networked publics conference

[wikilike_img src=|width=500|align=thumb tcenter|url=|caption=thx iwouldstay]

As many of you know, for the last academic year, together with a whole crew of exceptional bright colleagues, I’ve been involved in a research group that the Annenberg Center for Communication has been sponsoring on Networked Publics. We’ve just announced our conference that is our end of the year summation. I’m looking forward to the event. It’s an opportunity to engage friends, colleagues and hopefully lots of new faces on some research vectors that I feel have importance in this new digital networking age. At the same time, I’m hoping that our conference will be an opportunity for discussions and presentations that fruitfully mix presentations with festival-style energy. If you’ll be near by or in town, you’ll want to come by!

Annenberg Center for Communication
University of Southern California
April 28-29, 2006

This two-day event will bring together new media scholars and practitioners to exhibit and discuss the roles of audiences, activists, and producers in maturing networked media ecologies. The event is organized by the Networked Publics fellowship program ( at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication.

The conference includes a media festival and an academic program.

• “Do-It-Yourself: Emergent Networked Culture,” is an experimental news and entertainment media festival featuring new kinds of viral, remixed, and amateur media works enabled by current networked ecologies. Categories of curated work include: political remix videos, the digital handmade, anime music videos, machinima, alternative news, and infrastucture hacks.

• The academic program is dedicated to three topics: Politics, Infrastructure and Place. For each of these topics, netpublics fellows will convene a session to interrogate current issues and controversies related to emergent networked ecologies.

The format of the event is designed to promote interaction and dialog across a diverse set of participants. Our goal is to facilitate conversation on topics of shared concern and a mixture of formats that include screenings, debates, and interaction around computer kiosks.

Please RSVP by April 14 at if you would like to attend. Space is limited. Feel free to forward to individuals who you think would be interested in this event.

The preliminary schedule is here.

Academic Program Organizers: Francois Bar, Wally Baer, Julian Bleecker, Anne Friedberg, Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, Mark Kann, Merlyna Lim, Fernando Ordonez, Adrienne Russell, Kazys Varnelis

Festival Organizers: Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, Mimi Ito, Merlyna Lim, Todd Richmond, Adrienne Russell, Marc Tuters, Kazys Varnelis

Conference Coordinators: JoAnn Hanley, Elizabeth Harmon

Clusters that Circulate Culture — Filling Out the Ecosystem Metaphors?

[wikilike_img src=|url=|align=thumb tcenter|caption=clusters that circulate culture. rather than top down/bottom up hierarchies, how about using idioms that are about circulation?|width=500]

After the Yochai Benkler talk at the Annenberg Center for Communication I was thinking about different architectures, idioms and metaphors to describe the circulation of culture that was not hierarchical and not an architecture that predisposed one to ethically challenging responses, like..big business shapes culture and defiance doesn’t work (resistance is futile, we’ll all probably end up wearing Gap and we may as well get used to it..)

For what should be fairly obvious reasons, that sort of top-down architecture doesn’t work very well for either explicating how culture circulates, or as importantly (these are the deep stakes) creating sustainable/habitable near-future imaginaries. That is, giving one (culture agents) a set of tools, resources, language, idioms, material instruments, means to make things, a decent HowTo guide and some FAQs – all of what one needs to imagine the world being otherwise and having the gumption and motivation to muster that world into existence. Although the bottom-up architecture/argument/explication is more empowering in that it gives a voice to individual culture agents/hustlers of culture, it does not adequately read or make legible the heavy duty power dynamics in the hierarchy.

Thinking about, now, clusters/clouds, not hierarchies, of cultural production/circulation. Clouds of non-commercial production, some commercial production, and vectors by which these clusters/clouds circulate meaning, drift apart, gather bits from encounters and bumps, through their own motility (sorry how that’ll change..) dissipate, lie in wait, evaporate and re-circulate in revived (retro’d) form.

Mimi, Yochai Benkler, Kazys and Adrienne and all the others at the dinner table deserve credit for discussing this.

Somewhere between the corporate tectonics (from gr. tekton — create and destroy; epic; intractable; out of human scale; seeingly incorrigible) and the bottom-up circulation/production of culture 2.0 is likely a more heterogenous geometry containing clouds that vector the dynamics of culture between and amongst all those (pretty much everyone who is a social being) who fab their social lives. Clusters of culture rather than hierarchies. Business practices are only one form of social practice, and no one practice can possibly determine another with such authority and certainty that either the bottom-up or the top-down hierarchical architecture holds up to strenuous argument.

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Theory Objects, Pedagodgy and Practice-based Design

I’m liking this Theory Object business more and more.

Why? Because it’s helping me think through design practices – it’s becoming a way to frame what I think many design and change agents do already, or how many design/change agents think already. It helps me realize that what I do is always imbricated in a knitted pattern or flow of practice-based “conversations” around a set of shared goals, hopes and desires about making things for near-future worlds.

Hopefully, it will also become a pedagogical trope that unlocks the general reticence some have of participating in these conversations, firstly, and then recognizing that making things can achieve the shared goals/hopes/desires by making things public.

Making things public is the counterpoint to the problem the poor, poor camel suffers under by being the brunt of the old design/architect joke about a camel being the result of designing a horse by committee. Oooh. There are so many problems with that joke nowadays. It’s not about a committee collectively designing one horse, it’s about a networked public collectively designing more habitable and sustainable worlds. One group may have an idea for a horse – so they go do that. Another group may say that they need something more camel-like to take care of the micro-local environmental concerns over in this part of the world. Yet another group may scratch their head and say, we have a surfeit of these darn can we enroll a gaggle of them in helping us better understand the micro-local context? (Pierre, yeah, sure, we could go talk to Boeing about getting a few truck loads of quarter sized sensors to sprinkle from the sky to gather micro-local contextual sensor readings, but..those Boeing Arphid things are made of icky plastic, gum up some important waterways, cause a problem when they blow over the highways, and don’t fly themselves back home so clean up is a real hassle, excepting pigeon poo, which we have to deal with _anyway_. That’s one of the reasons that the pigeons that blog theory object “works” – it explicates the really annoying assumption that the highly instrumentalized technical object makes sense.)

Making things public as a kind of approach to design practice is effective because the conversations that are of consequence circulate and raise design challenges of concern. Design challenges of concern are those that will yield more habitable worlds, worlds subject to the desires of social practices rather than business practices, worlds that have some hint of sustainability, worlds in which it is less likely that operational efficiencies that help one “make the quarterly numbers” drive research and development, etc. Networked publics such as those just now drooling out of the primordial ooze called the Internet are able to bring about worldly change by virtue of linking up their common concerns, sharing their ideas, their How To’s, their design documents, code nuggets, FAQs, calls for participation, sketches, prototypes, and next iterations. When I see that others in the public network are asking, answering, reframing and contesting the same questions, and designing for similar shared goals, I see hope for making things happen because I can see things happen.

I can understand, or empathize, with the design to not engage in the Theory Object business because it means that you have to engage in making things, and making those things public. It could be potentially embarassing. You may become deflated because you find out that someone else somewhere did the exact same thing you did and, for most of us humans, that’s a terrible ego blow. (“What? But my mom always said I was unique individual! If someone else is making ‘my’ thing, I must be a robotic clone..”)

Why do I blog this? It’s time to accept ourselves into the collective of networked public “making of things.” (Ew. That’s a horrid formulation. I’ll have to work on that.)

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Notes on Saskia Sassen – 3G mobiles 'change social habits' + Creative Destruction

This article was lurking in a Smart Filter in NetNewsWire.

3G mobiles ‘change social habits’:

Widespread use of 3G mobile phones may change the way people interact and increase creativity, a study suggests.

Okay — only one point I want to touch on here and that’s the money angle of the study. Usage was heavy because 3G services were offered for free to the study participants. That’s fine.

Here’s my semi-related non sequitur — two days ago, while in San Jose at GDC, I had to call someone from Nokia, who had an overseas number. They were in the US, probably within 50 meters of me, but my Sprint phone wouldn’t call them without turning on international dialing. Fine. 20 minutes on hold, I finally got to the guy who was going to click a box in some back-office CSR application. Click it once. He didn’t need to click it once a month. But, regardless, it was going to cost me $5 a month to have the privilege of dialing a number. A recurring charge, no matter whether I made calls or not. That on top of whatever premium Sprint extracted from me for the call. (I can’t even call it “overseas” — the guy was nearby. And even if he was in a place that required crossing large bodies of water — what difference does that make today? I mean..really?) I thanked the guy and hung up, screwed my face in muddled disgust, and set out to find a friend who’d loan me their mobile. But then it hit me — Skype! I got on the WiFi there at the convention hall, plugged in my earphones and made the call.

It cost me about 17 cents.

Why do I blog this? Two things.

1. How much do economics inform change in social practice?.

2. Creative destruction — an expression Saskia Sassen deployed during this afternoon’s talk, may be in effect here, in hindsight. As a model for evolutions of changed in material instrumentalities — technical instrumentalities — Skype may be in the process of compelling conventional mobile media communications networks to revamp their business practices. Is that what creative destruction means? It also makes me think of the way protocols/architectures/softwares such as BitTorrent are engaged in a form of “creative destruction”, possibly. BitTorrent makes worldly change — BitTorrent is a change agent. The software, the protocol, what it is able to effect and how it eludes the grasp of existing ways of doing things — of doing business, of distributing content, all that.

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South Bay Round-up: IFTF, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, GDC

I am just coming back from a round-up quick tour around the South Bay over the last two days. I came up here to San Jose at the invitation of Jyri Salomaa from Nokia, Beijing, who is the Research Manager for Asian Mobile Gaming at Nokia. Jyri invited a few of us out to dinner to discuss the mobile projects going on at academic research labs. It was a brainiac supper with Jyri, Frank Lantz from area/code, Ville-Veikko Mattila, a Research Manager for Game Technologies at Nokia in Helsinki, Elina M.I. Koivisto, a Research Engineer, Game House (can I play there??) at Nokia Research Center in Tampere Finland, and Ian Bogost, from Persuasive Games and Georgia Tech. We ruminated on Spore (a year out??), styles of mobile games, and eagerly thumbed through Ian’s recently released book, which looks really lovely — and has citations to Zizek, at least. I’ll have to Amazon Prime that one.


I presented to Jyri a few of the mobile game “sketches” I’ve been working on, hoping to test the interest of these brainiacs in a ludic style of casual, mobile play experiences that aren’t about thumb twitching or entirely face-down experiences. But, one’s that are more deliberately designed to provoke looking at our mobile/place-based activities in a different light. To look at the world around us, including people and Things, in a different way. This style — maybe I’ll call it motility games or motile play — is more about movement and refashioning how we conceptualize space and time than just trying to level up on a mobile device port of Prince of Persia.

Hopefully, these concepts and the approach to mobile play and mobile designed experiences I pitched will help start a relationship between Nokia and the Mobile and Pervasive Lab.

Earlier on Monday, I went to the Institute for the Future to give a lunch time talk to IFTF researchers and some clients of theirs who happened to be there. It was a bit of an overview of research activities that I have been conducting at the Annenberg Center for Communication under the category of mobile and pervasive..stuff. I showed this Viewmaster of the Future thing that Michael Naimark inspired me to think through. I also showed, and demoed, Clckr!, which worked even though its in a super alpha state (but..maybe it working for a bunch of people means it’s no longer “alpha”..) I also talked about the recent report on Blogjects and networked things that Nicolas and I put together from our workshop in Geneva on Blogjects, networked Things and such all. There was a good deal of interest in this topic of networked Things and we had a good discussion about the implications as well as concerns about how a world of pervasive networked objects would address the concerns that many people have around surveillance, security, etc. It’s an interesting thread to consider how technologies with lots of potent threats to identity theft, surveillance and such move through registers of acceptance and acclimation. I don’t have any answers, but the insights I offered were to look at historical analogies — for instance, although the RFID is not all that the Internet of Things is about by any means, it has become the poster child. Looking at RFID as the progeny of UPC codes, barcodes, etc., would provide some helpful insights into how such things move from troubling and of-concern, to routine and accepted. What are the policy, legal, cultural, social practice transitions points through which barcodes and mag stripes went, or are going through, as they become routinized? One speculation I had was that the “digital kids” would be well-acclimated to having their identities disseminated and distributed, partly by virtue of their having done such on their own terms through online social spaces, like MySpaces. Have to bounce this by danah..

With some spare time between this and that, I pinged Rob Tow, a researcher at Sun Microsystems, husband to noted designer-artist Brenda Laurel (who has an exciting sounding book out that I somehow missed called Design Research: Methods and Perspectives that I just Amazon Primed). Rob had 60 minutes to spare, so I booked it so we could talk about the new “version e” Sunspots. These little peepers are an exciting sensor platform that is definitely going in the quiver of Blogject/Spimey instrumentalities.

Check out this video of the Sunspot’s version of “Hello World” — “tilting” a runner of LEDs back and forth between two units. Cool stuff..

Here’s what they pack:

A Sun SPOT device is built by stacking a Sun SPOT processor board with a sensor board and battery.
Sun SPOT Processor Board

* 180 MHz 32 bit ARM920T core – 512K RAM/4M Flash
* 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 radio with integrated antenna
* USB interface
* 3.6V rechargeable 750 mAh lithium-ion battery
* 48 uA deep sleep mode

General Purpose Sensor Board

* 2G/6G 3-axis accelerometer
* Temperature sensor
* Light sensor
* 8 tri-color LEDs
* 6 analog inputs
* 2 momentary switches
* 5 general purpose I/O pins and 4 high current output pins


* Squawk Virtual Machine
o Fully capable J2ME CLDC 1.1 Java VM with OS functionality
o VM executes directly out of flash memory
o Device drivers written in Java
o Automatic battery management

* Developer Tools
o Use standard IDEs. e.g. NetBeans, to create Java code
o Use SPOTWorld to manage and deploy applications to sets of Sun SPOTs
o Integrates with J2SE applications
o Sun SPOT wired via USB to a computer acts as a base-statio

One of the goals of the project was to create a really legible platform for Thing-y behavior and usage experimentation. By legible, I mean that this is something that someone with little exposure to microcontrollers should be able to work with — a 14 year old high school student, for instance. Plus, it should have a robust set of interfaces to the physical world so as to support a diversity of experiments without having to add lots of things to the package, write software interfaces for extra hardware, etc. It should be well-suited to the dynamics of Thing-y semantics — movement, proximity, touch, etc. So, this built-in three-axis accelerometer, 802.15 radio, LEDs, buttons and compact, small size are a really exciting thing.

Now, some might think that the package is “expensive” — $499 for two Sunspots and a base station. There’s a whole lot in there — way more than what you would expect, and a lot more than what you’d get out of just one Crossbow Stargate. I put expensive in scare quotes because it’s both a lot of money for a 14 year old high school student and not so much money for the functionality, let alone the parts. (Rob reminded me that Sun sells these for the cost of goods. That’s pretty cool.) If you wanted to add a three-axis accelerometer, 802.15 radio, a rail of cool 24bit(!) LEDs, etc. to a PIC or BS2, I suspect you’d easily approach a third of this price point..easily — never mind the friggin’ headaches and time you’d invest in sourcing components, getting them to work, burning out a few and, basically, not getting your project goals accomplished. I’m in..

Rob and his colleague told me about one usage scenario they patented for the Sunspots — it addresses a package transportation problem. The parcel or container that “falls off the truck” and looses itself. If you have a swarm of Sunspots all intercommunicating, and able to determine that they’re in motion, bouncing around on a shipping vessel or truck — if one starts bouncing differently or begins to fall out of the swarm, then something’s gone wrong — it’s probably “fallen off the truck.” You can tag the spot and drop a note to whoever cares about such things in real time. This reminded me of something Nicolas recently pointed out to me — RFTrax, which provides, evidently, a variety of sensors to manage all the vagaries of shipping and transport industries (Our sensors have among the lowest power requirements in the industry. They’re built to weather the harshest environments, fit in the smallest areas and operate in the most remote locations. And they’re designed to be modular, scalable, plug-and-play and hot-swappable. All of this dramatically extends system life, reduces maintenance and eases implementation and expansion.)

Last but not least, I swung by GDC for a few hours, mostly to follow up with Nokia and sit on some Wifi, but I got to see a bunch of people who were milling about — Kellee, Rik, Mike showing off the lovely Cloud Game. Ran into Zimmerman, Larry and Austin from MTV Online Games and Stephanie.

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Theory Objects & Design Patterns

This “Theory Object” business — I’m trying to work out what it might mean through practice, through the activity of making things. As Bruce Sterling said in his wonderfully rabinical talk at SXSW just the other day, “A Theory Object is a kind of Theory Object.” It’s got that geeky recursion, like GNU — GNU is Not Unix.

I’m going to try and parse that for a spell — A Theory Object is a kind of Theory Object.

I think there’s a good reason for a Theory Object being a kind of Theory Object, and it’s about design patterns for design itself, another recursion. But this isn’t a recursion puzzle land for the sake of geeky fun. There are important stakes in this approach, that operate at a number of levels, but mostly around the area of creating a world that won’t ruin itself any more than it already has. How do you do that? Maybe there’s a design pattern that’ll help — an approach to making things that matter.

Jystar, a computer science grad student down at UC Irvine, wrote a post on the topic of Theory Objects that made me think about the “frameworks” used to make things, like software-based systems. In the software engineering idiom, where I have some stakes and a bit of background, one often hears about frameworks or design patterns as models to help get things done. They’re super useful, and they help move from an idea to an articulation of that idea because some of the larger pieces of the software design as well as the small glue have been throught through in the form of “design patterns” and such all.

Design patterns create standard frameworks for solving problems. They provide a common language for sharing approaches to work , which makes getting things made easier. You can convey a whole lot of information by referring to patterns when your colleagues know what you’re talking about.
Continue reading Theory Objects & Design Patterns

San Jose / Palo Alto / Berkeley

I did a bit at the Institute for the Future Monday at lunchtime, and then I have a Nokia thing down to San Jose Monday evening and then Tuesday I’m going to meet Rob Tow up to Sun Labs to talk about what he’s doing, what I’m doing. The usual drill.

Thanks to Lyn and Jason and Mike L. and Alex and the other Mike L. and Sean at IFTF for the hospitality, sandwich and, you know, network access!

Report from the Blogject Workshop at LIFT06

Nicolas and I have finished our Next Iteration on the Blogject project — our workshop report from Lift06..Read, Ponder, Complain and Disseminate.

On February 1st, a day before the LIFT06 conference, a workshop about ‘Blogjects and the new ecology of things’ was held in Geneva. The purpose of this event was to discuss usage scenarios of Blogjects, the design issues they raises as well as their significance in various contexts. The description of the scenarios helped us refining what would be the Blogjects features and capabilities.

This report (.pdf, 18.6Mb) summarizes all the topic we discussed by presenting the main characteristics of Blogjects and four potential scenarios elaborated by the groups formed during the workshop.

As the Internet pervades more physical space and more social space it is likely that objects in the world will become able to connect to the network and participate in the web by disseminating and receiving data communications. As “things” participate within the Internet and once the Internet soaks through physical, geographic space a differentiated kind of Internet may arise. The Internet of Things sets up a different set of relations to social practice (we will be “in” a pervasive network) and a different set of relations to space (the Internet will be co-occupied by both social beings and things.) This shift generates new possibilities for integrating networked things into the Internet. This workshop addresses this shift by considering its characteristics in relation to an existing, prevalent set of practices and technologies currently in existence variously referred to as “the social web” and “Web 2.0.” We then proceeded into four groups to conduct design scenarios in order to further explicate our understanding of a world in which things are connected, networked participants within a pervasive, wireless, mobile Internet. We conclude that there is a significant opportunity for designing compelling usage scenarios for such a near-future Internet of Things world and recommend a follow on, intensive, multi-day workshop/retreat to continue contributing to this important topic.

Feel free to spread it, make any comment, reblog it!

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Society of the Spectacle (2.0): Surveillance in the Internet of Things

I was recently asked to consider how the new surveillance is (or might) operate in the era of networked Things. It’s not a hard one to think through, but I reflected upon the role that visual surveillance has played in reshaping and refashioning physical space and thought — maybe visual surveillance doesn’t matter so much any more. Video surveillance was once all about “the man” having more power to see and reveal than those who were being watched. It was easy to grow wary of video cameras and their use, particularly by private entities whose cameras captured activity in public space, especially when there are no formal accountability protocols. I could get hopped up about that, certainly. I spent a day with the Institute for Applied Autonomy back several years ago, helping map out surveillance cameras in Manhattan as part of a wonderful exhibition that Eyebeam put on called We Love New York. It was about mapping the ways in which public space becomes a space that surveilled in a problematic way. It’s too secret, this surveillance.

Log files and Arphids are what we have to worry about, not video surveillance. In the Internet of Things, it’s a web hit in an access log that’ll send you to the big house.

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Mini CCD|url=|width=400]

So now we all know about video surveillance. Heck, we’ve learned enough to turn it to our own purpose. A cheap CCD camera the size of a quarter, a teddy bear with some of its bunting tore out, and a button replaced by some cheap optics are all we need to turn our own homes into a micro-social spectacle experiment. Want to feel like The Man? Turn a cam on your nanny or, yikes! your own spouse.

What happens when we become the man? When the architecture for surveillance becomes routine and understood? The politics may still smell a bit skunky, but we’re probably less likely to get as hopped up about it. Who’s going to blame the local Starbucks or Wal-Mart for a phalanx of cameras turned on its customers when you’ve nailed your own kid sneaking a few beers in his room using the same gear.

So, what’s next? Surveillance 2.0 — trackable, traceable, scannable Things.

I’m going to do a quick bargain basement inventory of what’s out there at the edge of the new architecture of surveillance. I haven’t figured it all out by a long stretch. But with the help of a whole bunch of others trying to think about our near future pervasively networked world, I found a few provocative artifacts that may well be just the theory objects I need to help figure this one out.

Tracking Things _ A Few Sample Artifacts

Everything is going to be geospatially tracked. Everything. Look at these units — I need a bushel of these and I’ll prove my case. I’m not talking about just tracked the way an Arphid tracks something entering or leaving a facility — that’s worthwhile figuring out on its own. I mean moment by moment logged as to its location in the physical world.

Surveillance Idiom: Finding Things

Keyphrase:Things that know where they are and where they’ve been.

Trackbacks:Peter Morville‘s on this vector, which is to our collective benefit.

Theory Object: Pet Tracker

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Pet Tracker|url=|align=thumb tleft|width=277]

Bruce Sterling sent me this one. It’s not a surprise or a stretch of the imagination. I offer it as a bit of evidence to my claim that everything will be tracked — you start with the loved ones and valuables and you’re careening toward the cliff. I bet these guys will sell a zillion of these. I mean, anything that people tend to carry around in an expensive hand bag is going to want to be tracked. It’s described as the LoJack for dogs in case they get lost. Someone else out there also has a subcutaneous version of this idea — inject your pet with its own tracker.

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Wikipedia tells us that these hot red zones are where the H5N1 is highly pathogenic. How do you track the migration of birds? They don’t pass through customs, afterall. But, they do fly under GPS satellites.|url=|align=thumb tleft|width=500]

Next Steps and Action Items I wouldn’t be surprised if the EU doesn’t acquire one of these or something like it for every single bird so as to track the H5N1, cause it’s coming.

Surveillance Idiom: Doing Something With What You’ve Found

Keyphrase: Things that aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

Trackbacks: The tenacity of change agents — Ellsberg to the Diebold whistleblowers

Theory Object: Plane Tracker

I’ve been hopped up about Flight Aware before, and I still am. I love this operation, both for the geek factor (tracking planes on the Internet? I mean, come on — it’s ModelTrains2.0) and for the “making things public” angle. Ask me what the politics of making things public are, and this is probably the first thing I’d point to as an example.

[wikilike_img src=|url=|align=thumb tcenter|width=400]

[wikilike_img src=|url=|align=thumb tcenter|width=400]

It’s not at all that we should know where all the planes are for the sake of knowing where all the planes are. It’s what happens when you do this — not just finding out if you’re plane’s going to be late, but finding out, as some serious plane watchers did, that the CIA was flying prisoners to offshore torture facilities.

Next Steps and Action Items Time to come to grips with the worrisome fact that, despite their canonical “The Man” status, even the CIA can have its agents and safe houses revealed by a little rudimentary informatics wrangling — a bit of the Google and a few legal purchases of some of that data we give away when we sign up for a credit card or answer a marketing inquiry.

Surveillance Idiom: Blogging Things

Keyphrase: Inscription and authoring physical objects to give them some Spimey power-up

Trackbacks: Ulla-Maaria Mutanen’s ThingLink project.

Theory Object: Item Tracker (AURA – Advanced User Resource Annotation system)

[wikilike_img src=|url=|caption=AURA capture/annotation device – a $50 Smart Phone!|align=thumb tcenter|width=375]

AURA has been around for a couple of years, but I only recently came across it. This is a remarkable bit of technology that does an incredibly simple thing. It links Things to databases. You scan your Thing’s “tag” — a 2D barcode, but the kit is extensible. (It’s an architecture for a usage scenario rather than a hardcoded API — a kind of Microsoft Research Theory Object. Notice it’s a “Resource” annotator, rather than a packaged goods annotator — resources can be anything that’s, well..consumed or has value of some sort. So, pretty much anything can be annotated with this gear, which is worth while thinking through.)

Next Steps and Action Items This is great stuff — a tool to author Things. Much better than having Things authored for us, by someone who doesn’t know any better..or worse, has it in for me.

Why do I blog this? If there’s a “surveillance society” or a “society of the spectacle”, I would submit that it’s about informatics, and not primarily about the visual spectacle. These artifacts above are only a few instances that indicate how Things that can perform identity surveillance, tracking, tagging and wrangle some database informatics are what matter nowadays. Google is the new surveillance

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The divide that separates people from their online lives

The divide that separates people from their online lives:

This BBC article quotes Dr Jo Twist,a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK,as saying “once the net was ubiquitous like power and water,it had the potential to be “transformative”.The divide that separates people from their online lives will utterly disappear. Instead of leaving behind all those net-based friends and activities when you walk out of your front door,you will be able to take them with you.The buddies you have on instant message networks,friends and family on e-mail, your eBay auctions, your avatars in online games, the TV shows you have stored on disk, your digital pictures, your blog – everything will be just a click away.It could also kick off entirely new ways of living, working and playing.For instance, restaurant reviews could be geographically tagged so as soon as you approach a cafe or coffee shop, the views of recent diners could scroll up on your handheld gadget.Alternative reality games could also become popular.These use actors in real world locations to play out the ultimate interactive experience.Key to the transformation,said Dr Twist,would be mobile devices that can use wi-fi.These handsets are only just starting to appear but will likely cram a huge amount of functions into one gadget.Dr Twist believes the move could start to close the digital divide”.Further,”when chips,sensors,and wireless devices mesh together, there may be some unintended consequences,” said Dr Twist.”We have to make sure we think about those, and think about what other exclusions might be brought about by those developments, too.”

Wi-fi set to re-wire social rules

Why do I blog this? I don’t agree to the knee-jerk assertions about everything changing (the authors use the politic “transformative” instead of the usual exuberant adjectives), and this business about restaurant reviews pushed to devices is positively irritating to think about which probably means it could start a consumerist insurgency were it to actually happen. But, I have been working on a paper — recently accepted to the WWW2006 – MobEA IV workshop that says “we are in the midst of a mobile revolution” so maybe I have something to contribute to the transformation/revolution that will mitigate such an insurgency.