The article suggests that with humidity and barometric pressure measurements alone, it would be possible to predict the weather using a network of cell phones. I guess this approach would have to filter out data from a cell phone, for example, in an air conditioned building where the air is essentially dehumidified in the cooling process, or a cell phone in in an oil heated building during the winter in the northern U.S., where the air becomes extremely dry. Anyhow, the idea is interesting and might be applicable for many other types of sensors that could estimate, for example, solar energy, air quality, human stress levels, traffic patterns, etc..
The concept of the global brain has been around since the beginning of the last century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_brain). I remember back in the early 1980’s, my mother-in-law, Jane Howard Edmonds, was promoting the concept by sharing a VHS video tape on the subject with her friends and family. Since then, the concept has become closer to a reality as described by Tim O’Reilly.
The problem with publishing scientific articles with the traditional publishing companies is
1. Usually, the Federal government (e.g., NSF, NASA, NIH, etc.) pay for the research.
2. The University pays the salary of the researcher who writes the paper.
3. The researcher submits the paper to the publishing company and the Science Editor (usually a volunteer) finds reviewers (volunteers) to review the paper.
4. The Researcher pays the publishing company to publish his or her paper.
5. The University pays the publishing company for a subscription to access the journal article.
6. The taxpayers that paid for the research cannot access the journal article without paying for an expensive subscription.
Does something appear to be wrong with this picture? Why do we need the publishing company?? Other than the production of hardcopy books, they really are not necessary. And the Direct Publishing/Print on Demand movement has shown that it is possible to publish hard copy documents and make them available to a mass market.
The following links provide detailed information related to the problems with the old publishing model and ideas for moving toward more open access.
This issue is near and dear to my heart. I live in the Llanos Tuna area of Cabo Rojo where we do not get Choice or PRT (Claro) internet. We use HughesNet, a satellite-based internet service, but it does not meet our needs, and is too expensive. We have tried various cell phone-based approaches (Open-Mobile, Claro, Centenial) but we do not get good reception. Not only that, the cell-phone approaches are slow and do not provide unlimited data downloading, as do Choice and PRT. HughesNet allows us only 425 Mbytes per day, which we exceed frequently. Downloading movies is out of the question. If we exceed the amount then we are basically shut down for 24 hours!! We do get some restore tokens each month, but if we use them up we have to pay $7 for additional restore tokens. Every night before I go to bed I pray that someone will bring decent internet to my neighborhood. I will now focus my prayers on the success of the Puerto Rico’s Broadband Strategic Plan. 🙂
After Recess: Change the World
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: February 4, 2012
A BATTLE between a class of fourth graders and a major movie studio would seem an unequal fight. Changing the world via internet petitions.
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof