One professor’s attempt at a $25 programmable robot: my profile of Locorobos and Pramod Abichandani

The research on low-cost, educational robotics led by Drexel University professor Pramod Abichandani was the focus of a profile I wrote for the college’s academic journal. It ran this summer.

We’ve written about him on Technical.ly here. My piece was a bit more focused on his research process.¬†Find the full story online here.

As I do with my freelance writing, I have some extras that I cut from the story below.

Continue reading One professor’s attempt at a $25 programmable robot: my profile of Locorobos and Pramod Abichandani

Innovation is taking a risk on a new approach for an old challenge

Sometimes when a word is really powerful, it gets over-used enough that its power dwindles. This happens in cycles, like how “collaboration” was sorely stretched in recent years as institutions got hip to open source culture, and now as “innovation” is being slid into the name of any new effort from any organization aiming to look forward-thinking.

That over-use doesn’t mean the word isn’t effective. It is. But it should mean it requires defense. So when I was asked to submit to business marketing magazine SmartCEO my own definition of the word and my process for employing it, I tried to do just that.

Continue reading Innovation is taking a risk on a new approach for an old challenge

Choose a time, not a place to live: my piece for our live Technical.ly podcast

I helped organize our first ever live Technical.ly podcast and, in addition to helping to produce the event, I put together one of the main pieces.

My point? We don’t really choose a Place to live. We choose a Time in a Place to live.

Continue reading Choose a time, not a place to live: my piece for our live Technical.ly podcast

Snowpocalypse: here’s a flowchart on whether you can park your car

Parking in the snow in dense urban neighborhoods is always a testy issue. People have strong opinions about whether you can use a chair to reserve a spot or swipe another’s — legal or not. Thankfully I sold my car last year, but I’m still a sucker for life hacks for city living.

Considering it’s something that happens in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia and likely anywhere else where great urbanism means parking is limitless, we need better agreement of what’s proper etiquette. Here’s my take, built on some thoughts I shared back in 2010.

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Beyond Recruiting: I edited and published my first ebook for Technical.ly

I edited, co-wrote and helped publish Beyond Recruiting, a new 8,000-word ebook on creative approaches to the challenging hiring environment for technical and creative talent.

It’s the work of Technical.ly, based on the reporting of many of our lead reporters and contributors, in addition to my own sourcing, and the technical and strategy work of my cofounder Brian Kirk. It’s 45-pages and features nine big ideas based on case studies from nearly two dozen tech companies in the mid-Atlantic.

Download it free here with an email address.

[PDF if that link doesn’t work]

Wilmington, Del. needs to develop its innovation corridor [Op-Ed]

The fate of small, urban satellite cities and the role technology and entrepreneurship communities will have in their future is of interest to me. I recently wrote something about it for the Delaware state newspaper.

After this op-ed in the Wilmington News Journal about the innovation economy, Delaware entrepreneur leader Jon Brilliant encouraged me to write something in response. I did so here for Technical.ly Delaware and contributed a shorter version that was published in the News Journal here.

Today, any U.S. community preparing for the future is fostering a technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Delaware is too.

A recent News Journal op-ed on the matter didn’t take into account much of an organic, nascent community that is building toward a bigger impact. There are efforts in Newark, Lewes, Rehoboth and elsewhere, Wilmington, despite its challenges, already has the foundation of an innovation corridor. MORE

Read the rest here

Download an image of the paper version [PDF].

How ‘innovation hubs’ are changing communities: My #RAIN14 keynote

These are my prepared remarks for my keynote of the 2014 RAIN (Regional Affinity Incubator Network) conference held at the University City Science Center in July. Throughout the speech, I shared a number of other examples and anecdotes but this is the primary focus.

A coworking movement, a tech boom, a post-recession entrepreneurship frenzy have all conspired to bring all of you to where you are today. That’s seen in the success and growth of this RAIN conference. This is fashionable right now. That is an opportunity to impact our communities but we must also recognize the risk that presents.

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Art with tradition is objective, that without one is subjective

Appreciation for art is meant to be, by today’s focus on accessibility, wholly subjective. Whatever your view of something can be defended as your experience with it.

Over drinks at a Gayborhood bar last month, a primatologist-turned-choreographer shared his view on trying to interject objective reality into art — incorporating technology, data and fact into ‘timed performance art.’ With no art history background or deep cultural experience, I deserve no voice in the conversation, but our chatter did result in me sharing with him something I’ve been mulling since.

My knowledge of the debate on whether art is subjective or objective seems incomplete. As I understand it, there are two very different types of art: that which aims to inspire through an existing tradition and that which aims to explore something new.

Continue reading Art with tradition is objective, that without one is subjective

What the social impact of technology should be: my essay in the ‘Asteroid Belt Almanac’

An essay called ‘Share Something Greater’ I wrote on the social impact possibilities of consumer technology was published in the Asteroid Belt Almanac, an anthology from the Head and the Hand Press, a small publisher based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to also be included in their Rust Belt Almanac as well.

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