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.

What 2009 Wireless Market Forecasts Lead Me To Think

OK, so I’m reading this thing in RCR, trying to suss out whether I should stay on a career path in the mobile/wireless industry, and, reading past the sway from optimism to skepticism about its future, I come to this sentence: “There is only one Internet and its users do not accept boundaries imposed by devices or networks.”

I wonder how much these industry reports cost. This insight is not terribly difficult to surmise. Or maybe I should hit Berg up for a job? Or Jupiter? Pew? I’m well-versed in SPSS, too, people! 😉

But I’m becoming less certain whether I’m giving too much away for free here, or if other folks are making money by lifting what’s being made freely available. Not just me, but all over blogs and twits. In a time of economic uncertainty, is it prudent that we marginal bloggers who work hard as amateur analysts tighten our lips until the chequebook makes its appearance?

I also wonder if any of this is related to the spike in plagiarism in university studies of late? Maybe the blogosphere is now training folks to indulge in and tolerate taking credit for other people’s work? Maybe we’re graduating more students who think nothing of buying fake degrees, buying off profs for better grades (I know of one instance where this was proffered but refused), or simply buying papers to pass their classes (I see this every semester I teach)? In an era of such blatant disregard for academic honesty, what’s a little copy/paste in one term paper, anyway? I mean, tenured profs famously get away with it, not to mention Prime Ministers. With a major “credit crunch” lie being perpetrated, bilking American taxpayers out of (potentially) trillions, it would seem that lying is the way of the world.

Given this environment of all-around deceit, who am I to call it? Just some cranky PhD student trying to figure out how to pay down a student loan while raising a child…

OK. Forget Berg, and forget Pew. Now I’m seriously thinking of ditching this blog to become a children’s entertainer…The Wiggles are amazingly financially solvent, make children all around the world happy, and represent very positive male role models – they sing, dance, wear bright colours, and make friends with all sorts of animals that also sing. A dream job, if you ask me!

recent MIT mososos

MIT students are developing some really interesting mobile apps, on various platforms. I especially like Mobile Trader (no link?) – there’s much potential for enabling microeconomies using its “craigslist/1.5 mile diet” mashup for Symbian. However, CashTrack seems designed for cheap people, though. C’mon? Do we really need to track who owes whom what based on serial unevenly-paid dinners? Maybe if you’re Kenny Bania – where the question of whether the soup counts matters – this logic makes sense. Also at odds with the Android (for which it’s written) ethos?

Just saying.

Mobile Education Dreams

Via Golden Swamp, via Mobscure comes this:

Touching, in a Hollywood sorta way. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not cynical about this stuff at all. I embrace social enterprise and believe in it. There are, however, more innovative and useful modalities by which education can be delivered via mobiles than via voice (though voice is highlighted here). These other modes should be obvious to anyone with a smartphone (or iPhone), but maybe not so obvious to those of us who use merely voice and text (which is most of us). The ability to convey programmatic information via SMS is the DNA that propels social change using mobiles.

The video also paints an unrealistic picture of the Third World by depicting abundant use of voice services (whereas SMS is the preferred medium there), presumably to appeal to the voice-drenched culture of North American investor-philanthropists? Also presumably because SMSs aren’t photogenic.

Still, a very hopeful message. Much appreciated these days.

Mesh Potato, Community Wireless, Design by Constraint

I’m hyped about Mesh Potato and I am aiming to be involved in their project in whatever way I can be useful, whether via some connection to Mobile Muse, or just plain old twit-and-post evangelism.

Mesh Potato is an Open Hardware project to create a wireless (mesh) access point that can function as an independent cellular phone network. The goal is to enable groups around the world to offer affordable voice and data services to small communities that cannot afford existing service from the major telcos (or who must use exorbitant but low barrier to entry pay-as-you-go services).

Also quite cool – the design principles underlying their project and goals. By way of Roland I read this article by Steve Song who recounts the strategy, inspired by Ethan Zuckerman’s idea of Innovating From Constraint:

With the Village Telco, we have a wireless project that has a number of self-imposed constraints.

  1. Get pay-as-you-go voice services right.  Data services are a given on a wireless platform but the one thing we want to make bullet-proof is affordable, simple-to-bill voice services.
  2. Make a telco as simple to set up as a wordpress blog.  Wireless meshes, least-cost-routing, etc.  Let’s make as much of that complexity disappear into default behaviours that can be tweaked as the owner/entrepreneur becomes more comfortable with the product.
  3. Be as open as possible.  This is more of a philosophical than a practical constraint.  We believe we can attract maximum participation by making software and hardware as open as possible.  We believe that Open Hardware strategies devices like the Mesh Potato can change the way people think about hardware.
  4. Break even in six months.  The technology ought to be cheap enough and easy enough to deploy that anyone with a reasonable head for business could have recouped their investment and be making a profit in six months.

Simplicity, rather than constraint, seems to be the operative theme here. Still, as a musical aside, this recalls for me Eno’s Oblique Strategies, which is similar in principle (limiting options to incite creative thinking), but which operates on aesthetic endeavor (which is about much more than “problem solving”, ultimately).

Hot potato, hot potato, sez my daughter.

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.


“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.

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…