Friday, April 28, 2006

Virtually mobile in Second Life

More news on whats happening in our virtual land over at Second Life. In an interesting article from Social Synergy blog titled 'Second Life As 3D Design Platform and Reality/Virtuality Tagging':

'Clickable Culture has a fascinating article about using Second Life and the World Wide Web as a 3D design platform. In this case the designer is creating a "historically based game-like environment". However, these tools could possibly be used to recreate communities and whole cities, to demonstrate the redesign of public places, for instance. Or , even to give a community, college students, or a design team a sort of "3D wiki" of their community to work with? There are lots of possibilities and potentials here. Perhaps all of the potentials are not currently possible in Second Life as it exists right now. many of them do not seem too far off or out of reach, though.'

Second Life is being used more and more as a platform for both architecture and urban growth patterns. After all, it is a simulation: however, 'the map is not the territory' as General Semantics tells us...

China's increased mobility in space

Somewhat different from what has been posted previously, a look at space satellites and how they will increasingly be put into use tracking physical geo-movement. As a contender, China recently launched a remote sensing satellite:

"China successfully launched a remote sensing satellite and put it into preset orbit Thursday morning, the first of a series of space launches planned by China this year.
The Remote Sensing Satellite No. 1 blast off a top a Long March 4-B carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China's Shanxi Province at 6:48 a.m. Thursday.

An official with the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a major developer of both the satellite and the rocket, said the 2.7-ton satellite will be mainly used for scientific experiment, survey of land resources, appraisal of crops and disaster prevention and alleviation."

China Successfully Launches Remote Sensing Satellite

Digital Planet

Another installment of the popular BBC technology podcast... well, keeps us out of mischief!

'In this week's programme we talk to the head of Microsoft's IE7 which is due to be rolled out later this year. We discuss how phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the new protocols designed to prevent them. We also take a long look at podcasting, and ask who's listening and what exactly are they're listening to.'

Download here

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


A pertinent tale told on the BBC site in a post titled 'Park and write': it tells of a homeless woman who although unnoticed by those around her has made herself known through blogging and the info-sphere - an odd type of co-presence?

"A homeless woman in London has been living in a car since last summer. But by writing a blog she has put herself in touch with an international audience.

It's a tale of our time - about being cut off from everything around you but still connected to people thousands of miles away.

A woman becomes homeless, so she gets into her car and drives. Except she has nowhere to go - so she stays in the car, with all her possessions heaped in the back, sleeping in the front seats, parking in secluded streets.

For eight months, no one notices her, because she makes sure she looks respectable, taking showers and even ironing her clothes in public places like hospitals. She has made herself invisible, out of touch from anyone she used to know - and keeping separate from other homeless people.

But this is the information age. And even though she doesn't speak to anyone, she can go into a library where she can access the internet and write an online journal - a homelessness blog - which she uses to describe all her unspoken experiences and feelings."

Green mobile mini-car

In a BBC post titled 'Green mini-car to beat congestion' it tells of a new innovation in green travelling (something to replace the Sinclair C5 I wonder?):

"A tiny, three-wheeled car that could help solve city congestion has been demonstrated at the University of Bath.

The prototype Clever (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport) car is one metre wide and less polluting than normal vehicles.

It has a top speed of 100 km/h (60mph) and uses a novel tilting chassis to make it safe and manoeuvrable.

The traffic-busting two-seater is the result of a 40-month project by researchers in nine European countries."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mobilities, Technologies, Topologies

Here's news on an upcoming mobilty conference to be held at the BT Centre (next to the Open University) Milton Keynes:

Mobilities, Technologies, Topologies

One-day Workshop, Wednesday 7th June 2006, The Open University

To be held at the BT Centre, Milton Keynes (Next to the Open University Campus)

The issue of mobility - of people, places, capital and things has become an important issue across the social sciences in recent years and questions of spatiality have been central to these debates. This one-day workshop, organised by the Department of Geography at The Open University, aims to bring together some of the leading writers on this field and to explore in an informal way how the issue of mobility intersects with our understanding of space and place. The aim of the workshop will be to consider the theme of mobility in relation to such issues as:

* spatial complexity
* non-representational approaches to geography
* materiality, technology and agency
* identity, subjectivity and objectivity
* movement and landscape

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

John Urry (Lancaster University)
Ginette Verstraete (University of Amsterdam)

A new study on mobile Internet

Rich Ling from mobile-society has just informed us of a new mobile phone - Internet study:

'There was a study done on accessing the internet via mobile phones that has come out. Here are some of the news articles covering the report.

The big news seems to be that about a quarter of mobile phone users have accessed the net via their mobile terminal. In some places it is as high as 40%.

One of the issues here is the blurring of SMS and email. In know that in imode that boundary is quite blurred, but in the GSM world SMS and email have each had their separate but parallel lives. IM is also being thrown into the mix. It might be interesting to really map out all the text based interaction possibilities for the mobile phone/PC equipped individual.

The links are:,39024665,39158193,00.htm

Thanks Rich!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ubiquitous computing is Everyware

In a recent discussion of ubiquitous computing, the Well's Inkwell Conference, which is open to the public, features a discussion with Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware, an excellent new book about the implications of ubicomp:

Computing devices shrink ever smaller and become invisible, while at the same time we interact with them and they communicate with one another. Rather than carrying phones and PDAs, our desks, rooms, and clothing, our food and our sex toys converge, interconnect, and interact. Their connectedness is hidden from us, we don't control the information they record, and there's no "Undo" key.
"Great, another loopy novelist in the Inkwell, extrapolating from a random headline in a trade journal," you say."

Thanks to Smartmobs

It's not loopy fiction, according to Adam Greenfield. Instead, it's the form computing will take in the next few years, and it behooves us to think it through in advance, in order both to understand it and humanize it. That's the subject of "Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing."

See also Bruce Sterling's ideas on SPIME in relation to this, as well as the discussions on 'Blogjets'

Ignore bloggers at your peril!

According to a recent Guardian article, blogging really matters (as if we didn't already know this!)

The article, by Bobbie Johnson, says that:

"Bloggers and internet pundits are exerting a "disproportionately large influence" on society, according to a report by a technology research company. Its study suggests that although "active" web users make up only a small proportion of Europe's online population, they are increasingly dominating public conversations and creating business trends.
More than half of the internet users on the continent are passive and do not contribute to the web at all, while a further 23% only respond when prompted. But the remainder who do engage with the net - through messageboards, websites and blogs - are helping change the national conversation, say researchers.

"We're seeing this growing," said Julian Smith, an online advertising analyst with Jupiter Research and author of the report. "The strongest part of their influence is on the media: if something online suddenly becomes a story in the local press, then it matters."

Read full article

April 2006 State of the Blogosphere

Something again for us bloggers! Especially since it comes via Sifry's Technorati expertise:

David L. Sifry of Technorati has released part 1 of the April 2006 State of the Blogosphere:

the summarized findings:

Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs

The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months

It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago

On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day

19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created

Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

More on eco-cities

Further discussions on the future of eco-designed urban environments:

'America 2050 is being coordinated by the Regional Plan Association (a non-profit that works on the New York region). For at least some of the project organizers, the ambition is nothing less than the creation of a national growth plan that can guide this country’s physical evolution over the next century.

The work began with quantitative research to try to define the shape of the emerging super-cities— mostly, planning professors sitting down with the smart people at the census bureau. (For a very accessible look behind the curtain of the census definitions of regions, check out Beyond Metropolis: Exploring America’s new ‘Megapolitan’ Geography. [PDF]).

Where is this heading? We need a new kind of infrastructure investment to enable the next century of growth...'

Read more at Worldchanging

Digital Planet

On the latest 04/17/06 Digital Planet:

"In this weeks programme we link up with an adventurer who's crossing the world's oceans with just two computers for company .We look at a new service set to exploit the convergence of mobile phone networks and music download services. We go behind the scenes of the Pixar animation studios and also test out a new device designed to get around the limitations of the conventional computer keyboard, just how do you type when your language has many more characters than conventional keybords can offer?"

Download podcast

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Catching up on Mobility

It's been a little while since I last graced these pages... so here is a look at some of the most promising posts I found stacked up in my FeedDemon box:

Local Cultures Connected Through a Global Network

Danah Boyd has written a fine essay on glocalization, networks and local cultures. Definitely worth the read:

"Glocalization is the ugliness that ensues when the global and local are shoved uncomfortably into the same concept. It doesn't sit well on your palette, it doesn't have a nice euphoric ring. It implies all sorts of linguistic and cognitive discomfort. This is the state of the global and local in digital communities. We have all sorts of local cultures connected through a global network, resulting in all sorts of ugly tensions. Designers who work with networks must face these tensions and design to take advantage of the global while not destroying the local. ...
"The digital era has allowed us to cross space and time, engage with people in a far-off time zone as though they were just next door, do business with people around the world, and develop information systems that potentially network us all closer and closer every day. Yet, people don't live in a global world - they are more concerned with the cultures in which they participate."

Future role for sensor networks

Anthony Townsend will be giving a paper at the annual Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management conference on May 16 at NJIT:

"It's about how the proliferation of sensor networks will dramatically change the way we investigate social behavior and and reconstruct timelines of disasters. We liken this shift to the development of forensic pathology following the technology revolution in criminal investigative techniques in the late 19th century."

Pdf here

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Yochai Benkler has created a wiki to support and extend his new book, The Wealth of Networks. Note that the book is available for sale in a hardbound edition and also downloadable as a Creative Commons licensed PDF:

Welcome to the Wealth of Networks WikiNotes. This Wiki is an invitation to collaborate on building a learning and research environment based on Yochai Benkler's book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.

Collaboration spurs progress on networking technologies

A virtual research centre is fuelling collaboration that could help Europe take the lead in the field of computer networking. It’s goal is to pool the expertise of more than 40 European research institutes, universities and companies.
The E-NEXT project, which is being funded by the European Commission’s IST programme, has spurred cooperation on developing new technologies in areas such as mobile and ambient networking, self-aware and service-aware networking and content distribution.

New "Eco-estate" in London

According to Worldchanging: "London mayor Ken Livingstone has announced plans for a new 1,000-home eco-development in London, to be built in partnership with Greenpeace, BedZED architect Bill Dunster and the firm Arup and modeled, at least conceptually, off Dongtan:

Mr Livingstone made the announcement in Shanghai, while inspecting plans for Dongtan. He said: "London's zero-emissions development will demonstrate that we can also realise this kind of vision in Europe and that it is affordable and achievable to make all major new developments low-carbon."

Read post here

Ultra-Low-Cost Handsets and the African Future

NextBillion has a great overview of recent pieces exploring the implications of cheap handhelds in developing countries. Ultra-low-cost handsets are expected to pass 36 million in 2007. This has also had the effect of driving down prices for competing options, like refurbished phones, lowering the overall cost of access for those in the developing world:

'Everyone seems to have a mobile phone. Many have two or three, each tuned to a different network... In any big town you just have to look around and there will be a boy within hailing distance ready to sell you a top-up card. Girls are less likely to be scampering about in traffic jams with strings of cards. But give them a picnic table, a red, yellow or green umbrella, and a "make your calls here" sign, and they are set up in the telecommunications business.'

Read full Worldchanging post

Hope all that is a good read.... more to come, more to be mobile...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

London as an Eco-City?

I'll be away again for another 8/9 days - mobile yet oddly out of touch on the blogging front. SO before I leave, here is a post from a site I'm very keen on - Worldchanging:

"Ecological footprints offer a great tool for quantifying and understanding the ecological impacts we have as individuals and communities -- which is why we've talked about them so often. London's City Limits is a couple years old now, but it bears mentioning now because the project helped define the cutting edge of footprinting research. The team, led by the group Best Foot Forward, came as close to comprehensively describing the entire ecological footprint of a major city as anyone, anywhere in the world. Essentially, their work shows how much planet it takes to keep London thrumming along. Much of their research is available online as PDFs

One of their key findings? If Londoners are to live globally equitable and sustainable lifestyles, they will have to figure out ways of reducing their fossil fuels and materials consumption by 35% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. In other words, a bright green London will be one in which people live at least as well as they do now, but using 1/5th as many resources."

Read more here

Be back soon! And Happy Easter to all...

UNESCO report on IT

Below is a link to a pdf UNESCO report on IT in a world perspective.

According to Rich Ling: 'There are some interesting charts and maps. It seems to rely on ITU material as far as I have read.'


Thanks to Rich & Mobile-society

Friday, April 07, 2006

Third cosmobilities network meeting

Third cosmobilities network meeting:

Date : 29-30 September 2006
Venue : Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University, United Kingdom

Monumental airports of glass and steel designed by celebrity architects, gigantic planes that dwarf jumbos, flights greatly cheaper than surface travel - these are icons of the new global order. Such air time-spaces are global transfer points, entries into a world of apparent hypermobility, extensive time-space compression/distanciation, and apparent boundless opportunities. Work and play, leisure and pleasure are opened up through such reconstituted spaces. They link the local to the global, and place particular cities and societies upon the global map. The transformation of& China, India and other countries into societies of hyper-aeromobility brings these issues centre-stage in the early years of the twenty first century. Even as air travel is taken for granted, these spaces are simultaneously sites of intense contestation especially around the environmental, economic and social impacts of cheap flights, new runways and airports, and novel security issues in managing the complex flows of baggage and passengers. This all indicates the intensely political nature of "making aero-mobilities".

Read more at Cosmobilities Network

Alternative Urban Futures

In another interesting post from Worldchanging on urban environments:

"Cities hold the key to a sustainable future. If we can build bright green urban communities -- cities with compact neighborhoods, pedestrian-friendly streets, smart places, green buildings, effective transportation and natural systems that intertwine with the built environment -- we suddenly gain a huge lever with which we can roll over a variety of other problems, from energy and water use to consumption and waste. Exploring how to do this has been a major thread on Worldchanging from the beginning.

But a giant gap has opened between what we know is theoretically possible (not only in terms of radical possibilities but of simple best practices) and the cities we're still building. As even well-established cities are constantly changing, this represents a lost opportunity in the developed world: in the emerging megacities of the Global South, many of which are expected to grow threefold (or more) over the next fifty years, our inability to apply better solutions may become disastrous.

Also - see Raquel Pinderhughes' 'Alternative Urban Futures: Planning for Development in Cities Throughout the World' which covers the basic widely-available innovations for dealing with water, energy, transportation waste and food."

Read full post

Something for the Bloggers

In a post called 'Linkology: picturing blog relationships':

"There are upwards of 27 million blogs in the world. To discover how they relate to one another, we’ve taken the most-linked-to 50 and mapped their connections. Each arrow represents a hypertext link that was made sometime in the past 90 days. Think of those links as votes in an endless global popularity poll. Many blogs vote for each other: “blogrolling.” Some top-50 sites don’t have any links from the others shown here, usually because they are big in Japan, China, or Europe—regions still new to the phenomenon."

There is a graphic representation of these blog linkages available as a pdf download.

Definately a snatch for those involved in blogging networks.

Census to use mobile devices for survey

According to USA Today:

"To compile data for its 2010 survey, the Census Bureau is putting down pen and paper and picking up handheld computers.
The portable devices are being designed to allow census workers to immediately record information they gather when going door-to-door to American households, said Monty Wood, a spokesman for the Census Bureau.

The bureau will still send out a questionnaire and ask people to mail it back, but Wood said only about 65% of people actually do that. To get a sense of households who do not respond, the bureau sends workers to conduct in-person interviews.

Those workers used to write down answers on paper, which were then entered into a computer. Now, the information will be recorded on a computer and transmitted directly, increasing accuracy.

The technology will aim to reduce the risk that people are accidentally counted twice."

I'm sure Europe is coming next on the tech-census: more tracking through flags of convenience.

Thanks to Smartmobs

Teens tracked by Disney

In this BBC Online article titled 'Disney offers teen-tracker mobile':

"Disney is launching a US service that will enable parents to monitor how their children use their mobile phones.

They will be able to track voice, text, video and picture messages and set limits on their children's calls.

The phone will also allow parents to locate where their children are via a global positioning system."

Surveillance through Bambi-means!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Drug Networks

I'd recommend a book 'llicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy' by Moises Naimby.

In an interesting story about SIM cards being passed amongst prisoners in the UK to buy addict networks:

"The war against drugs is being undermined by a black market in mobile phone sim cards containing details of drug dealing franchises, it is feared.

Recently jailed prisoners are selling the cards to inmates nearing release for up to £20,000.

Each contains a microchip storing the telephone numbers of drug suppliers and addicts, which were once in the memory of the dealer's phone. That information provides access to an established drug-dealing network, with the potential to earn thousands of pounds a week.

Experts are worried that the illicit trade is hampering police efforts to close down drug networks because a criminal, armed with the information on the sim (subscriber identity module) card, can replace a dealer who has been locked up.

One prison officer, who asked not to be named, told the Sunday Telegraph that the market in sim cards was growing rapidly and that they were changing hands for up to £20,000."

Read full article in Telegraph Online

The arrival of geosensor networks

Yes - I've been away for a little while: mobile yet not connecting with the blog: perhaps a little too mobile?

So I'm back for a short while before absconding myself away again: this post brings me back to geosensor networks, picked up from Roland Piquepaille at ZDNet.

Here Pipuepaille looks at the latest in geosensor networks:

"In a very interesting article, Location Intelligence describes how the capture of geospatial information traditionally done by using cameras, laser scanners and GPS sensors, is being revolutionized by recent advances in advances in nanotechnology. In fact, "nanotechnology has made it both feasible and economically viable to develop and deploy low-cost, low-power semi-autonomous sensor devices that are general-purpose computing platforms." These geosensors are leading to wireless networks which start to be used for real applications such as monitoring traffic patterns or tracking cars in cities."

Read more here