Current Events

Eco-friendly module housing from Finland

4Nature is a Finnish company that makes modular homes that are easy to construct, giving people in disaster zones long term shelter, getting them out of tents or other short term shelters. A 55-square meter house can be built by three people in 48 hours using simple tools without electricity. I met Mikael Arpiainen, the CEO of 4Nature, several months back and he explained to me the concept and the good work they were doing for the people of Haiti and refugee camps in Africa. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan, I reached him via email and he sent on some more information about his company which I summarize below.

55 sq. meter home made of 3 modules

The idea is to start with a basic “module” of 18-square meters which can be combined with other modules to make any structure you need. Pieces can be added on or removed easily and because the modules are built ahead of time in quantities, they are cheap and easy to ship and handle. It’s like Lego. Once a shelter is no longer needed, they can be disassembled and re-used again and again, cutting down on waste and saving on the initial investment.

The structures are designed to be built quickly, without the need of a foundation. They can be built on corkscrew like pillars so the height of the home can be adjusted as necessary. The philosophy behind these homes is that they can be built by anyone so that people begin to rebuild their lives and help each other while helping themselves and not have to wait for specialized crews. The point is to get people back on their feet and out of temporary shelters and into homes that they can call their own so they can begin to re-build their lives.

These homes are not trailer homes like the ones that were provided for the Kobe earthquake victims. These are simple but durable structures that can support long term occupancy. They are built to withstand hurricane force winds, are flame retardant, and are built to be comfortable in all seasons.

Other points from the 4Nature web site below:

  • Most affordable long-term residency solution available on the market
  • Easy to assemble – a standard house can be erected without any machinery
  • Extremely short building time – significant savings in building costs
  • Inhabitants can move in the same day – optimal for crisis situations
  • Reusable – Can be assembled and disassembled several times
  • Adaptable to any need – private house, hospital, school, office, warehouse..
  • Fireproof, water-resistant, resistant to insects and termites
  • Withstands winds of up to 100 mph, up to 8.9 Richter earthquakes
  • Built out of environmentally friendly materials
  • Easy installation of solar panels and other amenities

4Nature says they have over 50 units at the factory ready to go today and can begin ramping up production if large orders are necessary. Pricing from the factory starts at 2,500 euros for their basic 18 square meter home. If anyone reading this is interested in contacting 4Nature, please visit their website or leave a comment below and I will pass on your contact details.

As the search and rescue operations wind down, it’s vital to get the survivors out of the tents, cars, and gymnasiums where they have been living and into places where they have privacy so they can get their life together again. These homes by 4Nature are one way to do it.

UPDATE: According to this article (in Japanese) there are still only 36 units of temporary housing have been built in the three weeks since the earthquake.

Media Distillery

News of the Day according to

Fooling around with here is what I get when I post the entire text of the top four articles referenced by three leading social, news aggregators.


The top four articles, which got top billing across all three services, were:

A quick glance at the wordle tag cloud analysis and it looks like wordle favored the lengthy Sarah Lacy piece on Facebook/Netscape. A longer piece means more words which would explain why Facebook, IPO, and Netscape are so big in word cloud.

Is such a view useful? Is there some way to improve this?

The Modern Media Stack

All eyes are on SB Nation who will play host to a new gadget site powered by eight staffers hired away from Engadget over at AOL. Former Engadget editor, Joshua Topolsky, describes being attracted to SB Nation’s vision which is equal part passionate writing (no one ever reads an “objective” sports column) and sophisticated real-time technology.

Our platform is a modern media stack focused on empowering rapid publishing, effective distribution and quality community in equal parts. – SB Nation describing their Media platform

The way SB Nation has evolved from a focus on fan-specific blog communities (which only engage on the colloquial level) aggregated up to the national level so that fans get the right mix between news about their favorite teams up to news about their favorite sports, on up to news important to sports fans everywhere describes, in general, the problems national media sites are facing today as they try and find that perfect balance between local, national, and international news.

It sounds like SB Nation has something akin to a “media carburetor” that can be tuned to find the perfect mix between local and global to provide the explosive engagement needed to drive growth today.

Topolsky is betting that the same secret sauce that powers finding the perfect mix for sports fans may also work for Gadget News. If he’s right, perhaps this same formula can be applied to other verticals as well – fashion, celebrity news, music, gamer news, financial news, on down the line. Any vertical who’s community can generate a strong enough signal at the “local” level should be able to feed into the model.

Further Coverage