Today has been fairly productive, with one excellent break out in Oxford’s sunlit gardens and along its warm paths. I am well on the way to having the structure of chapter two revamped, though my introductory sections for chapters three and four still need to be finished. The most difficult thing is staying focused for any length of time. It is all too easy to find a more immediately satisfying way to use one’s time.
Speaking of immediate satisfaction, this week’s Economist features their Technology Quarterly (most of the links below require a subscription). Most of it is stuff that is pretty familiar: cellulistic ethanol, solar power (mentioned here recently), data visualization, display technologies, and climate engineering. One thing that was new to me is the emergence of ‘haptic’ touch screens that are able to simulate the feeling of various materials by slightly stretching the skin of the fingers touching them. It is possible to make tapping on a screen feel like pushing a button, or even make a flat screen feel like a sharp edge. It doesn’t take much thinking to imagine some really interesting applications for such technology, particularly in terms of making technology more comprehensible and accessible.