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Global Civil Society Design Contest >

what is that?! the Laptop? the Deck.

Then, in that classic wonk moment, you pull your Global Civil Society Designer Laptop from your ballistic-nylon shoulder bag and you boot it up. "Whoa!" is the instant response from a stunned and impressed public. "Where'd you get *that*?" "Oh, this? We've *all* got these now! They're *everywhere!*"

But it isn't really a laptop per se. It's more like your portable office network. Or maybe it's more like a collection of PDAs. Let's call it a Deck (as in a deck of cards, not a Gibson SciFi deck)

stack Nice colors

It has nice colors -- whatever colors you want; whatever flag you want to fly -- because it matters to people.

laid out together Puzzle Pieces

They stack up nice, but they also fit together side by side like puzzle pieces. Why?

Each little piece can meet up with another piece and work together to display one thing. Or two connected things... The images and graphs to that report you are reading on those bleached coral reefs for instance.

ease of use PDA

Of course you can just use it like a tablet PDA, your choice (of course) of data entry whether it be a type of graffiti with a stylus or a natural script with your fingertip -- so that you can translate that report into Chinese or Hindu say.

on the airplane Travel Ease

It's good as well because you can just take one of the pieces out and use it, no bothering about yanking some large laptop out of its case and trying to fit it into the economy seat tray.

The data on any one piece of the deck gets shared with all the others. This happens when they are stacked together, and when they are apart and in network mode. A holographic memory of sorts. There are some good reasons for this.

makeshift desk Going everywhere

As you get all over the place, every once in a while you end up in a place without a good terminal, and you can set up a makeshift desk. A couple of the pieces get turned into a virtual keypad, and two others get turned into screens. Maybe not the best ergonomics, but not every place you go has heard the word.

what is that?! Hooking in

The "deck" comes with all the peripherals one might imagine. including things like projectors that can be brought into your deck's network.

what is that?! Taking questions

The real value comes in when you get to Rio or wherever and start meeting people. Hand out 5 of your 6 pieces of the stack, and show them the latest report. You can display a presentation onto the other 5 slates, and take comments and suggestions, they highlight a piece of text on theirs and it shows up on yours

Other people with "decks" can hook into your network or vice versa. And don't worry if someone walks off with a piece, you can track them down, by making it beep.

You can of course share information across decks by hooking into each others networks. Or even start a larger network bringing numerous decks in on together. A whole audience (everyone has em!) could get the text of a presentation, and be sending in questions and comments as the speaker goes on. At the end he could go through the list to see what is pertinent.

what is that?! Collaboration

When you sit down to hash out that Kim-Stanely-Robinson-esque agreement with other parties at the table, you can sit down and hand out your pieces and all get to work on the document at the same time.

Or it could be a portable office. Giving some computational power to people in the field who might not have it. Scientific teams could work together to collect data at the same time, but working individually.

Devil in the Details?

I Envision a wireless network protocol similar to that of Airport.

It would be best if there were no frame -- so that the picture went from corner to corner. I doubt any screens exist like this yet.

The batteries to power such a thing probably do not exist yet. I imagine there would be a recharge spindle that would go through the corners of the stacks, providing the recharge. the spindle unit could then be plugged in, but would retain some charge, so that some use could be gotten out of it when your not near an outlet

The pieces would have a few modes: PDA-like mode, Master or Slave ( a master unit guiding its functioning ), Collaborative ( where data was being shared via wireless )

The interlocking would not be mechanical, but just by shape -- the actual interlock takes place through the wireless connection and software.

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adrian p cotter, aka kesiyuan
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