Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Intimate Visual Co-presence

Mizuko Ito has published a position paper (PDF) on her recent research on the "intimate visual co-presence" created by couples who use their mobile phones and/or photo-sharing websites to exchange photos on a continuous basis.:

The experience of these two sets of couples points to the compelling nature of intimate visual co-presence as it is supported by photo sharing on a mobile phone. The current convergence of different kinds of photo sharing services and camera phones seems to indicate that this kind of social experience will likely become more accessible to users in settings with widespread camphones and mobile Internet access. Just as text messaging created new kinds of modalities for co-presence and communication, we can expect that pervasive photo sharing will lead to a new set of social practices that differ from what we have seen in the PC Internet space and the mobile texting space. I suggest that intimate visual co-presence may be one of these new social modalities.

Via Smartmobs

StarSight - Street lamps recharge cell phones

Imagine a city where every lamp post provided wireless internet access, solar-powered street lighting and a power point to charge your mobile phone. You might expect to find this in a sophisticated western city – but it will actually appear first in Africa. World Changing reports.

"Starsight (Starsightproject.com) is a project designed to supercharge street lighting and power in developing counties. Essentially it is a network of pylons, each with a solar panel, linked not by cables but by antennae which use wireless internet protocol.

... "One study puts the number of night-time street vendors at 40m across Africa – and almost all of them use paraffin lamps. A power outlet at the base of a Starsight pylon could resell power to these vendors – which they could use to light, to cook or to charge mobile phones."

Thanks to Smartmobs

Maps and more maps

More maps!!

Another Wired article examined MapQuest - The theme is whether MapQuest can continue its dominance as it marks its tenth anniversary online. The article mentions some interesting examples of mapping uses and innovations. During Katrina, MapQuest set up a Dog Detective website to provide locations of stranded animals for rescuers. Competitive map applications made available a variety of formats for locating people and property in the aftermath of the storm. Shopping, automobiles and wireless are among big time opportunities being charted by the digital cartographers.

Pentagon mapping all?

In a recent Wired article titled - 'Pentagon's Urban Recon Takes Wing' - it looks at some of the new mobilities being created for the military: and it's all about mapping.

"A leading defense contractor has successfully demonstrated a system that lets foot soldiers command unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to see real-time overhead images on their handheld computers while fighting in urban battle zones.

Individual war fighters can receive video-surveillance data on a target of interest by moving a cursor over the subject, as part of a Northrop Grumman system to automate reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, or RSTA, within urban environments."

Monday, November 28, 2005

A future of full-immersion virtual reality?

From a recent interview with Robert Freitas (Part 2)

Ray Kurzweil has proposed having billions of nanorobots positioned in our brains, in order to create full-immersion virtual reality. Do you think that such a scenario will ever be feasible?

"Yes of course. I first described the foundational concepts necessary for this in Nanomedicine, Vol. I (1999), including noninvasive neuroelectric monitoring (i.e., nanorobots monitoring neuroelectric signal traffic without being resident inside the neuron cell body, using >5 different methods), neural macrosensing (i.e., nanorobots eavesdropping on the body’s sensory traffic, including auditory and optic nerve taps), modification of natural cellular message traffic by nanorobots stationed nearby (including signal amplification, suppression, replacement, and linkage of previously disparate neural signal sources), inmessaging from neurons (nanorobots receiving signals from the neural traffic), outmessaging to neurons (nanorobots inserting signals into the neural traffic), direct stimulation of somesthetic, kinesthetic, auditory, gustatory, auditory, and ocular sensory nerves (including ganglionic stimulation and direct photoreceptor stimulation) by nanorobots, and the many neuron biocompatibility issues related to nanorobots in the brain, with special attention to the blood-brain barrier."

Well - considerable impact upon issues of co-presence if this development ever 'materialises' into 'reality'!

Calling Women Mobilists

Mobile Diva Darla and Debi from mobilejones.com are going to "put something together" regarding "Women in Mobile", inspired on the interview series on m-trends a couple of weeks ago.

"...getting the recognition of the females out there is important to our women readers. Yeah we can be badass women to the guys, but what about the other percentage of our readers?"

So, if there are female blogs about mobile that you know of, please contact either Debi or Darla.

Girl mobile power?

See m-trends

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Carnival of the Mobilists

Welcome to this week’s edition of Carnival of the Mobilists.

If you’re new to the Carnival, the idea is to collect the best writing about mobile in one place at a different website every week. This week it is being hosted at Smart Mobs.

So check it out for a weekly round-up of mobile writing.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Power of the positive many

It occurs too often that people die of heart attacks while in the neighbourhood someone owns a defibrilator.

Heartsafe Living in the Netherlands initiated a project where the central alarm number 112 connects via sms to a volunteer in the area. It is a nice example of smartmobs and the positive power of the mobile many.

Unfortunately, no English version of the site exists at present. Yet this goes to show how mobile devices via SMS are being increasingly used in the medical domain. In an earlier post I referred to use of SMS in African mobile hospitals.

This shows the emergence of the power of the positive many - technologies of cooperation.

Thanks to SmartMobs for this.

Mobile intensities

Fibreculture Issue 6 - Mobility, new social intensities and the coordinates of digital networks

Papers of note:

From Stabilitas Loci to Mobilitas Loci: Networked Mobility and the Transformation of Place
by Rowan Wilken

"This paper explores the notion of place in relation to networked mobility and mobile phone use. Two key arguments are developed. The first is that the experience of place persists and remains an important consideration in relation to mobile phone use. The ‘domestication’ approach to understanding the development and uses of new technologies is considered useful in explaining this persistence. The second is that networked mobility actually forces a renegotiation of place, and leads to significantly altered understandings of place and place-making. This is theorised as a shift from a traditional understanding of place as stable and fixed (stabilitas loci), to a reconceptualisation of place as experienced in and understood through mobility (mobilitas loci). The paper concludes by sketching some of the potential, and possible implications, that this renewed understanding of place might have for future studies of networked mobility."

Mobile Technosoma: some phenomenological reflections on itinerant media devices
by Ingrid Richardson

"Today’s handheld devices are becoming increasingly multifunctional, portable and interactive technospaces which enfold (and unfold) an assortment of media forms. This transformation requires a critical approach that considers mobile media as more than telecommunications tools, but also as hybrid new media interfaces. This article presents some initial thoughts pre-empting a larger research project on the phenomenology of mobile media. From a phenomenological perspective, each body-tool relation induces its own technosoma, or specific ways of ‘being-with-equipment’ in a Heideggerian sense; in this conceptual framework, I explore some of the medium specific and intercorporeal effects of the mobile phone."

Gestures Towards the Digital Maypole
by Felicity Colman and Christian McCrea

"To paraphrase Blanchot: We are not learned; we are not ignorant. We have known joys. That is saying too little: We are alive, and this life gives us the greatest pleasure. The intensities afforded by mobile communication can be thought of as an extension of the styles and gestures already materialised by multiple maypole cultures, pre-digital community forms and the very clustered natures of speech and being. In his Critique of Judgment, Kant argues that the information selection process at the heart of communication is one of the fundamental activities of any aesthetically produced knowledge form. From this radial point, 'Gestures Towards The Digital Maypole' begins the process of reorganising conceptions of modalities of communication around the absent centre and the affective realms that form through the movement of information-energy, like sugar in a hurricane."

Flash! Mobs in the Age of Mobile Connectivity
by Judith A. Nicholson

"Flash mobbing shone briefly and brilliantly in cities around the world in summer 2003. Each flash mobbing was comprised of a public gathering of strangers and acquaintances organised via email and texting. Once gathered, flash mobbers performed a quirky stunt and then quickly dispersed. Why did a trend often described as ‘silly fun’ become hotly contested? This paper argues that the conjuncture in flash mobbing of mobile texting, targetted mobbing and public performing—and the popularization of the trend in urban public spaces at this juncture in history—made it a significant moment in the history of mobile communication."

Via Space & Culture

Ease the pain of static scanning!

Rest your wrists! If you have ever manually scanned a book, you realize a machine that can do it for you is a major relief. But the convenience is just a start. As the technology to automatically scan and digitize books is put to work it will multiply the speed at which libraries can put collections online. The vision of all the books ever written being accessible globally is made manifestly more realistic by the automatic scanner.

Kirtas introduces its scanner here with an video of the process. Kirtas says the machine “automates the scanning of bound documents at a capture rate of 1200 pages per hour, while using a page turning process that is more gentle than the human hand."

Although - it might not be in everyone's budget...and perhaps wouldn't fit so well next to the computer in the upstairs study: more mobility please!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fast Capitalism

A newly recent electronic journal has been set-up: Fast Capitalism, that addresses the impact of rapid information and communication technologies on self, society and culture in the 21st century: from Editorial -

"Fast Capitalism is an academic journal with a political intent. We publish reviewed scholarship and essays about the impact of rapid information and communication technologies on self, society and culture in the 21st century. We do not pretend an absolute objectivity; the work we publish is written from the vantages of viewpoint. Our authors examine how heretofore distinct social institutions, such as work and family, education and entertainment, have blurred to the point of near identity in an accelerated, post-Fordist stage of capitalism. This makes it difficult for people to shield themselves from subordination and surveillance. The working day has expanded; there is little down time anymore. People can 'office' anywhere, using laptops and cells to stay in touch. But these invasive technologies that tether us to capital and control can also help us resist these tendencies. People use the Internet as a public sphere in which they express and enlighten themselves and organize others; women, especially, manage their families and nurture children from the job site and on the road, perhaps even 'familizing' traditionally patriarchal and bureaucratic work relations; information technologies afford connection, mitigate isolation, and even make way for social movements."

New book - A Mobile Century?

I thought this book might be of interest to mobility readers:

Pooley, C., Turnbull, J. and Adams, M. (2005) A mobile century?: changes in everyday mobility in Britain in the twentieth century (Aldershot: Ashgate)

For most people in the developed world, the ability to travel freely on a daily basis is almost taken for granted. Although there is a large volume of literature on contemporary mobility and associated transport problems, there are no comprehensive studies of the ways in which these trends have changed over time.
This book provides a detailed empirical analysis of mobility change in Britain over the twentieth century. Beginning with an explanatory theoretical overview, setting the UK case studies within an international context, the book then analyses changes in the journey to school, the journey to work, and travelling for pleasure. It also looks at the ways in which changes in mobility have interacted with changes in the family life cycle and assesses the impact of new transport technologies on everyday mobility. It concludes by examining the implications of past mobility change for contemporary transport policy.

The significance of travel and mobility; Mobility and society; Reconstructing mobilities; Changes in everyday mobility: an overview; Travelling to school; Travelling to work; Travel for leisure and pleasure: children playing and hanging around; Travel for leisure and pleasure: entertainment, sport, shopping and holidays; Mobility, family and the life course; Transport policies, technologies and the experience of everyday; The lessons of history: mobility change and contemporary transport policy; Bibliography; Index.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Viability of Urban Social Technologies

Interesting paper on the Viability of Urban Social Technologies from Jens Pedersen and Anna Vallgarda from the University of Copenhagen. Urban Social Technologies are defined as "information technologies applied in urban settings and with a social purpose". They make the point that urban designers and planners have not always been successful in designing spaces that serve a benign social purpose, that it is difficult to plan in the face of the huge number of variables that such spaces represent. This is undeniably true. However I think one of the opportunities presented by 'urban social technologies' is that people can potentially build their own spaces. it is easier to build virtual space than physical space (arguably). Applications like Foundcity, built on Google Maps allow people to annotate space, and in some sense interact with that space. Hybrid spaces formed through interactions between virtual space and physical place are also open to many people to 'design'.

Via CityNoise

Social intelligence going small

Perhaps not the mobility we are used to - but the debate is surely one of the most important: how nano-technologies will inform social intelligence and our interaction with our environments.

Nanotechnology - the science of small things - promises to be one of the defining technologies of the 21st Century. But what will it mean for society and the environment? And how can public engagement in deciding the direction of research be moved 'upstream'?

Currently in the scoping phase, researchers of Demos Uk are working closely with two research councils (the BBSRC and the EPSRC), the environment agency, a corporate partner and a not-for-profit to explore how social intelligence can inform decision-making in nanotechnology funding and diffusion. These experiments in public engagement are funded by The Office of Science and Technology’s Sciencewise project, created to foster interaction between scientists, government and the public on impacts of science and technology.

Check out also - Lancaster's own involvement with Demos/ESRC and nanotech research at

Go Digital 21st November 2005

We speak to one of the inventors of the sub $100 PC, more from WSIS, plus podcasting grows up with its own Podcast Expo.

Download here

‘Ubiquitous City’ Project

The Korea Times reports that "Korea will push ahead with its nationwide "Ubiquitous City,’’ a plan to cover whole regions with wireless internet connections and hook up each and every household to the network".In addition to the wireless broadband Internet connection,"the U-City project will furnish homes with unified systems such as electronic locks, integrated videoconferencing and videophones.Also, public services such as bus, subways and stores will be managed by a single smart card under the system".

Thanks to SmartMobs

Monday, November 21, 2005

SoMa: social matrices

There is interesting research being done at SoMa:I like their work into social and urban tapestries - a very innovative think-tank, currently working with both corporate and academic bodies -

'SoMa is a think tank for culture which conducts research into creative practices and their effects on culture and society.

SoMa aims to enhance the role of creativity in society by building up bodies of knowledge and experience that reveal the social matrices which make culture the keystone of society.

SoMa's activities are based around two core research themes: Species of Spaces and Liquid Geography. Our research projects focus on how social, cultural and political processes and structures influence how we live, and the ways in which we define our relations to space and place.'

Social Networking 3.0

An interesting article in the MIT Technology Review looks at the third generation of social-networking technology to hit the Web:

"If there were a competition for "Internet Buzzword of the Year," last year's winner would have been "social networking," as a cohort of companies such as Ryze, Tribe, LinkedIn, Friendster, Spoke, and Visible Path, rolled out new or improved services that let Web users create online mirrors of their circle of real-life acquaintances...

But today, not only have all of these companies survived; they're experiencing record growth, introducing new technology and new money-making features, and being joined by sophisticated new competitors...Social networking, in other words, is finally becoming a real business with a convincing product."

Tracking trucks with GPS

There is a summary here from Wired News of businesses’ growing trend to track their trucks with GPS. The theme of the article is the cautionary approach of unions to a possible invasion of employee privacy and the business position that knowing where trucks are improves efficiency and worker safety.

Thanks to SmartMobs

CALL FOR PAPERS: In the City and on the Road: Stasis and Mobility in the Twentieth Century


In the City and on the Road: Stasis and Mobility in the Twentieth Century
An Interdisciplinary Conference


Saturday, March 25 - Sunday, March 26, 2006
Department of English
University of South Carolina, Columbia (USA)

The twentieth century witnessed enormous shifts in patterns of mobility and the meanings bound up with "moving"¯shifts that went hand in hand with new definitions and associations for "stasis." These changes were bound up with a range of social factors: the massive expansion of industrial capitalism, the growth of the modern city, new communication systems, etc. The changes gave rise to intense artistic debates about the value of a new, highly mechanized, and often urban, mobility on one hand, and an older, rural conception of organic communities and stasis on the other. Working within the modern city, therefore,Walter Benjamin divides street walkers into two categories: the "flaneur" who meanders aimlessly and the "pilgrim" who seeks a destination. These same ideas, in a broader sense, have dominated the works of writers, poets, essayists, sociologists, filmmakers, musicians, politicians, and others as they sought to represent the city and the road as a means of answering questions about human identity. Artists, such as Joyce, Cela, and DeLillo, to name a few, have explored ideas of mobility within cities while Steinbeck, Dennis Hopper, and Baudrillard have similarly created an aesthetic of travel. Meanwhile, this
mobile century saw widespread migrations, such as rural African Americans to Northern cities, rural Spaniards to Madrid, and other movements towards wartime and post-war industrial opportunity. Contrarily, artists, such as Kerouac and Picasso see the city as that which dwarfs and thwarts autonomy as it reflects, in the words of Alfred Kazin, the "trauma of modern man." Following the success of the previous two years' conferences we invite papers that not only examine and build upon these issues, but encourage the analysis and exploration of multiple types of literature such as hypertext, film, art, and music, in addition to poetry and fiction. We strongly encourage cross-genre discussions.

Topics may include, but certainly are not limited to:

environmental literature
Blues music and mobility, Jazz music and the city
migration, miscegenation, hybridity
the city as destroyer
the postcolonial, or "imagined" city
religious and spiritual journeys
community versus individuality/alienation
communities in exile
existential ideas of the city and the road
wilderness versus civilization
the romanticization of the American West
e.g. Joyce's Dublin, Cela's Madrid, Dos Passos' Manhattan
the road-buddy film or song
immigration and assimilation
mapping the postmodern city
historicizing the modernist city
the hobo or vagabond as hero
the loss of rural space
urban and rural responses to war, terrorism and dictatorship
racial/ethnic and environment
urban vs. rural communities
the city or the road as sexual landscape
relationship of gender to travel and/or stasis
travel literature

The deadline for submission is Friday, January 6, 2006.
Please submit 500-word abstracts at
http://www.cla.sc.edu/engl/20thcenturyconference .

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mobile computer gaming

In the last post I looked at the upcoming trend of mobile gaming communities. Well - here at Lancaster University we have our very own research into mobile phone design; also, Lancaster University is the only University in the UK to teach mobile phone game design:

"Lancaster University is pioneering a new form of mobile computer gaming which brings together virtual reality and the real world.

Researchers in the Department of Communication Systems, based in InfoLab21, have been developing a new game which can be played by up to five players on mobile phones.

Unlike traditional mobile phone games, this game takes place in real space as well as on a mobile phone screen. Called Pac-Lan, in homage to the arcade classic Pacman, the game enables players to keep track of one another’s position through images on their mobile phones as they chase one another round campus."

Read about LU's 'Computer Games of the Future'

Wireless World: Mobile game 'communities' emerge

Mobile-game providers are now deploying technology to create wireless "gaming communities," where players can interact with each other, all from their mobile phone, a promising telecom phenomenon that may make a $1 billion market in the next three years:

"Mobile phones have been seen as new gaming and content platforms for a few years by industry visionaries. But the idea of creating virtual communities -- borrowed from the Internet -- is taking the trend to a new plane. New handheld technologies are emerging, and third-generation wireless networks are being offered by an array of carriers here and abroad.

... The mobile-gaming communities concept gives consumers access to what is called inter-carrier mobility functionality, which means that they can play games, not just on their own mobile device, but can network"

Full article at Physorg.com

Friday, November 18, 2005

Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile phones in Japanese Life

A new book has just recently been published by MIT press, and looks of interest:

"Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life" - Mizuko Ito (Editor), Daisuke Okabe (Editor), Misa Matsuda (Editor)

Synopsis: How mobile communications in Japan became a pervasively personal tool that connects families and friends, creating "always-on" social engagement. The Japanese term for mobile phone, keitai (roughly translated as "something you carry with you"), evokes not technical capability or freedom of movement but intimacy and portability, defining a personal accessory that allows constant social connection. Japan's enthusiastic engagement with mobile technology has become - along with anime, manga, and sushi - part of its trendsetting popular culture.

Check out at Amazon

Go Digital WSIS special from Tunis

Special Go Digital podcast from the UN internet summit in Tunis. Can the UN connect every village to the net by 2015?

Download podcast here

UN predicts 'internet of things'

A BBC article discusses the emerging 'internet of things':

World leaders are in Tunis to discuss the net and development.
Changes brought about by the internet will be dwarfed by those prompted by the networking of everyday objects, says a report by a UN body.

The study looks at how the use of electronic tags and sensors could create an "internet of things".

Read full article here

The world gets the $100 laptop

MIT has unveiled its $100 hand-cranked laptop computer to the United Nations technology summit in Tunisia and said that it hopes to make millions of the devices to give to the poorest people in the world.

The lime-green machines, which are about the size of a text book, will offer wireless connectivity via a mesh network of their own creation allowing peer-to-peer communication and operate in areas without a reliable electricity supply.

The goal is to provide the machines free of charge to children in poor countries who cannot afford computers of their own, said MIT Media Lab chairman Nicholas Negroponte.

Governments or charitable donors will pay for the machines but children will own them, he said.

Read more and see the pictures at Pocket-Lint

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bigger than the Internet

In a recent MIT Technology Review article it is claimed that 'Cell phones will rule the future of communications, says Sony Ericsson’s chief technology officer':

"Cheap cell phones are rapidly closing the digital divide in the developing world, while high-end models are offering everything from television clips to location-aware services -- and might soon network with your television and stereo system. So what's coming next?"

The interview is conducted with Mats Lindoff, Sony Ericsson’s chief technology officer.

Conference Call: TRAFFIC: mobility, flows, transgression

TRAFFIC: mobility, flows, transgression
March 10, 2006
The Third Annual English Graduate Conference at Brandeis University

Plenary Speaker: Professor John Plotz, Brandeis University

Traffic will be an interdisciplinary conference that explores the movement of
persons, cultural products, objects, and ideas between different contexts:
nations, cultures, territories, class positions, gender identities, racial
boundaries, urban and rural spaces, and political ideologies.

We seek papers that address traffic as a critical concept useful for thinking
about movement in literature, film, visual culture, anthropology, cultural
studies, psychology, history, gender studies, philosophy, and critical theory.

The conference is open but not limited to original scholarship in the following

-Piracy, Trade Networks, and Commodities
-Illicit Commerce, Smuggling
-Border Crossing, Boundaries, and Surveillance
-Traffic in Bodies
-Travel Narratives, Narratives of Exploration and Conquest
-Traffic in Ideas
-Censored Artworks and Literatures
-Rural and Urban Spaces, Exurbs, Satellite Cities
-Transportation, Automobility
-Diseases, Vaccine, Viruses
-Refugees, Exiles, and Expatriates
-Speed, Motion
-Intercultural Exchange
-Diaspora, Cultural Dissemination
-Globalization, Third Way Politics, and Empire
-Global Flows, Transversality, Micropolitics
-Liminality, Frontiers
-Class Mobility and Stasis

Submissions are not limited on the basis of historical period or genre; we hope
to have papers and panels that span different cultural, historical, theoretical,
and disciplinary contexts.

*Send panel proposals and/or paper abstracts (two pages maximum) to
traffic_conference@hotmail.com by December 31, 2005.


The SocialPhysics Project is a research centre set up within the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard Law School:

"The goal of SocialPhysics is to help create a new commons, the “social web.” The social web is a layer built on top of the Internet to provide a trusted way to link people, organizations, and concepts. It will provide people more control over their digital identities, the ability to more easily find other people and groups, and more control over how they are seen by others across diverse contexts. The project has three components:

1. Multi-disciplinary research

2. Community Sponsorship

3. Software development

Check out their site for more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

In 'smart' hotel rooms,everything is just right

"When regulars like Laurence Wiener check into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York,they get more than a smile from the concierge and a mint on their pillow",this article in IHT says."Wiener's hotel room "knows" exactly how warm.It welcomes him with a personal message on his television.It even loads his most frequently dialed numbers onto the phone.And the bellhop did not have to do a thing.At the Mandarin and other high-end hotels,new computer systems which connect individual rooms to network servers can now keep track of guests' preferences and change the room conditions automatically.These "smart" systems can learn whether a frequent guest likes the lights dimmed, the curtains closed or the room toasty warm.They can also personalize the electronics in the room so that the music of John Coltrane,for instance, greets jazz buffs when they enter their rooms.Meanwhile, sensors in refrigerators alert maids when the minibar is running low on Coca-Cola.While much of the underlying technology is not new, it is still rare in private homes because the cost of the equipment is relatively expensive.As a consequence, luxury hotels are the first to embrace it.But by incorporating such technology into their guest rooms, these hotels are starting to provide a glimpse of the networked homes of the future".

Read full article in International Herald Tribune

Thanks to SmartMobs!

Singapore's SMS crime advisory alert

AsiaMedia reports Singapore's Senior Minister of State (Law and Home Affairs) Ho Peng Kee announced "a fresh approach to tackle rising crime,using SMS technology and enlisting youngsters as crime-fighting ambassadors".Further,"to get people wired to crime prevention, police are trying out an SMS crime advisory alert initiative.They send SMS messages to subscribers' cellphones,alerting them to crimes in their neighbourhoods and suggesting precautions they can take to protect themselves.The pilot project started in August, with about 1,200 subscribers,mainly Neighbourhood Watch Zone liaison officers,their assistants and Crime Prevention Ambassadors for senior citizens.They,in turn,disseminate information to residents if necessary.If the pilot is successful, police hope to implement the scheme island-wide".

Via SmartMobs

Go Digital 14th November 2005

More on Sony's copy-protected CDs and stealing your digital identity - download podcast here

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Technology is killing life on the street -- the public commons

In a Wired article titled - 'Eat, Sleep, Work, Consume, Die' - the author laments on the erosion of the public commons through technological networking:

"Our collective humanity is dying a little more every day. Technology is killing life on the street -- the public commons, if you please. Chat rooms, text messaging, IM are all, technically, forms of communication. But when they replace yakking over the back fence, or sitting huggermugger at the bar or simply walking with a friend -- as they have for an increasing number of people in "advanced" societies -- then meaningful human contact is lost. Ease of use is small compensation...

...Just because technology makes it possible for us to work 10 times faster than we used to doesn't mean we should do it."

Is our direction an erosion, addition, or shift?

The World Summit on the Information Society (November 16-18)

The future of the Internet will be up for heated discussion at The World Summit on the Information Society, which takes place from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis. The Summit will be hosted by the Government of Tunisia.

The main object of the WSIS is to ensure poor countries get the economic and social development benefits of new communication technologies. However, results will be eagerly awaited.

So why not visit the Conference website here, and try the live webcast service!

Text service to help smokers quit

In a recent BBC article - 'Text service to help smokers quit':

"Smokers who call the NHS Smoking Helpline will be offered the 'Together' programme as an alternative to the more traditional services.

After registering a date by which they intend to quit, they will receive a series of supportive direct mail packs, text messages and call backs as they reach the key stages of the giving up process."

Will this lesson the strain on the NHS I wonder??!

Africa calling

A thorough and wonderful article from the FT titled 'Africa Calling' on the many ways cell phones are shaping Africa's economy:

"All across Africa people are investing in mobiles, from slum-dwellers and shoeshine boys to nomadic tribesmen and politicians running election campaigns. A communications revolution is sweeping across the impoverished continent, now enjoying the fastest cell-phone growth in the world."

Subscription to FT necessary for full article.

Mobilising Hospitality Workshop Report

9 November 2005

Dear CeMoRe Board Members,

Sarah Gibson and I would like to thank CeMoRe for its very generous support of the Mobilising Hospitality workshop that took place the 26th and 27th of September 2005. CeMoRe's donations enabled us to invite Elly Clarke, a London-based artist, to debut her original video installation 'Golden Parrot Guest House, Badambang, Cambodia' during the workshop. Elly's installation was a stimulating talking point during the lunch and coffee breaks and provided an interesting audiovisual dimension to the theoretical conversations of the workshop. CeMoRe funds were also used to sponsor our guest presenters at the workshop dinner on Monday night at the Sun Cafe and contributed to the travel costs for one of our presenters, Dr. Soile Veijola, to join us from Finland. In addition, many, many thanks are due to Pennie Drinkall for helping with the website, registrations, budgets and catering. Not to mention the delicious scones she baked for the tea on the first day! We owe much of the successful 'hospitality' of the event to Pennie and to CeMoRe's generosity.

Overall, the workshop was a great success. Our aim was to create a space for a multidisciplinary conversation around the intersection between mobility and hospitality. This inter/multi-disciplinarity was reflected not only in the backgrounds of our invited speakers, but also in the disciplinary diversity of the delegates who attended the workshop from other departments at Lancaster and from universities around the UK and abroad.

We were very fortunate to be able to invite Dr. Ghassan Hage (University of Sydney) to deliver the keynote address. His talk was empirically grounded, theoretically provocative, and intellectually challenging -- just what you look for in a keynote! Other guest presenters included: Dr. Phil Crang (Royal Holloway), Dr. Tim Cresswell (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Dr. Karima Laachir (University of Birmingham), Dr. Tom O?Dell (Lund University, Sweden), Dr. Judith Still (University of Nottingham), and Dr. Soile Veijola (University of Lapland). From Lancaster, we had Viv Cuthill (Sociology), Adi Kuntsman (Sociology), and Jennie Germann Molz (CeMoRe). Sarah Gibson, a previous CeMoRe postdoc fellow returned from her new position at the University of Surrey to present and help run the event. We were of course very disappointed that John Urry was unable to join us and deliver the summary talk. Robert Crawshaw (DELC) graciously agreed to step in and facilitate a round-table discussion at the end of the workshop. This discussion, which included all of the delegates, was thoughtful and animated, bringing out both predictable and unexpected themes that ran across the papers.

Dr. Hage stayed with us for a few days following the workshop. He participated in a staff and postgrad seminar day with 11 Lancaster staff and students from various departments (including ICR, Linguistics, Politics and IR, Women's Studies, and Sociology). This day gave people from other departments an opportunity to present work in progress, to meet Dr. Hage, and to benefit from his insights and from discussion with other participants.

Sarah and I are currently writing a book proposal for an edited collection of essays based on the workshop presentations.

Again, please accept our sincere thanks for CeMoRe's support of the workshop -- and thanks to those of you who attended!

Best wishes,

Jennie Germann Molz
ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Centre for Mobilities Research
Lancaster University

Sarah Gibson
Lecturer in Cultural Studies
School of Arts
University of Surrey

Monday, November 14, 2005

An era of contactless ticketing railways?

In an article in the RFID Gazette - 'Contactless ticketing for Norwegian State Railways':

"The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) will be introducing contactless ticketing for the public railway system. RFID-enabled tickets and ticketing machines will enable the transportation services to serve the commuters in a better manner. The contactless ticketing will give customers greater control regarding their travel."

The future of RFID?

ITU Report: Internet of things

This ITU report (below:

"takes a look at the next step in "always on" communications, in which new technologies like RFID and smart computing promise a world of networked and interconnected devices that provide relevant content and information whatever the location of the user.Everything from tires to toothbrushes will be in communications range, heralding the dawn of a new era, one in which today’s Internet (of data and people) gives way to tomorrow’s Internet of Things.We are heading towards what can be termed a “ubiquitous network society”, one in which networks and networked devices are omnipresent.Early forms of ubiquitous information and communication networks are already visible in the widespread use of mobile phones today: there were over 1.8 billion mobile phones in circulation by the end of 2004, and the number is set to surpass 2 billion by the end of 2005.Mobile data applications such as SMS,i-mode and Vodafone Live! have brought Internet-like services to the pockets of many mobile phone users.But what if much more was connected to a network:a fridge,a car, a cup of tea?At the dawn of the internet revolution, users were amazed at the possibility of contacting people and information across oceans and time zones, through a few clicks of their mouse. In order to do so, however, they typically had to sit in front of a computer device (PC) connected to a global network.Today,they can also use mobile phones and portable laptops.The next logical step in this technological revolution (connecting people anytime, anywhere) is to connect inanimate objects a communication network. This is the vision underlying the Internet of things. The use of electronic tags (e.g. RFID) and sensors will serve to extend the communication and monitoring potential of the network of networks, as will the introduction of computing power in everyday items such as razors,shoes and packaging. Advances in nanotechnology (i.e. manipulation of matter at the molecular level) will serve to further accelerate these developments".

ITU Internet Reports 2005:The Internet of Things

Via Smartmobs

Mobility makes for potent rioting

In a Gurdian article - 'Paris Tightens Security Around Landmarks':

"Thousands of Parisian police guarded the Eiffel Tower,the Champs Elysees and train stations on Saturday,as part of emergency measures enacted in response to text messages and Internet postings that called for "violent actions'' in the capital",the Guardian reports."In Lyon,France's third largest city,police fired tear gas to disperse stone-hurling youths at the historic Place Bellecour.It was the first time in 17 days of unrest that youths clashed with police in a major city.Hours earlier,authorities had announced a weekend curfew in Lyon,barring youths under 18 from being outside without adult supervision between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.The emergency measures in Paris came a day after cell phone text messages and Internet blog postings called for "violent actions'' in Paris on Saturday evening.Authorities banned public gatherings considered risky in an effort to keep the unrest from reaching inside the capital".

The Phases of Enterprise Mobility (Nokia whitepaper)

Nokia press release about the identification of five phases of workforce mobility.

"The promise of working on the go is here. However, harnessing the power of today’s mobile technology takes more than the mere acquisition of IT tools—whether they are PDAs, smartphones, or Wi-Fi enabled laptops. Realizing the potential of mobile technologies requires that organizations carefully architect how they leverage the power of a new and expanding breed of mobile solutions. Done right, an organization can gain advantage over its competitors by improving speed and quality of service, while encouraging collaboration and communication between mployees, customers and partners."

Via Smartmobs

Wireless where you least expect

1)In this BBC article 'Macedonia leads world with wi-fi':

" a project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has brought broadband internet access to hundreds of such remote villages in Macedonia by putting the country's 460 primary and secondary schools online...The network makes use of Macedonia's bumpy terrain by using mountains as distribution points for wireless connectivity, a network connecting the parts copper wires cannot reach."

2) In another BBC article - 'Yak farmers online in Nepal':

"Seven yak farming villages typically separated by two days’ walk are communicating wirelessly with each other and the Internet. In May 2002 the first relay station was installed atop a 20 meter tree. The high altitude of the area put transmitting altitude at 10,800 feet. The transmitter was composed of a normal 8-foot TV dish antenna and a one-liter measuring can. The same tree is still used as a transmitting tower. The history, methods and plans for the project are online at Nepal Wireless."

Great stories!! And not just the usual tech countries...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Go Digital 7th November 2005

Go Digital 7th November 2005:

We speak to technology guru Tim O'Reilly, look at fast response satellites controlled via a web browser and explore why Hollywood is calling for 'geeky' creatives.

Micro-Enterprise and New Literacy of Cooperation Concepts

Here is the recent research from Howard Rheingold and The Institute For The Future - a report on“Toward a New Literacy Of Cooperation in Business”(PDF file) - a project and publication that meshes some ideas with micro-enterprise and micro-finance concepts to create a new collaborative micro-enterprise paradigm.

Phones devolving us?

Couldn't resist this one!

"Nobuo Masataka, a professor at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute and author of the monster best seller "Keitai wo Motta Saru (Monkeys With Mobile Phones)," argues that the proliferation of mobile phones has got young Japanese making monkeys of themselves, aping the behavior patterns of chimpanzees.

He says that young Japanese have lost the ability to discern between public and private space. He adds that they have formed what he calls the dearuki-zoku (out and about tribe).

... Masataka tells Sapio. "Some may criticize me for likening the behavior of humans with monkeys, but having studied primates for so long, I can clearly say that it's a fact the proliferation of IT has made human behavior closely resemble that of apes."

Via Gizmodo

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mobile Social Software

Website m-trends.org has some interesting material on Mobile Social Software, and an informative overview of current social software applications - an extract:

"Technically speaking, MoSoSo is radius and proximity based software. Untechnically speaking, it finds like-minded people around you instantly. The problem with MoSoSos is that they're not really out there yet as they should. To get accurate location data, the preferred method is GPS -but concerns about privacy and costs have kept operators to give this sensible location information out hands to some possible competitors or adventurous third-party start-ups.

I thought it might be interesting to give an overview of the companies, projects and the applications in the Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) area now that hybrid phones will hit the international markets soon.

Currently most MoSoSo business models are based on SMS premium revenue income, others focus on different models such as premium subscription fees and local advertising, using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology. Personally, I think that MoSoSos, using Wi-Fi technology, will emerge and widespread more rapidly among youth in urban network zones, the moment they can afford the cool new hybrid phones."

Intelligent transportation systems

The number of advances in smart-mobility in the car industry is increasing rapidly - this appears to be an area of significant growth - and will no doubt transform 'life on the road' in the future.

First, the paper USA Today looks at the technology of cars communicating with each other in 'Cars soon may 'talk' to roads, each other':

"Intelligent transportation also offers a lucrative side benefit: the sharing of information that could ease traffic congestion,which wasted an estimated 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline in 2003,according to a Texas Transportation Institute estimate.Traffic jam data could be gathered from the electronic messages of cars themselves, not just from sensors in roadways".

Secondly, an article in the IHT - 'Tracking phones for traffic reports' - examines how tracking mobile phones in the car can show patterns of traffic flows:

"These new traffic systems can monitor several hundred thousand cellphones at once.The phones need only be turned on,not in use.And sophisticated software now makes it possible to discern whether a signal is coming from,say,a moving car or a pedestrian.State officials say the systems will monitor large clusters of phones,not individual phones,and the benefits could be substantial.By providing a constantly updated picture of traffic flow across thousands of miles of highways,they argue,cellphone tracking can help transportation agencies spot congestion and divert drivers by issuing alerts by radio or on electronic road signs".

Thanks Smart mobs!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mobility of smuggling 2

In a Wired article, it discusses how drug smugglers are ahead through faster mobilities:

"The transport of choice: so-called "go-fasts," whose crews are the equivalent of the rumrunners of the Prohibition era -- only these modern-day outlaws have global positioning systems, satellite telephones and custom-made 800-horsepower fiberglass boats that can do 50 mph...

...Each cocaine-laden vehicle is a proverbial needle in a haystack for U.S. Customs inspectors who are coping with thousands of trucks that carry Mexican exports across the 1,900-mile (3,040-kilometer) border each day.

Launching from Colombia's isolated Pacific coast and the more populated Caribbean shores, the go-fasts transport well over 220 tons of cocaine a year, most of it bound for the United States, according to U.N. reports."

Mobility of smuggling 1

An article in the New Zealand Herald titled 'Stolen UK mobiles resold in 46 countries' says:

"Mobile phones stolen in Britain are being resold in more than 40 countries in a trade worth millions, a police investigation has discovered.

A study of more than 1000 mobiles stolen in Britain revealed they ended up in at least 46 different countries, including Iraq, Peru, Australia, Dubai, China and Jamaica.

Gangs use a network of second-hand shops and criminals to collect tens of thousands of mobiles stolen in street muggings and house break-ins, which are then taken abroad and sold.

Handsets are relatively cheap in Britain, with expensive call charges, whereas abroad they are unsubsidised by the phone companies and can cost hundreds of pounds."

Le blog, la mob, le riot

In a BBC article it says how French youths have been turning to weblogs to express their anger and frustration over the violence that has hit some of the country's poorest suburbs.

"As the rioting has spread, so has the debate between bloggers and their readers.

The deaths of two teenagers of African origin, which helped spark the riots, inspired a number of online tributes.

Bouna Traore, aged 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, "died for nothing", said one blogger, Bouna93 - the number is a reference to their home department of Seine-Saint-Denis.

"We love you guys... All of Clichy is with you," he added, referring to the town of Clichy-sous-Bois where the two teenagers died...

But on many blogs, alongside messages of condolence were insults targeting police and threats of more violence. "

Growing up with the wired generation

An interesting article in The Guardian tells how today's teenagers use technology to stay in touch with friends at all times - turning their bedrooms into 'connected cocoons':

"Being sent to your bedroom used to be a punishment: now it's a teen dream. Through personal computers, mobile phones and gaming consoles, teenagers are spurning antisocial angst for a culture of "connected cocooning".

Such limitless communication is having a revolutionary impact on the way young people interact, socialise, work and play. This tech-savvy teen tribe is united as never before, with the lonely search for identity set to become a vision of the past.

"Technologies certainly do create cultural phenomenon, whether for good or for ill," says Windsor Holden, senior analyst at Analysys. "Young people have seen all these different facilities, adapted them and changed the means of communication."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cars May Find Parking Spots

And more traffic news!

In a recent article - 'Smart vehicles will find empty parking spots and avoid red lights in the near future':

"It’s every city driver’s dream: A navigation system that finds empty parking spots. Cars of the future may also come equipped with similar systems that detect how long traffic lights will stay green and alert drivers when a train is coming.

These are just some of the technologies that automotive companies plan to demonstrate at an industry conference in San Francisco starting Sunday. Several companies are already making announcements in advance of the conference."

Smart directions for green ideas

More car news...and this develops what was posted earlier about the Euro Galileo satellite - it seems the car industry going through a tech-transformation?!

"Electro-car public transport and a scheme to track the proper disposal of waste are two of smartest ideas for using satellite-navigation technology",the BBC reports."The applications have just triumphed in an international competition seeking novel ways to employ Galileo, Europe's soon-to-launch sat-nav system".The " transport application devised by the Vu Log company in Sophia Antipolis, France,envisages a fleet of "green" vehicles on city roads.Each electrically powered mini-car would be equipped with instant and highly precise positioning equipment.Commuters could use the internet or their mobile phone to find the nearest vehicle, jump in and start it with a smartcard,and then drive it to their destination".

From the BBC article 'Smart directions for green ideas'

Can your mouth become multilingual?

A new computer technology based on artificial intelligence (AI) and statistical methods promises to deliver speech-to-speech translation in many languages. And one day, it might even be implanted into your mouth and your throat.

Read full article at ZDNet

The organisation of the French riots

In a way that reminds us of the smart-mobs:

"The French government met in emergency session Sunday evening to confront youth rioting that worsened on its 10th night",the IHT reports.Later in the article it says,"in its early days,the rioting appeared to spread spontaneously,but law enforcement officials said it was also being abetted by exhortations on the Internet.Worse,said Patrick Hamon,the national police spokesman,"what we notice is that the bands of youths are,little by little, getting more organized" and are sending attack messages by mobile phone texts".

Full article - As rioting spreads, France maps tactics

Thanks to SmartMobs

Wireless: The new backseat driver?

It seems that the 'race' is on (excuse the pun) to find our century's first computer-driven car. For now, here's an article about cars using wireless communications.

"Just in case you don't have enough backseat drivers, your car could one day tell you when you're about to screw up.

On Thursday, General Motors demonstrated a vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, wireless communication system that alerts you when a collision is imminent. The automaker equipped regular Cadillac STS sedans with wireless and Global Positioning System antennae and computer chips that allow the cars to communicate with other vehicles with similar equipment.

The technology, demonstrated here with three cars navigating a special course, creates what could be described as a digital-driving symphony. The wireless technology in one car detects the presence of the other two Cadillacs and avoids collisions by either alerting the driver of danger or by automatically stopping the vehicle in an emergency."

Full article here

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Go Digital - 31st October

Bill Gates talks about the competition and Microsoft's future, and the 2D boardgames getting a 3D makeover

Podcast download here

Gloriad: Huge research data exchange via global high-speed net

A fast data-network has been set-up for the transmission of academic information:

"Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of High Energy Physics exchanged huge scientific data with their Italian counterparts via the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (Gloriad).

The huge data, collected at the Yangbajing Observatory for space radials, could not be transmitted through the prevailing Internet.

The Hong Kong Open Exchange Portal (HKOEP) witnessed such a kind of huge data transmission in the past year.

Chen Wei, a senior engineer at the CAS Computer Network Information Center who oversees construction of the HKOEP, said here Monday that the portal has already been linked with research networks in Japan, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea. It is scheduled to connect other nets throughout the world.

In addition to three Gloriad founders, China, the United Statesand Russia, the HKOEP program was joined by the Republic of Korea,the Netherlands and Canada in September."

Read full article here

US Congress votes to allow regulation of blogs for political content

Interesting development on the blogging side, especially since it has become a politcal force in the US recently:

"After considering the issue for the past year, the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) has [considered blogs to be covered by campaign finance laws), which constitutes an extension of speech regulation to the Web. The United States Congress considered a measure to block such a policy, but failed to assemble enough yes votes to do so.

The 225-182 vote on the Online Freedom of Speech Actwas numerically in favor of ending the FEC decision, but came up 47 votes short of the necessary two-thirds."

More via Smart Mobs

MIT Wireless Network Tracks Info on Users

To follow on from what I posted before about MIT's iSpots wirless network - the network is also being used to track users' movements:

"In another time and place, college students wondering whether the campus cafe has any free seats, or their favorite corner of the library is occupied, would have to risk hoofing it over there. But for today's student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that kind of information is all just a click away.

MIT's newly upgraded wireless network — extended this month to cover the entire school — doesn't merely get you online in study halls, stairwells or any other spot on the 9.4 million square foot campus. It also provides information on exactly how many people are logged on at any given location at any given time."

More details from Yahoo News

Texts will warn of poor air quality

Use of SMS text technology will allow Croydon Council in Greater London to keep residents who are sensitive to air quality changes informed as quickly and effectively as possible, reports icCoventry.

"Called "airTEXT", the scheme has funding from the European Space Agency's Promote project, which is using satellite technology to improve air quality forecasting.

The air quality alerts are based on forecasts to vulnerable groups such as asthmatics and people with bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease, warning them of a deterioration in air quality and giving simple advice on minimising exposure and managing their symptoms."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Local energy networks

From the Neighbourhoods site:

"The future will be shaped within a national system of local energy networks; a system where every part of our existence – our home, our roads, our workplaces, schools and hospitals – are generators of sustainable energy rather than just consumers of it.

"This isn't pie-in-the-sky thinking. It is already happening now; and being driven by local visionaries and engineers who have metamorphosed into eco-engineers, holistic scientists and sustainability designers. The more I became immersed in the construction of my own eco-house, the more I entered a world which is both humbling and exhilarating. Some 80% of new buildings in Berlin have solar powered energy generators. Holland has installed ‘hot road' energy systems under asphalt road surfaces that provide heating/cooling for local houses. (Every 1 km of road heats about 100 houses). Toronto is replacing energy guzzling, air conditioning systems in modern buildings, with a cooling system that circulates (and returns) water from Lake Ontario. Woking, in England, has installed its own local wiring system, generates 135% of its own energy needs, and will be coming off the National Grid in the next few years."

Society for New Communications Research Launches

The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) is a new international non-profit think tank. The group was formed to provide a forum for research and education and a source of expertise focused on the broad theoretical and practical implications surrounding new communications methodologies, tools and technologies. [press release]

"To be the leading think tank for the advanced study of new communications tools, technologies and emerging modes of communication, i.e. blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, collaborative tools and the growing phenomena of participatory communications and their effect on traditional media, marketing, public relations and advertising, as well as their broader impact on business, politics, entertainment, culture, education, religion and society"

Via Smartmobs

Nokia Mobility Conference 2005

On November 2-3 the Nokia Mobility Conference 2005 took place in Barcelona, Spain. Convergence across all areas of mobility is the key theme. The site allows webcast downloads.

Now in it's tenth year NMC is one of the world's premier forums for operators, developers, IT vendors, content owners, service providers, retailers, and other members of the mobility services value chain. The conference site features five seminar streams covering mobile TV, mobile email, mobile music and entertainment, mobile technology, and new applications. It gives an overview of the presentations, data sheets and press releases.

"We expect the market for convergence devices to double to 100 million units in 2006. Developers, media companies and enterprises are shifting their focus to Nokia’s S60 smartphone platform, as they see the business potential of using it to offer content and ensure secure remote access to corporate applications"

Eyes on Galileo - and the 'green vehicles'

Galileo is a satellite-based positioning network similar to -- but more accurate than -- the well-known Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS, put into space by the United States, originally limited civilian accuracy but gave the military full access.
An interesting development of the increase in positioning/location aware technologies:

"Galileo, a European Space Agency system, uses the same overall protocols as GPS (and therefore accessible using the same hardware), but its readings will be accurate to less than a meter. Galileo is set to be operational by 2008. The European Union, in an attempt to encourage innovative uses of Galileo, holds an annual Galileo Masters competition, and this year's winners have a distinctly green aspect.

The top prize went to VU Log, a French company building a satellite-monitored electric car sharing network. As the BBC describes it:

The transport application devised by the Vu Log company in Sophia Antipolis, France, envisages a fleet of "green" vehicles on city roads. Each electrically powered mini-car would be equipped with instant and highly precise positioning equipment. Commuters could use the internet or their mobile phone to find the nearest vehicle, jump in and start it with a smartcard, and then drive it to their destination.
"There would be no constraint - you could leave the car where you wanted," explained Vu Log's George Gallais.
"The service provider would come and charge the cars up every two or three days. Being used just for short distances, they wouldn't need charging every day," he told the BBC News website.

The best UK entry was TrackerBack, a method of monitoring the real-time location of truck loads. The green application? Control of illegal waste and dumping:

"With the sub-metre accuracy of Galileo, you'd even know how high off the ground that consignment of tyres was," [the inventor, Richard White] said. "You'd know instantly if it had been dumped over a hedge rather being taken to the reprocessing plant."
It remains to be seen whether applications such as VU Log and TrackerBack will show up outside of Europe. There's no reason why they couldn't. Like GPS, Galileo will be accessible world-wide, and the cost of positioning system receivers is now low enough for casual use. By 2008, the technology should be small enough and inexpensive enough for routine inclusion in most portable communication and information devices.

Via Worldchanging

The next CEMORE event

Tuesday 8th November, 5pm to 6.30pm, County South C26
Claude Denis:School of Political Studies and Institute of Canadian Studies, University of Ottawa:

Human (in)security at the chaotic border: The Ciudad Juárez murders, Mexican politics and transnational processes

There will be a supper afterwards with Claude Denis, Alex Arellano (former PhD student), John Urry; please let john URRY know ASAP if you would like to attend.

Also the first issue of the new journal MOBILITIES is just going to press and will be out early 2006, published by Taylor and Francis

Thursday, November 03, 2005


How Wireless Technology is Changing Life on the MIT Campus - iSPOTS at MIT shows how the campus is developing one of the largest wireless networks in order to adapt to new mobile working routines: from the site

"New wireless communications technologies are changing the way we live and work. This fact is particularly evident at MIT, thanks to the presence of two conditions: 1) the very high percentage of laptop computer ownership on campus; and 2) the existence of one of the most pervasive wireless Internet networks on earth, which includes over 2,800 access points and was completed at the end of October 2005.

The iSPOTS project, developed by the SENSEable City Laboratory in collaboration with Information Services and Technology, aims at describing changes in living and working at MIT by mapping the dynamics of the wireless network in real-time. Thus, the complex and dispersed individual movement patterns that make up the daily life of the campus can be revealed, helping TO answer many questions: Which physical spaces are preferred for work in the MIT community? How could future physical planning of the campus suit the community's changing needs? Which location-based services would be most helpful for students and academics?

Also, as many cities around the world are launching extensive wireless initiatives, the analysis of the MIT environment could provide valuable insights for the future. Will today's MIT be tomorrow's norm?"

From the project page:

"new communication technologies, in particular hand-held devices and laptops with wireless connections, are changing the way we live and work. work that till recently required a fixed location and well-defined architectural settings (such as a working desk with a desktop computer in the infamous 'cubicle'), can now be performed in a distributed way from multiple locations, at the same time, conventional hierarchical arrangements of employee management are being replaced by virtual internet-based relationships, creating new patterns and needs for work-spaces. while this trend is widely recognized in the scientific literature (see for instance francis duffy, the new office, london, 1997), it has not been quantitatively measured in accurate ways yet. the aim of this research is to monitor and collect extensive data of wifi usage on the mit campus, which will enable us to better understand the emerging daily working patterns and re-evaluate the qualities of physical space supporting them. the mit campus is a privileged environment for this research due to its pervasiveness of wifi connectivity in its community's daily life."

And why aren't more university campuses becoming wireless - an obvious necessity?

The rise of VoIP

According to a recent BBC article titled 'Internet phone calls on the rise':

"Broadband telephony is gaining ground among consumers as people become more confident users of their high-speed net connections.

It offers a cheap alternative to fixed-line voice calls.

By 2009, 70% of voice connections around the world will be wireless, the Gartner report found."

Another indication that there are moves towards convergence.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Telework-freedom: Consequences to business travel behaviour?

Here's an interesting short paper (not including survey visual data) by Jasper Lim. Lim would be interested in any feedback and comments, and for further information, please send to Jasper Lim at: h.n.lim@tbm.tudelft.nl

"In recent years, there have been increase teleworking practices by employees, from teleworking part-time from homes, client offices, starbuck cafes, or even during travelling from one place to another. Teleworking is now being offered increasingly to employees of business organizations in The Netherlands. So, we may expect a big bang of “teleworkmania” in the coming years?

Not exactly, the reasons will become apparent in the next paragraphs. The benefits of teleworking are enormous and are well documented by many researchers. From the benefits of increase work concentration, work efficiency, travel time reduction, attending to domestic chores and many more. Teleworking could also be just simply “nice” and “handy” for some employees. It gives employees a feeling of independence and the opportunity to “release” themselves from the traditional 9-to-5 jobs.

In theory, telework allows employees to work anytime-anywhere with the assistance of information and communication technologies (ICT) for communication and travel substitution. However, this freedom and may be restricted by two factors. Firstly, employees, particularly field employees (e.g. salesmen, consultants) have to attend to “client maintenance”. This means that they have to meet clients face-to-face. As one interviewee puts it “It’s very important to visit the clients in person. Personal contacts cannot be replaced by any other form of communication. In business, it’s important to create trust and the best way to do that is through face-to-face meetings”. Secondly, social contacts with colleagues are important, particularly for employees with managing or coordinating roles. It allows them to communicate with the team more effectively in-person than via email or msn messaging. Furthermore, it’s the best way to enhance cohesiveness with colleagues and also to “catch-up” with office politics.

The consequences of telework-freedom and the restrictions impose by the above factors lead to somewhat interesting developments to business travel behaviour. Firstly, it leads to changes of the business travel chain. For instance, business travelers can now prepare materials from home and depart to visit customers directly without visiting the office. Secondly, it leads to traffic-anticipation travel planning behaviour by employees. For example, to avoid been caught in traffic congestions, appointments are planned during non-peak rush hours (e.g. after 10 o’clock). This allows business travellers to work partially from home before going to work or visit clients. The employers seem to support this. As can be seen in Figure A, the majority of employers cited avoiding business appointments during peak rush hours as a good measure, followed by the use of virtual meeting tools and the extension of road networks (Lim 2004).

Figure A: Employer preference on how to solve traffic congestion (not included here)

As expected, majority of the employers were not in favour of the idea of introducing road pricing (e.g. kilometer pricing or congestion pricing).

The third consequence to travel behaviour may not be apparent at this point of time due to the fact that broadband wireless internet is not available everywhere except for sporadic Wi-Fi spots at cafes, hotels and airport. One particular interesting proposition was to have wireless internet on trains for business travellers. A survey conducted by Zhang (2005) on NS (Dutch National Railway) train business travellers suggested that having wireless internet service (WIS) on trains would improve travel efficiency and increase work productivity of business travellers during train travel. This means that value of travel time could change may have to be re-evaluated in the near future. Having internet on trains may even stimulate the use of public transport given the fact that car drivers could only perform limited tasks in their cars.

To conclude, there are still barriers with regards to the concept of working anytime-anywhere. Employees are still “bounded” by traditional social and business ethics. However, telework is slowly changing the way business travellers conduct their work and travel activities, particularly, time losses attributed to traffic congestions could be reduced by intelligent use of telework options and adaptation to the travel chain."

Lim, H.N. (2004), W.A.T.T. Survey report, company and public versions, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, April 2004.
Zhang, M. (2005), An E-journey for business travellers on trains. Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Master Thesis.

Cell Phone Culture

The following event will take place on the MIT campus on Thursday, November 17, 2005. If you would like us to ask one or both of the speakers a question, please email it back to 'seawell@MIT.EDU' with your name, affiliation and location. We will identify the author of any questions sent via email. An audio recording is made available a couple of days following the event.


Cell Phone Culture

Thursday, November 17, 2005
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Bartos Theater, Media Lab
20 Ames Street, MIT


No contemporary cultural artifact embodies the genius and the disruptive excess of capitalism as clearly as the cell phone. Ubiquitous in most developed societies in Europe, the Americas and Asia, the cell phone has become a laboratory some would say an asylum for testing the limits of technological convergence. Less a telephone today than a multi-purpose computer, cell phones are game consoles, still cameras, email systems, text messengers, carriers of entertainment and business data, nodes of commerce. Particular age cohorts and subcultures have begun to appropriate cell phones for idiosyncratic uses that help to define their niche or social identity. This Forum will examine the cell phone as a technological object and as a cultural form whose uses and meaning are increasingly various, an artifact uniquely of our time that is enacting, to borrow the words of a contemporary novelist, a ceaseless spectacle of transition.


James Katz is professor of communication and director of Rutgers University's Center for Mobile Communications Studies, which he founded in 2004. Katz' research focuses on how personal communication technologies, such as mobile phones and the Internet, affect social relationships and how cultural values influence usage patterns of these technologies. His books include Machines That Become Us: The Social Context of Personal Communication Technology (Transaction, 2003, editor) and Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk and Public Performance (Cambridge, 2002, co-edited with Mark Aakhus). He is also the author of Social Consequences of Internet Use: Access, Involvement and Expression (MIT Press, 2002, with Ron Rice).

Jing Wang is professor of Chinese cultural studies, and the head of Foreign Languages & Literatures at MIT. Her research interests are focused on contemporary Chinese popular culture and its relationship to marketing and advertising. She worked at Ogilvy in Beijing for two summers as a consultant for the Planning Department, and is currently finishing up a book manuscript [Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture]. Wang's presentation on cell phone branding and youth culture in China is based on some of her work at Ogilvy.

Free and open to the public.

More information: http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Corporate reputations and blog relations

An interesting article from the Guardian titled 'Firms in the dark over blog threat'

"Nearly two-thirds of businesses have not woken up to the threat posed to their brands and reputations by disgruntled bloggers, a survey of PR professionals revealed today.
While more than 60% of PR executives interviewed believed that web blogs by unhappy employees or exasperated customers can damage corporate reputations, but 58% said businesses were insufficiently aware of the threat.

Based on interviews with US, UK and European and Asian PR companies, the Blog Relations PR Survey shows that more than one in four respondents believed that there were a number of influential blogs that could affect a company's standing.

With many blogs finding their way into mainstream media - such as Adrian Melrose's Land Rover rant, and high-profile blogs targeting the likes of Ryanair, Dell, BT and NTL, just over two-thirds admitted negative blogs could spark a "full-blown" PR crisis.

"Companies find it very difficult to get to terms with blogs and to get to grips with which ones are influential and what is the right way to proceed," said Hugh Fraser, the co-author of the report and a former journalist for the BBC World Service."

Blogging is becoming ever more a pervasive mobile info-sphere. I would certainly welcome any more links/articles/comments.

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