Vancouver Digital Week, Cossette Convergence 09, and the Future of Mobile

Vancouver Digital Week is coming up soon (May 11-14), and it’s a must-attend for anyone in the New/Social/Mobile Media scenes in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it’s an international must-attend event (even GDC is part of it this year, so it’s going to be huge in 2009!). So all you folks outside of Vaneattleland should be coming here too!

Kicking off the week on May 11th is the ever-engrossing Cossette Convergence conference, at which I will be presenting (as part of a panel called “Mobile Marketing: Are we at the tipping point?“). The program description is as follows:

Mobile marketing and applications are not new, but many marketers have been sitting on the sidelines watching savvy wireless wizards forge new relationships on emerging platforms.  Has mobile marketing finally reached the tipping point in 2009?  Learn the latest developments in mobile and leave this session appreciating the role mobile will have in the coming year and how you can best integrate mobile or build an entire campaign around this burgeoning technology.

I’ll also be demonstrating the Mobile Muse platform for the audience. Looks like so much fun!

Did I mention the keynote at Cossette this year is none other than David Plouffe, chief campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign?

You excited now? I said “Obama” – that should’ve done it.

Open Mobile, as it happens

Scott talks about open video platforms
Irwin talks Fearless

It was fun setting up to Brian Eno’s Music for Films, which cast an alternately serene and ominous shadow over our dry runs with the 3 screens.

I think the keynote went over well. The tech worked out supremely, with all 3 screens going, SIFT aggregation, Movino, and Modul8.

Scott Nelson then talks about mobile video. Movino is the winner today. I texted as much to SIFT. then he demos Movino over TCP/IP. Unfortunately the docs for this program are slim.

Great questions and comments, including how to stream to handsets, how video streaming and other rich media features are trickling down to budget handsets.

Next Irwin talks about Fearless and Mobile Swarm.

Video about Mobile Swarm.

Next Igor talks about “Beyond the Mobile Web:context awareness as the future of internet”. wow, he’s got stats on advanced wireless web use on mobiles. in Vancouver. can’t wait.

Igor talks Mobile Web

mobile web and context awareness can solve the information overload problem (e.g., 13 hours of video uploaded every minute to youtube).

every third user of Translink’s mobile site comes from the desktop, not from a mobile.

advice: design for context.

-lunch-

“Mobile technology in Latin America: a selection of works” – Jorge Hernandez Cerda, via Skype from Chile. tech issues. psychologist.

mobile festivals in Brazil. GPSarte – using gps tracking to create art. gpsart.net

making excuses to avoid phone calls over SMS as art – Buena Letra (Argentina)

Glenn Iles – Whistler and large scale events. video from Crankworx. questions right away – professional and amateur mtn bikers don’t want their tumbles videotaped. the “scrutiny of truth”. event management. add value to productions – e.g. mobile camera operators can fill a need to keep production costs down for a production company. video coverage of sideshows too. attention to sponsors. behind-the-scenes wins, such as capturing the bear on the mtn bike course.

had to go early and miss the last two presentations…

Open Mobile

I’m presenting a keynote this Sunday for an event called Open Mobile, presented in part by Mobile Muse as part of New Forms Festival 2008. I’m co-presenting with Roland Tanglao and Jesse Scott (artist info here), who will be my visual accompanists. But hopefully their visuals will override and scramble my messages such that the audience comes away more confused than I am going in. No, seriously. It should be a good opportunity to talk about mobiles with a highly creative audience, fresh from ArtCamp and other New Forms goings-on.

Here’s the abstract for my talk in draft form:

Opening Mobiles, Community Activation and the One Wireless Web
It was once said that the Sony Walkman, not love, would tear us apart. Contrary to these claims about mobile privatization, whereby individuating technologies are said to produce alienated populations running around in mobile media cocoons, and for some quite unexpectedly, the diffusion of advanced mobile devices and applications offers new opportunities to build and activate communities, invoking a radical reconstruction of media, art production, intellectual property, and public space. Ubiquitous, open, mobile, and accessible internetworking technologies, heralded by portable wi-fi devices such as the Nokia N95 or Apple’s iPhone, will enable us to continue the legacy of our tethered social media cloud – media sharing, wikis, tagging, twemes – in a radically different space than we’re used to (or one that we’ve simply forgotten about somewhat): public space. This is contested terrain, with a complex political economy, but the potential for a ubiquitous mobile web is now too alluring to ignore. This talk will navigate the mobile web space with one eye on media history and political economy, and another eye on the accompanying VJ screen, to assess how the speaker’s messages are being scrambled while this all unfolds.

Check out the Open Mobile Eventbrite page for more details about speakers, times, location and so forth.

Update: Here’s a compressed PDF of my presentation. I’ll post a link to the video later on…

Mobilecamp Vancouver 2008

networking at Mobile Camp Vancouver 2008

Mobile Camp Vancouver 2008 Scheduling Jam

Setting tracks

Fearless Medias Mobile swarm cart

Transit security surveillance cycling and gaming session

Andrew Kumar on being a mobile student at Mobile Camp Vancouver 2008

Mobiles and education session

mobiles in education - Richard Smith

even more networking at mobilecampvancouver 2008

more networking at Mobile Camp Vancouver 2008

notes from MobilecampVancouver08, as it happens:

scheduling jam – lots of tech and business, but the turnout is a little more arsty than last time with a good showing from the Fearless community. huge iphone dev track. it’s split in two it seems.

10:30 – 11:30 Karen Fung on transit and cycling and Roland Tanglao on cycling ARGs – mashed together into one session.

public space, access to display space at trankslink/canadaline sites.

Roland wants to build an ARG using linux chipset and mobile cameraphones on bikes. how about with the

courier community – can this add value to their experience?

ituna – community bluetooth public transit – browsing others’ mp3 players.

why not start now? we have low hanging fruit – last.fm api, google earth as test bed, nokia sportstracker – proof of concept stuff doesn’t need funding yet.

myths about security with surveillance at transit sites. often result in crime being simply moved away from the sites where cameras are located.

ridesharing…cut short.

11:30-12:30 Richard Smith on mobiles in education.

discussion not presentation. what is the problem? what are the possibilities?

context switching – managing multiple selves becomes more challenging.

but what are the opportunities?  backchannel, projecting these on the screens, heat mapping from students who can indicate how much they’re absorbing the material.

how about mobiles outside of the classroom? scavenger hunts, etc.

well – look at media history and its impact on curriculum – (video and multimedia as substitutions for traditional writing assignments). what are the particularities of mobile that are conducive to learning?

how about edmodo.com? channels for twitter – students can consult their social networks over mobiles and then bring commentary in.

tagclouds – one for the instructor, and then one for the student tagcloud. collaborative notes. the aggregate of text msg notes from all students could combine to form a very useful study resource. could be used for interdisciplinary work, too – tagcloud mapping could help resolve issues of nomenclature/vocabularies of different disciplines.

laptop adoption is higher than expected.

access and democratization in education. third world uses of mobiles. making services accessible to all – sms and voice are the lowest common denominator.

Andrew Kumar – being a student in this milieu. how to stay engaged with the material – what system is needed? reflections on iphone use with podcasted courses.

engaging students, getting them to create the content and then posting it.

-Lunch-

1:50-2:30 – Mobile Muse, Fearless City, SIFTTool session

I presented briefly on Mobile Muse’s role in community activation (my 3 words today were open mobile communities).

Irwin presented briefly about Fearless. Scott followed up about open handsets, open software, solar panels, etc. Swarm.

Mobile swarm – Roland and Scott. SMS comments, mobile live screen on shopping cart. demonstration of the the SIFTTOOL – Roland. live on the screen – inputs: sms, youtube, flickr, twitter.

Malcolm – why would people socially/culturally want to engage with the MUSE3 platform (not just how they’ll do it technically)? Swarm was a great test bed for this. it’s down to opinions.

how many people uploaded? 250+ .

Andrew on BOB. sponsors business dev programs, infrastructure. has 4 clusters, including an ICT cluster.

also offers loans and grants

2:45-3:15 – Igor Faletski on how there is no mobile internet

context aware network. today’s mobile web. war now btw those who’ve built the narrowband mobile web (e.g., admob, bango) and the new players coming in who are used to broadband (iphone). .mobi. smasung instinct, iphone are breaking this old model.

the one web. coined by tim berners lee. it’s indivisible. do you go to a mobile social network site or do you go to facebook? obviously facebook, cus that’s where everyone is.

goal is to minimize the work done by the end user. (?)

context aware stuff, examples:

fire eagle. location awareness for ads.

Q&A – is there going to be one web? is it about delivery of content and rendering it for whatever device? what about the fact that spectrum is owned, and the internet is not? isn’t that indicative that there are two webs? the intermediation of content seems relevant to me.

3:30-? – Translink on the iPhone

Translink has an API, but it’s still uncertain whether they’ll ever make it avail to public. google has an open transit sched spec that allows anyone to write their scheds to it. Translink prolly won’t do it. many transit systems use proprietary systems.

Mobile Videobiking at Car Free Vancouver

As planned, yesterday, Roland and I strapped N-series phones to our bikes, pulled along a wi-fi/WiMAX equipped trailer, and performed Le Tour Des Car Free Fests. As my Sportstracker data indicates (in two segments), we managed to visit three of the four main sites for Vancouver’s Car Free Day.

Nokia Sportstracker routes came out in three segments, and the third segment either disappeared or NSB shut down in the middle of it.

We had severe connectivity issues throughout the ride, which meant that we only achieved a few minutes of live streaming video at a maximum. Roland has collected up most of the links for this material here, so I needn’t be redundant and repost it. The two remaining challenges for this sort of exercise (which had been identified during our last pretest on June 11, but not since resolved) are the annoying authentication page on Free-The-Net, and the limited upload speeds of WiMAX. Clearly, another solution, other than Rogers Portable Internet, is in order.

I must say, the Car Free day is a great event. I’m glad it’s expanded into other ‘hoods this year. Each one had a very different vibe. I’ll do a follow-up post on this dimension of the experience later. Today I need to actually spend some missed time with my daughter. The Father’s Day extended dub remix 12″, or something…

Car V Bike Pretest 0.2

Today we tested our live streaming video and GPS tracked bike commutes, this time using a third bike to pull the wifi mesh/wimax trailer.

I worked for about an hour this morning assembling the mounting clamps for the two phones on two bikes. Both worked very well and withstood many bumps. The angle and steadiness of the image is good (the lighting and resolution is not – see stream at right).

The most significant single problem is that our maximum upload bandwidth via WiMAX is just shy of 200 kbps, which means that our live streams only last a few seconds before they buffer. However, on the plus side, I don’t think we ever lost the WiMAX signal during the entire 10 kilometres we traveled.

There were also handset UI issues – everything in the phone must be set to “public” prior to attempting to stream or send GPS data, incoming phone calls put the N82 (and N95) camera on standby, interrupting the Qikstream, and whenever the wi-fi connection is interrupted (whether this was due to authentication issues with Free the Net, or due to me simply riding temporarily out of range of the mesh router), the stream is similarly paused while the Qik application uses Nokia’s EasyWLAN to find a new WAP.

More notes on this later; I’ve got spreadsheets to work on…

Car V. Bike pre-test :: Nokia Sportstracker and Qik

Today Roland and I mounted our Nokias (running Qik and Nokia Sportstracker Beta) on our bike helmets and rode around False Creek (see this map of our route, and see my Qikstream here). Due to rain, Scott (who was to supply our connectivity on a third bike, pulling a trailer containing a wifi mesh router connected to a WiMAX modem) bailed, but we took the trip anyway (for those who have no idea why we did this, click here and here for some back story)

The handsets (an N82 and an N95) both crap out after 25 minutes of Qik video recording (the phones store the video in RAM I believe), and with nowhere to upload the video to (no wi-fi, no data plan), the video cameras simply go into standby.

I used a velcro strap designed for the iPod Nano to secure my N82, and we used a combination of grip tape and duct tape to affix Roland’s N95. IMHO this gives an excellent POV, which is more or less shock resistant (as it’s got that wonderful spinal thing helping keep everything fluid [good thing I got some kundalini in yesterday], but makes the cameras impossible to operate. So you have to get apps running first, then lock the keypad, then mount it in the helmet without locking up the camera or obscuring the lens. A better alternative would be to use Gorilla Pods (or some homemade facsimile), which I think we’ll have to do next week.

Roland’s Nokia sportstracker data uploaded without a hitch (the map link above) over EDGE, while mine has been experiencing issues for a few days now over wi-fi. Any pointers on how to get past the “uploading to service” hang in NSB would be very helpful. Update – I managed to get around it – see comment below, and see my map here.

I see I’ve angled my camera too far down – it’s actually angled the same as Roland’s, but my handlebars are racing style, so my head actually leans down more than his. Chalk that up to first time glitches.

Also of note – the N82 survived about 20 minutes of moderate rain. It got soaked and kept on ticking.

Anyway, check back for an update when we’ve tested out the WiMAX setup. You can also tune into the Car v Bike event next Sunday, June 15, here.

Real time GPS tracking on the Nokia N95

I exercise 5 days a week, and much of this is running. While I can be found in local gyms on occasion, I try to do as much of this running as possible for free. For in using a treadmill, with its diligent, brainless constancy, I subjugate my running activity to the Gestell of its designers and the networks of people and things that maintain that thing as a predictable machine, and me as its consumer. I become some totally useless, galloping form of what Heidegger calls Bestand in the process.

Enter GPS and Google Maps, which together offer tangible, and ludicrous alternatives to the regimentation of gym apparati. With these marvels of our age I can, in theory, monitor and regulate my own running, and in doing so keep costs down, like the careful consumer I am. And what the hey, biofeedback loops are funnest when they involve sending data approximately 20,000 kilometres into space and back again, then across 2000 kilometres of Internet and back again to my Macbook Pro so I can enjoy a bunch of flashing lights and icons. In short, could I use my phone to log my jog?

Well, work colludes with life this week as Scott and I explore various GPS trackers for the Nokia N95. We are looking specifically for something we can deploy for a rally between a smart car and a bicycle as part of Mobile Muse‘s platform demonstration at Car Free Vancouver Day this year (Sunday June 15th).

I’m sorry to report that I’ve tried out two of them, and both failed.

Nokia Sportstracker beta didn’t work for me at all. It’s basically a heavyweight stopwatch. A stopwatch that works just fine, but that doesn’t do anything else.

MapMyTracks has an excellent website, where one can replay one’s movement on a detailed map with ease. But unfortunately, the phone app seems to go haywire at unpredictable intervals. The stop watch and distance meter ran fine until 2.56 km on my run today, then all the numbers froze. Plus, it was constantly looking for a new wi-fi hookup, which was most irritating. I came home and checked out my My Tracks page and found that the site only recorded two truncated runs : one that crashes the java applet that shows you the movie of your run, and a second one that is only 0.5 kilometres long (my daily run is about 7K).

Back to the drawing board…

MUSE3 BCNET presentation

I had the opportunity last week to present my ongoing research into user-centered technology design (which is what is evolving out of my ethnographic research in the lives of mobile handset users) as part of a panel all about Mobile Muse (where I’m the Program Manager, for those who aren’t aware of this).

A webcast of the proceedings is available here. Here are slides for the full presentation, and here (more for my own concept archiving sanity than for anything else, really) are my slides extracted from that set.

Some of the same ideas from prior talks I’ve given about the mobile divide are revisited here, but in the context of a more proactive problem orientation. Here I’m asking: how is technology developed in ways that are directly informed and influenced by the communities of users most affected by them, and how is this tech disseminated in ways that are socially beneficial?.

MUSE3 is an excellent opportunity, I’m finding, for looking at the processes of intermediation that go on in the building of new things. At the intersection of network engineers, open source and other sorts of coders, mobile handset companies, government agencies, artist-run centres and a cavalcade of people and organizations with an interest in the potential of mobile technology, many complex interactions are going on that contribute, bit by bit, to whatever technological assemblage is going to emerge. Fascinating stuff, really. Here’s hoping my notes are as meticulous as they need to be…