50 Years of DNA’s Discovery

A NYTimes article on the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA’s double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick.

Research is a slow process, often with years between each eureka, and even today the DNA revolution remains largely behind laboratory doors, in the form of biologists’ ever intensifying understanding of the mechanisms of life. But a few powerful inventions forensic DNA, a new wave of DNA-based drugs have already had considerable effect, and many researchers believe they are just a foretaste.

They expect new medical treatments and diagnostic tests, based on a thorough understanding of DNA, for cancer, heart disease and other long intractable maladies. Yet like any powerful technology, DNA will doubtless bring vexing choices: whether to modify the human genome with inheritable genes that will eliminate disease and enhance desired qualities, for one.

And there are outright dangers, like the possibility that DNA techniques will be used to make novel biological weapons.

RFIDs in Consumer Products

The dream of tracking everything is coming closer to reality. NYTimes writes about how RFID technology is now making possible the ability to put a radio in every consumer product.

Beyond Gillette and Procter & Gamble, companies as diverse as International Paper and Canon USA are teaming up with retailers and customers to apply R.F.I.D., as it is known, to tracking products from the time they leave an assembly line to the time they leave the store.

The companies are tagging clothes, drugs, auto parts, copy machines and even mail with chips laden with information about content, origin and destination. They are also equipping shelves, doors and walls with sensors that can record that data when the products are near.

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TECH TALK: RSS, Blogs and Beyond: Blogs

Weblogs have been growing in popularity and importance over the past year. The recent decision by Google to buy Pyra Labs is a manifestation of this, along with Tripods decision to offer blogging. Tools like Radios Userland and MovableType have made it easy to publish weblogs. Also, the increasing variety of content on the web and the desire for fresh insights has created a large group of people (in the tens of thousands) who link and analyse whats out there.

Weblogs are diaries, or personal journals. They are organized chronologically, and are typically written by a single individual. They are laced with links, analysis and commentaries. They thrive on the world of content outside both from news sites and from other bloggers. Blogs reflect the personality and personality of their author.

The popularity of blogs in recent times has been driven by tools that have made publishing easier for the individual. Blogspot, Radio or MovableType let you get started with a blog in a matter of minutes. After that, its only a question of the time investment that one is willing to make in blogging.

Blogging is also about sharing ones knowledge, ones ideas. It is about creating a flow, a conversation. On a personal basis, as a blogger for the past 10 months, I have seen first-hand this flow being created. Many of my new ideas and reading is driven by comments made by bloggers, as compared to a year ago, when the various news sites and magazines were pretty much the only sources. Now, one can get to the experts in the form of bloggers get a piece of their brains and thinking sitting tens of thousands of miles away.

As new bloggers join the fray, I expect that there will be two types of bloggers: one who blog for their immediate neighbourhood (friends, family, co-workers), and another which will become more broadcast-oriented, an alternative to some of the media sites. The second category of bloggers will be the hubs for the formation of micro-communities around what the blogger writes about. Being on the blogroll of these blogs will be critical for a new blogger to gain traffic and flow, and later, acceptance.

Blogs will also extend to enterprises and communities. Within the enterprise, knowledge blogs will help extract and institutionalize tacit knowledge that today lies hidden within people. Blogs could also be formed around communities of practice. Two forays of interest here are Slashdot, the community weblog for techies, which has been around for many years and AlwaysOn, a recentl started blog for business geeks.

The new hot theme is Nano-publishing, which according to Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News, is an emerging brand of Internet-based journalism that is helping shape the future of news. Sites like Corante, Gawker and Gimzodo are commercial ventures built around microcontent. Corante has a collection vertical weblogs across a diverse set of areas. Gawker is about Manhattan, and Gizmodo is about electronic gadgets.

Tomorrow: Blogs (continued)

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