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Hottest jobs in the U.S. -- so they say

Frankly, I don't even remember what I was searching for, but I came across this site, which found what they contend are the hottest new careers in the United States.

Two that I found particularly interesting:

1?Disease Mapper
Salary range:$40,000-$150,000
Experience/skills: A Ph.D. or master's in a tech field, plus expertise in a particular disease.
Perks: Flexible hours and travel to exotic locales
Who's hiring? Universities, governments, the United Nations, some consultancies

Early in his career, Andy Tatem became so proficient at analyzing fuzzy satellite images of English farms that he could tell wheat crops from turnip fields by studying the way the sun reflected off each.

Interesting stuff if you're a farmer, but not sufficiently inspiring for Tatem. Then came a call last year from Simon Hays, an Oxford University researcher who was developing a global map of malaria that could explain current outbreaks and help predict future ones.

Today Tatem, a 29-year-old Ph.D., is among a new class of researchers using the latest satellite imagery, cheap computing, big databases, and free tools like Google Earth to show how epidemics spread around the globe.

It's a new twist on a very old concept. When cholera and yellow fever spread during the 18th century, "medical geographers" drew maps to show infected areas but had no way of knowing where an epidemic would strike next. Tatem pulls data from NASA satellites to plot a picture of rainfall, temperature, vegetation, and other variables in regions where malaria has struck. He correlates it with infection rates and hospital reports to create a map of the disease and its projected spread.

Then, number five on the list:

5?Second Life Lawyer
Salary range: Too early to say
Experience/skills: Software and intellectual property law expertise
Perks: The freedom to be talking to a client while getting a beer out of your home fridge
Who's hiring? Programmers looking to patent their code

Of the 2 million or so Second Life members, more than 25,000 are aspiring entrepreneurs. Most are buying and selling land, designing homes and clothes, or creating products, from jewelry to virtual pets. The stakes are small, but they're rising fast: According to Linden Lab, creator of Second Life, only 116 members made more than $5,000 in February, but that number is triple what it was six months earlier.

Count Stevan Lieberman among the virtual world's earning elite. Instead of trying to practice purely virtual law–which few if any lawyers have turned into real money–Lieberman has taken a hybrid approach, using Second Life as a meet-and-greet area for new clients, who then take their real-world legal needs offline. And since he took in $7,000 in fees in the first two weeks after hanging up his virtual shingle, he's optimistic: "I fully expect to keep getting more business this way."

So bullish is Lieberman that he's helping to set up the site's first "law island," a place for other members' practices and legal entities to do business. The American Bar Association and the FBI have asked him to help them set up their outposts too.

I'm sure Count Stevan Lieberman saw this story in the WSJ this morning headlined, Is This Cheating?, which is about whether a Second Life relationship is... well, a tryst.

While his wife, Sue, watches television in the living room, Mr. Hoogestraat chats online with what appears on the screen to be a tall, slim redhead.

He's never met the woman outside of the computer world of Second Life, a well-chronicled digital fantasyland with more than eight million registered "residents" who get jobs, attend concerts and date other users. He's never so much as spoken to her on the telephone. But their relationship has taken on curiously real dimensions. They own two dogs, pay a mortgage together and spend hours shopping at the mall and taking long motorcycle rides. This May, when Mr. Hoogestraat, 53, needed real-life surgery, the redhead cheered him up with a private island that cost her $120,000 in the virtual world's currency, or about $480 in real-world dollars. Their bond is so strong that three months ago, Mr. Hoogestraat asked Janet Spielman, the 38-year-old Canadian woman who controls the redhead, to become his virtual wife.

Virtual Divorce Court?

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Aug 10, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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