Monthly Archives: April 2005

Undergroud news

On my way down to Palo Alto this morning, I opened the New York Times to see the headline article “A Hundred Cellphones Bloom, and Chinese Take to the Streets”. I open the business section, three more headline articles appear there about mobile phones and telecommunications. A sign of the times.

The Chinese article is a very interesting one about the Chinese anti-Japanese protests. As protestors raged into the streets of China, Chinese authorities banned almost all state media coverage. It hardly mattered though. Instead, underground conversations via email, text, and IM online offered the perfect medium for protestors to keep organizing. “The underground noise grew so loud that last Friday the Chinese government moved to silence it by banning the use of text messages or emails to organize protests.”

The messaging underground sparks many ideas in my head about collaborative communication vehicles and real-time broadcast of events and political movements. What if there was a central repository of all those text messages, IM’s, or emails. A new source of live coverage would exist, without even trying to.

As well what if people could view and interact with that channel while on their mobiles or on their desktops. An organizational tool, as well as a broadcast tool. A group communication tool.

The collective repository could also be used as grassroot news aggregation. Perhaps something a kin with “real news” from the eyes of the participants instead of the commentators. Live commenting, emotion, and clips… not after the fact analysis.


Still awaiting the ‘killer app’ game

The buzz about the casual game continues… Today from The Feature:

He also brings up the dreaded killer app argument, saying it’s something the market “still awaits,” adding that it won’t be a console port, but something that engages the mobile phone as a communication device, incorporating cameras and network connectivity. While it’s good to see a developer realizing the potential for immersive interactivity the mobile platform provides, this seems at odds with the success of casual games, based on simplicity and playability — the formula for success of Tetris, which is pretty close to being mobile gaming’s “killer app”.

Simple. Interactive. Camera. Network. Fun.


Casual Games, Flash Lite, and Mobie Audience Participation

Tom Hume today has sited some more things about casual gaming. If you haven’t yet got the message… 2005 is all about the casual game!! I’m going to try to keep following Tom and his project. I’m curious to learn more about it, as I think that Tom has many of the right approaches!

Bryan Rieger posted this curious murmor that Ericsson has begun to install Flash Lite in the k750i and the k600i and maybe the z800i and w800i. Is this true? If so, that would be excellent! But, why on earth do we not know about it for sure yet?

And my own little personal blurb that a friend of mine told me last week on more social uses of mobiles. Apparently at the U2 concert here in Oakland a couple weeks ago, you could SMS your name to a short code and they would run a ticker beind the band. Your name would then be displayed as part of the show. I wonder what other small interesting uses of these things people will start to have. Could this be the first use of participatory interaction in public entertainment? Can’t wait until you can control/ influence more of the show.


Presence Levels, Intimacy, IM, and Multiple Devices

I woke up this am and went jogging with Lara early! Ahhhh….

Last Saturday night, Michael Orourke came over and we had a nice conversation about the nature of presence and how this will transform and remain persistent across multiple devices. We are starting to see this as IM clients allow you to remain connected at all times through the same conduit but on multiple devices. How will this transfer as we begin to integrate with other devices, like TV? Our thoughts concluded with your phone acting as a remote into other devices, allowing you to transfer your presence to that device and then interact with that device. Different input devices will allow you to interact with those other devices. You may choose to use your pc and keyboard to interact with the presence on the TV… or perhaps your phone, if you have to go out the garage, but want to continue the conversation.

I then read this article that Howard Reingold wrote of an interview with Scott Jenson.

WAP and MMS failed to meet expectations because services were designed by what Jenson calls “default thinking,” a clichéd and unquestioned mindset that combines “a weak collection of axioms of design, broad market visions, or rules of execution that aren’t clearly articulated. This collection exists in the background, much like the assumption that gravity exists.”

The companies who assumed that the coolness of sending photos would automatically make MMS an even bigger hit than the accidental success of SMS were victims of default thinking: “While indeed, there appears to be an intuitive value to ‘sending a photo,’ additional questions such as ‘Do people really need this?’ and ‘What are they doing in their lives where this is a large value?’ need to be asked.”

Jenson uses the notions of “design semantics” (the broader motivational issues underlying an act of communication) and “design syntax” (the way the screens and menus look when someone tries to communicate) to illustrate the important differences between SMS and MMS.

He goes on to outline four different killer apps of MMS and SMS that have yet to be implemented.

The first centers around gift giving. This reminds me of the work done at HP, by Mirjana Spasojevic. This paper, talks about, the Social Uses of the Camera Phone, and I was reminded of one example she uses as an example of such gift-giving with these devices. One of her subjects received a bunch of flowers. “She waited until the flowers bloomed and then thanked the giver by capturing and printing an
image of them, and sent the print in a letter with a written “thank you” note.” Although a bit different mechanism for gift giving, the intention and user motivation is the same that Scott Jenson is talking about here.

The other killer apps that Jenson outlines are centered more around presence.

The product Jenson calls “Tap” would require custom software on the handset to send and receive SMS messages that convey only the time and the identity of the sender. “Although no text is sent, the message isn’t really empty of content as it has a sender and an arrival time, both of which can have meaning depending on social context. This text-free message can be thought of as the social equivalent of a tap on the shoulder” that could convey different messages, depending on context.

This is the same notion that Mimi Ito refers to as “Remote Touching” which enables a sense of presence to be conveyed. It’s not the same level of presence that IM transferring your availability messages via platforms would afford, but it is a more intimate type of presence. One that conveys your intention and thoughts, not only your availability. Perhaps it even borders on the notion of a gift.

I think this brings up interesting thoughts on levels of presence. As we allow our lives to become integrated more and more into the virtual, I think we will start to see different applications which will afford us the ability to 1. make apparent some of our real-world actions through the interaction with different devices 2. allow different small notions of intimacy to be transferred easily through different mediums. The more intimate touches, will be used with a closed social network, while the others maybe broader in their appeal.

The other apps that Scott Jenson finishes up talking about reinforce this notion. One is allowing voice as the gift instead of just text and the end is a group texting service which aggregates and sends messages in groups instead of just an inbox. I’m sure the level of intimacy within these groups will also be defined. I think giving users tools to do this will be an inherent part of conveying presence.

I want my coworkers to know where I can be contacted easiest at all parts of the day, but I want my friend to know that I was just had a random thought that reminded me of him. Would a model of presence intimacy, like this get us closer to the modeling of strong and weak ties… where weaker ties are allowed less presence levels and stronger ties are allowed more?


No man is an Island

I think it’s funny how things always come back around. Maybe it’s good karma, maybe it’s the circular beauty of life. Maybe i’m just lucky!

Today I had a great talk with an old friend Jim Lanahan. Jim was the first inspiration, visionary, motivator, helper for Erick and I to dream further than we had ever thought. He was the first person to encourage us to take things to the next level. It was nice to catch up with Jim and hear how well he was doing and to hear equally inspiring words, from someone who has been down similar paths before… almost a year later.

No man is an island.

Reading what Jyri Engstrom and Russ have to say about Object Oriented Sociality has made me think a bit too. Jyri has posted a great article about what drives people together to connect and to become friends. While Jyri uses “object” I tend to think of it more as “activity”. People love to do things together, humans are social by nature. They group together to get things done. They meet one another based on similar interests, whether that be talking, playing soccer, sharing photos, dining, working, etc. They like to do things together.

When I was interviewing people about sharing pictures back at school last year, they talked a lot about “group sharing”, but the groups were of specific purpose or activity. Some talked of making slideshows for the soccer team others talked about sharing with their burning-man friends. People oriented their groups of friends around things they like to do.

And yes, I think it’s true any site that fails to incorporate this in the model of social networking will probubly fail. I immediately think of Friendster. When my friends were all actively joining and signing up, I just didn’t really get it. If I wanted to talk to them, I would. How does it inhance our “connection”? How does it help us have fun, share something together, become better at whatever brought us together in the first place? What is it I gain?

Now that they have added blogging, I might be able to see a common interest in those who like to blog or read blogs. But those who don’t may still have little interest in the site. There is little they can do there or help them do what they want to do.

Russ’s analogy of whoever has the most friends wins, makes me think of a pad of paper I had when I was younger. Of course as a teenage girl, I LOVED to talk on the phone. Our family used to take each other’s messages on a pad that said “who ever has the most messages in the end wins”, with a man at a desk drowning in messages. I can easily see how these links to people with nothing to do with them, just pile up, eventually suffocating us.

No man is an island… but I certainly don’t want to drown in a boat load of “connections”, sans meaning, either. “Connection”, sans meaning, isn’t that an oxymoron anyways?


Happy Mobile Monday!

Tonight’s Mobile Monday is at Yahoo!

Igor Jablakov: Program Director, Multimodal & Voice Portals, IBM Software Group

Fabrizio Capobianco: CEO and founder of Funambol, the company behind the open source mobile platform Sync4j

Jeff Clavier and Marc Brown: Buzznet

Thad White: Senior Director, Product Management at Yahoo!

I know Jeff and Marc will talk about absolutely amazing things! I really love what they are doing to reach the mainstream photo sharing community! And I used to work with/ for Thad. He’s great as well! I think tonights event will be really good.

Plus some free munchies from Y! … so what could be bad about it?

See you all there!