Monthly Archives: December 2004

LifeBlog 1.5

A couple weeks ago when Charlie Schick , “Mr. LifeBlog”, was here visiting from Finland. Besides having a big burger and fries USA style with him, he also gave me a copy of lifeblog 1.5 to use with some 7610s I have for the alpha test our game. Yeah!!!!

Anyways, Im just saying this here, so that I make sure to review it online in the next few days… So stay tuned.


Semi-Real Time? Presence Peaking?

Erick and I were talking the other day about the essence of what this “mobile connectedness” is all about… and our ideas about allowing people to stay “connected” more easily. It seems that the interaction is somewhere in between something that is real-time and something that is asynchronous. But, yet, really it’s about neither. It’s about allowing someone to touch what you are doing right now. It’s about allowing someone a little peek into your daily life. It’s about presence. It’s about knowing what someone else is up to. It’s why teenagers text each other 50+ times a day.

But, it seems there is not word for it. So I’ve been struggling to capture what this semi-realtime/ presence awareness experience is all about. After meeting John Poisson at Elizabeth Goodman’s going away party, we sat and discussed this a bit more. To my surprise, he got what I was talking about and ironically had thought about it as well. Seems as though, John and I have been thinking about a lot of similar things :)… In Japan, apparently, they use a term which is something like “mind-touching”. I like that better, but somehow I don’t think it entirely still captures the essence of what it’s all about.

So, if you get what Im talking about, and have any ideas of a better language we can use to talk about this idea… please let me know.

presence touching?

Until then, I am going to keep bugging Erick by using Semi-Realtime around him and Presence Peaking in my own mind.


No Phone Experiment

First off, sorry, not so many posts lately. I was away and then quite busy with some good stuff going on with our company! 🙂

I have a lot to catch up on. Ill start here and hopefully will get to more today.

I was in Tahoe over the weekend taking a little R & R and snowboarding happily throughout the blissful landscape and sunshine (ahhhh California skiing). While there, my friend and I accidentally ran a little experiment by accident. Neither of us took our phones with us for the whole day. While I have to admit it was a most peaceful experience, it also cause a series of mishaps which inevitably caused someone to leave early. Yup. One of our friends, who had driven up from LA, went to a different mountain and tried feverishly to try to contact us throughout the day to make plans, etc. But because he couldn’t get a hold of us all day, he assumed something was strange and when we returned back to the cabin he was gone… back to LA!!! Had we just returned one of his calls or text messages he would have been there to enjoy the warm fire afterwards.

Hence, the next day we took our phones… and all communication was blissful, all plans were good, and all friends happy.

While this was a bit extreme it just follows up to my last post, in that no one knows what to do anymore when the phones aren’t working or not around. This was the most extreme example that has probably ever happened to me. I mean, a 9 hour drive because of no phone!!! While, both of us with out phones, knew that we would just meet him at the cabin afterwards, something in side the him said “this is odd” and thought something otherwise. Crazy? Perhaps. A sign of the times? Definitely.

Mobile is more than just technology. It’s a lifestyle. But it’s even more than that… I’ve been trying to put my finger on some terminology that will describes the pattern of communication that mobile phones offer… it offers real-time communication, and semi-real-time, and asynchronous, but it offers it all… more on that later.


We have entered mobile-land and there is no turning back!

Whenever I hear the song “No Phone” by Cake I can’t help but think about how much mobile devices have changed our lives. It’s embedded in our lives so fully now, that people are starting to sing songs about having it around all the time. The arts have already come to accept the societal change that is taking place and either embrace it or reject it. That is so powerful!!! And it makes my head tingle!!

A few months ago when I was in Finland there was a cameraphone based art exhibit at a local museum. I couldn’t help but think, again, the powerful influence this revolution is having on our daily lives – our art and culture. It’s in our museums, it’s in our music, it’s in our daily commutes, it’s in our business lives, it shapes our plans, it motivates us to move about spaces.

So here today when I found these bits, I again thought, “Wow! look at all these different things people are doing with these devices that are so much more about culture and so much less about there intended uses.” Here are a couple of pop-culture mobile fun for you that exemplify exactly how much the device is shaping our behavior:

Tate Britain’s Bluetooth Xmas Tree (I love this and it’s a bit of holiday fun!!!)

A bluetooth Christmas tree where people can leave Bluetooth presents… images, sounds, videos.

On Christmas Day, the presents will be ‘unwrapped’ at…you may also send presents to

I can’t wait to see what people leave. A global Christmas party! How cool?!

Phones as Lighters

People are also beginning to hold up cell phones at concerts instead of lighters! Yeah!!! Does that mean maybe they don’t have lighters and less people are smoking? Really though, think about this, it means the people now also have a sort of “safety light” in their pockets at all times. Ever lost keys, can’t find a ring, etc.

So next time you think about how much you’d love to leave your phone at home, run away and turn it off… think again, because it’s too late. We’ve eaten the red pill and there is no turning back. You’ll hear about it on the radio, see it in your office building, celebrate it at the holidays, be swarmed by it at a concert, or who knows maybe one day your phone will eventually have a tracking device and find you, then beep twice at you for leaving it behind!


Happy Mobile Monday!

Tonight I am planning on attending Mobile Monday. Anyone interested in Mobile Stuff should go too. It’s a great group of folks with many spectacular ideas.

So, I just got finished reading The features article on MMS: “Still, Nobody’s Using MMS”. I love this topic and this article. However, the author remains fixated on quality being and size being the primary reason why MMS isn’t being used. Ummmm…. Ok, true, but I think there is actually much more going on…

As image quality gets better more people will see lasting quality effects of the photo. I did a number of interviews with Camera Phone users both in school and at Yahoo!. It’s interesting to learn and think about how the meaning of a photograph is changing. The low quality images present a more ephemeral transitory representation of meaning… they convey a message. Users typically delete them and throw them away. In contrast, ever seen how many people have the typical photo storage “Box”? You know that box where you throw all your double prints, extra prints, maybe it’s all your hard physical photos. Anyways, the point here is that the technology is changing the meaning of the artifact. In this article they are saying that with time the image will regain it’s properties of a typical photo. But I’m not so sure. While I agree that better quality will improve users satisfaction level, I still think there is something more interesting going on with the “semi-realtime” sharing of images. And I think there is something more powerful that can help to leverage MMS technology. Think about ways to involve community more and presence of those communities available to users at all times. That’s the power of the device – a socially networked community of people who can share photos. (i.e., Communicate Visually).

He then goes on to say that the size of the viewing screen matters. Does size really matter? Well, I think so, too, but there is more than just size. There is timing, pacing, and interaction. I’ve been trying to preach the size bit to people about mobile photo apps for a little while now: Mobile phone ARE NOT great places to view images! They are great places to blink or quickly glance at images, but I don’t want to have to find them, retrieve them, load them, etc. I worked for a while on Y!’s photo app. But, I still don’t really get it. Why do people want to spend time downloading their images to their phone, when the networks are slow, image size is big, and phone memory is small? Snapfish, Kodak Mobile (Ofoto), Y! Photo… they all have them. But Why? Ok, so I understand that users do want to show their photos to friends and family and the phone offers a way for users to do that anywhere, but the amount of work involved is insane. Then, after you finally get the image, you can hardly make out details of it. (Although, I will say here, that if you interested in any of them… Snapfish’s BREW version is the best in my opinion.)

The feature article says that ideas like Nokias picture frame are great, but Moblogs are not so great. Ummm… huh? The size of the picture frame is great but you get an even larger viewing area on the computer and many people already have them (making the cost issue that they pointed out null and void). Additionally, and more importantly, I think whatever the killer app for photos on phones is going to be is going to involve community more. Picture Frames are a great idea, but too far ahead for now, and too isolated. The web and social community sites, by contrast create a very interesting place to have your image appear on larger screen and be readily viewable by many people (your whole group of friends and family). All the technology is there (not to mention inexpensive), it’s just a matter of figuring out a creative way to use it more. Make users feel more connected always. And reduce the work of taking, sending, sharing, and receiving the image. (I’ve got a couple good ideas for ya… but more on those another time.)

So, the bottom line with what Im saying here is that while on the surface it may seem that quality and size are the key determinants to MMS. I think about it a bit differently and challenge you too as well. Think more about community (presence) and interaction (the full life cycle of taking, sending, receiving, viewing, talking about the image). Think about ways to make people feel connected and leverage presence to make things easier. Think about interaction not only as good feedback (MMS feedback is also a big issue) but as the whole sha-bang: initiation, response, acceptance and the pacing and timing of all of these. If we think about these things more and the other two naturally evolve, maybe we’ll actually get a hit and use for MMS and the opportunities the affordances of cameraphones present to photo sharing and photo management.