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Posts in category 'Presence'

7 December 2008

Audio interview with Nokia’s Adam Greenfield

Adam Greenfield
Podcamp Barcelona’s Chris Pinchen interviewed Nokia’s Adam Greenfield at Visualizar ’08 (Madrid, Spain) the day after the US elections.

Their conversation ranged widely over subjects including corporate Situationism, fear of ubicomp, the technological disparity between everyday life in the US and that in other parts of the world, and the odd and occasionally uncomfortable freedoms afforded anyone living in a culture to which they are not native.

Listen to interview: part 1 | part 2

(via Adam Greenfield)

20 October 2008

How mobile is changing our society

Teemu Arina
Teemu Arina, who will speak at the upcoming Mobile Monday event in Amsterdam, has put a lengthy essay on his blog on the topic “how mobile is changing our society.”

“I have a feeling that the question we pose today is wrong. It’s not about mobile anymore. For some people, mobile means the devices that we carry around as we move, usually hooked up to a cellular network. The truth is, the activities we go through online with computers and what we do with our “mobiles” cannot be seen as separate anymore. This convergence means our language needs to change or our culture will never understand its future.

As ordinary physical items enter the same network, it’s not going to be about virtual or physical activities anymore. Both will be different faces of the same coin. It’s not going to be about context or not. Context will be the primary component of everything. The primary device will no longer be a “mobile”, but more like something that interacts with the network in a highly contextual way. Ideas, people and physical objects will be part of the same network in a very literal sense.”

Read full story

(via Smart Mobs)

20 October 2008

Vodafone Receiver Magazine on location and geowebbing

Vodafone_receiver_red_bg
The current edition of Vodafone Receiver Magazine is devoted to location and geowebbing, or as they write: “annotating real space digitally and using the world itself as our interface”.

Two authors have already contributed on the theme, and more articles are still to come:

A digital geography manifesto
by Jonathan Raper (Professor at the City University London)
What should you write on an academic blog? If news, trivia, detail and narcissism are all out, then what’s left? When I started my blog “The Digital Geographer” in early 2006, I decided to sidestep these sins by writing a manifesto. My digital geography manifesto was a tongue-in-cheek statement of some of the challenges that we faced in designing and implementing a new generation of “egocentric” mobile applications that will bring the power of location technology to mobile devices everywhere. As I write this, two and a half years have passed and it is instructive to revisit the manifesto’s ten principles and see which of them captured an enduring issue – and which of them has already been solved.

Creating maps for everyone and network effects for the data driving them
by Sean Gorman
Mapping was once the domain of professionals. Cartographers and geo-scientists trained in universities for several years to learn the best techniques for accurately displaying data on maps. The public often saw the end product of the map creation process, but was largely limited to scribbling on paper when it came to creating maps of its own. Beginning in 2005, this paradigm turned upside down. The last three years have fundamentally changed the way people understand their location and geography.

26 September 2008

A little switch with a big impact

Airplane mode
Is there a point in the evolution of mass market mobile phones that cellular connectivity as we understand it today is perceived not as a core feature, but as an optional extra?

Jan Chipchase of Nokia explores convergence, connectivity and dis-connectivity in a new and smartly written essay titled “A Little Switch With a Big Impact“, pointing out four trends that will ensure the practice and willingness to disconnect evolves.

“In time the design, language and social norms for connecting, dis-connecting and re-connecting will have reached the point where switch becomes the primary interface to our digital selves.

Of course by then it will called something else, will do something else such as appropriately syncing with everything else that matters to you and your stakeholders. Think of a world where everything is by default on, where the “record” and “capture” button is replaced by “pause”. And then re-imagine the Airplane Mode.”

Read essay

26 September 2008

Experientia’s Jan-Christoph Zoels at Picnic /2

PICNIC
Experientia’s senior partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is this week at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam and is sending regular updates. Here is his second one, covering the Thursday morning sessions:

Group actions just got easier!Clay Shirky jump-started the second day of PICNIC 08 with stories about the problems and challenges of social media. In each story he showed how social dilemmas or needs facilitate new ways of sharing, collaborating and social action. Sharing of social objects such as images, tools and questions enables the starting of a discussion leading to a gathering of an interested community with a trail of conversation. Group rules on Flickr ‘Black & White Maniacs‘ address the social dilemma of getting attention by asking people to comment on to previous photos in the act of posting their own, therefore spreading the opportunity of getting seen and acknowledged throughout the community of practice.

In a second example Shirky documented the re-emergence of simple tools to facilitate fast uptake, sharing and synchronization with others. Limited features and clear rules of engagement (no shouting – visual text changes) help to divide the attention across the bulletin board members.

His discussion of the Pluto page on Wikipedia showcased the powers of collaboration of reciprocal sharing and syncing in creating exhaustive content with extensive links. 5000 edits by over 2200 users showed the distribution of a long tail curve demonstrating an ecosystem where everybody can participate on the level they desire. The Galileo page on the other side has still the trappings of a five hundred years flame war resulting in the disabling of editing capabilities.

Lastly he demanded an extension of the power of social media to not only show how we think but to also cover how we can act. Harnessing collective actions require a built-in acknowledgement of the assembled insights and opinions and resulting new group structures.

100% of user on online dating sites lieGenevieve Bell, a leading anthropologist at Intel’s Digital Home Group, spoke about the complicated daily constructions of truth and lies in personal life on and off the web. How to resolve our daily Secrets & Lies in new engaging social media where the devices and media keep trails forever. The uncoordinated intentions of individuals and their revealing devices will lead to tensions between cultural practices and ideas about secrets and lies and ICT applications. This poses complicated questions for e-Gov, national security and reputation indices.

Mike Fries, president of Liberty Global, discussed O3B Networks – the other three billion initiative – of Google, HSBC and Liberty Global in bringing high-speed satellite telecommunication access to underserved populations in emerging markets. His Future of Television conversation focussed on the delivery of more tailored and personalised content supported by advertisements, changing viewer behaviours of random access to digital TV and time shifting viewing habits.

Michael Tchao, the manager of Nike Techlab, spoke in his Tools, Things and Toys presentation about how to use information to inspire runners and convert physical activities into digital connect and communities. The Nike+ collaboration with Apple focussed on supporting runner motivation in designing sexy tools, engaging interfaces, synched running cycles and community challenges. The Nike+ HumanRace initiative used web tools to connect individual aspirations with local running communities to organize a series of worldwide races on 31.8.08.

Nabaztag co-inventor Rafi Haladjian (blog) presented his search from connecting rabbits to connecting everything else. What will be the effortless, spontaneous information providers of the future? How will they enable limited attention bandwidth? In extending his hold on emotive objects he showcased the new and very cute Naonoztags. The newest Ztamps and Mirror by Violet is a passive RFID reader and sensors enabling fast connections between tangible object and web-based information. Examples shown were links between drug packages and your personal health site, direct access to news sites or personal photo collections.

For more Picnic reporting, check also Bruno Giussani, Hubert Guillaud (writing proficiently in French), Ethan Zuckerman, and Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

5 September 2008

Ambient awareness

Awareness
The upcoming New York Times Magazine has a long feature on the effects of News Feed, Twitter and other forms of incessant online contact.

“Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye. Facebook is no longer alone in offering this sort of interaction online. In the last year, there has been a boom in tools for “microblogging”: posting frequent tiny updates on what you’re doing. The phenomenon is quite different from what we normally think of as blogging, because a blog post is usually a written piece, sometimes quite long: a statement of opinion, a story, an analysis. But these new updates are something different. They’re far shorter, far more frequent and less carefully considered. One of the most popular new tools is Twitter, a Web site and messaging service that allows its two-million-plus users to broadcast to their friends haiku-length updates — limited to 140 characters, as brief as a mobile-phone text message — on what they’re doing. There are other services for reporting where you’re traveling (Dopplr) or for quickly tossing online a stream of the pictures, videos or Web sites you’re looking at (Tumblr). And there are even tools that give your location. When the new iPhone, with built-in tracking, was introduced in July, one million people began using Loopt, a piece of software that automatically tells all your friends exactly where you are.”

Read full story

5 September 2008

The techno-mobile life in our networked cities

LIFT09
Nicolas Nova and Bruno Giussani have been blogging two of the LIFT Asia conference sessions that took place in Seoul today.

Session: Networked city
The new digital layers provided by ICTs are transforming contemporary urban environments. What does that mean for its inhabitants? What changes can we expect? How will ubiquitous computing influence the way we live? « Everyware » author Adam Greenfield (Nokia Design, Finland), as well as architects Jeffrey Huang (EPFL, Switzerland) and Yang Soo-In (The Living, Korea) provided their vision on this not so distant future.
> Report by Nicolas Nova
> Report by Bruno Giussani

Session: Techno-nomadic life
Mobile technologies have freed us from the tyranny of “place”, but have they introduced new constraints? New behaviors? Is the mobile web going through the same process as the Web in the 90s?
Star design researcher Jan Chipchase (Nokia, Japan) will present some insights nomadic work/life practices enabled by mobile technologies, while i-mode father Takeshi Natsuno (Keio University, Japan) and Christian Lindholm (Fjord, UK) will talk about the future of mobile services.
> Report by Nicolas Nova
> Report by Bruno Giussani

25 August 2008

The song of context

Speedbird
Adam Greenfield has written a truly excellent post — in fact more like a short essay — on the difference between location and context, calling the first one positivist and the second one phenomenological.

“But it [the positivist tradition] stands in stark contrast to the phenomenological take on things, which is premised on the instability and subjectivity of the things we perceive, and on the irreducible importance of these perceptions as they register on the lived body, i.e. you, now, here, in your own skin, heir to your own history of experience. On the phenomenological side of the house, all of the grandeur resides in the act of interpretation – which is always somebody’s interpretation, crucially inflected by their situation. […]

The phenomenological approach – and this is the worldview that stands, either explicitly or otherwise, behind the entire field subsuming design and user research and ethnography, at least as those things are practiced by the people I know – insists that the world in its richness cannot be reduced to datasets. Or not, anyway, without doing fatal damage to everything that truly matters.

But Dourish [“What We Talk About When We Talk About Context?“, Paul Dourish, 2004] argues (persuasively, I think) that this is the wrong question. For him, this mysterious thing context is something that only be arrived at through interaction – “an achievement, rather than an observation; an outcome, rather than a premise.” It’s relational in the deepest sense of the word, a state of being that arises out of the shared performance and understanding of two or more parties (actors, agents, what have you).

And why do we want to characterize this state of being in the first place? “[T]o be able to use the context in order to discriminate or elaborate the meaning of the user’s activity.” That’s it.”

This is highly recommended reading. Thank you, Adam.

Read full story

17 July 2008

The invisible city: design in the age of intelligent maps

Intelligent map
New mapping technologies are fundamentally changing the way we experience the city. Urban planners Varnelis and Meisterlin explore the busy intersections of design and cartography in a long and excellent essay on Adobe’s Design Center Think Tank.

“Today’s intelligent maps don’t just represent spatial relationships, they reveal conditions in the city that were previously hidden in spreadsheets and databases. And it’s not just a new representation of the city that emerges out of this data; its a new hybrid city, part physical texture and part data-driven map.” […]

“For designers, the implications are clear. As maps become richer, more complicated, and less predictable, cartography becomes less a matter of convention and more a matter of invention. Our age of intelligent maps demands intelligent map design. The role of the designer in contemporary mapping cannot be overstated. Aesthetics and readability have real-world implications both in use and in meaning. The choice of what to show and how to show not only impacts appearance, it can reframe arguments. Graphic considerations such as cropping, line weights, and even color or typeface translate into statements on territory and boundary, economy and politics.”

Read full story

17 July 2008

Could location drive the future of the humble SIM card?

SIM card
Andrew Grill, a UK telecoms senior executive, discusses the future of the Subscriber Identity Module, better known as the SIM card.

“As a tool that securely manages a subscriber’s identity, the SIM is the only remaining element of the mobile an operator actually owns. The way in which an operator chooses to use the SIM could offer huge potential to drive revenues from the next generation of mobile applications. For a service like social networking, by adding the element of a person’s location, the SIM is offering a new opportunity to provide actual relevance to a user’s browsing.” […]

“To enhance the way a person uses social networking on their mobile, location technology delivered on the SIM could play a pivotal role. By introducing the long held desire of real-time subscriber location, operators could energise social networking sites and provide users with an enhanced contextualised service that most PCs could not offer. On a handset, this could include status updates about a person’s location or presence, give an alert if friends were in close proximity to each other or alternatively provide location specific information when signing in to the account.”

Read full story

4 July 2008

From ubiquitous technology to human context (videos)

UIA World Congress of Architecture
On Wednesday 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) moderated a session at the World Congress of Architecture in Turin, Italy, entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”.

Speakers were Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Director, Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (senior design manager, Nokia).

Videos: About ten minutes into the session, I realised that no provisions had been made by the organisers to videotape the presentations, so I started recording everything myself, from a small handheld Nokia N95. Obviously image quality is not so great but the sound is quite good. I uploaded everything on Google Video: Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang and Younghee Jung.

Two apologies: first to Nicolas for not having taped his session too – as I said, I realised too late that the organisers were not doing it themselves – but luckily Nicolas has posted a summary and his slides on his own blog. The second apology goes to Younghee, whose presentation is only half recorded, because the N95 battery died.

The session unfortunately ended a bit in chaos. As it had started late, it also ran a bit over time and people from the next session started filling up the seminar room and at one point hackled the last speaker – Younghee Jung – to finish things up. A fragile Younghee – during her talk she shared a personal event with the audience that was very close to her emotionally – suddenly had to summarise 30 slides in 2 minutes and this is luckily not on video. Perhaps she can send us her presentation still.

5 June 2008

Nokia research on the “Internet of Things” officially begins

Internet of Things
Nokia press release:

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Today marks the launch of the new long-term research partnership between Nokia Research Center and the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, with the Pervasive Communications Laboratory doors officially opening in Lausanne.

The focus of this major research collaboration is to get beneath the skin of new technologies and explore the real-life application of what’s been dubbed the “Internet of Things” – a vision of context aware mobile interaction, using your mobile device to soak up and share information about your environment and the real objects in your close vicinity. Sure, merging existing technologies such as GPS and high-speed networks will inevitably form part of the research agenda, however the development of fresh technologies and smart sensors that could replicate human senses, such as touch and even smell, to help gather information will also go under the microscope.

“The initial joint research agenda will focus on pervasive communications: Exploring new interaction experiences and technologies utilizing all the human senses; Services and applications based on the user’s context, such as location, and personal preferences, e.g., information provided by sensors within a mobile device or in the surrounding world; Internet services and technologies – enriching the Internet experience on mobile devices.”

Dr. Bob Iannucci, Nokia Chief Technology Officer and head of Nokia Research Center, supports this vision saying:

“Nokia has already carried out a great deal of research in the field of pervasive communications, and sees the fusing of the digital and physical worlds as a key objective in mobility. We have chosen to work with the Swiss Institutes of Technology because of their expertise in this area”

The Pervasive Communications Laboratory has just announced a call for proposals to gather new innovative ideas for high quality, high impact research projects.

They are looking for proposals in the following areas:

  • Context aware services and applications
  • Social networks linked to location and context
  • Usability and human aspects, pervasive communication interfaces
  • Networking and context awareness
3 May 2008

CHI 2008: a selection on mobility

CHI 2008 proceedings
Here is my selection on mobility related papers presented at CHI 2008.

(Papers are linked to their pdf downloads, if available.)

A diary study of mobile information needs [abstract]
Authors: Timothy Sohn, Kevin A. Li, William G. Griswold, and James D. Hollan (UC San Diego)
Abstract: Being mobile influences not only the types of information people seek but also the ways they attempt to access it. Mobile contexts present challenges of changing location and social context, restricted time for information access, and the need to share attentional resources among concurrent activities. Understanding mobile information needs and associated interaction challenges is fundamental to improving designs for mobile phones and related devices. We conducted a two-week diary study to better understand mobile information needs and how they are addressed. Our study revealed that depending on the time and resources available, as well as the situational context, people use diverse and, at times, ingenious ways to obtain needed information. We summarize key findings and discuss design implications for mobile technology.

Accountabilities of presence: reframing location-based systems [abstract]
Authors: Emily Troshynski, Charlotte Lee and Paul Dourish (UC Irvine)
Abstract: How do mobility and presence feature as aspects of social life? Using a case study of paroled offenders tracked via Global Positioning System (GPS), we explore the ways that location-based technologies frame people’s everyday experiences of space. In particular, we focus on how access and presence are negotiated outside of traditional conceptions of “privacy.” We introduce the notion of accountabilities of presence and suggest that it is a more useful concept than “privacy” for understanding the relationship between presence and sociality.

26 January 2008

Recent publications by Prof. Paul Dourish

Paul Dourish
Putting People First regularly features the work of UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish, whose interest lies in the crossover areas between computer science, anthropology, ubiquitous computing, mobility, design and HCI.

Here are some of the recent publications by this very prolific researcher:

Brewer, J., Bassoli, A., Martin, K., Dourish, P., and Mainwaring, S. 2007. Underground Aesthetics: Rethinking Urban Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 6(3), July-September, 39-45

An ethnographic study and a design proposal for a situated music-exchange application suggest how explicitly foregrounding the experiential qualities of urban life can help rethink urban computing design.

Dourish, P. 2007. Seeing Like an Interface. Proc. Australasian Computer-Human Interaction Conference OzCHI 2007 (Adelaide, Australia)

Mobile and ubiquitous computing systems are increasingly of interest to HCI researchers. Often, this has meant considering the ways in which we might migrate desktop applications and everyday usage scenarios to mobile devices and mobile contexts. However, we do not just experience technologies in situ – we also experience everyday settings through the technologies we have at our disposal. Drawing on anthropological research, I outline an alternative way of thinking about the relationship between technology and “seeing” everyday life and everyday space.

Brewer, J., Mainwaring, S., and Dourish, P. 2008. Aesthetic Journeys. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Researchers and designers are increasingly creating technologies intended to support urban mobility. However, the question of what mobility is remains largely under-examined. In this paper we will use the notion of aesthetic journeys to reconsider the relationship between urban spaces, people and technologies. Fieldwork on the Orange County bus system and in the London Underground leads to a discussion of how we might begin to design for multiple mobilities.

Williams, A., Dourish, P., and Anderson, K. 2008. Anchored Mobilities: Mobile Technology and Transnational Migration. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Mobile technologies are deployed into diverse social, cultural, political and geographic settings, and incorporated into diverse forms of personal and collective mobility. We present an ethnography of transnational Thai retirees and their uses of mobile technology, highlighting forms of mobility that are spatially, temporally, and infrastructurally anchored, and concepts of the house as a kinship network that may be globally distributed. We conclude in pointing out several ways in which our observations and analysis can influence design.

Troshynski, E., Lee, C., and Dourish, P. 2008. Accountabilities of Presence: Reframing Location-Based Systems. Proc. ACM Conf. Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2008 (Florence, Italy)

How do mobility and presence feature as aspects of social life? Using a case study of paroled offenders tracked via Global Positioning System (GPS), we explore the ways that location-based technologies frame people’s everyday experiences of space. In particular, we focus on how access and presence are negotiated outside of traditional conceptions of “privacy.” We introduce the notion of accountabilities of presence and suggest that it is a more useful concept than “privacy” for understanding the relationship between presence and sociality.

(via Pasta&Vinegar)

1 December 2007

Friending, ancient or otherwise

Friending
The New York Times reports on how in the collective patter of profile-surfing, messaging and “friending,” academic researchers see the resurgence of older patterns of oral communication.

“The growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Second Life has thrust many of us into a new world where we make “friends” with people we barely know, scrawl messages on each other’s walls and project our identities using totem-like visual symbols.

We’re making up the rules as we go. But is this world as new as it seems?

Academic researchers are starting to examine that question by taking an unusual tack: exploring the parallels between online social networks and tribal societies. In the collective patter of profile-surfing, messaging and “friending,” they see the resurgence of ancient patterns of oral communication.”

Read full story

1 December 2007

Intel’s Urban Atmospheres research project

Urban Atmospheres
The Urban Atmospheres project (video) is exploring how people who live in cities might want to use technology, how it could help them develop a sense of community or belonging, or play into their emotional experiences of urban living.

“By gaining a better understanding of what matters most to people in the daily experience of city life, we hope to inspire useful new technologies for urban dwellers, perhaps unlike any we have seen before. We believe this is an ideal time for our research, because of the growth in urban populations; rapid expansion of ad hoc sensor networks and mobile devices with Bluetooth wireless technology; and proliferation of wireless technologies.

Part of our research involves urban probes. These are provocative interventions designed to engage people in direct discussions about their current and emerging public urban landscape-and in the process, reveal new opportunities for technology in urban spaces. For example, as part of Jetsam, an urban probe into public city trashcans, we distributed more than 100 self-addressed stamped postcards, with individual stories on them, around San Francisco. We recorded where we dropped each postcard, then waited to see how they were returned to us, what kinds of messages people left on them, and how people interacted with them.

From the Jetsam study (video) we exposed an active curiosity towards trash and the people who once owned it. Ultimately, the study revealed that a seemingly banal, yet ubiquitous, part of the urban infrastructure is actually a focus of rich human activity, a microcosm of social ecology. It influenced our final interactive trashcan design by focusing it more heavily on the use of digital technologies to reinterpret the social archaeology, presence, and movement of people and artifacts throughout the city while provoking and facilitating a public discourse about such patterns and flows.”

Urban Atmospheres is a collection of newly emerging urban based research projects being conducted across Intel Research. This included not just the work at Intel Research Berkeley but also related projects at Intel’s People and Practices (PaPR) Research group in Oregon and others.

Eric Paulos [personal site] directs the Urban Atmospheres research as a Research Scientist at Intel Corporation. Many of the projects and research conducted within Urban Atmospheres are released openly to the public through this and other web sites as part of Intel’s network of university research laboratories.

1 December 2007

Intel’s Essential Computing vision

Essential Computing
From Intel’s Essential Computing website:

Intel Research’s over-arching vision for the future is evolving from one of proactive computing to one of Essential Computing. Over the years, we’ve been part of a steady evolution moving computing from the machine room out into people’s workplaces and into their daily lives. As this transformation continues, we will see computing evolve from being a number of separate devices we each use occasionally to dozens of devices that are an essential part of daily life.

Intel’s vision of Essential Computing encompasses five research areas, or as we call them, research themes. These five research themes – Personal Awareness, Physicality, Emergence Engineering, Concealing Complexity, Richly Communicative – focus on making technology more viable, more useful, more personal, more essential in our daily lives. Through these research directions, we seek to simplify and enrich all aspects of our daily lives through applications and systems technologies that collectively empower each of us as individuals, connect us to each other and into the fabric of networked society.

The five research themes for Essential Computing

Essential computing is a big goal. To spearhead this effort, we’ve broken it down into five research themes.

Concealing Complexity
As more devices become essential to our daily lives, it will become increasingly important to conceal their complexity.

New Possibilities for the Cell Phone Platform
Imagine carrying all of your applications, documents, photos, and MP3 and video files with you, in a device no larger than a deck of playing cards. That’s the concept behind the Personal Media Server.

Personal Awareness
In the future we may have a “wardrobe” of personal devices to help us pursue short- and long-term goals and personal enhancement.

Physicality
What kinds of new interfaces, sensors and actuation systems will allow people to seamlessly interact with the computing and physical parts of their lives?

Richly Communicative
Computing devices are increasingly being used as communicating devices. What’s needed are ways to convey more meaning and intent.

Videos

Researchers

The Essential Computing site also links to a page which presents some key Intel researchers and the projects they are working on, including many of the People and Practices Research Group (P&P):

  • Ken Anderson (anthropologist, P&P) – Transnationals and cosmopolitans-people who are living outside of their home countries
  • Richard Beckwith (research psychologist, P&P) – community adoption of technology
  • Maria Bezaitis (director, P&P) – a vision on ethnography
  • Sunny Consolvo – user-centered design for ubiquitous computing
  • Scott Mainwaring (reseacher, P&P) – People’s relationships with technology
  • Wendy March (interaction designer, P&P) – Teen girls and communications technology
  • Eric Paulos – Emerging digital and wireless urban landscapes
  • Allison Woodruff – how people interact with the growing number of portable electronic devices in their homes
27 October 2007

The future of presence

Movement
The Dott07 festival, curated by John Thackara, and taking place in the English city of NewcastleGateshead, is now in its last few days. One of the events was a series of debates on a variety of topics, such as energy, food, health, movement, and schools.

The debate on movement started from the assumption that the movement of people and goods around the world consume vast amounts of matter, energy, space, and time – most of it non-renewable. Question that arise are: Should sustainable development therefore be concentrated in cities, where economic progress can most feasibly be de-coupled from transport intensity? Or are there ways to ensure that rural communities have access to services by using transport resources more smartly? And could new forms of sustainable tourism be enabled by access to territorial and cultural assets that already exist?

The session began with a keynote from Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto, California, who has now posted his entire presentation online.

“What I want to talk about is not the future of mobility but rather, the future of presence. By ‘presence’ what I mean, is that if movement or travel is a means – then presence is the end. And so I want to broaden the discussion of mobility to include technologies and practices of telecommunication – ways of being “present” at remote locations.”

Townsend believes in the future of virtual worlds, telerobotics, and high-definition videoconferencing. But does presence really always require such high-end technologies?

Townsend’s talk was followed by a review of Dott 07’s Move Me project, which explored the potential to transform transportation resource efficiency in one village, Scremerston, in Northumberland, and by a review of three Dott 07 projects – Sustainable Tourism, Welcomes and Mapping the Necklace.

19 October 2007

Gates wants to make his presence felt

Bill Gates
Presence research is one of the more interesting new people-centred applications for the future. I am not entirely convinced that this new Microsoft approach is the right one though:

Anyone who has ever used an instant-messaging program has seen the basic idea of presence. That little status bar that says “available,” “away,” “out to lunch” or “cursing the Mets” is your presence–the computer’s understanding of how and under what means you are available.

Today, that information is stored on the computer, but is mostly acted on by other people. Perhaps you see that someone’s status is busy, so you send them an e-mail asking them to call rather than pestering them with an IM. Or, you see that someone is available on their mobile, so you know they are out of the office and send an SMS.

But Bill Gates has been urging folks inside Microsoft to make far more use of that information. Computers should be able to take actions on their own based on a user’s presence. Essentially, he says, the computer as an “intelligent agent,” basically the personal assistant that most of us just wish we had. If the computer can determine, based on a user’s calendar, that she only has an hour at the desk, it can prioritize a collection of tasks, e-mail and voice mail that appear to be most urgent based on what it knows to be her priorities.

What if instead presence could be enriched with such things as location information and also be made application and device independent?

Read full story

17 October 2007

Communication is king and presence is a prince

Mobile phone presence
A long article on the Telco 2.0 blog entitled “Nokia’s dilemma: operator friend or foe?” has some interesting passages on presence and mobile devices in it. Here is an excerpt:

“At Nokia’s own internal thought leadership conference in Helsinki nearly two years ago they had Andrew Odlyzko, mathematician and Internet philosopher, explain the future dynamics of the Internet and broadband. One central part of his thesis is that communication is king; content is secondary. When I take a photo of my kids at the zoo, and share it with my parents, that’s communication, not content.

Douglas Galbi (an FCC economist) takes the model one step further, with three basic modes of communication: presence (the sensuous sense of the other person being with you, as social bonding); storytelling (which includes the narrative of a game, the lyrics and emotions of a song, or the scenes of a movie); and pure information transfer (I want a taxi! What’s tomorrow’s weather?).

“Presence” (which here includes gossiping on the phone as you drive home, not just smiley on/off icons) is what users have historically been most willing to pay for. We’re still just hairless apes with a tribal grooming instinct.

Read full story (the interesting part starts after the heading “Content is king”)

(via the blog All about Mobile Life)