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Posts in category 'Teens'

29 August 2007

Penguin’s user-centred redesign

Penguin Books
Publishing brands Penguin and Dorling Kindersley, both part of the Penguin Group, recently completed a project to relaunch their websites and improve interaction and navigation for users.

The revamp was pretty far reaching – the team took a user-centred approach, with extensive usability testing and planning, and found new ways to think about marketing books via the site.

The group is also set to launch new sites to increase its engagement with customers – one is a youth-oriented site called spinebreakers.co.uk, which is employing teenagers in its development.

E-Consultancy, the British online publisher, has posted an interview with Penguin and DK’s online development manager Jeanette Angell, who speaks about the reasons behind the project and the techniques it used.

Read interview

25 July 2007

Nokia Trends Lab

Nokia Trends Lab
Nokia Trends Lab is the company’s new physical and virtual hub of mobility experiences. It seems very much set up as a co-creation initiative, with Nokia wanting to enable creative thinkers to push the boundaries of how to use mobility as part of their creative process.

Various experiments are formed within the ‘Nokia Trends Lab’ and indulge every creative discipline ranging from music, photography, film, and design.

Music Lab
Including all styles and genres, composer, Djs, producers, ring tone creators and sound designers.

Photography Lab
Including all styles and genres

Design Lab
Including software development, product design, fashion items, multimedia creation, graphics, interactive and web content, VJ, Illustration, installation design and lighting.

Film Lab
Including film photography, special effects, character design and animation, computer animation shorts and pop promos, documentaries and film installations.

In addition, there is Nokia Trends Lab Live, with live performances taking place in a number of European cities.

There are now Nokia Trends Labs in France, Germany, Italy and Lithuania.

The European Nokia Trends Lab seem to be a version two of an earlier Nokia Trends project with strong Latin-American roots. There are Nokia trends sites for Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Europe, Mexico and Switzerland, and it is introduced as follows:

“Nokia Trends is an absolute hit with people in tune with the main trends in human and technological expression, bringing together both established and new artists.

Created in Brazil in 2004 and later exported to Latin American and European countries such as Mexico, France and Russia, Nokia Trends is an experience that proposes different ways of consuming and producing avant-garde art and music via electronic means – especially mobile ones.”

24 July 2007

Young keep it simple in high-tech world

Surfing
[Reuters] – While young people embrace the Web with real or virtual friends and their mobile phone is never far away, relatively few like technology and those that do tend to be in Brazil, India and China, according to a survey.

Only a handful think of technology as a concept, and just 16 percent use terms like “social networking”, said two combined surveys covering 8- to 24-year-olds published on Tuesday by Microsoft and Viacom units MTV Networks and Nickelodeon.

“Young people don’t see “tech” as a separate entity – it’s an organic part of their lives,” said Andrew Davidson, vice president of MTV’s VBS International Insight unit.

Talking to them about the role of technology in their lifestyle would be like talking to kids in the 1980s about the role the park swing or the telephone played in their social lives — it’s invisible.”

The surveys involved 18,000 young people in 16 countries including the UK, U.S., China, Japan, Canada and Mexico.

Read full story

16 July 2007

TVs and computers breeding generation of ‘screen kids’

TV kids
The Guardian reports on a new report that shows how children are losing out on family life thanks to technology.

TVs and computers are the “electronic babysitters” for a generation of children who are losing out on family life and becoming more materialistic, a report says today. The study paints a picture of a breed of “screen kids” who are spending more and more time watching TV and surfing the net in their bedrooms, unsupervised by adults.

The Watching, Wanting and Wellbeing report from the National Consumer Council found nearly half the children from better-off families surveyed had televisions in their bedrooms, compared with 97% of the nine- to 13-year-olds from less well-off areas.

Children from poorer areas were also six times more likely to watch TV during the evening meal. And around a quarter of youngsters in this group admitted that they regularly watched the television at lunchtime on Sundays, compared with one in 30 children in better-off neighbourhoods. The NCC’s report links increased TV viewing hours with greater exposure to marketing and higher levels of materialism.

The authors, Agnes Nairn, Jo Ormrod and Paul Bottomley, also found that materialistic children were more likely than others to argue with their family, have a lower opinion of their parents and suffer from low self-esteem.

- Read article
Read press release
Download report (pdf, 250 kb, 65 pages)

29 June 2007

Alcatel-Lucent’s Alex and Lucie on user-centric experience

IMS
The website of Alcatel-Lucent, the global communications solution provider contains an entire section on user-centric experience. It is the first item of the site’s main menu, in fact.

“As end-users increasingly demand a more sophisticated communications experience tailored to meet their unique needs, putting them at center stage is what it will take to successfully compete. With Alcatel-Lucent’s user-centric applications and solutions, you will be uniquely positioned to deliver an enriched communications experience to consumers and enterprises — anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”

The section contains quite a lot of material, including:

29 June 2007

Carphone Warehouse study on the role of mobile phones in our daily lives

Carphone Warehouse
UK retailer Carphone Warehouse published the latest findings from Mobile Life revealing the strength of people’s attachment to their phones as well as how they have become integral to modern day life.

The study, which was done in conjunction with the London School of Economics (LSE) and Lord Philip Gould, also includes the results of a unique ethnographic experiment depriving 24 people of their phones for a week to better understand how they shape our behaviour.

Findings

  • One in three people would not give up their mobile phone for a million pounds or more, with women leading the way on those most likely to refuse.
  • 76% of people believe it is now a social requirement to have a mobile phone.
  • 85% of people think having a mobile phone is vital to maintaining their quality of life.
  • One in five 16-24 year olds think having a mobile phone decreases their quality of life.
  • Most young adults who took part in the ethnographic experiment felt mobile phones were not just a tool, but a critical social lifeline for feeling part of a friendship group.
  • Most of 16-24 year olds would rather give up alcohol, chocolate, sex, tea or coffee than live without their mobile phone for a month.

- Read press release
Go to Mobile Life website (with report downloads and videos)

23 May 2007

Vodafone’s Receiver magazine is “at home”

Vodafone Receiver magazine
The latest issue of Vodafone’s Receiver magazine (#18) is entitled “at home” and is introduced as follows:

Digital media are entering the connectivity as a matter of course era, and they are entering the “home zone”: the home (for many young people: the bedroom) has become the centre of their connected world. Once upon a time communications technologies belonged to the world of work – they now provide people with socialising tools they have long taken for granted. Technology becoming intuitional and ubiquitous prompts sociologists to speak of a privatisation of the public through communications and a fragmentation and/or expansion of the concept of home. How come?

Some of the articles it contains:

  • Socializing digitally
    Danah Boyd
    So what exactly are teens doing on MySpace? Simple: they’re hanging out. Of course, ask any teen what they’re doing with their friends in general; they’ll most likely shrug their shoulders and respond nonchalantly with “just hanging out”. Hanging out amongst friends allows teens to build relationships and stay connected. Much of what is shared between youth is culture – fashion, music, media. The rest is simply presence. This is important in the development of a social worldview.
     
  • Homecasting: the end of broadcasting?
    José van Dijck
    The internet never replaced television, and the distribution of user-generated content via sites such as YouTube and GoogleVideo, in my view, will not further expedite television’s obsolescence. On the contrary, they will introduce a new cultural practice that will both expand and alter our rapport with the medium of television — a practice I refer to as “homecasting”.
     
  • Connected strategies for connecting homes
    Mark Newman
    Do consumers actually want a connected home? I’m not sure that many of us even understand the concept. But what we do want is the freedom to time-shift and place-shift the services we already have. We want to be able to take the services we use at work into our homes. And the services we receive at home into the office or away with us on business or on holiday.
     
  • Keeping things simple
    John Seely Brown
    Well-designed media provide peripheral clues that subtly direct users along particular interpretive paths by invoking social and cultural understandings. Context and content work efficiently together as an ensemble, sharing the burden of communication. If the relationship between the two is honored, their interaction can make potentially complex practices of communication, interpretation, and response much easier. This is the essence of keeping things simple.
     
  • Appliances evolve
    Mike Kuniavsky
    Today, information is starting to be treated in product design as if it was a material, to produce a new class of networked computing devices. Unlike general-purpose computers, these exhibit what Bill Sharpe of the Appliance Studio calls “applianceness”. They augment specific tasks and are explicitly not broad platforms that do everything from banking to playing games.
     
  • Socializing digitally
    Leslie Haddon
    There have been numerous occasions where technologies have entered our everyday lives through the influence of users, or at least some users, in ways that were unanticipated by industry. In relation to a number of important innovations it is users themselves who have developed or adapted the technology to fit into their lives and their homes. But as we shall see, that is only one side of the coin. Users can also be quite discriminating.
     
  • The new television
    Louise Barkhuus
    From ancient tragedies and comedies to theatre and, later, movies, it is evident that people enjoy being entertained by stories — regardless of the medium. Television is yet another step in the evolution of media that tell these stories, and just as television did not kill the movies (although it had an impact by decreasing their prevalence), interactive games and the internet will not render television obsolete. We will merely see innovative versions of moving pictures that can satisfy the needs of the 21st century’s embedded acquaintance with a multitude of media.
     
  • Pleasant, personalized, portable – the future of domotic design
    Fausto Sainz de Salces
    The home environment can greatly benefit from mobile technology that enhances the user’s experience through easy interaction with the immediate environment. Designing the home of the future, integrating communication devices, is not an easy task. It is a challenge that includes consideration of home dwellers’ opinions, preferences and tastes

The magazine now also comes with its own blog.

17 May 2007

Young women now the most dominant group online in the UK

UK internet population
Young women are now the most dominant group online in the UK, according to new research from net measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings, reports the BBC.

Women in the 18 – 34 age group account for 18% of all online Britons.

They also spend the most time online – accounting for 27% more of the total UK computer time than their male counterparts.

Of UK males active online, the 50+ age group is the most prevalent.

The breakthrough of these groups will come as a surprise to many who regard the internet as being largely dominated by young men.

Interestingly, the number three site for young women is The Full Experience Company, which is based on an interesting gifting concept:

“Smart Box™ offers recipients the choice between 40 different activities, spa and therapy days, and hotels in the UK or France, all based on a specific theme. So you only need to choose what theme to purchase, not to select what they will actually do – You don’t have to choose the date, the place, or the experience for others… “

- Read full story
Download press release (pdf, 128 kb, 2 pages)

31 March 2007

World Association of Newspapers: pay attention to the habits of the young

A young reader
Here’s how to get young people to read newspapers: pay attention to their habits, talk to them about their lives, and invite them to contribute, both in print and online.

That is the message that emerged from the 7th World Young Reader Conference (presentation summaries), where a fresh approach to attracting young readers was presented by those who have succeeded in getting young people interested in their products.

“Stop writing surveys about readership, and start watching people. Learn, look around, open your eyes,” said Anne Kirah, Dean of the 180° Academy in Denmark and a cultural anthropologist who has helped Microsoft design its products. “You need to engage in people-driven research and look at their entire lives. Observe people doing activities that define themselves, and are meaningful to them.”

Ms Kirah said she was distrustful of traditional readership questionnaires because “there is a difference between what people say they do and what they actually do. Do you really know how much time you spend on the internet, or read a newspaper? But you ask those questions. It’s not that people are lying to you, it’s that they really don’t know the answers.”

The problem is compounded when studying young readers, or the “digital natives”, since their habits are completely different those of the “digital immigrants” — those who remember the analog-only world and are the people conducting the studies, and making the decisions at media companies.

Read full story

27 March 2007

Cogito Ergo Nomics [The Truth About Cars]

Power
How easy is your car to use, asks Josh Brannon in an interesting but somewhat older editorial on the automobile blog “The Truth About Cars”.

“I’m not talking about acceleration, steering or cornering. I’m talking about the mental effort required to successfully interact with your car’s secondary features, such as in-car entertainment or the trip computer. While controls like steering (the brilliant simplicity of a wheel), throttle (foot pedal farthest to the right) and braking (second-to-right pedal) are standardized for most vehicles certified for use on a public road, the majority of other controls are confusing enough to plunge an automotive reviewer (or a Hertz Platinum Club member) into RTFM rage.

Sometimes it’s a simple matter of old habits dying hard: in many ways the best interface is one you don’t have to re-learn. If you’re used to having to jab at a button several times to adjust the temperature several degrees while surveying the change on a display that’s located on the opposite hemisphere of the dash, that may be the best user interface—for you.

But that’s not the whole story when something as basic as starting the car has now taken on innumerous forms. Do you A) insert the key in a slot (to the right or left of the steering wheel or in the center console) and turn it or B) insert the key in a hole and push it or C) insert the key into a slot and push a start button or D) ignore the key altogether as long as it’s on your person and then either push a button or twist a piece of plastic adjacent to the steering wheel? Each of these methods are used by at least one current production car—and I’m sure I’ve missed at least one type of ignition sequence.

Changing gears is a similar issue.”

Read full story

25 February 2007

KPMG on how digital media are affecting work, play and relationships across Europe

The Impact of Digitalization – a generation apart
KPMG has released a 36-page report on how digital media are affecting work, play and relationships across Europe, and in particular how Generation Y is interacting with that media.

The paper contains interviews with industry experts and a summary of consumer research, based on interviews with 3,000 people in Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the U.S.A in December 2006.

The document is not particularly innovative in the description of the technological and social changes taking place. More insightful is its analysis of the impact on business, although it positions KPMG a bit too much as the wise guide for companies trying to adapt to these changes.

Broadly, there have been four big developments in the online world in the past few years. The first is the decline in the cost of media distribution—thanks to digitisation and broadband—which has helped to make even relatively unloved content commercially viable. The second phenomenon […] has been the rise of user-generated content perhaps better described as “participatory media”. […] The third development is the rise of sharing. […] The way in which information is organised is also changing – phenomenon number four. Instead of a traditional hierarchy of information by experts, i.e., a taxonomy, web users are increasingly categorising online content—web pages, photographs and links—for themselves. given rise to new businesses. […]

With the costs of distribution tumbling, media companies should spend less time trying to find blockbusters, and more time trying to make it easy for consumers to find the stuff that interests them, however arcane. […] Media companies [should also] incorporate user-generated content into their own offerings, […] make offline content richer and more analytica, […] and reduce the cost of traditional content generation.

Download report (pdf, 1 mb, 36 pages)

16 February 2007

MySpace faces stiff competition in Japan [AP]

Mixi
Yuri Kageyama (blog), AP Business writer, reports:

Visit Japan’s top social-networking site, the 8-million-strong “Mixi,” and you’ll see prim, organised columns and boxes of stamp-size photos – not the flashy text and teen-magazine-like layout of its American counterpart, MySpace.com. The difference in appearance between the two online hangouts reflects a broader clash of cultures – and illustrates the challenge News Corp.’s MySpace faces as it jumps into the Japanese market.

Mixi knows how to thrive off the nation’s cliquish culture so different from the aggressive me-orientation prevalent in American culture.

“MySpace is about me, me, me, and look at me and look at me and look at me,” said Tony Elison, senior vice president at Viacom International Japan, which is offering its own Japanese-language social networking service here. “In Mixi, it’s not all about me. It’s all about us.”

Read full story

12 February 2007

Kids, the internet and the end of privacy: the greatest generation gap since rock and roll [New York Magazine]

Kitty Ostapowicz
As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.

“[…] the forest of arms waving cell-phone cameras at concerts, the MySpace pages blinking pink neon revelations, Xanga and Sconex and YouTube and Lastnightsparty.com and Flickr and Facebook and del.icio.us and Wikipedia and especially, the ordinary, endless stream of daily documentation that is built into the life of anyone growing up today. You can see the evidence everywhere, from the rural 15-year-old who records videos for thousands of subscribers to the NYU students texting come-ons from beneath the bar. Even 9-year-olds have their own site, Club Penguin, to play games and plan parties. The change has rippled through pretty much every act of growing up. Go through your first big breakup and you may need to change your status on Facebook from “In a relationship” to “Single.” Everyone will see it on your “feed,” including your ex, and that’s part of the point.

It’s been a long time since there was a true generation gap, perhaps 50 years—you have to go back to the early years of rock and roll, when old people still talked about “jungle rhythms.” Everything associated with that music and its greasy, shaggy culture felt baffling and divisive, from the crude slang to the dirty thoughts it was rumored to trigger in little girls. That musical divide has all but disappeared. But in the past ten years, a new set of values has sneaked in to take its place, erecting another barrier between young and old. And as it did in the fifties, the older generation has responded with a disgusted, dismissive squawk. It goes something like this:

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.

The author, Emily Nussbaum, then goes on to describe the three main changes that define the younger generation:

  • They think of themselves as having an audience
  • They have archived their adolescence
  • Their skin is thicker than yours

Read full story

(via the Design Directory newsletter of Core77 and Business Week)

5 February 2007

Internet boom in China is built on virtual fun [International Herald Tribune]

Pony Ma, whose real name is Ma Huateng, at Tencent's headquarters in Shenzhen
Instant messaging, game-playing and social networking online are major obsessions, now central to Chinese culture, reports The International Herald Tribune.

“While America’s Internet users send e-mail messages and surf for information on their personal computers, young people in China are playing online games, downloading video and music into their cellphones and MP3 players and entering imaginary worlds where they can swap virtual goods and assume online personas.

Another distinguishing feature is the youthful face of China’s online community. In the United States, roughly 70 percent of Internet users are over the age of 30; in China, it is the other way around — 70 percent of users here are under 30, according to the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

Because few people in China have credit cards or trust the Internet for financial transactions, e-commerce is emerging slowly. But instant messaging and game-playing are major obsessions, now central to Chinese culture. So is social networking, a natural fit in a country full of young people without siblings.

[This] is one reason America’s biggest Internet companies, like Yahoo, Google and eBay, have largely flopped in China. Analysts say the American companies struggle here partly because of regulatory restrictions that favor homegrown companies, but also because foreign companies often do not understand China’s Internet market, which is geared primarily to entertainment and mobile phones.”

Read full story

30 January 2007

Two-thirds of Brits use just 4 functions on their phones [Cellular News]

Brit texting
Over half (53%) of Brits feel that modern technology has now become too complicated and could turn their back on technology, according to the latest report from PayPal, as covered in Cellular News.

The age old problem of setting a video recorder still exists for one in three Brits, even though they have been in the mainstream for 27 years.

DVDs offer a more complex challenge with four in five (77%) not feeling confident to set one to record.

Also, mobile phones are now ubiquitous, yet many remain baffled by their features. The majority, almost two thirds (61%), use only four features on their mobile phone – calls, text messages, alarm clock and camera – while two fifths don’t even know if their mobile phone has a camera function.

Read full story

(via textually.org)

23 January 2007

Futurist John Seely Brown: To fix education, think Web 2.0

John Seely Brown
Universities and employers concerned with the state of engineering education should steal a page from popular Internet culture, visionary John Seely Brown said at a conference Friday, writes Martin LaMonica on CNET News.com.

A consultant and former chief scientist at Palo Alto Research Center, Seely Brown spoke at a conference on technology and education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The conference was organized to mark the end next year of an eight-year partnership between Microsoft and MIT [article] to explore the use of technology in learning.

Seely Brown argued that education is going through a large-scale transformation toward a more participatory form of learning.

Rather than treat pedagogy as the transfer of knowledge from teachers who are experts to students who are receptacles, educators should consider more hands-on and informal types of learning. These methods are closer to an apprenticeship, a farther-reaching, more multilayered approach than traditional formal education, he said.

In particular, he praised situations where students who are passionate about specific topics study in groups and participate in online communities.

“We are learning in and through our interactions with others while doing real things,” Seely Brown said. “I’m not saying that knowledge is socially constructed, but our understanding of that knowledge is socially constructed.” […]

The evolution of the Internet can facilitate this approach, he said. Web 2.0 tools, such as wikis and blogs, make information sharing and content creation easier. […]

The Internet is also helping drive a transformation from a mass media model–where information is delivered from experts to consumers–to a situation that allows people to create content online, often by using existing content, he said.

Read full story

22 January 2007

Students’ new best friend: ‘MoSoSo’ [Christian Science Monitor]

MoSoSo
“Mobile Social Networking Software – the next wave of virtual community – is already appearing on cellphones, beginning with college campuses,” writes Gloria Goodale, staff writer of the Christian Science Monitor.

“Walk on a college campus these days and you’ll see cellphones everywhere, but only some being used for conversations. Baruch College sophomore Yelena Slatkina in New York City recently rustled up an emergency sub at work by typing a plea to her entire work group on her cellphone. University of South Florida sophomore Nate Fuller routinely uses his cellphone equipped with Global Positioning Software (GPS) to find recruits for his intramural football team and locate friends in Tampa, Fla. Texas 21-year-old Brittany Bohnet uses photos she and 20 of her networked buddies snap on their phones to locate one another, using visual landmarks they spot in the pictures they send.

These under-25s (the target market for early adoption of hot new gadgets) are using what many observers call the next big consumer technology shift: Mobile Social Networking Software, or Mososo. The sophisticated reach of cyber-social networks such as MySpace or Facebook, combined with the military precision of GPS, is putting enough power in these students’ pockets to run a small country.

But while many young users are enthralled with the extraordinary conveniences of what amounts to a personal-life remote control, others who have been tracking technology for more than a few semesters say that as the benefits of the multipurpose mobile phone expand, so do its risks. Not only do they point to possible security issues with GPS running on a cellphone, but cultural observers worry about the growing preference of young users to stay plugged into a virtual network, often oblivious to the real world around them.”

The long article also deals with security concerns and security benefits, and how the combination of mobile social networks with GPS has the potential to reinvigorate moribund civic areas, as demonstrated in Newark, NJ. On campuses MoSoSo has the additional benefit to get students out of their rooms where they were stuck using the Internet on their computers, back out onto the campus to connect with other students.

Read full story

11 January 2007

UK think tank Demos on education for a digital generation

Education for a Digital Generation
The report “Their Space: Education for a digital generation” draws on qualitative research with children and polling of parents to counter the myths obscuring the true value of digital media. Approaching technology from the perspective of children, it tells positive stories about how they use online space to build relationships and create original content. It argues that the skills children are developing through these activities, such as creativity, communication and collaboration, are those that will enable them to succeed in a globally networked, knowledge-driven economy.

In a report launched today (Thursday) the influential think tank Demos calls on schools to get past fears about children’s internet use and harness its learning potential.

The report Their Space: Education for a digital generation draws on research showing that a generation of children have made online activity a part of everyday life, with parents and schools still far behind.

The report argues that children are developing a sophisticated understanding of new technologies outside of formal schooling, gaining creative and entrepreneurial skills demanded by the global knowledge economy.

Schools are failing to develop these skills, with many attempting to limit children’s online activity to ICT ‘ghettos’ while banning the use of social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube.

The research, based on nine months of interviews, focus groups and recording children’s online activity, found that:

  • A majority of children use new media tools to make their lives easier and strengthen existing friendship networks
  • Almost all children are involved in creative production – e.g. uploading/editing photos and building websites
  • A smaller group of ‘digital pioneers’ are engaged in more groundbreaking activities
  • Children are well aware of potential risks, with many able to self regulate – contrary to popular assumptions about safety
  • Many children have their own ‘hierarchy of digital activity’ and are much more conscious of the relative values of online activity than their parents and teachers

The report goes on to make a number of proposals on how formal education in the UK can adapt to the growing dominance of online culture in children’s lives, including the recommendation that children should be given the opportunity to build up a ‘creative portfolio’ alongside traditional forms of assessment, access to which would be determined by the children themselves

- Read press release
Download report (pdf, 302 kb, 81 pages)
‘In class, I have to power down’ [The Guardian]

20 December 2006

Vodafone’s Receiver magazine on gaming and playing

Vodafone Receiver 17
Vodafone has just published the 17th issue of Receiver, its online magazine on the future of communications technologies, which is entirely devoted to gaming and playing.

“While the urge to play is a human universal, gaming cultures differ widely across different societies – that goes for the games people enjoy as well as how they enjoy them. You can play with interactive media alone or to socialise, to compete or to relax, at home or in the street. What is play and what’s in a game?”

In “The space to play“, Matt Jones, director of user experience design for Nokia Design Multimedia, explores themes from his research into the universal human urge to play – and how it relates to the way we design our technology, our environments and our future.

Lucky Wander Boy – the microsurgeon winner” is the title of a story about a man who finds a purpose through and is ruined by his obsession with video games. It is written by D.B. Weiss, who is currently in the headlines for working on the script for a movie adaption of the “Halo” video game series.

In “Gaming International“, Jim Rossignol, a British technology author specialising in video games, tells us about his experiences in Seoul and compares European and Asian approaches to gaming.

Mobile gaming – the troubled teenage years” is the title of a contribution by technology writer Stuart Dredge, in which he takes a look at the future of mobile gaming, focusing on how mobile games could move beyond the familiar hits like Tetris and Pac-Man to new concepts blending innovation and connectivity.

In “Games in spite of themselves“, Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn of the Belgian design studio Tale of Tales discuss “The Endless Forest”, a multiplayer game in which everybody plays a deer.

In “Playing by creating“, David Edery, the Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Xbox Live Arcade (Microsoft) tells us why we should be excited about user-generated content.

Playing the news“: games are the new news, argues Gonzalo Frasca, a video game theorist and developer, currently researching serious gaming at IT University of Copenhagen, and the co-founder of Powerful Robot Games, a studio known for its work on election video games as well as its newsgaming.com project.

In “Three play effects – Eliza, Tale-Spin and SimCity“, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, a digital media creator and scholar whose current work focuses on digital fiction and play, looks at three different models of what we experience through play.

Finally “Interaction as an aesthetic event“, is the title of the contribution by media theorist Lev Manovich, a Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD, in which he takes a look at the playful user interaction in recent cell phone models and other personal information technology.

2 December 2006

Book: Mobile Communications and Society

Mobile Communications and Society
Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective
Manuel Castells, Mireia Fernandez-Ardevol, Jack Linchuan Qiu and Araba Sey
Published by the MIT Press

How wireless technology is redefining the relationship of communication, technology, and society around the world–in everyday work and life, in youth culture, in politics, and in the developing world.

Wireless networks are the fastest growing communications technology in history. Are mobile phones expressions of identity, fashionable gadgets, tools for life–or all of the above? Mobile Communication and Society looks at how the possibility of multimodal communication from anywhere to anywhere at any time affects everyday life at home, at work, and at school, and raises broader concerns about politics and culture both global and local.

Drawing on data gathered from around the world, the authors explore who has access to wireless technology, and why, and analyse the patterns of social differentiation seen in unequal access. They explore the social effects of wireless communication–what it means for family life, for example, when everyone is constantly in touch, or for the idea of an office when workers can work anywhere. Is the technological ability to multitask further compressing time in our already hurried existence?

The authors consider the rise of a mobile youth culture based on peer-to-peer networks, with its own language of texting, and its own values. They examine the phenomenon of flash mobs, and the possible political implications. And they look at the relationship between communication and development and the possibility that developing countries could “leapfrog” directly to wireless and satellite technology. This sweeping book–moving easily in its analysis from the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America and Africa–answers the key questions about our transformation into a mobile network society.