South Korea : The Best Cycling Destination in Asia

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South Korea may not be on the top of people’s lists when it comes to traveling Asia, but for cycling enthusiast that should probably change.  Without much fanfare South Korea has quietly built and invested huge amounts of money into some of the nicest and most extensive cycling trails in the world.  The majority of Korea’s main rivers now have beautiful cycle trails that follow alongside them.  Seoul, the capital, is famous for its parks and walking/biking trails along the Han river.

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Typical bike path along a Korean river

The Route

But there is one bike trail that is the crown jewel of asian cycling, if not world cycling.  In 2011 Korea opened up the 4-Rivers (4대강) cycling trail.  A beautiful bike trail that stretches across the entire country from Incheon in the Northwest to the port city of Busan in the Southeast.  The entire trail is clearly marked with Blue signs and a cycling image on the road.  The beauty of this trail is that nearly 70% of the trail across the entire country was built specifically for cyclists (= No Cars!).   The other 30% are country roads that get minimal car traffic and provide a nice bit of variety. There are constant kilometer markers which tell you how far you’ve gone and how far you have to go.  I can think of no other country in the world (not even the Netherlands) where you can ride so long without having to worry about cars or having to once look at a map. Continue reading

Seoul Digital Forum 2012 Day 2 & 3

Here’s my stream of consciousness notes of Day 2 & 3 of the Seoul Digital Forum

Day 1 is here.

TIM O’REILLY – Towards a Global Brain

“The skill of writing is creating a context for other people to think in”

Man machine symbiosis – feed many human written medicine journal documents into IBM’s Watson, which figures out what’s most important for busy doctors to know.
In the future we’ll have health sensors monitored by home health professionals with smart apps.
Data scientists – big new field for the future.

WIRED – KEVIN KELLY – What Technology Wants

Does technology have its own latent theory of evolution, its own agenda?
Diversity and specialization is the thrust of tech.
Technology is a loop of new problems and new solutions, but what’s positive is we have new choices we never had before.
“Technology is anything made after you are born.”
“Technology is the stuff that doesn’t work yet”

History emphasizes dominance but more of history is a story of cooperation.

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Notes from Seoul Digital Forum 2012 – Day 1

As I have an interest in technology and the technobable it inspires, I decided to apply for entrance to the Seoul Digital Forum, an invitation only Ted Talk-lite for Korean Tech/Business types.  For some reason they invited me to come (I did label myself a Media Developer for E-Learning), and I soon learned I was nearly the only foreigner in the audience listening to ‘Visionaries’, their term for all the speakers.  Around 70% of the speakers were foreigners and the majority of the talks were in English.  So as one of the only native English speakers in the audience it was great for me.  They had headphones so every talk was translated into Korean and English.

Here’s some brief pithy musings I had while listening to some of the speakers.  This doesn’t reflect so much exactly what they said, more what they inspired me to think about while I was listening to them.  Note: My musings are in italics.

General Overview:

Conference Theme: Coexistence
Buzzwords level: Extreme. Koreans love buzzwords(Story/time/smart) + Tech people love buzzwords(cloud, augmented,ICT,SNS) = buzzword explosion.  String as many together in one sentence to be “modern netizen 2.0.”
Setting: Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel (with onsite Casino where you can gamble playing the card game War)
Most prevalent visual motif – Matrix raining green characters still a thing
Common Themes: How tech can help Africa, cloud cloud cloud, big data.

Introduction

A video introduction from President Lee Myung-bak.  He seems to talk with his eyes closed.  Champions the Arab Spring as positive technology, but worried about digital divide.  Shout out to World Expo in Yeosu.

Microsoft – Steve Balmer 

I was hoping for a bounding sweaty uncle fester, but he was more subdued as he gave an intro to Windows 8.  He tried to impress the crowd with his ability to say two Korean names, only said one well.  Still love how the last words of his sentences hang in the air like duck farts.

He lays out Microsofts Focus:
“Our Focus: Technology

  • Machine Learning
  • Form Factors/UI  (mouse, touch and other things apple forced us to get into)
  • Cloud  Cloud cloud cloud   – Facebook born of the cloud – 10 years to exploit.
  • Core Platform – world becoming less fragmented – ie. windows wants to be a closed ecosystem like apple, 
  • New Scenarios (?, didn’t elaborate besides “note taking technologies”, wait to see what to copy)

“What’s Windows 8? It’s an operating system after Windows 7”
“I’ve got an 81 inch windows slate in my office.”  Baller?  Balmer.
A new Zune! for windows 8.
“Whoops, that’s a bad step” Balmer says as he almost falls off the stage.
Some talk about foldable screens maybe being a thing someday, maybe.

Demo of windows 8.  I’m a Mac, but I have to say this has some cool features.  Honestly, a more integrated OS for people who want their tablet and keyboarded PC synced.  Apps define the UI experience.  A bit info overload.  Bloatware meets Bloat interface, but luckily looks much easier to configure.
Tries to look at photos he took in Seoul – “file could not be found,” still some work to do.  MS is Involved with 600 startups in Korea.  Targeted at machine builders.(aka LG / Samsung)  Balmer see Windows 8 as best opportunity for 400 million new users.   But Korea is the land of android and most of the Korean apps are already entrenched in Google’s ecosystem.  Microsoft needs apps, like a church needs followers. I believe Korea will make and buy lots of windows PC hardware, but probably won’t gain much traction in the mobile space here, as phones are nearly tablets over here, Most people don’t really want tablets, they want, what seems to me, as ridiculously big phones.

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