Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tracking tech predicted to boom in Europe

CNetNews has described how technology for wirelessly tracking vehicles and people is predicted to take off in Western Europe throughout the next five years:

Business needs and personal security concerns will generate $4.85 billion in spending on the technology by 2012, according to a Juniper Research report. The business sector will be the main area where it will take off, but there also is potential in the consumer sector for child- and pet-tracking systems, which are gradually gaining acceptance.

Juniper Research analyst and report author Bruce Gibson said this kind of technology has been used by transportation and distribution companies for a number of years and will soon extend to other industries. The systems already available from mobile service providers use mobile ID location and GPS. Vehicle tracking is expected by Juniper Research to generate $4.11 billion in revenue by 2012, with around 15 million vehicles being tracked by businesses wanting to monitor and route their vehicles more efficiently.

Read full article - 'Tracking tech predicted to boom in Europe'

UK's first eco-village

The UK's Guardian reports on how Britain's biggest housebuilder - Barratt Homes - is to build England's first eco-village (according to the housing and planning minister). The article states that:

Barratt has won the bid to create a new community at the site of the former Hanham Hall hospital near Bristol, which has been commissioned by the government's national regeneration agency, English Partnerships.

The village is expected to be built in three years' time, ahead of the government's 2016 target, when it wants all new homes to be zero carbon. The onsite biomass combined heat and power (CHP) plant will deliver energy to all 200 homes.

The village also aims to create eco-friendly lifestyles. It will capture rainwater and include sustainable drainage, farmers' shops, a car club and bicycle storage. Hanham Hall will be the first site to be built under the under the Carbon Challenge initiative, run by English Partnerships as part of the government's commitment to tackle climate change.

What about BedZed - isn't that a UK zero carbon community??

Read article - 'Barratt contracted to build UK's first eco-village'

Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers

Wired has a piece on 'Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers From Original Blogger Jorn Barger' from - yes - one of the original bloggers Mr. Jorn Barger... Here it goes:

1. A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So is actually better for blogging than

2. You can certainly include links to your original thoughts, posted elsewhere … but if you have more original posts than links, you probably need to learn some humility.

3. If you spend a little time searching before you post, you can probably find your idea well articulated elsewhere already.

For more, go to original article...


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish all 'New Mobilities' readers a very Merry Christmas wherever you are - I hope you will find happiness and peace over the festive season. Mobility On!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The 'Mobile City'

Here is a conference I thought worthy of mention, especially as it deals with many topics near to this blog, and has some interesting speakers too - it's called 'The Mobile City' conference on the 27 & 28 February 2008 at
NAi (Netherlands Architecture Institute) Rotterdam, The Netherlands

See -

"The Mobile City" is a two-day conference about locative & mobile technologies, urban culture and identity. The Mobile City brings academics, architects, urban professionals and media designers together to address the question: what happens to urban culture when physical and digital spaces merge? Keynote speakers are Stephen Graham, Tim Cresswell, Malcolm McCullough and Christian Nold.

The physical, geographical city with its piazza’s, its neighbourhoods and crossings intersects with the ‘virtual space’ of electronic communication-, information- and observation-networks of GSM, GPS, CCTV, UMTS, WIFI, RFID, etc. At the same time, the domain of digital space is increasingly becoming physical, an “internet of things” is emerging. Another example is the rise of 'pervasive games', digital games with a physical component in urban space. Is it still useful or even possible to talk about the city as being only physical? Or about the digital world as purely ‘virtual’ (in the sense of 'not real' or immaterial)? The physical city and the spaces of digital technologies merge into a new “hybrid space”.

Conference questions
Locative and mobile media can be understood as interfaces between the digital domain and the city, as bridges between the social processes that formerly took place in more separated domains (digital or physical) but now are spilling over into each other. The Mobile City will ask the following questions:

• From a theoretical point of view, what are useful concepts to talk about the blurring/merging of physical and digital spaces?

• From a critical perspective, what does the emergence of locative and mobile media mean for urban culture, citizenship, and identities?

• From a professional point of view, what does all this mean for the work of urban professionals (architects, designers, planners), media designers, and academics?

The full program text is available at our website,

There is both a 'Call for Participation - Workshops' & a 'Call for Participation - Project Presentations'

* Stephen Graham - Professor of Human Geography, Durham University
* Tim Cresswell - Professor of Geography, University of London
* Malcolm McCullough - Associate Professor University of Michigan
* Christian Nold - Independent artist and lecturer based in London

More info, call for participants, and registration:
The conference fee is € 25,-

Conference organizers: Martijn de Waal (RUG), Michiel de Lange (EUR), Oene Dijk (NAi).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Meet the moofers: the office is so last century

The TimesOnline has an article describing the new generation of 'Moofers' - supposedly a new generation of young entrepreneurs who are using technology to break free from desks and work on the move:

It may boast all the recognisable trappings of a swanky London gentlemen’s club, but One Alfred Place is not your average private members’ hangout. Among the period features, bespoke furniture and contemporary art, the club provides the mod cons of a 21st-century office.

When they join in February, new members will be given their own club telephone number, with an 0207 London prefix, a personal e-mail address and access to the club’s free wi-fi network. There are meeting rooms, and the waitresses double as PAs, delivering reports, printing documents and offering IT support in between mixing margaritas. Even the sofas have been designed to be comfy while you are using a laptop.

Welcome to the brave new world of the moofer – or mobile out-of-office worker. Look around: you’ll see them conducting deals, holding meetings or finding inspiration at a coffee shop, hotel lobby, airport lounge or park bench near you. This new generation of young, tech-savvy workers live their business lives in nomadic fashion, wherever they can find a wi-fi connection – and they don’t believe in the traditional nine to five.

Read in full - 'Meet the moofers: the office is so last century'

Satellite radar mapping in Morecambe Bay

Here is something of relevance for us at Lancaster University, since it deals with Morecambe Bay which is just a few miles from us. TimesOnline reports how a new system of satellite radar mapping has been introduced to help search-and-rescue operations on the stretch of quicksand in Morecambe Bay where 23 Chinese cockle pickers drowned:

The initiative, sponsored by the University of Manchester, will offer emergency services a frequently updated electronic map of the bay’s constantly changing gulleys and channels. It is expected to lessen the dangers faced by rescuers and save lives on Britain’s largest expanse of inter-tidal mudflats. If the pilot scheme is successful, the system may be adopted by coastal rescue services around the world...

...Under the initiative, scientists will offer maps generated by satellite images to the Bay Search and Rescue, which operates from its base in Flookburgh, near Grange-Over-Sands, in Cumbria. Data beamed by the European Space Agency’s Envisat satellite to stations in Scotland, Sweden and Italy will be interpreted by a team at the national data centre at the University of Manchester.

Read full article - 'Rescuers will use satellite maps in bay where cockle pickers died'


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Are driverless pods the future?

The BBCNews reports on the UK's first personal rapid transport system (PRT) which has no drivers, no rails, no timetables and no emissions, and is set to run at the new Heathrow terminal when it opens:

But while these low-energy, driverless pod-shaped vehicles may look like something from sci-fi epic Bladerunner, they are about to become British transport reality.

In less than two years' time, after the opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 in March 2008, a network of 18 of these four-seater capsules will be ferrying passengers to and from a business car park to the new terminal building.

Already under construction, the first phase of the airport's £25m PRT will use 3.8km (2.4 miles) of guideway - designated ground-level or raised path - to move people from car to check-in in just four minutes.

However, notice how it states that it is only for 'ferrying passengers to and from a business car park' - what about non-business passengers? Is this just another example of spending millions to create a 'mobility divide'? Like the new CrossRail project set to put a direct train link across London which is mainly to ferry passengers from the airport to Canary Wharf (isn't that another business centre?)...

Read in full - 'Are driverless pods the future?'

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unique Elly Clarke Mobile Phone Photo not yet taken in India, Jan-Feb 2008

Here is another worthwhile venture and project from Elly Clarke, friend of New Mobilities - please read and see if you would like to participate:

Elly Clarke is a visual artist based in London, UK. For 10 days only she is selling Unique Elly Clarke Mobile Phone Photo not yet taken in India, Jan-Feb 2008 via to fund her next art project. Entitled Four Films and a Documentary, it is a series of short films she wants to make next year in collaboration with The Russ Foundation , a charity based inMadurai in Tamil Nadu, India, which Elly Clarke visited and worked with for 2 months in 1994, aged 18.

In 1994, the Russ Foundation existed as a children's home. Since then it has expanded to support three additional groups: female sex workers; people living with HIV and AIDS and rural communities that are supported by a medical outreach program. (See more about it here: .)

Four Films will be 3-5 minutes in length each, made in collaboration with individuals from each of these four communities. Every aspect of the creation and production of the films – from storyline development to casting, performance, music, direction and the final edit – will be worked out collaboratively.

Elly Clarke needs to raise £20,000 to make these films. At this stage, however, by taking one photo a day on her mobile phone, at a time requested by the buyers , which she will deliver to the buyer immediately by MMS, she hopes to raise enough to fund a research trip she has planned for January-February 2008.

The buyer can text Elly Clarke at any time (during daylight hours) on the day that s/he has purchased to let her know when to take the picture. If she is out of mobile range that day, she'll take the photograph at 5pm and send it whenever she next has reception.

At the end of the month, Elly Clarke will produce unique, one-off, single edition, signed prints of all photographs send them to buyers in the post, from India. In short winning bidders will receive the following:

A confirmation email stating the day(s) purchased and the mobile phone number to text at the desired time. (There will also be the option to pre-arrange the time of the photograph if easier)
The mobile phone photograph texted to you on the day (or as soon as possible afterwards if not in mobile phone range) . A hard-copy, one-off, signed print posted to you from India in mid February 2008. The option to purchase a limited edition poster that features all photographs taken in this manner, at the pre-production fixed price of £25. A total of 50 of these posters will be made. Only ebay purchasers will be eligible for this offer. Money raised will cover all expenses related to this 6 week stay in India. Any additional money raised beyond this will go towards the films.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Scanning video images of city streets

Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends over at SmartMobs has picked up on a story about how IBM's Smart Surveillance System will scan video images of Beijing and New York, seeking terrorist activity and other security risks:

When the 2008 Olympic Games kick off in Beijing next year, organizers will be using a sophisticated computer system to scan video images of city streets looking for everything from troublemakers to terrorists.

The IBM system, called the Smart Surveillance System, or S3, uses analytic tools to index digital video recordings and then issue real-time alerts when certain patterns are detected. It can be used to warn security guards when someone has entered a secure area or keep track of cars coming in and out of a parking lot. Beijing's S3 network is already being rolled out and is expected to be operational by the time the Games begin in August 2008, said Julie Donahue, vice president of security and privacy services with IBM.

Read full story - 'IBM System to Scan Streets in Beijing, New York'

Keeping your shoes on for the new airport metal detector

CNet News reports in 'New airport metal detector is a shoe-in' how Nairobi joins Madrid, Prague, and Budapest in deploying the MagShoe, a "high-speed, shoes-on, portable footwear weapons detection system," at their respective airports. U.K. and U.S. airports may be next:

The MagShoe is a metal detector designed to test shoes and ankles in the ongoing fight against foot-borne threats. A passenger simply steps on what looks like a twin mud scraper/shoe buffer, and within an average of 1.2 seconds an audio-visual signal either alerts the operator to concealed metal or gives the all-clear.

Development of the device was initiated by the technical branch of the Israeli Security Agency in response to 9/11 and the Richard Reid "shoe bomber" incident, according to the manufacturer, IDO Security. In both cases the weapons were smuggled in shoes, and in both cases the terrorists went through an Arch Metal Detector (Magnetometer Gates) without being detected.


The carbon footprint of the British IT industry

Now here's an interesting intervention on the carbon debate - and it involves computers! IFTF's Future Now has a post called 'Servers and SUVs' that discusses how the global IT sector is responsible for about 2% of human carbon dioxide emissions each year:

British environmental group Global Action Plan has released a study [pdf] of the carbon footprint of the British IT industry. They argue that "servers are at least as great a threat to the climate as SUVs or the global aviation industry:"

"Computers are seen as quite benign things sitting on your desk," says Trewin Restorick, director of the group. "But, for instance, in our charity we have one server. That server has same carbon footprint as your average SUV doing 15 miles to the gallon. Yet, whereas the SUV is seen as a villain from the environmental perspective, the server is not."

The report, An Inefficient Truth [actually, "The Inefficient Truth"-- ed.] states that with more than 1 billion computers on the planet, the global IT sector is responsible for about 2% of human carbon dioxide emissions each year – a similar figure to the global airline industry.

Also - from Smartmobs - how 'A web-based service uses GPS phones to track the modes of travel and deduce carbon emissions of the phone owner, then transmits the carbon footprint to the device’s owner'


Thursday, December 13, 2007

‘Exodus’ to virtual worlds predicted

SmartMobs has a post on Second Life called '‘Exodus’ to virtual worlds predicted' that looks at the appeal of such virtual worlds to drag people away from everyday reality:

The appeal of online virtual worlds such as Second Life is such that it may trigger an exodus of people seeking to “disappear from reality,” an expert on large-scale online games has said.

Virtual worlds have seen huge growth since they became mainstream in the early years of this decade, developing out of Massive Multiplayer Role-Playing Games.

And the online economies in some match those of real world countries.

Their draw is such that they could have a profound effect on some parts of society, Edward Castronova, Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, told the BBC.

The appeal of online virtual worlds such as Second Life is such that it may trigger an exodus of people seeking to “disappear from reality,” an expert on large-scale online games has said.
Virtual worlds have seen huge growth since they became mainstream in the early years of this decade, developing out of Massive Multiplayer Role-Playing […]


Who has mobile phones?

Rich Ling at Mobile-Society has sent in a link describing how the Center for Disease Control in the US has taken interest in access to mobile telephony: 'They are active in gathering information on who has mobile (cell) phones and which households have both landline and mobile phones etc. A link to their report is below. In addition there is the lead in to the AP story on the report along with a link to the rest of the story'

Link to their report -

Young, Poor Prefer Cell Phones

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than one in eight households have cell phones but lack traditional landline telephones, according to a federal study released Monday that tracks the country's growing dependence on wireless phones.

The data, reported twice a year, suggested that the number of households relying solely on cell phones may be growing more slowly than it had in the past. But the researchers said the slowdown might be due to changes in their survey, including altering the order of some questions and some of the wording.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hi-tech helps world's 'invisible'

BBCNews has an article called 'Hi-tech helps world's 'invisible'' that says how handheld computers could help give a voice to the huge numbers of people that do not officially exist:

The gadgets are being used to gather data about the estimated one billion people who live in shanty towns. The Mobile Metrix project aims to determine how big these communities are and discover what their lives are like. The up-to-date data will be given to governments and aid workers to help fine tune projects trying to help these communities.

"We count the uncounted," said Melanie Edwards, head of the Mobile Metrix project at Stanford University. Ms Edwards said many of the people who lived in the world's shanty towns did not feature on government records, and because of that estimates about the size of these communities and the quality of their lives was often old or wildly inaccurate.


Pay-as-you-drive rates in the UK

CNet News takes up the thread on the UK insurer Norwich Union's pay-as-you-drive scheme currently in operation:

As far back as 2003, word got out that U.K. insurer Norwich Union was working on a pay-as-you-drive, in-car "black box" device. Early suppliers emerged, including IBM and Orange, for the telematics software and network coverage, respectively, and Intec--a company better known for writing billing software for telecommunications companies--also came onboard.

However, with in-car devices and customers now numbering more than 100,000, the kind of serious number crunching that needs to be done is based on software from data warehousing stalwart Teradata, an independently NYSE-listed company since the start of October...

...a trial using GPS-based IVUs (in-vehicle units) provided by Trafficmaster began in November 2003 and finished 11 months later. It involved 5,000 devices, 8 million journeys, and 15 billion journey points. The journey points were represented as dots on a map when a vehicle checks in with NU's central computers--in this case a mainframe--every few seconds...The U.K. government is eyeing plans for a pay-as-you-drive system to replace standard road tax discs.

Read more - 'U.K. insurer computes pay-as-you-drive rates'


Monday, December 10, 2007

Facebook blocked in Syria

Smartmobs reports in 'Facebook blocked in Syria' how since November 18th, "no one has access to Facebook in Syria. Trying to get to its homepage will result in a blank page. Lebanon’s daily As-Safir mentioned that the reason would be to prevent Israelis infiltration in Syria-based groups". An article in the New York Times goes on to say:

Residents of Damascus said that they have not been able to enter Facebook for more than two weeks. An Associated Press reporter got a blank page when he tried to open Facebook's home page Friday from the Syrian capital.

Syrian officials were not available for comment Friday because of the Muslim weekend, but some reports have suggested that the ban was intended to prevent Israeli users from infiltrating Syrian social networks. Lebanon's daily As-Safir reported that Facebook was blocked on Nov. 18. It said the authorities took the step because Israelis have been entering Syria-based groups.

Read also the NY Times story - 'Syria Blocks Access to Facebook'

Life in 2030

'The World in 2030' is a report that was produced independently following a year-long study. Surprisingly, the report was commissioned by PlasticsEurope, an association of plastics manufacturers, to help the industry address future challenges, including climate change and the looming energy crisis. Some of the changes the report states are:

People will be wirelessly tagged for their own protection. Humans will transmit their location constantly, and data about health will be collected and transmitted so that help can be summoned automatically in the event of sudden illness. This will be facilitated by a "revolution" in medicine. Personal DNA mapping, powerful new gene-therapy drugs and stem cell research will prevent illness and extend life...

...The weather in 2030 is likely to be extreme, but the solution to the energy crisis will be to harness natural, clean energy sources, such as solar, hydro, wind and geothermal. The internet will have developed into a "super combined web" which is always on and always connected. People, pets and trillions of inanimate objects will communicate wirelessly every second of the day, delivering 3D holographic experiences, tactile simulations, odours and tastes.

Read article - 'Futurologist predicts life in 2030'


The future of futurology

Robert Cottrell, deputy editor of, has written an article on 'the future' that urges futurists to 'Think small, think short' instead of going for the grand cosmic style of predictions... a kind of more localised futurism:

Small wonder that futurology as we knew it 30 or 40 years ago—the heyday of Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock”, the most popular work of prophecy since Nostradamus—is all but dead. The word “futurologist” has more or less disappeared from the business and academic world, and with it the implication that there might be some established discipline called “futurology”. Futurologists prefer to call themselves “futurists”, and they have stopped claiming to predict what “will” happen. They say that they “tell stories” about what might happen...

...A third piece of advice: say you don’t know. Uncertainty looks smarter than ever before. Even politicians are seeing the use of it: governments that signed the Kyoto protocol on climate change said, in effect: “We don’t know for sure, but best to be on the safe side”—and they have come to look a lot smarter than countries such as America and Australia which claimed to understand climate change well enough to see no need for action.

Read full article - 'The future of futurology'


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Property marketing by SMS

The EngineerOnline mentions how in the UK a companay calling itself 'Textboards'has developed a innovative approach to property marketing in the UK using SMS Technology:

In use, prospective home buyers enquire about properties by text message from outside a property and instantly receive that properties details via text message, no matter what the time of day it is.

Textboards works by assigning each property a unique code name which the prospective buyer can then text to a five digit number. The enquiry is immediately and automatically responded to by a text message that outlines the property details such as value, number of bedrooms, size of garden, type of heating, energy rating, council band and Estate Agent contact details.

Read more - 'High-tech property marketing'


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wearing a computer at work

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends discusses a European Union funded project that is related to wearable technology:

This project, named WearIT@work will end in one year and was funded with 14.3 million euros of EU money, even if the total project cost is expected to exceed 23 million euros. For mobile workers, the goal is to replace traditional interfaces, such as screen, keyboard or computer unit, by speech control or gesture control, without modifying the applications. This wearable system is currently being tested in four different fields including aircraft maintenance, emergency response, car production and healthcare.

Read original post - 'Wearing a computer at work'


Online library gives readers access to 1.5 million books

This just deserves to be blogged about as its such a worthy venture. It concerns 'The Million Book Project' which is an international venture led by Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, Zhejiang University in China, the Indian Institute of Science in India and the Library at Alexandria in Egypt. The project has now completed the digitization of more than 1.5 million books, which are now available online:

For the first time since the project was initiated in 2002, all of the books, which range from Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” to “The Analects of Confucius,” are available through a single Web portal of the Universal Library (, said Gloriana St. Clair, Carnegie Mellon’s dean of libraries.

“Anyone who can get on the Internet now has access to a collection of books the size of a large university library,” said Raj Reddy, professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon.

Read more - 'Online library gives readers access to 1.5 million books'

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

CCTV to track branded suspects

BBCNews has an interesting article that talks about how new tracking software could be used to track 'brands' on people's clothes!! Now its really getting personal:

Brands on the clothes of suspects caught on CCTV cameras could be used to help police track them down. The Metropolitan Police is looking into technology which can automatically identify branded logos on clothing. Police believe that tracking suspects by their distinctive clothes will help cut down on the manual scanning of hundreds of hours of video footage.

The technology is already used to automatically identify company logos in TV broadcasts of sporting events. The concept is being considered by Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville of Operation Javelin, who project manages the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office roll-out programme: a pioneering effort to turn the analysis of CCTV into a forensic discipline like fingerprint or DNA analysis...

...The software would allow officers to quickly analyse hours of CCTV footage, in which the suspect may have appeared, for images containing the distinctive clothing, in the hope of finding pictures that would enable police to make an identification.

Read the article - 'CCTV could track branded suspects'


Passengers' Recycled Cooking Oil to Fuel UK's First Bio-Buses

EarthTrends has a welcome post on how bus passengers in Kilmarnock, Scotland will soon be able to pay their fare with used cooking oil instead of cash:

Eight buses carrying over 15,000 passengers a week will run on 100% biodiesel generated from recycled cooking oil and tallow, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an anticipated 82% and virtually eliminating air-polluting sulfur emissions. As an added incentive to boost the program during its six-month trial period, free containers will be provided to those who want to take their used cooking oil to a nearby recycling plant in exchange for discounted bus fare.

Read in full - 'Passengers' Recycled Cooking Oil to Fuel UK's First Bio-Buses'


Monday, December 03, 2007

Busy bodies

The EngineerOnline has a post titled 'Busy bodies' that describes how researchers at Glasgow University and the Nokia Research Centre in Helsinki are hoping to develop new ways for people on the go to get the most from their mobile phones and PDAs:

The Gestural and Audio Interactions for Mobile Environments (GAIME) project is looking at how subtle bodily gestures or actions could enable someone to interact with mobile devices while their hands are busy...

...'People can talk on the phone when walking in the street, dodging people — and it works well,' explained Prof Stephen Brewster, principal investigator of GAIME. 'But if they are texting they often walk slower, bump into people or just stop. We want to make interactions more like talking and less like texting.'

Army Social Scientists

This Wired article discusses the controversial U.S. Army program to embed social scientists into combat units - so called the 'Human Terrain Team'(HTT). This is, apparently, the military's effort to give battlefield commanders a set of cultural advisers:

The idea behind HTTs is to take what a brigade already knows about the local population and combine it with social-science research, to produce a sense of how the society around them really works. The Army has set aside $41 million for the effort, which aims to deploy 150 social scientists, software geeks, and experts on local culture, split up and embedded with 26 different military units in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year. Six HTTs are already on the ground.

Social scientists beware of the new press gangs!

Read post - 'Army Social Scientists Calm Afghanistan, Make Enemies at Home'

The 'Facebook' claims & anti-claims

There is so much Net-talk going on about the claims and anti-claims around Facebook, such as its privacy intrusions, the Beacon tracking software, the Microsoft share-buy, claims over who founded Facebook, etc.....

So I decided to show this link to an array of articles - pages of them - that have been published in The New York Times.. something for browsing, afternoon reading:

Read 'News about Facebook, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times'

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Conference Call - The Social

Futuresonic 2008
Urban Festival of Art, Music & Ideas
1-4 May, Manchester, UK
The Futuresonic international conference and the Social Technologies Summit invite proposals for talks, presentations, workshops and session themes. Submissions of innovative formats for social interaction are encouraged.
The conference theme is The Social - Online, Mobile and Unplugged Social Networking.
The Futuresonic conference is a place where important international discussions take place. The conference will bring together leading figures to unpick the hype around the latest technological zeitgeist, broaden the debate, and propose and explore a critical understanding of social technologies.
Deadline for conference submissions -- 5pm 18th December 2007
See also -- A GBP 5000 commission plus many other opportunities are available
in the Futuresonic 2008 Art, Music & EVNTS calls for submissions.
Futuresonic brings 500 opinion formers, futurologists, artists, technologists and scientists from the digital culture, music and art communities to Manchester for four days of seminars, workshops and events.
At the heart of the festival is the internationally-acclaimed Futuresonic conference, and its focal point the Social Technologies Summit.

The 2008 conference will explore the theme of The Social - Online, Mobile and Unplugged Social Networking. The conference will bring together leading figures to broaden the debate, and propose and explore a critical understanding of social technologies.
Submissions are invited that explore the new social spaces and the social implications of technologies for the many different kinds of people who make, use and are affected by them.
Computers have become social interfaces for sharing digital media and collaborating to build online communities and folksonomies. Social technologies create an extension of social space, and new ways for people to find the stuff that interests them, link up with others, and share. They include tools and applications that enable people to connect, share and interact, such as blogs, instant messenger, social software such as Flickr, FaceBook and Jaiku, and even the internet itself. 'Social technologies' can also refer to technologies created and maintained by social networks, such as communities of developers and users working collaboratively with open source tools.
What distinguishes social technologies is that they are bottom up and many-to-many instead of one-to-one or one-to-many. They can be seen as a part of a major cultural and social shift. And yet at the same time we also see how electronic communication can isolate us, as more and more people drown in a deluge of email that generates stress, even reducing IQ - puncturing the rose-tinted view that life is simply 'more social.' Additionally, 'online communities' are based upon an artificial equivalence between 'users' which obscures power relationships and issues of ownership.
Futuresonic now invites submissions to the Futuresonic conference and the Social Technologies Summit.
Proposals for talks, presentations and workshops plus also session themes are invited. Submissions of innovative formats for social interaction are encouraged.
Deadline for conference submissions -- 5pm 18th December 2007
For details on submitting to the conference visit

SatLav service

The Guardian reports on a new text service that tells users where the nearest public toilet is!:

Getting caught short in the centre of London is no fun. Trying to persuade a sympathetic restaurant manager into letting you use his conveniences will often result in the short shrift: "Toilets are for paying customers only."

So a new text service, which promises to tell you where the nearest public toilet is in the City of Westminster, should be well received. The council's authority covers 8.5 square miles and encompasses nearly every popular shopping and socialising district of the capital.

So whether you're drinking after work in Soho, or splashing the Christmas cash in Knightsbridge, a quick text message to 80097 with the word 'toilet' will prompt a quick-response text back with details of the nearest facilities and their opening times. The only problem is that you have to spend more than a penny to make use of the service.

The 'SatLav' mobile phone service costs 25p for each text, with Westminster city council paying a further 9p to cover the cost. The service locates the sender of the text message and automatically finds the nearest public toilets to them.

Read - 'SatLav service finds nearest public toilet'