SIGCHI Workshop on Mobile Social Software

A Call for Position Papers for a workshop on the topic of Mobile Social Software (is that supposed to be in cap-case?) went out a week or so ago, and I’ve been meaning to write a few notes — I’m interested in attending and trying to sort through the various projects that are over low-heat (for lack of USC research support, not interest!) that might fit in well on the topic, at least so I can continue to percolate on the topics.

What am I thinking about?
1. A position paper on Blogjects
2. A position paper on NetMagnet
3. A position paper on the Social Meteorology game/concept


Given recent hardware, platform development, and internet connectivity gains, mobile devices are quickly becoming key outlets for social software. Bringing social software into the physical social world raises a number of critical research questions, including issues of changes to the ways people socialize, the potentially sweeping impact of location services, how physical world context should be captured and incorporated, and a host of privacy concerns. This workshop seeks to address these and other key issues around the proliferation of social software on mobile devices. Additionally, the workshop focuses on research tools and approaches for studying these questions, projected future directions for social software on mobile devices, and the role of related technologies, such as hardware and communication protocols.

Topics of interest include, but aren’t limited to:

* Context sharing: Under what conditions are people unwilling to share context information (e.g. location, history, etc); how do factors such as privacy, reciprocity, and trust play into that?
* Incentive structures in mixed digital-physical systems
* Reputation systems in mixed digital-physical systems
* Who can, should, and will control location data?
* Capturing and visualizing time: When was I there? When were you there? When were we there together? When will I/you/we be there?
* Role of mobile social software in supporting or detracting from face-to-face interactions
* Incorporating social networks in areas like:
o Mobile dating systems
o Conferences and special events
o Ad-hoc meetings
o Avoidance services
o Recommending people, places, and services
* Media sharing and the particular relationship between mobile photography and social behavior
* Social software to support an aging population
* Mobile social gaming and other forms of entertainment
* Moblogging and flash mobs
* Research/evaluation methods and tools for mobile social software, e.g. evaluation tools for studies in context
* Applications of mobile social software (design/evaluation):
* Hardware and new sensing technologies to support sociability

Understanding Situated Social Interactions in Public Places

Fabien Girardin caught this one, a paper called Understanding Situated Social Interactions in Public Places, Jeni Paay and Jesper Kjeldskov.

Abstract: Designing context-aware mobile information systems for supporting
sociality requires a solid understanding of the users’ context, situated interac-
tions, and the interplay between the two. Currently such understanding is lack-
ing in the field of HCI research and is sought after by several authors. Address-
ing this gap we conducted a field study of small groups socialising in a public
place. Based on a grounded analysis of our findings we present a conceptual
framework of situated social interactions in public. Finally, we illustrate how
this framework informed design of a mobile context-aware prototype.

Why do I blog this? I endeavor to understand social interactions in public places. And I heartily admire Dourish and others’ approach to understanding how to facilitate, create and maintain such interactions.

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Here are a few syllabi from recent courses taught at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division.

CTIN499 – Design Technology for Mobile Experiences – Interactive Media Division – Fall 04 – 2 Credits
CTIN499 Syllabus

CTCS505 Survey of Interactive Media – Critical Studies – Fall 04 – 4 Credits

CTIN499 Advanced Design Technology for Mobile Experiences – Interactive Media Division – Fall 05 – 2 Credits
Course Blog

Fitness and Mobiles

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It cracks me up that a dear chum of mine puts little Dymo reminder tapes on her mirror to remind herself to do things like not smoke, not drink booze, all things in the fitness and nutrition arena. So, it didn’t surprise me when she stuck a reminder tape using a mnemonic-like abbreviation sequence onto her mobile phone. And so, it’s with little surprise that Mocoblog and Textually caught this fitness/nutrition-themed wallpaper for mobile phones by an operation called Flycell, that also markets ringtones and wallpapers associated with the fabled Naked Cowboy who haunts Times Square during the warmer weather months.

Why do I blog this? Besides the whimsical humor here, fitness and nutrition are, of course, serious topics. I’m interested in ways that fitness and nutrition can be integrated into mobile device interactions, perhaps even game-style. Besides just these reminders which, evidently, have a useful role and, I suppose, can be effective, there are perhaps other more empirical approaches. The idea of a mobile device, perhaps it’s your phone, that can capture your kinesthetics during the day and report that to you in a diary is somehow interesting.

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Gesture Reco Mobiles

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Why do I blog this? While I’m not 100% sold on the gesture notion — it seems like a tricky interface to get to work right — I do like the idea or figuring out how the orientation of a mobile device might be part of the interface design syntax. The compass integration seems promising — at least based on my experience navigating strange cities, it would be nice. As a general thing, who knows? Maybe it’s just more gadgets. Jan Chipchase seems to think the most effective way of orienteering when you’re lost and there are other people around is to simply ask for directions.

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WiFi.ArtCache? Meet Processing

One possible idea for the UCI event this summer, and perhaps for ISEA2006, is to develop an ArtCache hybrid where the WiFi.ArtCache API is ported to Processing. It is presently just Flash. Same basic idea — anything written in Processing will work through an ArtCache library that allows for the behaviors of the Processing applet to change based on whether it is:

1) In or outside of range of the ArtCache’s WiFi node
2) How many times it’s been downloaded
3) How many people are connected to the ArtCache’s WiFi node
4) How many people are presently interacting with that particular object from the ArtCache
5) Whether are any available based on the limited quantity idea

Advantage here:

It would be nice if you actually downloaded the processing applet so you could run it at another time. This could be done through an option on the page that renders the art object. You could download an executable version of it somehow.

Why do I blog this? To remind myself that I need to revive the ArtCache API and see what I can do to bring some life back to it. It’s also providing some intellectual fodder for this mobile social software application I’m thinking of submitting as the core of a position paper for the Workshop on Mobile Social Software that is going to happen at CHI 2006.

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Thinglink? Meet the Blogject, cousin of Spime.

I like this idea that Ulla-Maaria Mutanen describes in her thinglink post, it resonates with the Spime and the idea of object tagging that Nicolas Nova and I have been discussing.

A thinglink identifier is based on the idea that many of the things we use in our daily life are quite particular. Perhaps we know their origin (who has made them, when and how) and something about their history or previous use (like with furniture and cars). Some things have more meaning to us than others.

Thinglinks are unique, 8-digit identifiers that anybody can use for connecting physical or virtual objects to any online information about them. A thinglink on an object is an indication that there is some information about the object online—perhaps a blog post, some flickr photos, a manufacturer’s website, a wikipedia article, or just some quick comments on a discussion site.

The purpose of the is to offer an easy way to learn about products and artifacts in their various contexts of production and use. Small-scale producers such as artists, designers, and crafters can use thinglinks to bring their products to the emerging recommendation-based market in the Internet.

Here’s the thing about the thing — it might be useful to think of such a thinglink as something beyond an 8-digit “index” to some more semantic meat that is located elsewhere. I think something innovative happens when the object itself contains such semantic data about itself, its history, what it has done, gathered, accreted over its lifecycle. So, the objects are less inert than the objects we’re used to now. You don’t have to find the 8-digit id for your lost shoes and then Google them; you Google your environment with your spime wand. And we’ll need more than 8-digits — we’ll need a rich mechanism for folksonomic tagging of objects, so that when we walk by something we want, or need, or like, we’ll find out about it without too much hassle. SImilar to the NetMagnet idea worked on at Eyebeam Atelier a couple of years ago.

Nicolas has some remarks on the topic, which ultimately led me to Ulla-Maaria’s post, along with a call to muster folks to get together at Lift to hash this through in a workshop!

An Internet of Things

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This is the report that folks have been chit-chatting about for a week or so now. The Internet of Things. I’d love to find out more about this. It resonates with the spime and blogject research vectors. It’s 100 Swiss Francs — about $78 US. See, here’s something I would use the kind of start-up research funds a university normally gives its new assistant professors. If it’s part of the research I was hired to conduct, why should I pay for it out of my own pocket, especially with a thinly lined pocket?

Why do I blog this? I think an internet of things is an important research topic. I don’t think it’s all good and glamorous and a reason to dump lots of ill-considered VC into a Web3.0 hype-mobile. But, the idea of projecting internets into the physical world is deliciously compelling. I also blog this to vent my frustration at being in the second year of a tenure track appointment with no research start-up support, which, for those outside acadamia, is the equivalent of getting a job without a desk, computer, office chair, or desk phone. <!–Oh, and you have to travel, but pay for it yourself. And then you get told that if you want those things, you have to close a few deals. And if there's a report that was just released — like, a Gartner report or something, or, say, an ITU report that your colleagues are on top of and that would help you do your job better, learn to be content without such things.–>


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I’ve been trying to keep a dossier of various orientation technologies and techniques. I think orientation is a candidate interface sytax that is only roughly understood and I plan on conducting some studies in the “field experiment” approach to understand how it might be used in a mobile design.

But, I’m also intrigued that these devices might make it possible to build my own pedometer. Sometimes you don’t need to know precisely where you are, only how far you’ve gotten. Or, even more interesting, using walking/running motion as part of the interface syntax.

A few days ago, Peter and I showed a new Vis-a-Vis game concept to some CS students in an interface design class. The tricky interface syntax is set up so that you have to sort of swing the device left and right and back in order to move your character in the game. It has some problems..errr..opportunities. One student tried to jump, literally, to get the character to move and I had an “ah hah!” moment.

GPS is crap for detecting pedestrian scale motion reliably. It’s got a lag, in the small-scale experiment I ran, that makes it not quite ready for prime time interactivity. But, simple step-step-step interaction should happen lickity-split. We have a pedometer in the house that came out of Liz Goodman, Brooke Foucault, and Sunny Consalvo’s workshop at Ubicomp 2005. It’s just a little plastic retail unit that is spot-on, at least for power walks around Venice. Stands to reason it should work well for walking across a field or something for a different sort of entertainment scenario.


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I reBlogged this over on Eyebeam’s reBlog site, but I want to capture it here on the research toaster’s idea notebook.

Engadget reports on “Navtones”:

Forget about that generic voice that came with your
GPS. If you want your directions to be delivered with attitude, why not have Mr. T show you the way? Or, for that “Easy Rider� experience, let Dennis Hopper rev you up. The two are just some of the
celebrities whose voices are being digitized as downloadable “navtones� for use with GPS systems. Developer Wanderlust
Media is a little vague on which GPS systems support the custom voices, requesting that potential customers help out by
“clicking your navigation manufacturer and sending them a quick note as to why your system deserves special attention.�
We’ll hold off on an endorsement until we find out more — though we do think we might actually get lost a little less
often with Mr. T shouting at us to “pay attention to what I’m saying! You gonna get the directions … you gonna be there
safely, or else!�

Why do I blog this? Whether or not this enterprise is on the up-and-up, having our personal, portable, mobile, pocketable devices have some character and sensibility is an enticing proposition. If the market for ringtones, call-back tones, and sticker-laden laptops and cellyphones is any indication, we want more personality for our devices. It seems to me that, beyond just telling you when you missed your turn, this intimates a richer kind of location-awareness experience, perhaps coupled with story telling, education or other possibilities.

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