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Putting People First

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February 2006
3 February 2006

Swisscom ethnologist observes ecology of communication channels

Broadbentliftcommlog_1
Are people “specialising” their use of different communication channels? Are there different usages for mobile, fix, e-mail, etc in terms of content, partners in the communication or habits? And are new channels affecting how other channels are used?

Bruno Giussani has a nice report on the LIFT06 presentation by Stefana Broadbent, an ethnologist working for Swisscom Innovations who has been studying the economical and social aspects of telecommunication.

With her team, she has observed and studied 200 people in Switzerland in their interaction with technology, interviewed them, collected maps and other information about the position of tech in their homes, timelines and usage schedules, communication logs. And, she says, what comes out of this is that people “are very good at choosing the best media for each situation”.

What would that be? “SMS is to tell you I miss you, Email is to organise our dinner, Voice is to say I’m late, and IM is to continue our conversation”, says Broadbent.

Read full story
Read similar story in French by Daniel Kaplan

2 February 2006

LIFT conference live

Lift06
Plenty of people seem to be blogging at the 2006 LIFT conference, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, today and tomorrow. Just this check this overview.

Bruno Giussani is my personal favourite, because of his capability to condense the talks in tight and well-written summaries.

1 February 2006

Manipulated videos and the concept of truth in media

Tetra_robot
I just looked in amazement at an astonishingly realistic 3D animation of a military robot patrolling the (real) streets of Johannesburg, South Africa. The effect of reality is so overwhelming that most people will accept this footage as a fact.

This raises the question how we as citizens will be able to determine truthful representation in video, or in media in general. The field is wide open for manipulation of all sorts.

With this technology, we could imagine “witnessing” a secret meeting between George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden. For instance.

Read short review
Download video (16.3 mb, 80 secs mov file)

(via Eyebeam reBlog)

1 February 2006

Tracing anybody’s mobile phone [The Guardian]

Tracking_mobile
Textually.org reports on a very entertaining article in The Guardian, where Ben Goldacre explains how he tracked his girlfriend’s whereabouts for a full week through her mobile phone.

“For the past week I’ve been tracking my girlfriend through her mobile phone. I can see exactly where she is, at any time of day or night, within 150 yards, as long as her phone is on. It has been very interesting to find out about her day.”

“First, though, I ought to point out, that my girlfriend is a journalist, that I had her permission. Getting hold of her phone I took it upstairs to register it on a website I had been told about” (which according to Textually.org is probably World Tracker).

“Signing up, deleting the text messages requesting confirmation, even following a person-shaped blob (his girlfriend) in the middle on an online map left no trace in her cell phone.”

Ben set up the website to track her at regular intervals, “taking a snapshot of her whereabouts automatically, every half hour, and plotting her path on the map, so that I could view it at my leisure.”

Don’t leave your phone out of your sight! In just 5 minutes, anyone, any company could set this up and track you.

What’s more: “your mobile phone company could make money from selling information about your location to the companies that offer this service. [… So,] call your phone company and ask it to find out if there is a trace on your phone. Anybody could be watching you”.

1 February 2006

Design in technology research

Design_technology_research
Research institutions often face the challenge on how to best translate their scientific discoveries into commercially successful products and services.

So how can design speed up technological research’s journey from the lab to the marketplace? The UK’s Design Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council teamed up to find out.

Six researchers joined forces with six designers to look at opportunities for commercialising technologies ranging from intelligent cameras to laser imaging.

This Design Council publication details what happened. It also reports on a debate that gave designers, researchers and others the chance to debate the big questions around design’s role.