'The yellow blobs are, of course, tube trains. The fact that they're moving across the map indicates that this is, as near as dammit, real-time information about their positions on the network. And it's public data: you can sit at your computer in San Francisco or Accra and know how the trains on the Central line are doing just now.
How you react to this provides a litmus test for determining where you are on the technology spectrum. If you're of a geekish disposition, then what Matthew Somerville and a couple of his friends managed to do in a few hours with the train data and the application programming interface (API) provided by Transport for London will seem like a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
If you're a non-technical person, then Mr Somerville's live map will strike you as an example of leading-edge uselessness: undoubtedly clever, but of no practical use to you and me. Of course it's important that Transport for London knows where their trains are at any given moment, but it's of little interest to anyone else.
If you're a securocrat, ie an employee of the UK's vast security establishment, then Mr Somerville's map will give you the heebie-jeebies. After all, you will argue, Osama bin Laden may be sitting in his cave in Pakistan at this very moment, monitoring the trains on the Central line on his iPad. And so indeed he might. The fact that being able to do this would be significantly less useful than having some devout followers in actual tube stations will not bother you unduly, because being a securocrat essentially means viewing the entire world and everything in it as a possible threat to national security.
If on the other hand, you believe that digital technology has the potential to refresh democratic institutions, then you will see the live tube map as a significant development. This is not because Transport for London is a democratic institution but because it shows what can be done when data is released to the public in a way that makes it not just useful to civil society, but usable by it. The last few years have seen a vigorous campaign – led by our sister-paper, the Guardian, by the way – to persuade public authorities to provide public access to the data that they routinely collect and store in vast databases. After all, so the slogan goes, "Free Our Data" – we paid for it, so we should be able to see it.'
Things are going to get very weird and very noisy:
Scientists have discovered how to “read” minds by scanning brain activity and reproducing images of what people are seeing — or even remembering.
Researchers have been able to convert into crude video footage the brain activity stimulated by what a person is watching or recalling.
The breakthrough raises the prospect of significant benefits, such as allowing people who are unable to move or speak to communicate via visualisation of their thoughts; recording people’s dreams; or allowing police to identify criminals by recalling the memories of a witness.
The possibilities of creation, perversion and imagination are just mind-bending.