J. Pinkston and L. Stern / U.S. Geological Survey

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit university is playing a role in early but promising efforts to find and extract new energy sources.

A research project at Wayne State University is among 14 across 11 states involved in work on methane hydrates. These are structures that look like ice but have natural gas locked inside.

The project builds on what the U.S. government calls a "successful, unprecedented" test on Alaska's North Slope that produced a steady flow of gas from methane hydrates.

DETROIT (AP) - A media company that hosts conferences on the relationship between technology, economy and social progress is setting its sights on Detroit.

Technonomy Detroit plans to bring together local and national tech leaders September 12th at Wayne State University. The list includes Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Steve Case, chief executive of investment firm Revolution LLC and co-founder of America Online.

Topics for discussion include the future of manufacturing and its impact on jobs, and "Is Detroit the Next Berlin?"

Ali Moore / Wikimedia Commins

Schools around the county are considering digital textbooks as a more affordable and modern update to paper textbooks, and a West Michigan school district will pilot an "etextbook" program this year.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports Mona Shores Public Schools' students in select classes will receive their own computers to test how the etextbooks compare to traditional methods.


The Ann Arbor District is thinking outside of the box with a new collection called "Music Tools."

The small collection features quirky instruments and sound processors. It includes items with futuristic names that make sounds like hovering spaceships and funky clicks and clacks.

Pete Markham / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State University researchers found that vacationers are increasingly staying connected to the office and social media with cell phones, laptops and tablets while away.

From MSU News:

The study showed that people using smart phones have tripled. The study also revealed that wireless use was higher on vacation (40 percent) than at home (25 percent). Also telling, were figures that show that people used the Web more to plan vacations (80 percent) than for work (70 percent).

Yesterday, we posted this question to the Michigan Radio Facebook community:

“When you go on vacation, do you stay connected to work?”

Responses show the wide range of readers' feelings towards technology-filled vacations.

Greg Flinchbaugh / Creative Commons

Steelcase, the world’s largest office furniture maker is celebrating 100 years in business. But sales of the metal filing cabinets Steelcase is named for are declining; same with traditional cubicles and other large pieces of office furniture. Steelcase is changing its identity.

Brian Short / Michigan Radio

Urban neighborhood libraries are on the decline.

Detroit, Flint, Dearborn and other cities have recently had to close some of their library branches in order to save money, which means access to free computers and computer training is becoming more limited.

On today's Artpod, we'll visit a group that's working to close the digital divide.

Brian Short / Michigan Radio

Urban neighborhood libraries are on the decline.

Detroit, Flint, Dearborn and other cities have recently had to close some of their library branches in order to save money, which means access to free computers and computer training is becoming more limited.

But in Detroit, there’s a group working to close the digital divide.

Discothèque vs. Discotech

This story takes place at a "discotech."

Not the kind of discotheque where you flaunt your best dance moves in platform shoes, but the kind of discotech where Google, Twitter and Facebook are center stage.

Here, discotech stands for DISCOvering TECHnology.

It's a traveling technology workshop that looks a lot like a pop-up science fair, with laptops, poster boards, wires and circuits all around the room.

Diana Nucera, one of the Discotech organizers, says the event is about "showing the possibility of technology to make our personal connections stronger."

There is ice on Michigan Radio's WVGR 104.1 West Michigan tower. The ice has reduced the output of the transmitter meaning people in West Michigan may be experiencing bad reception of the station. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of our series Before Tech, Michigan writers share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today, writer Natalie Bakopoulos tells us about her college days, before the phenomena of social media.

She is an English professor at the University of Michigan.

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of the series, Michigan writers will share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today,  writer Wade Rouse tells us about his rather close relationship to his favorite piece of tech.

user: Ed Yourdon / flicker

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his plan for making Michigan a healthier state. The plan includes the utilization of technology to help track health statistics and to guide people into making healthier choices.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Victor Strecher, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Center for Communications Health Research. Strecher has been working with Gov. Snyder on developing the new health initiative and talks about health issues in Michigan and changes residents can make to improve their health and well-being.

courtesy of Brendan Doms

Brendan Doms has launched more than a dozen ventures. Most of these are tech websites designed to do something new and useful. By his own admission, none of the start-ups have been particularly successful. Nevertheless, he’s getting ready to launch the next one “within the next month.”

Doms is a serial entrepreneur. These are people who start businesses again and again, apparently impervious to outside pressures like a bad economy, tight lending environment, or failure.

user edenpictures / Flickr

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released its annual findings on how Americans use their cell phones. Other than talking on the phone (it was a phone survey, after all), most of us use our phones for texting and picture taking.

From Pew:

As in previous Pew Internet surveys of mobile usage, texting and picture-taking remain the most common mobile phone activities—73% of cell owners engage in each of these—followed by sending photos or videos to others (54%) and accessing the internet (44%). The two least prevalent activities (among the 15 we inquired about) are accessing Twitter and using one’s phone to take part in a video call or chat (6% of cell owners do each of these).

People interacting with younger cell phone users take note.

30% of cell phone users aged 18-29 say they pretend to use their cell phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

The avoidance technique is used significantly more by this age group than by others (11% of those 30-49 said they do this, 6% of those 50-64, and 2% of those 65 and older).

So younger users... teach the elders.

How is this best done? Do you pretend to take a call? Or do you just glance down at your device when you feel eye contact coming your way?

Or maybe you really are playing Angry Birds.

User: ismh / flickr

General Electric hopes to bring 1,100 jobs to a Michigan technology center by 2013. The 2 year old center is located outside of Detroit.  GE is developing new software and other technology.

Deia Campanelli is with GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center.  

"Michigan has an exceptional number of talented experienced professionals, and the state has some strong advanced manufacturing capabilities and information technologists that are really just on the forefront of where industry is headed. So it makes putting jobs in Michigan a really easy decision."

Campanelli says the center has hired 660 workers to date. 90% of those hires are from Michigan.

-Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Last week, when the government announced the new fuel efficiency standards for 2025, I heard a number of Detroit auto buffs snort that they were unrealistic, utopian, and impossible.

“There’s no way they can get a corporate fuel economy average of fifty-four miles a gallon, no way,” one man told me.

Well, my technical knowledge of cars is limited to knowing where to find the owner’s manual when one of those warning lights comes on. But I do know something about the history of technology, and the general pattern is this:

If the experts say something is going to happen in five years, that usually means it is happening somewhere, right now, and will be widespread within a year and totally triumphant in eighteen months.

If they say that something is technically impossible, that means that the first practical application may not appear for a year or so. There are exceptions, of course.  But just consider this:

mconnors / morgue file

A new study from Michigan State University found people have very different ideas about what poses a threat to their computer security.

Rick Wash is professor at Michigan State University. He says most people know about hackers. But many believe hackers are mischievous teenagers looking for attention:

Children focus in on nature

Apr 18, 2011
user Rhonda Noren / Flickr

With the spread and advancement of home technology such as televisions, computers, cell phones, and video games, American children are spending less and less time outdoors. A baseball glove has been traded in for a remote control, and parents have gone from fretting over grass-stained jeans to fretting over their child’s apparent reclusiveness. Most kids today are more comfortable walking a parent through setting up Facebook account than they are walking through a forest. But the Udall Foundation, based in Arizona, is trying to reacquaint kids with the joys of exploring the natural world with their Parks in Focus program.

Parks in Focus is all about bridging the gap between technology and nature. Children, mostly middle school aged, are put in touch with Parks in Focus through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters. After providing each child with a digital camera to document their explorations, Parks in Focus program leaders take the children on camping and hiking trips in some of America’s most scenic parks. While trips originally went only to the Grand Canyon, Parks in Focus has expanded to several other states, including Michigan.

Bret Muter is the Michigan Program Coordinator for Parks in Focus. He says digital cameras act as security blankets for the kids, allowing them to have a familiar piece of technology in an unfamiliar world of mountains, streams, and creepy crawlies.

“If kids aren’t comfortable with nature, they’re typically comfortable with technology such as a camera, even if they don’t own one. So cameras serve as that safety net for exploring the environment, which may otherwise be unfamiliar or even scary to some kids.”

On top of just making the children more comfortable with the initial shock of being out in the middle of the woods, Muter says the cameras allow the kids to interact with their surroundings more than they normally would.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People can report vandalism, petty theft, and other crimes that are not emergencies or incidents where the victim doesn’t know who did it to the Grand Rapids Police online.


Automakers are getting ready for the big auto show in Detroit next week, but before they land there, many leaders in the auto industry are attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The show started today and will run through the 9th. Organizers says it's "the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow."

CNBC's Phil LeBeau says the show used to attract little attention from the auto industry, but that's changed since more electronic gadgets are finding their way into new cars and trucks.

LeBeau says the car makers are seeking new ways to increase their profits:

In car entertainment and connectivity, systems like Sync are increasingly must have add-ons for car buyers. And they have no problem paying for them. These systems drive higher transaction prices and greater profit margins.

Ford Motor Company President and CEO, Allan Mulally, will give a keynote address to the conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. CES Conference organizers say "Ford constantly innovates and launches new technologies, like SYNC with speech recognition, that make the driving experience safer through technology."

Chelsea Oakes / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids has a new smartphone ‘app’ that people can use to report things like potholes and graffiti. IPhone and Android users can download the GRCity 311 application for free. Just head to your providers’ app marketplace.

(Left to right) Godfrey Lee Superintendent David Britten, GVSU President Tom Haa
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Valley State University signed an agreement Monday that will help put more science and math teachers in high-risk classrooms.
The agreement is part of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program. Six universities in Michigan are participating in the program.
It offers 40 recent grads $30,000 to get their teaching degrees and spend 3 years in high need, urban middle and high school classrooms.