Car Surfing, Cockroaches, Book Publishing and a Trillion Internet Addresses

I learn interesting things at the METal breakfast each Saturday, like where cockroaches mingle in New York and that surfing on the roof of a speeding car is stupid.

I discovered how to hurl your new book to the best seller list and that we now have room for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion new Internet addresses.

Senseable City Lab at MIT tracked the journey of 3,000 waste items

Saturday mornings in Marina del Rey are a treat, thank you Ken Rutkowski. The most interesting people in L.A. come here. To give you a sample, each week the new arrivals introduce themselves. This week they included a TV show producer, a person who studies mystical consciousness and enlightenment and another who does research on the magical relationship between mind and body. There was a British actor, a retired aerospace physicist, a feature documentary film maker and the CEO of WikiPay, a system for sending money by text messaging.

Our first speaker was Peter Hirshberg, an expert on disruptive culture and technology. Peter is also a TED speaker, entrepreneur and marketing specialist. He is currently CEO of ReImagine Group, a brand strategy firm with a golden list of clients. Among them is MIT Senseable Cities Lab.

Hirshberg gave a peek into the cool things going on at Senseable Cities. Among them is Trash/Track, research that followed 3,000 items of trash tagged with RFID sensors as it moved through Seattle’s disposal system. It showed that 75% of waste reached recycling centers, but consider this one example of a printer cartridge. It traveled from Seattle to Chicago and then to Mexico. Hey, I’m all for recycling but that’s a trip of about 3,250 miles for disposing a printer cartridge. Uh, can we just pulverize the damn thing and be done with it? You can learn more about the project here.

Peter Hirshberg at METal

We also learned that The Great Urban Hack forum figured out where cockroaches like to party in New York, by studying restaurant inspection results. Their favorite location is Brooklyn.

Why is all this important?

Hirshberg says we are entering an era where everything can be measured. This is good because so many problems in this world, when accurately measured, are more readily solved.

“People react differently once things are measured,” said Hirshberg.

Sorry about that, Brooklyn cockroaches.

Our second speaker was superhero Johnny Strange, a multi-disciplined action sports athlete and 19-year old student at USC.

Johnny Strange (his real name) climbed his first world-class peak at 12, and bagged the next 6 highest summits by age 17, the last being Mt. Everest. He is the youngest to complete the 7 tallest summits on 7 continents. He is an accomplished big wave surfer, base jumper and sky diver, among other things. This April he will skydive to the North Pole and then plans to swim the English Channel with his dad in June.

Mount Everest

Strange has used his celebrity status to raise awareness of Parkinson’s and genocide.

“The big thing for me is influencing the youth,” said Strange. “What I do, they think is cool and then they start to listen to me.”

He admits to doing some stupid things, though. Car surfing is one of them. One time in Malibu he climbed atop a car traveling down PCH for a little car surfing fun, which made the media. The problem here is Monkey see, Monkey do.

Strange later posted a video urging people to lay off car surfing

“It’s reckless and really stupid and I would not do that again,” he said.

If it makes Johnny feel any better, he didn’t invent the sport.

One government study found that from 1990 through August 2008 there were 58 identified reports of car-surfing deaths and 41 non-fatal injuries. Most were males aged 15 to 19.

Johnny Strange at METal

Kids these days.

Also at the METal breakfast we heard how to make your book a best seller. The example was the new book by Peter Guber, a highly accomplished film producer who is currently chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and a professor at UCLA.

His new book is “Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.” It sold 57,000 copies on day one and vaulted to the No. 1 spot on Amazon.

Ken Rutkowski explained one method in which Guber’s book got hot. The plan was to identify friends of Guber who had influence on social networking sites and other parts of the Web. On Guber’s behalf they posted, Tweeted and blogged about the book. This included Arianna Huffington and Simon Mainwaring. So put that strategy in your wallet.

Wrapping up, Alex Lightman, in his new role at METal to “enlighten with ideas that may not yet exist,” essentially said “Go Wireless, young man.”

Lightman, who introduced the world years ago to wireless 4G with this book, explained how wireless is going to be bigger than you can possibly even imagine. So get wired on wireless.

For now, the hot ticket is gaming, said William Quigley, during his weekly “Quigley Report.”

“The gaming space is as vibrant now as the consumer Internet space was in the late 90s,” he said.

So get your game on, people.

If you have made it to the end of this long blog post (I am a journalist, after all) let me share something personal about me. I have been on an incredible journey that began eight months ago tomorrow. A few months from now I will tell you how it started and the results. During this period I have experienced events that have been both emotionally painful as well as powerfully exciting. The road ahead looks very good and I’m so glad you are here.

Remember the words of Maximus: Stay with me!

Strength and honor.


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5 Responses to Car Surfing, Cockroaches, Book Publishing and a Trillion Internet Addresses

  1. Nyasia Maire says:

    So, does this mean that when I finish my next novel, you’ll help me promote it by posting and blogging about it here? Well, only if you like it and I have to finish it first, which your entertaining blogs make difficult as they divert me from my writing. Anyway, all kidding aside, I really enjoy your stories and look forward to them. Also, I’m intrigued to read about your journey and am a bit miffed that I have to wait a few more months. You are such a tease!

  2. Jan Fantl says:

    Thx Brian,
    it s so good to read your METal summary when I cannot be in town.

  3. The promise that Hirshberg alluded to as he discussed “instrumentation” as the next step of the web, is the same combination of data sources that we’ve discussed with other speakers at METal, in particular Daniel Kraft. Augmented Reality real time data, combined with the ideas that Hirschberg talked about and uses with MIT, make it really possible to live in a wired world that works for us, rather than against us.

  4. David Moss says:

    Excellent reporting and insight, Brian. It’s the next best thing to being there at METaL.

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