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Indistinguishable from Magic

Arthur C. Clarke once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” PlaceMatters has recently been using and demonstrating some innovative and low-cost touchtables and electronic whiteboards.  Our audiences and partners are excited to use this intuitive ­interface. Inspired in part by Johnnie Chung Lee’s TED.com talk, we have been using these tools to help brainstorm, create comments on maps, and use our new AnyWare™ tools.

These tools are useful in synthesizing information on maps, something that is time consuming if you have multiple tables with paper maps that have to be digitized. They also allow more innovative presentations that go beyond Powerpoint, a relief for any regular conference attendee.

As much as the tools are smart and appealing, we want to use them strategically, rather than as just as a shiny new technology, like Fred Armisen on Saturday Night Live above. We are constantly asking for feedback on the use of the tools, and are careful to make sure their use fits the situation. Continue reading

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

For the past two weeks, I’ve been traveling a lot for business and pleasure and I realized that I’ve utilized a healthy mix of transportation options: light rail in Minneapolis, planes between Denver and Minneapolis and Philadelphia, commuter rail in Philadelphia, automobiles in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and good old fashioned walking. What has been great about this trip is that I’ve used each of these methods as part of a transportation system–a network of options. This seems like an obvious observation, but what troubles me is that too many discussions on transportation seem to separate out the various modes (cars, trains, planes and bike/ped) into warring camps.

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