Some news on Quaero

One of the “most talked-about, least-understood research projects in recent memory”, Quaero is reportedly an initiative by some european governments to launch a Google competitor. Not any more. Some explanations with François Bourdoncle, CEO of Exalead:

Quaero is a research initiative funded, in part by the French government and, until recently, the German government. […]

Despite what some politicians have said, Quaero is not a collaborative effort aimed at creating a “Google killer.” It is a research project on multimedia search technologies, period. In particular, image tagging, speech-to-text and machine translations, etc. It may very well produce technology or technology advancements that improve search.


Either a) Quaero has understood that bragging about kicking Google’s ass was not a very subtle and constructive strategy or b) all the previous reports about the project forgot to do minimum fact checking. Anyway, let’s wait and see what comes out of this.

Conference: “Delivering eBay’s Virtual Economy” @ CERN

The monthly great conference from the CERN:

Speaker: Paul Strong, eBay Research Labs

Title: Delivering eBay’s Virtual Economy – The Problems Solved And The Challenges Ahead

Time and Place: Wednesday 2 May, 14:00-15:00, CERN Council Chamber

Abstract: eBay’s infrastructure is perhaps atypical of those of today’s enterprises, but is typical of what many enterprise infrastructures will need to become in the future: The combination of a platform, a Grid, comprised of vast numbers of networked commodity, and notionally cheap components, delivering a more or less continuously available set of massively distributed web services. In the case of eBay these resolve to a virtual economy. This presentation will describe how eBay evolved and created this massively horizontally scaling infrastructure, delivering high quality of service and business agility, what the challenges are that arise from this success and how these are being addressed.

Participation is open to all and free of charge. To register for an
access card to CERN, please contact

The Economist on ubicomp

“When everything connects” is the latest special edition of The Economist… a survey of the telecom industry that deals with ubiquitous computing and the so-called “wireless revolution”. There are ten or so articles on the topic, which are good read if you’re interested in this area.

When everything connects is a good overview of the current situation and what can be expected in terms of domains (motoring), problems (standards!), regulation (government?), privacy concerns. The author concludes with the following statement:

Wireless technology will become a part of objects in the next 50 years rather as electric motors appeared in everything from eggbeaters to elevators in the first half of the 20th century and computers colonised all kinds of machinery from cars to coffee machines in the second half. Occasionally, the results will be frightening; more often, they will be amazingly useful.

What is interesting in the survey introduction is the warning “Still, the general direction is clear (…) This survey will explain how this will come about, and why it will not be easy.

Commuting and social isolation

I am very interested in innovations in the way we work – it might soon be a major track at a future LIFT and the topic of several video interviews – and came across this article explaining the downfalls of commuting:

“I was shocked to find how robust a predictor of social isolation commuting is. […] There’s a simple rule of thumb: Every ten minutes of commuting results in ten per cent fewer social connections. Commuting is connected to social isolation, which causes unhappiness.”

Link (via the Guardian)

Commuting isolates employees, so it might be better to let them work from home? But then what happens if we start having wifi in public transports?

Space terrorism

“The Tamil Tigers Liberation Front a separatist group in Sri Lanka, which has been classified as a terrorist group in 32 countries has moved up from routine sea piracy to a space-based one. They have been accused of illegally using Intelsat satellites to beam radio and television broadcasts internationally.


If you wonder how good terrorist organizations are at using online technologies, check David Galipeau’s speech at LIFT06.

Online dating in Iraq

When war doesn’t allow lovers to meet in the streets, people of course turn to the internet!

For Ali and Noura, love blossomed in an Internet chat room. […]

But their relationship was doomed from the start: He lives in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood of east Baghdad; she is across the Tigris River in the city’s war-torn west. It was out of the question that they should ever meet.


I have been trying to invite someone to LIFT to talk about online dating (preferably in an unexpected country like Iraq or somewhere in Africa), if you know a relevant person please let me know.