hirshberg: Part of the idea behind the show is that we’re all connected.

Kring: I started to realize how vast this online community was. The real underlying message of the show was interconnectivity and global conciousness, the fascination for many people was this connection to the message, it would be criminal not to use this tech-savvy and connected audience

Hirshberg: Here’s how a car company worked themselves into a show.

Kring: In the first season we were looking for a sponsor for the pilot and we got Nissan to do it, we came up with the idea of weaving it into the show. Our show is fairly expensive, and we need help, it’s our way of supplementing the budget of the show, and if the conversation happens early enough and we can start to weave it in like with the Nissan Versa.

Hirshberg: Shows Pinehearst commercial.

Kring: The idea of authenticity is very important, we’re connected to our fanbase by a very thin thread. Everything that is put out to the fans has to come from the writing room, during the strike there were some things put out like A Benjamin Franklin hero that electrocutes people.