I always thought that in the present times of generational confusion and economic limitations it's good to see what you can do with what you already have. The caveat is that we want something new and not a remake, retro or sequel. So I am proposing a few ideas.
1. Instead of chanting foreign oil independence with the motive of maintaining present oil use levels, preach conservation, industries, materials, processes and machines that use less oil. By using less we have more. How much oil does an electric car or hybrid use compared to a regular gas car used by a typical driver. We have diesel/electric trains but no diesel/electric trucks. Now multiply all that times all the cars and trucks on the road. It's basically the marketing folks who think we can't or won't change.
2. To give you geeks something to do, how about a wing processing unit. Instead of buying a whole new computer and ditching or recycling the old one, a wing processing unit could plug into existing computers to add processing power. Dyne:bolic Linux has the ability to move processing load to faster networked computers. The wing processing unit only needs a cpu, memory, ethernet, maybe a CD player and would appear as a tiny server. I could keep my present desktop a lot longer and just upgrade/replace/add a wing processing unit. Less waste all around and cheaper to build.
3. Beam me up Scotti! A new wireless phone attachment, not the Borg-like ear piece but a lapel badge/shoulder pin. I could stay at my computer in the other room and not chase after the handset when it rings. Also being a comm link I could tell my wife I got it with out yelling through out the house. Would be great at an office too.
4. On the desktop the browser could be the front end to the operating system and access the whole computer. It could be customized like a web page, use icons, links, whatever, yet be the internet browser and file manager like KDE's Konqueror only better.
The Linux class explored DSL and Puppy Linux and we did it through Virtualbox on a Vista machine. Although Linux is exciting in any form to me, Virtualbox does present limitations that require tweaking so it's not in the way. Vista did as it was supposed to do, present us with the blue screen of death when the system crashed. Virtual machines can be touchy at times. DSL or Damn Small Linux is only 50mg on a CD and can be easily put on a jump drive. You would be impressed at the applications included in this really portable Linux. Puppy is Puppy, fresh, agile and quite complete. I just got a version of Puppy called Grafpup, just right for the graphics minded, like yours truly. By the experience of the class DSL and Puppy ran just fine from the live-CD or installed on a hard drive. Oh, I didn't mention ReactOS which is supposed to be an open source version of MS Windows. It was interesting to see and even though it's in the early stages of development some promising stuff is there. It probably would have run better out side of Virtualbox also.
On a personal note, I am trying to find time to get my artistic act together. The many public libraries have a zillion books on Photoshop, Illustrator and other Microsoft platform software. The latest Linux and graphics applications are documented and explored on the web, the libraries have near nothing. Shame on them. You have to realize that Linux was born on the web and lives on the web to this day. But at the library I did find many books about the history of computer graphics and computer art. Yes, there was computer art before Mac, MS, Photoshop and all that. I laugh at young people for what they don't know that was started just before "their time". No, the chisel and stone was before my time too.