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Value capture is the concept of the government taxing entities that benefit from an infrastructure project. For instance, if a new subway station is built in a neighborhood, the value of the nearby businesses and real estate rise dramatically and should be taxed to help pay for that new station.

Value capture is a fair and reasonable way to finance public sector projects that is more commonly used abroad, but we really need to make it standard procedure in the States. It would not only make funding badly needed infrastructure projects easier, perhaps just as importantly, it would remind the public of how important government services and investments are for private wealth creation.

You can read more about value capture here.

There’s an excellent article in Fast Company about Amazon’s design aesthetic being a key to it’s success.

Designers, like everyone else, tend towards complication. But simple is better for users and harder to accomplish.

Interesting column in the Times today from Hao Qun, a novelist and blogger from China.  He was having a meal with some other bloggers, trying to figure out who will be the next person to be arrested by the government.  Microblogging, according to Hao, has become the public square for China, the only way for information to quickly spread around the country.  Popular microbloggers in China have literally millions of followers, so even in a vast country, information on blogs can spread quickly.

A quote from Hao:

I have been asked if I’m afraid. A couple of years ago, in the early days of my blogging, I was scared. Now I am not. I think my shift is representative of that of many popular bloggers, who have been emboldened by the freedom we’ve found online, as my friends have.

I’m moved by Hao’s courage.  Nothing appeals to me more than an individual’s struggle for freedom of expression.  But Hao’s column gives me great hope for China.  In Poland, the communist regime collapsed when the opposition stopped being afraid and started to organize and agitate in the open.  If democracies rule with the consent of the governed, dictatorships rule by the fear of the governed.  When enough people stop being afraid, even the harshest dictatorships can collapse.



There’s a great new product that’s generated serious buzz — Memoto, the lifeblogging camera:

The Memoto camera is a tiny camera and GPS that you clip on and wear. It’s an entirely new kind of digital camera with no controls. Instead, it automatically takes photos as you go. The Memoto app then seamlessly and effortlessly organizes them for you.

Every 30 seconds, it takes a snapshot of what you’re seeing and can store them in the cloud.  You can keep a record of your entire life this way — getting married, seeing your baby’s first steps, going to the bathroom after that burrito — it’s all there.  What could possibly be better?

I have the answer.  It’s a new product out there on the bleeding edge.  I’ve got a working prototype, I just need some more money to productize it, then it can be easily mass produced.  I call it Memetoo.  You see, the great flaw in Memoto is that it only captures what you’re seeing.  That is so much less important than capturing you’re reaction to what you’re seeing. With Memeto, you’re not even in the picture.  With Memetoo, you are the picture!

Memetoo consists of a plastic arm that extends four inches beyond your face.  On the arm is a glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image of your expression.  This way, you will always be able to see your own expressions at any given moment of the day.

Better yet, Memetoo‘s more sophisticated technology provides not mere pictures every thirty seconds, but live streaming at better than 30 fps!  You’ll be able to see your expressions change in real time, 24/7, for the rest of your life.

Pretty great, huh?  There’s no off switch on “genius.”


We are please to announce the relaunch of Networked Politics.  We knocked down the old site and are quietly building out the new version.  Stay and take a look.