Blogjects: Small Clarification

Once, my mentor and dissertation advisor Donna Haraway mentioned in a conversation that she wished she could better police the way her writings were taken up. I only vaguely understood what she meant at the time.

I want to make a small clarification and re-emphasis on the Blogject trope. It’s fun coming across various insights and remarks on the Blogject concept in all corners of the network, and a whole variety of conversations have developed, all of them encouraging.

I would add to these as a clarification that my wanting to think about Blogjects as something new (and please forgive my devising a bungling idiom) is a political move best described thusly: “we” (inhabitants herein of the planet) need new things to cope with (insert your epic worldly challenge here) in a new way because the old ways are not working. If you can’t find anything “technically” new with the idea of objects blogging, then please think that perhaps we need a new way to think about how we do things, and starting with a commitment to call something new, even if you’re, like..thinking — “Heck, how new could it be? I mean, there aren’t any high-financed start-ups making new sensors or academic journals publishing fresh insights from far-flung research patents or anything. What new? What’re you talking about?”

Therein lies the motivation for making new things to attempt to devise new thinking and new solutions for oldish problems that need fresh ideas and approaches. It’s not that I or anyone else has come up with new instrumentalities, or cornered some new business opportunity with a first-to-market coup.

That said, I believe firmly that there is, empirically, something new about objects nowadays in that they can potentially (so long as we don’t dismiss the ways they can help us create more habitable worlds) co-inhabit this fascinating and promising digitally networked world of social exchange that is taking place on the Internet. That social exchange is dramatically new (cf. Benkler and Jenkins), and heavy with opportunity for refashioning the world.

Example: We have never had a world in which an $18.90 sensor (in single units) coupled to an existing two-way datastream (eg General Motor’s OnStar(tm) system or, as I’m doing, a simple GSM network data transfer and a Nokia phone) can disseminate at a real-time rate (once every 30 secs or better) the content of gasoline or diesel emissions from a vehicle — and publish that in real-time to the entirety of the networked world. Aggregates of such modestly priced blogging objects would give a telling representation of how much such previously illegible and (sometimes) invisible emissions occur. That _potential_ for a simple Blogject is new. This Blogject has no Artificial Intelligence — that’s not what Blogjects are about. But, in the Latourian sense, Blogjects are social beings in that they (can) participate in conversations that matter, substantively. In this simple conversation, providing insight into something we really need to be more aware of, directly, not abstractly.

Blogjects are “only” sources of information if that is all we want from them. Websites were only sources of information once, too, until they because conversational (in a Weinberger/Searls/Locke sort of way way) and changed the way we engage in social discourse, and even had measurable, substantial effect in 1st life politics and further. We know this for a fact. The social web changed things measurably. Can objects, also participating in the same register of discourse, do likewise, and perhaps have impactful effect?

Why would we not try to make it so?

Technorati Tags: ,


A project that Carolyn Strauss and I proposed, to do in collaboration with graphic designer and artist Zipora Fried received a Rhizome Commission! We’re pretty excited. We’ve been chatting around the project topic basically since we first met a couple of years ago now.

Here’s the project write up

I’m also doubly psyched for Aaron Meyers, a cool albeit way too lanky (especially for how much he eats) graduate student in the USC Interactive Media Division‘s MFA program for getting a Rhizome Commission for his Torrent Raiders project — basically his thesis project. Congratulations Aaron!

Here’s the short blurb for SLOWmail from the Rhizome Commissions Finalists page (and a link to the SLOWmail wiki containing some preliminary notes):

SLOWmail is a new email service that deliberately slows down the pace of electronic messaging. It operates at the opposite end of the time-to-delivery spectrum from traditional email, offering a more reflective experience for both sender and recipient, and challenging forth more artful, writerly and meaning-ful correspondence. SLOWmail leverages social software practices and idioms- ontologies, semantic tagging, media sharing, presence awareness- seeking not to supplant other forms of electronic contact, but rather to complement them. As platforms like IM and SMS increase in popularity, SLOWmail explores the possibilities of less instantaneity and more calm in communication, creating a new rhythm of social interaction. The act of composing a SLOW message requires time and care since it is largely the semantics of the dispatch that will determine the pace of its delivery. The author tags his correspondence to describe a relationship to the recipient (mom, lover, enemy, etc), their respective geographic locations and the mood of the message (solemn, jovial, angry, etc). Once sent, the message is filtered through the SLOWmail software environment which further interprets its meaning and assesses the sender-recipient relationship, factoring in message history, frequency of correspondence and past message content to determine the delivery timeframe. At any time, users may login to the SLOWmail web site to view messages in progress, experienced as compelling graphic visualizations that develop gradually to represent pending correspondence. The visualizations will be developed by graphic designer and artist Zipora Fried, who will generate a series of full-quality digital illustrations to convey ‘moods’ that correspond with the differing tones of the messages. These will be programmed to render over time at varying rates. The slow unfolding of these illustrations will provide an abstract indication of a message’s time trajectory, without revealing the exact delivery date. The service thus offers a unique air of excitement and creativity, encouraging users to be attentive and inventive as they look for the hidden meanings behind words and phrases they employ, opening up time for contemplation and enjoyment, while cultivating social bonds. With SLOWmail, it is not our desire to create a nostalgic system, but rather to use all the features and capacities of digital media — rich visuals, networked connectivity, databases, etc.— to create a new mechanism for electronic correspondence, where speed is surrendered to the promise of aesthetic character, pleasurability and new social connections. SLOWmail is a project of slowLab, inc. a New York State nonprofit organization that serves as a laboratory for ‘slow design’ thinking and practice. slowLab is dedicated to creative innovation that cultivates slower rhythms and expressions to balance today’s fast flows of information, rate of resource consumption and the increasing speed of daily encounters. slowLab founder Carolyn Strauss will serve as Project Director for SLOWmail, overseeing design, creative implementation, administration, publicity and documentation. Technologist Julian Bleecker will be responsible for the system design, software programming, information architecture of the public-facing web site, oversight of beta testing, and ongoing technical refinement/iteration. Technical and administrative interns will perform quality assurance and pr/marketing services.

Why do I blog this?Another project to help answer questions about how patterns of social communication, expectation, attachment and formation are created through networked digital publics. What are other patterns that can arise through digitally networked publics? What forms of communication, what registers of dialogue can come to be when speed is bartered for ambience, calmness, and aesthetics (other than wiggly postcards)? I dunno, so I do a project.

Spam Exploits War

This is perhaps the most disturbing spam I’ve ever received. It purports to be from a soldier in Iraq who is part of an underground syndicate stealing booty (“consignments”) and selling it on the open market. Maybe they think I’d stow it in the back shed until such time as the killings and day-to-day unrest settles down.

X-Original-To: julian
Delivered-To: julian
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with SMTP id 420AB1E788A
for ; Fri, 23 Jun 2006 16:15:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: Geraldine Marcus
To: julian
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2006 22:13:44 +0200
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=”d7216c95-7775-4ca0-b28b-b596ba047aa3″

This is a multi-part message in MIME format
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Dear Friend,
My name is, Sgt. Geraldine Marcus representing a faction of American
soldiers,serving in the military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq,
we came across your e-mail address(s) in the process of research and
enquiry into an immense millitary global data base. I believe you are
familiar with the war situation in Iraq ? apart from killings and day to day =
unrest, a lot
of activities happen such as sales of antiques, stocked foreign cash =
and lots more. We are lucratively involved in these activities, myself
and my colleagues want to send consignments out of iraq, which will be
discussed upon your acceptance of this transaction and we require a
worthy, upright and business minded individual for safe keeping outside
the Iraqi state. You might have an insight
through; and details
will be sent upon signal of interest. Our contact email ;
Thanks for your co-operation
Sgt. Geraldine Marcus

Why do I blog this? Aside from being positively baffled at the level of intellect that would actually think there is something other than a bumbling long-con behind this, I find it interesting the ways in which both the efficacy and utility of digitally networked communication is gradually eroded through the exploits of con-artists. At one point, will email just become unusable? What about IM? I was at a friend’s offices and they had to shut down their systems because of a virus spread via IM. And I heard on NPR the other day, public radio here in the states, that network hijackers have found useful (to their nefarious activities) exploits in anti-virus software. How do networked social formations react to the insurgence of actions that make communication problematic? What are the work-arounds and ways to mitigate these disruptions? How can you diminish the value proposition for the hijackers, site kidnappers and such all? Sigh..

Nordichi Workshop Call: Near Field Interactions

Workshop: Near field interactions
This is a call for proposals for a workshop on user-centred interactions with the internet of things at Nordichi 2006, October 14 and 15, 2006 in Oslo, Norway.

(Workshop papers are available here.)

The user-centred Internet of Things
The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ is a vision of the future of networked things that share a record of their interactions with context, people and other objects. The evolution of networking to include objects occupying space and moving within the physical world presents an urgent design challenge for new kinds of networked social practice. The challenge for design is to overcome the current overarching emphasis on business and technology that has largely ignored practices that fall outside of operational efficiency scenarios.

What is imminently needed is a user-centred approach to understand the physical, contextual and social relationships between people and the networked things they interact with.

The mobile device as early enabler
The mobile phone is likely to play a key role in the early adoption of the internet of things. Mobile devices offer ubiquitous networks and interfaces, enabling otherwise offline objects at the edges of the network. Near Field Communication (NFC: is a mobile technology that has been designed to integrate networked services into physical space and objects. NFC introduces a sense of ‘touch’, where interactions between devices are initiated by physical proximity.

In use, the mobile phone brings with it a history of personal and social activities and contexts. It is in this evolution that we see user-agency and social motivation emerging as an interesting area within the internet of things.

Workshop goals
In this workshop we intend to build knowledge around the hands-on problems and opportunities of designing user-centred interactions with networked objects. Through a process of ‘making things’ we will look closely at the kinds of interactions we may want to design with networked objects, and what roles the mobile phone may play in this.

We will focus on the design of simple, effective and innovative interactions between mobile phones and physical objects, rather than focusing on technical or network issues.

The primary questions for the workshop are:

What kinds of common interactions will emerge as networked objects become everyday?
What role will the mobile phone have to play in these interactions?
How do we encourage playful, experimental and exploratory use of networked things?

Some secondary questions are:

What interaction models can we bring to the internet of things? Do the fields of embodied interaction, tangible, social, ubiquitous or pervasive computing cover the required ground for designers?

What new kinds of social practices could emerge out of the possibilities presented by networked things?

How will the physical form of everyday objects and spaces be transformed by networks and near field interactions? How this would be reflected in users’ behavior?

How can the design of physical objects help in overcoming potential information or interaction overload, and how does search or findability change when in a physical context?

How can we move beyond commonsensical features such as object activation or findability?

What kind of user-communities will co-opt the technology and how will they hack, adjust and re-form it for their needs?

Workshop structure
Each workshop day will begin with a keynote presentation from invited experts. On the first day, participants will each give a short presentation of their position paper, no longer than 5 minutes.

Then groups of 3-4 people, each with different skills and backgrounds will then work on concepts, scenarios and prototypes. Prototypes may take the form of physical models, scenarios or enactments. We encourage the use of our wood, plastic and rapid prototyping workshops to create physical prototypes of selected concepts. We will provide workshop assistants for the creation of physical models.

The outcomes should be in a range of implementation styles allowing for a variety of outputs that speaks to a wide audience. A report will be written on the workshop, and published on the Touch project website and in other relevant channels.

Call for participation
The workshop is open to participants from human factors, mobile technology, social science, interaction and industrial design. Practitioners and those with industrial experience are strongly encouraged. Prior research work on embodied interaction, social and tangible computing would be particularly relevant. Participants will be selected based on their relevance to the workshop, and the overall balance of the group. Space is limited to 25 participants.

Call for short position papers
Application is by position paper no longer than two pages. The position paper can be visual or experimental in design and content. The themes should cover an issue that is relevant to the design of interactions with everyday objects.

Deadline for papers is 1 August, selected participants will be notified on the 9 August. The workshop itself is October 14 and 15, 2006.

Papers and any questions should be submitted to timo (at) elasticspace (dot) com before 1 August.

Timo Arnall is a designer and researcher at the Oslo School of Architecture & Design (AHO). Timo’s research looks at practices around ubiquitous computing in urban space. At the moment his work focuses on the personal and social use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies, looking for potential interactions with objects and city spaces through mobile devices. Previously his research looked at flyposting and stickering in public space, suggesting possible design strategies for combining physical marking and digital spatial annotation. Timo leads the research project Touch at AHO, looking at the use of mobile technology and Near Field Communication.

Julian Bleecker is a Research Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication and an Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Division, part of the USC School of Cinema-Television. Bleecker’s work focuses on emerging technology design, research and development, implementation, concept innovation, particularly in the areas of pervasive media, mobile media, social networks and entertainment. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in computer-human interaction. His doctoral dissertation from the University of California, Santa Cruz is on technology, entertainment and culture.

Nicolas Nova is a Ph.D. student at the CRAFT (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne) working on the CatchBob! project. His current research is directed towards the understanding of how people use location-awareness information when collaborating in mobile settings, with a peculiar focus on pervasive games. After an undergraduate degree in cognitive sciences, he completed a master in human-computer interaction and educational technologies at TECFA (University of Geneva, Switzerland). His work is at the crossroads of cognitive psychology/ergonomics and human-computer interaction; relying on those disciplines to gain better understanding of how people use technology such as mobile and ubiquitous computing.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Nokia 5500 Sport Phone

[wikilike_img src=|url=|caption=Nokia phone with a 3D motion sensor|width=320|align=thumb tcenter]

The recently announced Nokia 5500 “Sport Phone” (what a horrid nickname..Sport Phone), has a 3D motion sensor built in.

The Nokia 5500 Sport phone, an S60 3rd Edition device announced last month, is Nokia’s first mobile phone to use a 3D motion sensor. This feature creates new user-experience possibilities. In the Nokia 5500 Sport, software using this feature helps users monitor aspects of their exercise programs, such as number of calories burned, speed, distance covered, and number of steps taken. The technology could also be used to control other applications. For example, slide-presenter software might switch slides when the user moves the phone in a certain way. To help developers create new, motion-sensitive applications, Nokia will soon introduce an SDK for devices with 3D accelerometers. Nokia plans to introduce other phones that use 3D-motion-sensor technology in the near future.

Nokia 5500 Info

Why do I blog this? I’m eager to work around ideas that include some sort of kinesthetic motion measuring technology. Pedometer, direction, movement — all kinds of elements that might move mobile devices into participating in our mobility. They’ve got some okay ideas around this, but I think too much emphasis on fitness directly. I mean, that doesn’t sound right. What I mean is that “sport” should maybe be more playful and not about measuring distances and speed and calories burned. Kids know best how to play, imho, and they don’t count calories. Maybe they start counting pull-ups and how long they swing and stuff, but it would be much cooler if this motion measurement could be translated into playful experiences — like tying 1st Life and 2nd Life in richer ways. This little mobile points in the right direction for that sort of thing.

More Blogging Aircraft

[wikilike_img src=|align=thumb tcenter|width=500| kml track zoomed in on inbound traffic toward LAX|url=]

Sascha just IM’d this. A flight tracking operation called fboweb (dot com) has a flight tracking service. The usual — put in the flight number and airline, or a tail number, and you get the current tracks of the individual equipment as it roams the earth.

(FBO stands for fixed base operator — a general service center at an airport.)

[wikilike_img src=|align=thumb tcenter|width=500| kml track zoomed in on inbound traffic toward LAX|url=]

Now, though, they’re producing kml files so you can see the tracks in Google Earth.

Good lord. The coherence between 1st Life and 2nd Life starts to pull focus. And with structured data, to boot.

Why do I blog this?The flight tracking services, particularly the ones that create a visualization of equipment, are important because they are “weak signals” indicating how linkages between informatics, geography and the activities of social beings can be represented. These are most often designed with the purpose of helping people figure out if a flight’s late or how it’s doing. From an operations stand point, the flight centers are consuming the same data (perhaps not 60 second delayed, as this version is) to make decisions about what equipment will be where and when, and thereby how to make the particular piece of equipment contribute to production of capital profits in the most efficient manner. I’m sure they also use it to make route adjustments during times of heavy or light traffic, and so forth. These blogging behemoths are shaping business practices, no?

How can a similar configuration of networked objects blog in such a way as to inform social practices? And not just those social practices that are about operational efficiencies for businesses?

Technorati Tags:


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

Will Carter and I will be showing a little project we’ve been hammering about for a couple of months. It’s called geotagthings and the basic idea behind it is to have a very simple way to assign geographic meta data to arbitrary web resources. Anything with a URL can be given a latitude/longitude by simply clicking a bookmarklet, picking the spot it should be assigned using a map interface, adding a little note and that’s that.

The URL and note get shoved into a data store where it can be accessed through an RSS feed. Anyone can get a feed for a locale simply by going to the feed generator, picking where you’d like to get a feed from, determining a range around that spot and grabbing the URL from one of the feed badges, and dropping it into your favorite news aggregator, like NetNewsWire.

Easy peasy.

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

Geotagthings is meant to be more of collection of simple interfaces for geosemantics rather than any sort of destination site or portal or whatever.

Just sign up for an account and become part of the collaborative geospatial tagging collective.

Why do I blog this? I think this is one more small piece of a larger puzzle in which I’m trying to find ways to breech the 1st Life/2nd Life berm. Kinetic social practice in 1st Life can’t succumb to the sometimes questionable charms of 2nd Life worlds. Enough of the WoW fetish; real worlds matter.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Ubicomp 2006 — Call for Demos — June 16, 2006

The Ubicomp conference’s Demonstrations Program offers an excellent way to showcase tangible results of ubiquitous computing research and development to over 500 attendees from academia and industry. A successful demo communicates ideas and concepts in a powerful way that a regular presentation cannot. We invite you to contribute your vision of the ubicomp experience to the Demonstrations Program at the UbiComp 2006 conference. We particularly encourage demonstrations that include participation by conference attendees and provoke discussion about issues within the field of ubiquitous computing.

We seek proposals for demonstrations of ubiquitous computing technologies across the full milieu of everyday life: office, home, street, park, train, automobile, bedroom, bathroom, work, play, desktop, handheld, worn, public, private, community, individual, shared, and personal. We welcome a wide range of submission from scenarios involving innovative solutions of focused tasks as well as playful pursuits.

Ubicomp 2006 runs from September 17-21, 2006 and is hosted at UC Irvine in Irvine, CA.

Abstract Page limit: 2 pages (ACM SIGCHI conference publications format)

Submission Deadline: June 16, 2006
Acceptance Notification: July 14, 2006
Final Version Due: August 4, 2006

More information

Technorati Tags: ,

Else/Where=Amsterdam: June 10

Else/Where=Amsterdam: June 10:

Our second book-related event is a party co-hosted by the Waag Society for Old and New Media in Amsterdam:

Saturday June 10, 2006, 5-7 pm at Arti et Amicitiae, Rokin 112, 1012 LB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

short presentations by ELSE/WHERE: MAPPING contributors
Renee Turner, De Geuzen, Amsterdam,
Jeremy Wood, GPS Drawing, London,
Ronald Wall, Faculty of Applied Economics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and
Esther Polak, beeldidiktee co-creator, Amsterdam Real Time and the MILK Project

followed by book signing, celebratory drinks and conversation. Book sales at Arti courtesy of Nijhof & Lee booksellers.

Kindly RSVP to with “E/W Amsterdam” in subject.

We are delighted to hold our book launch in conjunction with the opening of PLAYMOBIEL curated by Nathalie Faber/Cut-n-Paste, an exhibition of artists using mobile and wireless communication technology including Arno Coenen, Blast Theory, Gerald van der Kaap, Esther Polak and Scanner, opening at Arti et Amicitiae, Friday June 9, 6-8 pm; exhibit runs through July 8

Waag Society

Playmobiel (in Dutch only)

Arti et Amicitiae

Nijhof & Lee

The Design Institute gratefully acknowledges funding toward ELSE/WHERE: MAPPING from Target Corporation and the Consulate General of the Netherlands, New York.

Why do I blog this? This is a really fantastic book on a variety of approaches to what mapping, place, geography and cartography means, and it’s a lot of fun to flip through. Also, a project I did a couple of years ago, PDPal, is featured in the book. The event sounds fantastic.





MOBILE ASIA COMPETITION 2006: ORGANIZED BY ART CENTER NABI, SEOUL, KOREA :: The progress of mobile technology characterized by mobility, connectivity, and dispersion seems to resonate with the diasporic experiences of Asians who are mobile, dispersed yet connected with each other through socio-cultural dynamics and relations. With the mobile market and its culture expanding beyond Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan to the Southeast Asia, the need should be raised for reflecting upon the currency of culture and the urgency of new identities that are evolving with mobile technology in Asian region.

Mobile Asia Competition 2006 hosted by Art Center Nabi pays attention to the role of media makers and artists in articulating and expressing the Asian mobile cultures. Artists and media makers always appropriate and challenge the given technology through creative ideas and critical practices to broaden the space of possibilities. Especially, the recent emerging ubiquitous mobile environments requires both popular sentiment and critical thoughts. Mobile Asia competition 2006 investigates the new forms of Asian identities and cultures in the creative works of artists and designers who dare to experiment, play, and wrestle with the mobile technologies.


1. Works made to be viewed and experienced on mobile devices
(1) Game, Interactive Art
(2) Screen-based arts : Animation, Motion Graphic, Documentary, Music Video, Narrative film, etc.

2. Works made by mobile phones such as camera phone, video phone.

3. Idea proposal for wireless art projects on the theme of ‘connectivity and social network’. Art project that expresses the theme of social network and connectivity while exploring new and artistic ways of using diverse personal media such as mobile phones, laptop, PDA and internet network.

PRIZE: The total award money is US $20.000 and the selected works will be exhibited in various on and offline venues.

Category 1 & 2 (Mobile content): US $10.000

– One winner from each category will be awarded with $5000.
– The works by winners and other selected works will be screened and exhibited at Art Center Nabi, ResFest Korea 2006 (digital film festival), and Korean mobile phone service including DMB channel.

Category 3 (Wireless art proposal): US $10.000

– One winner will be awarded with $5000.
– Additional $5000 and technical support will be offered for the realization of the proposal if the work is decided to be realized for the exhibition at Art Center Nabi.


.Category 1 & 2 seek for completed works, and Category 3 for project proposal.
.Projects that are under development will also be considered for Category 3.
.Project proposal should relate to the theme and topics of the Award
.The works that are already presented or won in other competitions are not eligible for entry.


.All submissions should be processed through the official online platform.
.Biography, project proposal, and other supporting materials (image, sound, movie files) should be uploaded in appropriate format indicated in each section.
.However, the works applying for Category 1 & 2 should be sent via registered mail in the format of CD-Rom, DVD, Mini DV tape with a copy of filled-out online registration form printed from the website.

Please go to to complete your submission. (all submissions)

Mail address (Category 1 & 2 only):
Art Center Nabi [Att: Mobile Asia Competition 2006]
99 Seorin-dong, Jongro-ku, SK bldg. 4th fl.
Seoul, Korea


Deadline for Submissions
.Category 1 & 2: August 31, 2006
.Category 3: July 31, 2006

Notification of winners September 15, 2006

CONTACT: For more information, please visit
Or contact at mobileasia[at]

Art Center Nabi
99 Seorin-dong, Jongro-ku, SK bldg. 4th fl.
Seoul, Korea