Google Balloon Internet Access: The Thrill of a Big Idea


I nearly missed this. You know how it is. In today’s stimulus-saturated world, I set limits for my daily news scans and then unplug each weekend for 24 hours. So as I approached the unplug deadline after an early morning hour of visual overload (and depressing news), another video didn’t really appeal. But it was from a trusted source in my Google+ circles (thank you, ) so with my left hand on the ‘power down’ button, my right hand clicked play. Wow!

A Big Idea

“The idea does sound crazy, even for Google—so much so that the company has dubbed it Project Loon. But if all works according to the company’s grand vision, hundreds, even thousands, of high-pressure balloons circling the earth could provide Internet to a significant chunk of the world’s 5 billion unconnected souls, enriching their lives with vital news, precious educational materials, lifesaving health information, and images of grumpy cats.”

In an exclusive, Wired magazine goes on to add fascinating details, animations and clips as it tells the story of the initial tests in New Zealand. Just as I was beginning to focus too much on the prevalence of grumpy cats, a breathtaking reminder arrives of the global promise of Internet access.

Next Up: Digital Literacy?

While Google, and hopefully others, work on bringing balloon Internet access to remote areas, digital literacy is looming as a pressing, parallel need. From a local story on Middle-schoolers share technology with seniors, to the national news on the state of broadband access in the U.S., come recent reminders of how many people have been left out.

In case you missed it, the Google Project Loon announcement video on YouTube is embedded below.

What your state is the worst at – United States of shame


In a survey of rankings from a variety of sources, Pleated Jeans maps the United States of Shame. Because all states must be bad at something. Go, California. If we’re the worst at air pollution, does that mean we actually have really clean air? Must be.
See also a spinoff from Political Language: The United States of Awesome. Because all states must be good at something. Go, California.

[Pleated Jeans via Laughing Squid]

Lest you get too depressed by the first infographic here, the second one shows what your state is best at.

Competition is a tried and true motivator, so let’s hope we can look forward to some changes in the rankings next year….