June 11, 2007
Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VANET)
Turning cars into wireless network nodes
You can see above how vehicular sensor networks (VSNs) can be built on top of Vehicular Ad-hoc Networks (VANET) by equipping vehicles with onboard sensing devices. (Credit: Network Research Lab at UCLA) You'll find more details by looking at the MobEyes research project home page. This is one of the projects handled by the Network Research Lab at UCLA Computer Science Department, where computer science professor Mario Gerla and researcher Giovanni Pau are trying to turn your cars into wireless networking nodes.
As Gerla said, "We have all of these computer devices as integrated systems inside our cars. It's time to extend that concept. Computers are already being installed in many vehicles, and wireless capability will soon follow, so a mobile network deployment would only require the relatively low-cost addition of sensors to the vehicle's roof and bumpers and configuring the computer with new 'mobile' applications."
Pau added that the UCLA's team was using existing technologies. "We use standard radio protocols such as Digital Short Range Communication, or DSRC, combined with wireless LAN technology to create networks between vehicles equipped with onboard sensing devices. These devices can gather safety-related information, as well as other complex multimedia data, such as video. The most essential aspect of this network is that it is not subject to memory, processing, storage and energy limitations like traditional sensor networks. It relies on the resources of the vehicle itself, along with those vehicles around it."
Turning a car into a wireless network node might be easy to do, but what would be the benefits? According to the researchers, they are broad. Here are some of them. Day-to-day driving could be safer and more convenient; Drivers would have access to information about dangers within or near their mobile network, such as the presence of smoke from a forest fire; More importantly, the technology could also provide life-saving communications between emergency personnel.
The team has already built "a vehicular testbed to explore these issues and to study car-to-car networking experiments under various traffic conditions and mobility situations. With a successful field test already completed, Gerla's team has further plans to develop a UCLA Campus Vehicle Testbed, or C-VeT, through a wireless testbed environment called WHYNET."
For more information, you can read a technical paper published by IEEE Wireless Communications, "MobEyes: Smart Mobs for Urban Monitoring with a Vehicular Sensor Network" (Vol. 13, No. 5, Pages 52-57, October 2006). Here are two links to the abstract and to the full text of this paper (PDF format, 6 pages, 187 KB).
So when will see these network on wheels? According to Gerla, it could take five years because of two main reasons. First, car makers would need to add another piece of technology in the vehicles they build. And second, some of us might not like the idea of our cars transmitting information about where we are in real time. [source]
February 19, 2007
In-site Montréal: Curator’s statement by Michelle Kasprzak :: In-Site Montréal is a collection of site-specific art presented on the portal pages of five wireless internet (Wi-Fi) hotspots in Montréal. Artists Nicolas Fleming, Maria Legault, and Virginie Laganière have created artworks that may be viewed when users of the free service provided by Île Sans Fil log in to their accounts at the selected hotspots.
The five hotspots are rooted in specific spaces, each one with its own unique properties. The In-Site Montréal project grew out of a desire to augment the experience of place for Wi-Fi users, offering an additional layer of information within the hotspot environments. The artworks that are presented on the portal pages are inventive responses to the characteristics of the spaces that the hotspots inhabit.
“The window appears to look out onto a dataspace that continues beyond the borders of the window itself. [...] But the illusion quickly wears off. The window starts to feel more two-dimensional, more like a piece of paper than a portal. The view-space appears to flatten out, to the point where the window and the data contained within the window merge.”i
Here Steven Johnson is describing the effects of using a scrolling window on a computer screen for the first time, and I am referring to it (ever so slightly out of context) to illustrate a point about the works that are being presented within In-Site Montréal. The users of the Île Sans Fil wireless network are, arguably, all hardened internet users, for whom the complexities of scrolling windows and portals and most other graphical user interface-related things are trivial.
However, since they have reached the secondary stage that Johnson refers to, where the “window and the data contained within the window merge”, there are certain expectations for an experience that can keep pace with their ability to leap from hyperlink to hyperlink.
Portals, by and large, are clumsy. The portal that occasionally pops up on my screen, which is associated with my Hotmail account, assumes I am interested in all manner of celebrity gossip and sports scores, and regional news for an area that is 45 miles to the west of where I currently live. But the works presented as part of In-Site Montréal are not attempting to form part of a portal experience that would guess the preferences of each user. The works are dealing directly with the particularities of the site where the hotspot is, which is a small enough area to be clearly defined as a common element in each user’s experience. For the elite users, something at last may jump out at them from this flattened dataspace where things feel as twodimensional and familiar as a piece of paper. Instead of the usual hurried clicking to get past a familiar “roadblock” and get to the destination they intended to go to, they may now feel that the artists of In-Site Montréal have added an observation on their local café, library, or artist-run centre that matters, that they can respond to, that strikes them out of their reverie.
“A provisional conclusion might be that in advanced art practices of the past thirty years the operative definition of the site has been transformed from a physical location —grounded, fixed, actual— to a discursive vector—ungrounded, fluid, virtual.”ii
Parts of this definition of site – fluid, virtual – are key concepts that that In-Site Montréal works with. The layer of information that floats on top, as a meta- layer to the usual experience of café users in the Île Sans Fil network is meant to be something a bit fluid, virtual and unexpected. The only definition that it does not fit is that of “ungrounded”, precisely because it is the grounding in the site that sets this project apart. Maria Legault’s interventions with her Free Sugar project may be considered particularly grounded in the sites in question. She worked with two locations, Studio XX and Café Utopik, and developed an extension of her Free Sugar project around both locations. At Studio XX, a feminist art centre that primarily consists of an office space and computer lab, she created a performance event entitled the Free Sugar Salon, that was open for anyone to attend and have the holes in their lives filled with pink pudding. She filled cracks in the architecture of Studio XX with pink icing, and then turned her attention to the attentive public that arrived at the studio, counseling them and filling their mouths with pink pudding to console them. At Café Utopik, a café/bar that regularly hosts bands and spoken word events, she conducted a surreptitious intervention, filling crevices and holes in the architecture and surrounding environment of the Café with pink icing, and documenting it in photographs. Both of these projects are presented on the portal pages of Studio XX and Café Utopik as video documentation of these actions.
Artist Virginie Laganière focused on two very different areas: the Jean-Talon Market and the area around the popular meeting place, Café Utopik. Her site-specific video pieces were shot with regular video cameras, as well as custom camera rigs attached to her body. She then manipulated the footage further in the editing suite, adding her own compositions as soundtracks and prolonging moments that happened oncamera, providing us a moment to reflect on their significance. She specifically chose to document moments where people were not as present in these spaces, and where the patterns of movement in the “off-peak” hours would become more apparent.
Through her augmentations in the editing suite, she also aims to create a piece of work that allows us to see beyond our usual clouded and harried view of the urban environment, and enjoy a view of the built environment that is tranquil, constructed, and part of an aesthetic experience. In particular, her video piece presented on the portal page of the Jean-Talon Market, usually a place so buzzing with activity as to be nearly impossible to navigate, was shot in the very early hours of the morning, when market stall owners are setting up. This meditative and slow period of the Market’s activity is hidden from most of the Market’s patrons, and Virginie’s artful editing brings out the poetry in the stasis of these moments.
Nicolas Fleming's performance art videos also present us with an alternate view of our public spaces. His work is presented at Café Kafeïn and Laïka, because of both the subject matter that he chose and the locations that he performed in. At Laïka, an extremely popular and hip bar/restaurant/club, he presents se traîner, a piece wherein he drags himself out of his apartment (which is within the same building complex that Laïka is in) and down the stairs to an escape portal – an automatic garage door. Throughout the performance he can be heard grunting with the strain of moving himself in such an unconventional way, and by the end of this performance, he is clearly exhausted. Users viewing this video must marvel about this strange and strenuous test to his body, that took place in relative secret behind the scenes of the Laïka’s festive décor. In the other piece, traîner un dj, Fleming travels to Île Sainte-Hélène to encase a dj in a canvas sac, and drag him along the pavement, with the sounds of Piknic Electronique (Montréal’s outdoor summer dance club) pounding in the background. This work is presented at Kafeïn due to the dj culture that is resonant there; the dragging of a dj must be somewhat humourous to the clientele.
Telematics is a term used to designate computer-mediated communications networking involving telephone, cable, and satellite links between geographically dispersed individuals and institutions that are interfaced to data-processing systems. It involves the technology of interaction among human beings and between the human mind and artificial systems of intelligence and perception. The individual user of networks is always potentially involved in a global net, and the world is always potentially in a state of interaction with the individual.iii
The virtual spaces that In-site Montréal inhabit are amorphous areas around several accepted gathering places such as cafés, galleries, markets, and bars. They are perhaps places where as an internet user, you may intend to use the opportunity of connectivity to the network to look outward, to read news of distant places or connect with friends far away through e-mails and online social networking sites. The art practice of telematics in particular addresses the creative possibilities when two parties are connected over distance to communicate. In some way, the pieces presented on the portal pages of Île Sans Fil’s network as part of the In-Site Montréal project present something that is almost anti-telematic, in that the works look inward rather than outward. In the case of this project, a connection to someone across the globe is not sought, it is shunned in favour of a further examination and rumination on the details of the local environment. A local resident, who is perhaps used to the culture at Café Utopik, may be best able to chuckle at the video of pink icing being added to the sign above the door. This intense inwardlooking that these pieces commit to is the essential point of the project. Instead of seeking to look outward and connect with others who are in a radically different geographic space, In-Site Montréal hopes to reconnect locals with their own space, through the language of culture, compelling users of the network to turn their gaze inward enough to consider the cultural resonances that are possible.
- Michelle Kasprzak, 2006/2007
i Steven Johnson "Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the
Way We Create and Communicate" 1997 Harper Collins, New York. Pg 86
ii Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity, October 80 (Spring
iii Roy Ascott: “Is there love in the telematic embrace?”
December 28, 2006
... ok, the threat by mobile phones (to which she refers) just recently has been dismissed as no longer relevant, but nevertheless there are interesting relations and a fantastic worldview to be discovered at Mary Mattingly’s project website. [link to Mary Mattingly: Second Nature – a text on M. Mattingly’s photography.]
She developes a scenario which emerges around a ‘disastrous beauty’ according to an imagination where our actual and eventual technological developments are brought together with to-come-ecological changes. It all together impresses through the beautiful set-up and the quite carefully lay-out of a world to be – combined with changes already happening… Some of her most impressing images relate to the imagination of ‘wearable homes’. In her writings she describes quite clearly the process of thought and procedure of her project development:
In the design of the Wearable Home, I examine the cohesive threads of cultures’ and groups’ clothing throughout the world; from Inuit cultures to saris in India, Muslim, Hindu, Zen Buddhist garments, American Gap, Banana Republic, the Khaki Overcoat, muslin design prototypes, construction uniforms, kimonos, Dockers, safari camouflage, military uniforms, the blandification and brandification of garments spanning cultures worldwide to make one, general look de-emphasizing self and re-emphasizing everything else (collaboration, ideas, survival, modularity, etc.). I think this, over time, is a creative way to think about the outcome of mega-mergers and the illusion of choice, technology and the idea of utopia, as well as wiki-run systems. The result, then, may be that one wearer would be indistinguishable from the other, thus greatly alleviating the threat of the end of privacy. Our distinguishing features would be greatly masked in this context to the naked eye, however the pervasiveness and scrutiny of high-powered networks would still catalog our movements and whereabouts. (link) [blogged by mo on mind the _GAP*?)
February 18, 2006
Body as Personal Area Network
Chips that really get under your skin
"Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) presented a chip that is implanted in a user’s forearm to function as an audio signal transmission wire that links to an iPod. Many of the presentations featured devices that conserved power, though this chip goes a step further, harnessing the human body’s natural conductive properties to create personal-area networks. It is not practical to wire together the numerous devices that people carry with them, and Bluetooth connections fall prey to interference, leading scientists to explore the application of the human body as a networking cable. The Korean scientists augmented an iPod nano with their wideband signaling chip. When a user kept his finger pressed to the device, it transmitted data at 2 Mbps, at a consumption rate lower than 10 microwatts. Researchers from the University of Utah also presented a chip that scans brainwave activity by wirelessly streaming data through monitors in the hopes of creating prosthetics that quadriplegics could operate with their brain waves, though both projects are still in the preliminary research stages. (…) These chips are not something that will be included in one of Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynotes anytime soon." ACM Technology News. See Chips that really get under your skin by Tom Krazit, CNET News.com (see Microsoft patents body power by Matt Loney, CNET News.com) [blogged by nicolas on pasta and vinegar]
January 27, 2006
Wireless Networking in the Developing World
A new free book delivers a complete HOWTO for assembling and maintaining wireless networks in rural towns in developing countries. Wireless Networking in the Developing World was co-written by some of the world's leading community wireless experts, including Rob Flickenger, who wrote O'Reilly's seminal Building Community Wireless Networks and Wireless Hacks, wire.less.dk's Tomas Krag, and numerous wireless hackers of great skill and repute. Many of the contributors have built and deployed networks in the developing world, and they have released the whole text under a very liberal Creative Commons license that encourages others to build on their work and profit from it.
In almost every village, town, or city in the developing world, there are people who can build just about anything. With the right know-how, this can include wireless networks that connect their community to the Internet. The book addresses what Rob Flickenger, the book's editor and lead author, calls a chicken-and-egg problem: "While much information about building wireless networks can be found on-line, that presents a problem for people in areas with little or no connectivity", said Flickenger from his workshop in Seattle.
The book covers topics from basic radio physics and network design to equipment and troubleshooting. It is intended to be a comprehensive resource for technologists in the developing world, providing the critical information that they need to build networks. This includes specific examples, diagrams and calculations, which are intended to help building wireless networks without requiring access to the Internet.
In the developing world, one book can often be a library, and to a techie this book may well be a bible. Access to books is difficult where there are few libraries or book stores, and there is often little money to pay for them. "Our book will be released under a Creative Commons license, so everybody can copy and distribute it free of charge. That doesn't mean it is a 'cheap' book. I think it is a great book," stated Corinna 'Elektra' Aichele, one of the books co-authors who was recently installing wireless networks in Bangladesh. [posted by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing]
October 21, 2005
Will Web 2.0 Kill Cyberspace?
"...One of the key aspects of Web 2.0 is that it connects people so they can effortlessly participate in fluid conversations and dynamic information sharing. At the same time, computing devices are giving people permapresence on the Web through PDAs, phones, digital cameras, and a slew of other emerging devices.
Before now, you had to consciously go to cyberspace by sitting at a PC and looking at it through a window, in essence going to a place where you primarily observed and gathered knowledge. Not any more.
These days the boundaries between reality and cyberspace are becoming increasingly blurred and the activities on the Web are becoming more two way and integrated with reality, with the canonical example being the hypothetical Taxi button on a cellphone. With going into cyberspace no longer being a discrete step (folks are more and more always there now) and with the primary activity often being to interact with other folks transparently, and you have a folding of cyberspace so severe that it just disappears into the ether..." From Will Web 2.0 Kill Cyberspace? by Dion Hinchcliffe. [Related 1 + 2]
October 17, 2005
South Korea's "Ubiquitous City"
In what at first seems to be a throwback to the utopian urban visions of early 20th century futurism, South Korea is developing a "U-City" from the ground up, using bleeding-edge "ubiquitous" technology to monitor everything from citizens' medical records to garbage collection.
New Songdo City, being built on a man-made island 40 miles from Seoul, will feature pervasive computer technology throughout, driven by RFID tags and CDMA wireless communication. Although many Western observers would find the lack of privacy disquieting, Asian countries are more interested in the technological potential of such environments. Says John Kim, a Korean-American who is leading the planning for the U-City:
"U-life will become its own brand, its own lifestyle... [A resident's smart key] can be used to get on the subway, pay a parking meter, see a movie, borrow a free public bicycle and so on. It'll be anonymous, won't be linked to your identity, and if lost you can quickly cancel the card and reset your door lock.
"Residents will enjoy 'full videoconferencing calls between neighbors, video on demand and wireless access to their digital content and property from anywhere in Songdo.'"
With English as its official language, the city is designed to attract international business as a "free economic zone." The city will also feature ample open-space parkland and recreation facilities. The $25 billion project is slated for completion in 2014. Already, South Koreans are already applying for the chance to be among New Songdo's 65,000 residents. Sources: New York Times, Future Feeder. [posted by Brian on FutureWire]
October 11, 2005
A Key Component of Pervasive Games
"Abstract: In this paper we present how smart artifacts can become a crucial element in pervasive games. In our vision, ‘magical’ artifacts play two roles: first, they are very attractive game gadgets (such as magic wands), second, they are able to handle the game (implementing the main game logic). We claim that in some cases no infrastructure would be needed to play a game. Artifacts, as we present here, are carried by players (or lying somewhere in the game area) and communicating through a wireless network. The vision has been inspired by a number of ideas and ongoing projects on smart devices and middleware platforms." From Smart Artifacts as a Key Component of Pervasive Games by Michal Roj; workshop paper for the Workshop on Gaming Applications in Pervasive Computing Environments 2004.
Picking Pockets on the Lawn:
The Development of Tactics and Strategies in a Mobile Game
"Abstract: This paper presents Treasure, an outdoor mobile multiplayer game inspired by Weiser’s notion of seams, gaps and breaks in different media. Playing Treasure involves movement in and out of a wi-fi network, using PDAs to pick up virtual ‘coins’ that may be scattered outside network coverage. Coins have to be uploaded to a server to gain game points, and players can collaborate with teammates to double the points given for an upload. Players can also steal coins from opponents. As they move around, players’ PDAs sample network signal strength and update coverage maps. Reporting on a study of players taking part in multiple games, we discuss how their tactics and strategies developed as their experience grew with successive games. We suggest that meaningful play arises in just this way, and that repeated play is vital when evaluating such games." From Picking Pockets on the Lawn: The Development of Tactics and Strategies in a Mobile Game by Barkhuus, L., Chalmers, M., Tennent, P., Hall, M., Bell, M. and Brown, B.; Proceedings of UbiComp 2005, Tokyo, Japan.
October 07, 2005
Make A Baby
Skin Conducts Music
Make A Baby, by Lucky Dragons, is an ongoing series of experiments into the possibilities of using skin contact between performers as a means of transmitting and controlling data and creating a positive social environment.
Using a knit and applique rug with woven circuits as the touch controller, audience members are invited to participate, building up and breaking down resistive networks by 'passing' signals from skin to skin. Measured changes in these networks are used to play a series of software instruments, allowing for spontaneous bands of touchers to crystallize and disperse all over the place, at once, over and over. Lucky Dragons - Make a Baby, October 7, 2005 8pm, Machine Project, Los Angeles. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]
October 06, 2005
Visualizing the Future:
Dermal Nanotech Display
This nanotech dermal display is a designer concept, based on real nanoscience principles. Seattle-based designer Gina Miller, working together with nanotech populariser Robert A. Freitas Jr., describes the concept:
"In his book Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities [available on the web at http://www.nanomedicine.com/NMI.htm], Robert A. Freitas Jr. describes [in section 188.8.131.52 (page 204)] a "programmable dermal display" in which a population of about 3 billion display pixel robots would be permanently implanted a fraction of a mm under the surface of the skin, covering a rectangle 6 cm x 5 cm on the back of the hand. Photons emitted by these pixel bots would produce an image on the surface of the skin. This pixelbot array could be programmed to form any of many thousands of displays.
Each display would be capable of two functions: (1) presenting to the user data received from the large population of medical bots that roam the user's body; (2) conveying instructions from the user to that same large population of bots. The display could be activated or deactivated by finger tapping on the skin." The 3-minute animation of dermal display can be seen here. Additional thoughts of Mrs. Miller's at her weblog... [blogged on medgadget.com]
September 18, 2005
GLOWLAB.04 :: FORGOTTEN and more
GLOWLAB.04 :: FORGOTTEN--Our latest issue is now online, and features some great new projects by Glowlab and guest artists, including:
:: kanarinka--12 Inches of Weather; Weather experiments on the body :: Sharilyn Neidhardt --Into the Groove; Interview with musician and audio archivist Steve Espinola :: Emily Conrad--Lost Phone: 18,900 Google Entries; Lost phone in the back of New York City taxi. Last Friday, around 1am. It must happen all the time :: Sal Randolph--whereyouare; Join in documenting the endangered, lost, or ephemeral beauties of your neighborhood. whereyouare is a participatory experiment, mixing collaborative multimedia, folksonomy tags, and rss feeds to build a portrait of places that matter to us :: Holly Tavel--Xanadu Revisited; Two years on, Xanadu gives up the ghost.
With special guests: Leah Dilworth :: Lost and Found at the City Reliquary; Tour the City Reliquary, Brooklyn's store-front museum dedicated to civic pride and all around good neighborliness; Tianna Kennedy :: On Forgotten, Neglected, and Discarded Objects and Subsequent Utopian Projects Or, the Meandering Story of EV, which recounts the amusing first sally of the ingenious crew as they dragged a thing that had been forgotten from the Bronx to the Lavender Lake; Michele Gambetta :: The Rider Project 2005; The RIDER Project has been created by artists who rent a Ryder Company truck, retrofit it with walls, gallery lights, a generator for electricity, and create a mobile gallery to display art throughout N.Y.C.; Petr Kazil :: Urban Spooklights; Who wouldn't get excited by the appearance of a mysterious light in the distance - in a place where no light is expected?
Glowlab: Open Lab, curated by Christina Ray: A nine-week-long psychogeography festival and exhibition; October 14 through December 11.
Please join us this fall as we head up to Boston for our show at Art Interactive, a non-profit arts space dedicated to contemporary, experimental and participatory artwork.
In Fall 2005, Art Interactive is conducting a nine-week-long experiment. We have invited artists affiliated with Glowlab, a network of psychogeographers, to use the Central Square neighborhood as the site of their research and fill the exhibition space with the results of their investigations. PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY, a term coined by the Situationist International in the 1950s and appropriated by contemporary artists, is used to describe projects that produce affect in relation to the geographic environment. Rather than making maps in the traditional geographic sense, these artists utilize maps and geography to conduct located experiments with (among other things) people, trash, bikes, clothes, the sky and the gallery space itself. Often making use of mobile technologies and existing in the hybrid spaces of the Internet and the physical world, their projects produce new understandings of location and identity as shifting, fluid, singular and irreducible.
Central Square, Cambridge, MA, will never be the same again. Join us for nine weeks of public walks, talks, tours, workshops, concerts, group bike rides, and other ways of exploring the Central Square neighborhood. Each weekend of the festival, different Glowlab artists will be present to lead participatory public events inside and outside the Art Interactive space. Visit the online schedule at http://www.artinteractive.org/calendar for more details about upcoming events or email info[at]artinteractive.org.
Opening Reception: Friday, October 14th, 2005, 6 - 9pm
Gallery Hours & Location: Art Interactive is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 - 6pm or by appointment. The gallery is located at 130 Bishop Allen Drive, at the corner of Prospect Street in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please contact email@example.com, call 617-498-0100 or fax 617-498-0019. Press release with downloadable press kit:
September 16, 2005
Addressing Creative Possibilities
In the last five years usage of wireless networks worldwide and in the UK, especially in London, has grown enormously. Community networks, commercial providers and public sector initiatives have been turning to this now-generic technology to provide themselves with local, low-cost networks. As this technology hits the mainstream, expanding the potential scale and utility of these networks, Wireless London addresses the creative possibilities, policies, practicalities and potential of Wireless London.
We see that mobile, pervasive computing will fundamentally change how we work, play and communicate. We want to be able to modify that environment creatively, adapting and customising it as a public space. By researching and developing open systems and tools, and providing models for how these technologies can be deployed, we aim to create a demand for high technical and social standards by raising people's expectations and understanding. See Wireless London: NodelSoftArchitecture...
September 15, 2005
Node Thy Neighbor
Neighbornodes are group message boards on wireless nodes, placed in residential areas and open to the public. These nodes transmit signal for around 300 feet, so everyone within that range has access to the board and can read and post to it. This means that with a Neighbornode you can broadcast a message to roughly everyone whose apartment window is within 300 feet of yours (and has line of sight), and they can broadcast messages back to you. Boards are only accessible from computers that go through the local node.
Additionally, Neighbornodes are linked together, making up a node network to enable the passing of news and information on a street-by-street basis throughout the wider community. With access to your local Neighbornode, you can post messages to your local group board, as well as forward messages to other nodes in your vicinity. These other nodes can in turn forward messages to your node, resulting in a network of neighborhood message boards. [blogged by Samuel Rose on Smart Mobs]
September 13, 2005
Still Searching for the Social in Mobility
"In thinking about differences between Nokia and Motorola, and mobile tech industries in general, I browsed Matt Jones' and Timo Arnall's del.icio.us links, and a few things keep circling around my brain.
In a podcast of an interview with Anssi Vanjoki of Nokia on social computing, I got a slightly vague, but definitely people-centred, picture of mobile computing. Like Matt, I find their position to be generally encouraging, but I harbour some serious reservations about how industry seems to be incorporating ideas and pratices from academic and other cultural contexts.
Now, it strikes me that Nokia has been proclaiming this 'social turn' as the next big thing since at least 2000, and I'm not entirely sure where it's got them - or us. Should we really assume that all people everywhere want to collect digitial ephemera and log their lives as they go by? I don't mean to accuse or pressure the fine folks and friends who work for them, but what other kinds of mobile sociability can I look forward to? Are open APIs - or other solutions that assume technology is a mere platform or stage for social interaction - really the best we can do?
After 2001, when Motorola released Sadie Plant's report On The Mobile (pdf), I bet few if any people in the mobile industry kept up on, say, the resulting Nettime critiques, which exhibited their own biases and unsupported assumptions but nonetheless raised crucial questions about how to understand mobility and social interaction.
So, when Nokia says they support social or more "humanised" computing, what are they really talking about? What kinds of sociability? What kinds of humanity? And how can we tell the difference between marketing hype and the complex actualities of production and consumption?
Social computing doesn't begin in the hands of users. It emerges in discussions and decisions made in corporate boardrooms, government offices, design specifications, marketing strategies, etc.. Contrary to popular opinion, we're not dealing with discrete pieces here. Unless everyone acknowledges and becomes accountable for their roles in making and re-making technologies, no amount of openness or hackability or respect for users will lead to "social" computing." [blogged by anne on purse lips square jaw]
September 08, 2005
Cybersalon and Open Spectrum UK scan the horizon of wireless communications to explore its emerging landscape and ecology and present an investigation into Future Wireless.
Through three parallel strands of programming - practical, discourse and creative - Future Wireless features presentations, demonstrations, practical workshops, artistic interventions and debate to demonstrate and probe the nature, impact and potential of the wireless Internet, mobile telecommunications and other radio-based technologies.
Complemented by the Dana Centre's state of the art technological resources the organisers assemble an international group of cultural commentators, researchers, artists, free wireless network activists and developers to share their insights and speculate on the nature of a 'wireless future'.
Tuesday, 4th October 2005, 12-10pm
The Science Museum's Dana Centre, 165 Queen's Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5HE
Cost: £5. Email
Members of the press interested in attending or for further information, please contact Lauren Gildersleve at the Science Museum
Nearest tubes: South Kensington/Gloucester Road
Contributors include: Dooeun Choi, curator Art Center Nabi, Seoul, Korea; Peter Cochrane, co-founder Concept Labs (formerly CTO of BT); Bob Horwitz, co-ordinator Open Spectrum International, Prague; Adam Hyde, new media artist from New Zealand, with a special interest in streaming media, in both visual and audio contexts; Francis McKee, research fellow at Glasgow School of Art and part-time Head of Digital Arts and New Media at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow; and Marc Tuters, researcher in new media, University of Southern California's Annenberg Centre. The programme also features artistic interventions from SOMETH;NG supporting work from MA students at Ravensbourne College, Taxi_onomy and Troika.
Complete with a wired café-bar connecting it to people all around the world, the Dana Centre brings exciting, informative and lively discussion to people who want to talk about challenging and cutting edge topics in science, the arts and culture. Cybersalon aim to web cast elements of the programme live from the Dana Centre, enabling a worldwide audience to engage and interact with the event.
August 04, 2005
Sending and Receiving
The matrix...net of all nets
"...Indeed, radio — and therefore the beginning of all electronic mass media — is invented by receivers, not by broadcasters. One might modify Duchamp's famous quote that the onlookers make the pictures: "Ce sont les récepteurs, qui font les médias." And even though today it seems as if the broadcasters alone possessed all power over the mass media, there is an almost anarchical criterion, on which all is based and in which the power of the receivers has been preserved: In TV ratings are everything.
How could the power of the receivers be great enough to turn the entire media machine upside down and change it from a strategic into a distributive system? What fascination initiated all that constitutes our present-day electronicized worldview?..." From Sending and Receiving by Dieter Daniels, tout-fait, issue 2. [via]
August 01, 2005
Predict the Future by Inventing It
The fellows from Flexilis went for a world record attempt on reading RFID tags from a distance. The end result was a bit over 69 feet on top of the roof of DEFCON. Project details will be in our audio show, for now, a photo gallery of the gear....[via] [Speaking of world records, check out iFiber Redwire, winners of the Wifi Shootout Contest]
Every day new discoveries make it possible for hackers to steal data from mobile devices. You are at risk no matter what you carry. Cellphones. PDAs. Smartphones. All are potentially vulnerable to data theft.
Flexilis, Inc. starts as something simple and stunning: an idea. Through our collective vision and creative nurturing, the idea continues to grow, a concept metamorphosing into reality. The key to revolution is imagination; without it, change is impossible. By employing emerging technologies, flexilis possesses the potential to create entirely new industries or inexorably alter the course of existing ones. In short, we are capable of influencing the movement of technology, and, by extension, society itself.
Flexilis believes in the inherent necessity of taking controlled risks, actively seeking opportunities to create new markets and develop new avenues for implementation. The possibilities are restricted only by the limitations of our imaginations. flexilis will not only respond to the changes in emergent technology, but help to steer its course.
May 19, 2005
WiFi Bedouin @ Vectors
Call for Projects
What would you do with a mobile Internet?
Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular is seeking proposals for creative or scholarly uses of a mobile server/transmitter unit known as the WiFi Bedouin for inclusion in its Mobility issue to be published in late Summer 2005. Designed by Julian Bleecker, the WiFi Bedouin uses a portable 500mW 802.11b transmitter and Mac OS X based web server that is ready to receive your portable web content. The system includes basic software for web pages, group chat, an open blog and iTunes music streaming, but users are free to add custom software as desired.
We are particularly interested in projects that use the Bedouin to investigate issues related to the intersection of physical and virtual spaces and questions of locality, proximity, materiality, community, etc. Once your project or event has been completed, we will ask you to submit documentation of the project outcomes for inclusion in the Mobility issue of Vectors.
Please submit your WiFi Bedouin proposals to vectors[at]annenberg.edu by May 25, 2005.
Projects should be able to be completed and documentation submitted by
July 1, 2005.
Proposals should include the following information:
--Name of applicant(s) and contact information
--One sentence description
--Brief explanation of project goals and interests
--Approximate timeline for completing the project
--Previous work or experience in related areas
February 28, 2005
Ad Hoc Information Spaces
"Abstract: We describe the concept of ad hoc information spaces as a way of distributing information in an environment depending on user mobility and relative location. Ad hoc information spaces are realized using a decentralized approach to ubiquitous computing, which is based on functionally self-contained devices and ad hoc networking. Users are able to contruct and manipulate the properties of these information spaces by means of moving and manipulating a variety of devices. In order to explore the possibilities of using ad hoc information spaces to support group collaboration, three prototypes were developed: the Hummingbirds, the Generalized Hummingbirds and the NewsPilot. These are described along with some of the empirical findings that support their design." Ad Hoc Information Spaces - Johan Redström, Lars Erik Holmquist, Per Dahlberg and Peter Ljungstrand. [via]
February 20, 2005
digital cities project
urban database as feedback loop
The Digital Cities Project is a collaboration between several Canadian research insititutions exploring digital technologies inthe urban environment. As part of the Mobile Digital Commons Network they presented at the Pervasive and Locative Arts Network [PLAN] workshop at the ICA in London on February 01-02.
The project research basis: Over the past two decades, several nations have embarked on a “digital” strategy to become key players in the new information economy. Interestingly, despite the heralded innovations these technologies promise, most nations have pursued a similar use of space and place to build isolated multimedia cities. Our research project investigates and analyzes four such multimedia initiatives beginning with the Cité Multimédia and Technoparc in Montreal. This project investigates traces of the “digital city” and its networks, from multimedia districts to virtual environments and mobile devices. The role of technology in the city has been an important focus of cultural research.
While earlier studies have concentrated on urban infrastructure such as electrification and transportation routes, new communications media have given rise to technological systems and networks that re-order the city. Through the workings of new communications media, the social and technological apparatus of cities is transformed, altering the terms of urban theory and representation.
This type of feedback loop not only expands the site of the "interface" from computer terminal to the city, but also multiplies types of input to encompass both physical and virtual data. Our research asks what would happen if the feedback loop were inverted, such that the city controlled the data, and the data's performance were always measured against the changing tides of urban life. Such a circular interplay challenges the discrete status of data, and instead requires a process of continual re-situating and adjustment within urban context. In this sense, we are reversing the logic of the feedback loop, which attempts to maintain system equilibrium in the face of disturbance. By privileging urban dynamics as the "command signal" that guides the data, the database becomes doubly urban, both documenting and being shaped by activities in the urban environment to form an expanded feedback loop.
January 19, 2005
collective publication and syndication of mobile media
The Aware platform is a design tool and a production environment. It allows for collective publication and syndication of mobile media.
Working from the lowest common technological denominator to maintain flexibility and inclusiveness, a person can use whatever media capture-device they have available. More important is, what contextual information is associated - such as proximity, location, temporality, theme and event.
Aware focuses upon bundling these relationships, both automatic and given, to the media. Contributions are made via a networked-device, using common protocols such as email, SMS, MMS, or a custom application.
The Aware platform consists of three enveloping layers: interface, process, storage. The outermost interface layer is extendable, modular and reacts to project requirements - it is the layer people interact with when contributing and experiencing media. A process layer bonds the interface and storage layer together, translating data in both directions into formats that each element of the system can process. Meanwhile, the innermost storage layer is in essence a data structure that enables the association of media with context information.
There are two representable formats of this process - the packet itself (encapsulating the media and context information) or a feed of a series of packets, ordered according to certain filters. These formats may be distributed in human or computer-readable representations with graphical-user-interfaces, XML or RSS.
In this way, a person at the receiving end of these representations experiences contributions through casual browsing, subscribing to a feed, or with message notification, via interaction with a networked-device. The act of browsing itself generates filtered views, which can be saved as feeds, making them accessible for that person or for others. This feedback flow indicates the potential collective process in the sharing of mediated context and experience between people.
See projects developed with the Aware platform. Their project Rengo (based on a poetry practice originating from medieval Japan, based upon collective activity and linked-verse) explores mobile media participation logics, collaborative tools, self-documentation, design practice, mobile media projects and systems. Rengo was presented at ISEA 2004>.
December 29, 2004
Questioning the Frame
Thoughts about maps and spatial logic
"...Terms such as "mapping," "borders," "hacking," "trans-nationalism," "identity as spatial," and so on have been popularized in recent years by new media theories’ celebration of "the networks"—a catch-all phrase for the modes of communication and exchange facilitated by the Internet.
We should proceed with caution in using this terminology because it accords strategic primacy to space and simultaneously downplays time—i.e., history. It also evades categories of embodied difference such as race, gender and class, and in doing so prevents us from understanding how the historical development of those differences has shaped our contemporary worldview.
..." Read full article Questioning the Frame: Thoughts about maps and spatial logic in the global present by Coco Fusco, In These Times, December 16, 2004. Responses to the article culled from Locative and nettime:
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 22:26:27 +0000
From: Pall Thayer
Subject: [Locative] Questioning the Frame
hmmm.... I just wish she would mention some of the mapping projects she's talking about. She really seems to have a narrow understanding of what artists are doing with locative media. She seems to suggest that one of the problems is that the artists have too much control over the social picture that the maps portray. And other artforms don't? I'm going to have to read this through a couple of times to make sure I really understand what she's saying but after a couple of scans it really looks rediculous and I almost get the feeling that she regrets not being a "hacker".
Ewen Chardronnet wrote:
well, she always comes with interesting art critics and post-colonial discourses, but use same dialectics each time. I remember reading same dialectics in her critics on "art and science" hipe and "critical art ensemble trial" hipe. And now the "locative media" hipe... You can be sure there will be a critic on "pervasive arts" and "space arts" soon, etc. and of course better if those arts are done by white male artists
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 17:08:14 +0100 (CET)
From: Brian HOLMES
Subject: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
As a critic it's important to read your peers, and try to assess the pertinence of your own work in the mirror of theirs. So I was curious to read Coco Fusco's recent article on mapping [www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/ questioning_the_frame]. However, I must say that her continuous assertions of cultural authority leave me feeling highly ambivalent. On the one hand, the threads of historical memory she brings up are extremely welcome. On the other, her unwillingness to engage with current conditions and projects tends to reduce the past to a complaint: Why isn't it the present anymore?
It's true that the raw fact of being older than the majority of the people in a given crowd can make you feel uncomfortably lucid. When I went to a conference on so-called "locative" or GPS-based media at the RIXC center in Latvia, I found most of the projects quite naive, developing a few stylistic traits of situationist psychogeography in the absence of any geopolitical critique of power relations, or any philosophical critique of instrumental rationality. In effect, a Cartesian worldview has been built into the computerized technology of graphic information systems, which are undergirded by megaprojects of military origin, or what I call "imperial infrastructure." But rather than just giving a disciplinary lecture with all the answers stated in general terms, I tried to show how changing conditions had made the once-subversive traditions of psychogeography quite superficial, to the point where the aesthetic forms the artists were using seemed to render the very infrastructure of their projects invisible. And when I recently published that paper out of context in Springerin, I took the time to name all the artists and projects in question, so as to establish the precise referents of the critique [springerin.at]. I wish Coco Fusco would make that kind of minimal effort, as it would bring her sharp observations into contact with actual projects, and open up a space of possible transformation.
More to the point: When I began my work on mapping, about four years ago now, as a direct result of involvement in demonstrations against the policies of the WTO and IMF, I too felt that the most important reference was the history of the Third World movements of national liberation, in their relations to the Western civil rights and new left movements of the 60s and 70s. In an early text that was finally published in the book Moneynations, I tried to show how the very concept of the Third World, and then above all, the reality of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, acted to open up new imaginary and real spaces within the dominant bi-polar map of the Cold War [http://2002.memefest.org/en/defaultnews.cfm?newsmem=15]. I asked the question whether the emergence of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre could be compared to the Bandung Conference in 1955. Obviously, the answer was that it could not: both because the current antisystemic movements do not (yet) have the strength that Bandung represented, and because the operative modes of opposition may well have changed fundamentally since 1955.
The global importance of the Third World movements lay in the new kinds of international solidarity that they helped provoke. But something important remains unstated in Fusco's references to these movements, and this is the fact that the major links that tied them to the First World do not exist anymore (nor, indeed, do the movements themselves, for we are talking about specifically national movements in the period of decolonization). One of these links was an aspiration to create a non-Stalinist form of communism, according to the examples given by the successful Cuban and Vietnamese guerrilla insurgencies, and also by Yugoslav self-management (one must remember that the non-aligned movement came officially into existence in Belgrade). Another powerful link was the notion of cultural authenticity, or inherent difference from the Western norm, as a liberating foundation upon which newly independent nations could be built. This Third World concept served as a basis for the struggles toward a multicultural society in the First World. Today, however, the egalitarian aspiration to a self-managed communism has no objective touchstone in reality, leaving those who feel its lack in a deep state of ideological disarray. At the same time, the notion of cultural authenticity has been largely usurped by nationalist or fundamentalist projects which, although they have fortunately not eradicated all work towards equal rights in a multicultural society, have nonetheless made it very difficult to raise the banner of cultural or ethnic difference as a rallying-point for international solidarity.
Instead of relying on the old internationalist slogans (Third Worldist or proletarian), the transnational movements of dissent that gathered strength throughout the 1990s tried to use the communicative power of the discourses of human rights that had gained currency in the 80s, largely through the resistance of people in the former Eastern bloc to totalitarianism, and in Latin America to dictatorship. It was subsequently necessary, in the late 90s, for the Western participants in these transnational movements to take the further step of putting their own bodies on the line, of taking direct action against the international economic institutions, in order to go beyond the abstract character of the human rights discourse. This was a way of responding, in the overdeveloped countries, to the sacrifices of the many "IMF riots" that had been held, often at great cost of life, in what was now being called the Global South. Anyone who believes this step was taken by middle-class white kids acting on internet fantasies, in the absence of direct input from social movements around the world, quite obviously didn't go to any of the demonstrations and paid no attention to the planning process or the reports.
The point, however, is not to suggest that a brief flare-up of worldwide protest has brought about any substantial change. It is rather to recall what a difficult and long-term effort is really needed, both to grasp the way that transnational state capitalism now functions, and to articulate large-scale resistance. When Josh On [www.theyrule.net] or Bureau d'Etudes [http://utangente.free.fr/index2.html] make their complex charts of contemporary power relations, one can be assured that the cold and abstract character of the results is very painful to them. I can testify, particularly in the second case, that they are acutely aware of what is missing from such documents: namely, some affective indication of resistance from below, who does it, how they work and why. What has been achieved in such cartography projects, however, is a contribution to the very large-scale effort to rebuild a critical grasp of the oppressive forces that create the dominant map of the world. This kind of power-mapping is a necessary prelude to any effective resistance or counter-proposition. The fact that the difference between such efforts and the current military maps used by the Pentagon does not appear clearly on American TV is hardly something you can blame the artists for! There is a difference between general culture critique and constructive critique directed toward people carrying out specific projects.
Somewhat like Coco Fusco, I often wonder why contemporary artists appear so broadly unable to infuse the dominant map with representations of - or even better, direct links to - the many and diverse dissenting groups and alternative philosophies that are now emerging in the world, or that have remained active over decades. Unlike Coco Fusco, however, I don't think it's useful or necessary to berate artists today for not having been born earlier. The great philosophical frameworks of national liberation and egalitarian self-management that were able to articulate far-flung resistance movements in the past are inoperative in our time. The urgency is for real individuals of all generations, on all continents, to put their heads and hearts together and create new articulations. The specific job of writers and organizers is then to give those articulations conceptual clarity and popular currency, so that they can effectively challenge the absurd world-views presented on American TV.
As to artists, for whom the naked power structures of the contemporary world must now be quite visible, I encourage them to delve more deeply into the diverse efforts that are being made to resist the imposition of a homogeneous control structure on the entire world. This requires looking outside the boundaries of class, ethnicity and nationality, as certain artists and intellectuals of previous generations effectively did. To live up to the great examples of the past then means imagining something quite different for the future. Need it be said that certain kinds of imagination can serve as the first steps towards a transformation of reality?
Date: Fri, 24 Dec 2004 04:13:32 +0000
From: Saul Albert
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
To: Brian Holmes
I read both Coco Fusco's piece and your response with interest and a little bemusement. You addressed the lazy generality of CF's rant very well, and touched on a couple of things that provoked me to write back:
Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism?
Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic, but that criticism in your text is as widely and as targetlessly applied as Coco Fusco's. Many people are using these technologies (GPS/mobile phones/internet/high-tech gizmos), the social movements that you use as your reference points as much as anyone. In fact, it's not like we really have the choice about using these technologies , being subjects in a technocracy... and it's only out of the appropriation and reuse of these technologies that critique can form and attempt to reconfigure the social and political relations that produced them in the first place. Even on a non-technical level, using these technologies and observing their effects and deployment has been instrumental in the development of a number of political discourses: information and affective labour, precarity, [cyber]feminism etc. The critique develops as much from practice as practice develops from critique.
example: London Free Map - http://uo.space.frot.org/?node=LondonFreeMap
Jo Walsh and Schulyer Erle have been working on the 'London Free Map' This project encourages participants to walk, drive, cycle or skate through city streets with GPS units and then use the 'traces' of points representing latitude and longitude that these devices generate to help create publicly licensed geodata. They are also working on adapting existing open source software to enable people to annotate and extend these maps in a very flexible way. The example linked to above shows straight lines representing GPS traces made wandering the streets of Limehouse, East London, an area undergoing a huge urban regeneration process in preparation for the proposed Olympic games in 2012. The labeled points are the locations and names of approved planning permission applications made to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the last five years, automatically retrieved from the council's website and plotted onto a scanned out-of- copyright historical map of the area from 1916. This is just one potential use of the London Free Map, a way of visualising physical and historical changes to a space undergoing a huge social and economic upheaval. The potential for further uses and the development of new, as yet unimagined maps from this project seems evident.
Secondly, I found the distinction between these technologically specific, less overtly political projects, and the 'power-mapping' practices of (the wonderful) Bureau D'Etudes and many many others to be a bit thin. I know you share their frustration at having to use the language of power to map power, but the problem is not just in the inability of this form to represent the fertile heterogeneity of the social movements. 'Power mapping' deals in the currency of power, and its representational structure can reinforce the dynamics of the relationships it represents. More worryingly, the unnerving coherence of these representations can also become ised easily - the currency of power made visual, or (worse) 'data visualisation' knits neatly into artistic and authorial currencies and relationships that can become as reactionary and totalising as the military-industrial technologies you were warning against earlier.
I know you know this, your descriptions of the playfulness of the Bureau's maps illustrates the path they choose out of this bind : 'solidarity with aliens'. But people using similar or derivative techniques seem to embrace the solemnity and darkness of their maps without having the escape pod provided by their humour.
What encourages me about initiatives like the London Free Map and many of the projects in the orbit of the 'locative media lab' is that they often work, on a very basic level, to avoid totalising representations. To some extent this is emerging as an informal agreement on technologies, open Semantic Web standards and other esoterica that I'm not really equipped to explain. Also, many of these projects are based on public workshops, working with people and groups on producing representations of themselves, spaces, movement and relationships. Of course none of this is inherantly interesting. Public workshops and 'open' technologies carry their own wealth of dead ends, vices and travesties, but they certainly are politicised - and politicising, in a very different and more subtle sense than that of 'power maps'. The contingency on input from the map-users is the most obvious distinction between these forms of mapping and the two examples of 'power mapping' you mentioned. Of course this aspect of 'participation' in the making of the map is just as worrying in terms of which currencies it evokes, auteurship and the 'framing' of 'public use' in the interests of pseudo-ehthographic artistic value creation etc. etc.. But the locative media lab's engagement with corporations, the way some of it is like cheap corporate R&D in exchange for getting to use fancy devices, the links with 'community groups' funded and instrumentised by arts bodies, and with governments for use of geodata is all messy, difficult, and suspect, but necessary if the technology, and the discourse are going to develop.
This probably warrants more examples, which I'm too tired to start with now.
I guess the problem is that criticising something is difficult because you have to explain why, whereas blithering pleasantries about things you like is not so demanding.
keep up the good work brian!
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 2004 23:48:54 -0800
From: John Hopkins
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
>>Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism? Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic, but that criticism in your text is as widely and as targetlessly applied as Coco Fusco's. Many people are using these technologies (GPS/mobile phones/internet/high-tech gizmos), the social movements that you use as your reference points as much as anyone. In fact, it's not like we really have the choice about using these technologies , being subjects in a technocracy... and<<
Why no choice? If no choice, isn't that technological determinism to the extreme degree?
It is an incremental process -- each mile you drive onwards in your fossil-fuel burning device, or crank open the thermostat in the house, that drives the social system further onward in its dominance. (it propels the US military machine a bit further in its desparate mission to secure the true power/energy-base of the social structure that is is an integral part of). each time you don't do those things de-poweres that same system.
each time you watch one minute of centrally organized media you give that structure more power. each time you cross social-structural boundaries and engage an Other human directly, you depower those ordained structures.
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:32:20 -0000
From: "Armin Medosch"
Subject: Re: [Locative] A Reply to Coco Fusco
Hi Saul, Hi Brian,
let me first make some sort of disclaimer: I am happy that Coco's article (which I have not read, but can roughly imagine what it contains) triggered this discussion about locative media which was long overdue. I think many people have felt uncomfortable with the unarticulated political 'content' or 'meaning' of locative work but have not spoken in public. One reason for that might be that they felt, as I did, that there is a lot of potential in that field and that the (mostly young) people involved did not deserve to be bashed for all their good intentions, even though those intentions sometimes gave relatively weak results. Finally the lid has been blown off and that is a good thing. I now do neither want to argue for or against Saul or Brian but just throw in my two-pence. I also have to say that writing something really meaningful about that whole area would take at least a day and I simply don't have that time right now. So please excuse the immaturity of my words which are quickly written in a sort of email improvisation which I guess was once the spirit of internet discussions which is now often sadly missed.
Saul said at the very beginning of his reply:
>> Firstly, can we please get away from technological determinism?
What does this statement mean? It is indeed important to 'get away from technological determinism'. But what this statement should not mean is that we should not consider or discuss technological determinism.
>> Yes, the use of military-industrial technology can be problematic,
I would go further and say that 'can be problematic' is not strong enough. It _is_ problematic, always. The instrumental power that is contained in those technologies is a central issue of our time, and by 'our time' i do not only refer to the last couple of years or so but to the last 50 or even 100 years. Therefore I think such statements about technological determinism and military-industrial technology should not be used to quash any discussion about those issues. Those issues should exactly be the starting point of any discussion about 'locative' projects and indeed media art and net art projects. This is where the media art community has failed over the last 20 years which I was able to witness as a grown up person. It is one of the big failures of that community and possibly one of the reasons why it made so little real progress over that period of time. When I say 'real progress' I of course don't mean technological progress, of which we have seen plenty, but a progress in the social use of those technologies, in their accessability and applicability, in their ability to have an actual impact on the improvements of the situation of people.
I am arguing from a point of view of art that is based on a definition of art whose main reason to be is political. Such an art should be able to transcend the current power system. By 'transcending' i don't refer to metaphysics but to the actual socio-historic situation. In this situation and its projection of possible futures it should open up spaces, spaces for alternative ways of thinking, spaces that offer people different opportunities, for instance to realise alternative viewpoints outside the dominant system, or, more practically speaking, to be able to develop ways of resistance and at least limited ways of autonomy. Of course we cannot ask too much from art and the current level of oppression is so high, the ideology of technological determinism so deeply entrenched that it has become very hard to imagine anything that makes a real difference. But at least people should try. I am afraid I could not see that in most locative projects and in most of the discussions that have been had about the topic so far.
Most of the projects (I am aware that such generalisations without reference to particular projects are always lame but simply have not the time to go through bookmarks and list archives now) simply continue the master trope of the narration of hypermodernity, which is about expansion of technological mastery, coupled with economic growth, all under the banner of 'usefulness' for the people. This is how new communication technologies are being advertised. The mobile phone gives you freedom, it improves your social life, you can use it to form Rheingoldian Smart Mobs and if you put a little FOAF into it you can even realise alternative politicised virtual communities with it. Of course you can do all this stuff, it is even true. But by doing so, you are not leaving the established playing field, a field that has been established by the forces of techno-rationality in the service of capitalism.
I know it is a bit unfair to mention that here but the most significant 'locative' projects in that regard are Blast Theorie's mobile games. The critical content of those projects is nil. The whole thing blew up at futuresonica last year but most people could not read the signs on the wall. Of course their projects are resourceful, maybe well programmed, maybe even entertaining. But they are fundamentally affirmative of the world we live in and completely one-dimensional.
Now, to come back to the core question: it is simply wrong to ask if we are allowed to use military-industrial technologies. of course we should use them (and I do that by simply typing an email) but if we do it matters how we do that. do we contribute to the disguise of the political content of those technologies and thereby continue the positivistic narration of expansion and 'usefulness'? or do we use them to expose that which is always subconsciously present, that in this system, as Herbert Marcuse said 40 years ago, power is transferred into technological systems and that our dependency on those system makes us to their reified subjects? It is a general trait of this society that the powers that be try to cordon off the political. The positive side of things (technological things, gadgets, gps, pda's) gets highlighted but not what comes with it, not this hard to pin down element of power that has become nameless and faceless because
it has been inscribed in, is contained in the technological system.
Now, coming back to locative per se, I think Brian is right to say: "In effect, a Cartesian worldview has been built into the computerized technology of graphic information systems, which are undergirded by megaprojects of military origin, or what I call "imperial infrastructure."
Maybe he ment to say Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS combined with GPS and so forth truly signify the victory of Cartesian space over real space. Of course this victory is only a fake victory and never a final victory but it defines the current state of the arts in 'mapping'. Is it therefore forbidden for artists to use GIS? Of course not. The project by Jo Walsh and Schulyer Erle that Saul mentions, 'London Free Map' is a very good example. It is maybe not an art project but that does not matter. It tries to democratize GIS power, democratize in the sense of direct bottom up democracy and not fake vote rigging mind manipulating democracy (oh, that word, can someone suggest a better one?). It is experimental and utopian, it relies a lot on FLOSS and is probably difficult to use for people who are not tech-savvy, but that does not really matter at this point; it does not entertain in the way Blast-ed projects try to but that is effectively its strength. It involves fun, but of a different kind. We need more projects of this kind and we need a discourse that is better able to differentiate between projects that open up those other spaces and projects which simply fall into the technological deterministic trap.
I hope we can begin conversations that are critical and constructive and not about our personality disorders of which we all suffer to a certain degree, necessarily, because they are a function of that system we are subjected to. In this sense I agree that a lot of the 'psychogeography post-situationist' talk sounds naive. But at least it shows a desire to get away from Cartesian space and to reconceptualize the highly regulated spaces we live in. It makes a lot of sense to link FLOSS, art and the history and presence of liberation struggles, but that debate needs updates and rejigging too.
Hoping to be able to talk about those issues in a more elaborate way soon and also hoping to hear from other people now
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 02:21:22 -0800
Subject: [Locative] Don't be shy
While studying locative media projects, a computer user realizes the value in talking to people.
A romance of the aesthetic of the internet. Be somewhere, anywhere, it doesn't matter, "jack in" to the internet, and you're home, with your office and your contacts and connections. The presently inhabited city, be it Riga, Ljubljana, or Vancouver, is like wallpaper or decor in a restaurant. The principal interaction with the world is through the internet, and the information available there, the rest is somehow peripheral. So naturally when we approached the ability to make computing mobile and location aware, there seemed to be an answer of integration; finally the drift and nomadism would be informed and fulfulled with the power and potential of the network computer. All your revolutionary fantasies come true. Except the devices are retarded and complicated and expensive; they don't work properly, and they make you into a Steve Mann cyborg, someone more appopriately dressed for a mid 1990's DefCon hacker fair in Las Vegas than any part of life in public.
We tried to simplify the gear and determine what it was supposed to do, which was connect us to the network, make us contextually aware within that network, and informationally aware within that spatial context. The equipment had to be "naturally human", so that it is still possible to interact with the environment and the local culture without handicap.
No cyborg head displays or cybergloves, or star-trek tricorders. It also has to be inexpensive and uncomplicated and break-proof.
A beautiful natural language interface was developed (using selective evolutionary algorithms, no less). Billions of client terminals connected to a global information network have been deployed, planet-wide, that use this natural language interface.
They're called people.
Sitting behind my computer and obsessed with the internet for ten years, I totally missed the obvious connection that local people are connections to the whole network, the network of all information connections which includes the internet but also "old Joe Smith" with whatever he's got to offer. It's the same reason why I haven't needed a watch since I was 15 - someone around me always knows the time. The connection to the network is not limited to a GPS satellite signal reciever and a 2.4GHz wireless internet supercomputer laptop. Rather it's just a link to the next node with different information that what you can access on your own. The easiest, most locative way to access that network is by talking to people, and if these studies are urban, there's going to be people. Forget WiFi and GPS. Ask for directions. Ask the nearest person, or if you're aesthetically driven, ask the nearest good-looking one. If they don't have the answer, they might know someone who does, or can suggest an alternative. If they don't speak your language, they'll likely direct you to someone who does.
Maybe that's should be obvious. But as a bedroom caveman computer hack, to look around and find that this perfect system has already been implemented is amazing. It's multi-modal with multiple redundancies. Ubiquitous. Reliable. All-weather. Fuckable.
Maybe an internet legacy of the military paradigm has poisoned our preconceptions about the reliability and desirability of technology vs people. But if we are nice and friendly and not locally despised imperial soldiers, we don't have to bring all our knowledge in a computer. We can talk to the nearest person.
When I was in an busy new space I formerly looked around and saw great potential for overlaying great collections of information and data or media texture in location, if we could develop the system to realize it.
Now I see that this network is already in place, mobile info nodes are walking all around, ready to be engaged, connected to vast networks of people and information. Standard APIs. It's amazing. Sometimes you have to ask a bunch of times, even before you realize the right question to be asking. But if the information is there, someone has it, and you can find it.
The mention of technological determinism and political action, brought up in the context of locative media, seemed to make this "amazing" revelation relevant again. It has been called a serious political action to find ways beyond the gap between people in the very technically-focused and alienated population. Techno-fetish locative media projects made me realize how important and powerful it is just talking to people.
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 14:15:32 -0800 (PST)
From: coco fusco
In response to Geert's request, below is my commentary that was published in IN THESE TIMES recently. The comments were based on my lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in November, 2004. The series is entitled:
MAPPING / CULTURE / BORDER / HACKING /
and the school's description of the series is:
"This lecture series examines the work of artists, artist-collaboratives, and film/video makers whose works address or proceed from shifts in articulations of global culture, politics of the border and dilemmas of transnational or diasporic identities--identity as a spatial concern. Special attention will be given to artists who use the gesture and organizational logic of mapping, cartographic sciences and the grid to locate identity as well as its displacements."
I found this description so baffling and overladen with jargon that it prompted my response.
I have not had a moment yet to respond to Holmes's post. I found it a bit surprising that he would locate a response to an article in a left-wing Chicago newspaper on a list-serve with a primarily European readership (of his allies, I would add). A decision to locate his response HERE as opposed to THERE seems more like a rallying cry to his nettime readership than an address the substance of my argument or to the public in Chicago, a city with a long and venerable history of community and labor organizing, activist media, and radical black politics.
December 27, 2004
Emerging Infrastructures of All (Inter)net Research
Dr. Reinhold Grether's network research | netzwissenschaft site maps the "emerging infrastructures of all (inter)net research endeavours. net.science as an anthropology of connectivity is trying to overcome the constraints of specialist method transfers on net matters. the protuberance of technical networks necessitates a professionalization of human net knowledge. neither the isolation of concepts as in basic research nor the encapsulation of processes as in applied sciences will ever be able to adequately describe the complex autopoiesis of networks. net.science is undoubtedly developing into a scienza nuova of its own right."
November 15, 2004
"Our Automated Quirky Naturalist"
Mobile SCOUT A Mobile Phone and Web Public Art Project by Julian Bleecker, Scott Paterson and Marina Zurkow: are you in a concrete jungle or swamped by tourists? Who's around you, what do you see? A deer, a dump or a daydream? Saintly acts or sinful facts? Mobile SCOUT is a public art project that collects audio narratives of your local surroundings, personal rituals and public sightings. Using your mobile phone, you leave a voice message of your observations with the Mobile SCOUT Ranger, our automated quirky naturalist.
Turn your observations into a brief message about the flora (landscapes), fauna (characters) or behaviors (events) that populate your surroundings. Call the Mobile SCOUT Ranger - 1 (877) 564-3060 - he will guide you through the experience. [via]
When you call you'll:
* pick your mission (flora, fauna or behavior)
* pick two habitat attributes
* leave a recording
Further instructions for operating Mobile SCOUT are available at our online brochure. Mobile SCOUT defines place as being made of social habitats, not geography. Your recordings are organized into an audio/visual field guide according to the kind of space you occupy, be it play, work, nature, culture, public, private, branded or free speech. See the field guide and listen to recordings left by others by visiting the web site.
Mobile SCOUT was commissioned by "The Database Imaginary", an exhibition at the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Center, and curated by Sarah Cook, Steve Dietz and Anthony Kiendl. Mobile SCOUT was produced with support from BeVocal for voice application hosting.
November 09, 2004
Anxiety, Comfort, and Play in Public Places
Wireless Technology and Social Re-appropriation
Familiar Strangers: Anxiety, Comfort, and Play in Public Places by Eric Paulos and Elizabeth Goodman: The Familiar Stranger is a social phenomenon first addressed by the psychologist Stanley Milgram in his 1972 essay on the subject. Familiar Strangers are individuals that we regularly observe but do not interact with...While today’s mobile communication tools readily connect us to friends and known acquaintances, we lack mobile devices to explore and play with our subtle, yet important, connections to strangers and the unknown – especially the Familiar Strangers whom we regularly see. Will these systems provide a new lens to visualize and navigate our urban spaces? How will these systems provide an interface to strangers and unknown urban settings? What will such devices look like? How will we interact with them? What will they reveal about ourselves and strangers? Will they alter our perception of place? Of the strange and unknown?
October 13, 2004
Fixed Points Gathering Impressions
The Stadschromosmen (CITYchromosomes) project gathered thoughts and impressions of particular points around Antwerp and its districts that were shared via SMS. There were 25 ‘text points’, each inviting the submission of impressions about that place. After six months, a selection has been compiled into a booklet that combines the different ‘text points’ and gives an alternative view on Antwerp and its districts. The booklet (in Dutch) is available for download in PDF, plain text and a special version for iPods. By November 15, a complete English translation will also be available under the creative commons license.
"It’s been a fantastic, city-wide...event, put together against the odds and with very little support...by Stefan Kolgen and Ann Laenen of C.H.I.P.S, and including brilliant things like them spending a night turning all the city’s buses into Stadschromosomen text points and leading a walk with 200 recent immigrants round the city, asking them to text in their feelings about the landmarks of their new home town." FishArePeopleToo
STADSchromosomen is CityPoems’ sister project in Antwerp, Belgium, UNESCO's World Book Capital 2004. CityPoems and STADSchromosomen have 'twinned' matching locations in Leeds and Antwerp, to let you use your mobile phone to be in two cities at once.
October 06, 2004
Organised Sound: An International Journal of Music and Technology
Interconnection has always been a fundamental principle of music, prompting experimental artists to explore the implications of linking their computers together long before the Internet reached the public consciousness. As the Internet achieved critical mass over the past decade, networking technology took centre stage as the key to a vast new territory of possibility, facilitating remote participation, distributed processing, and redefinition of musical space and time. The Web emerged as a virtual venue for countless musical purposes, and as analog acoustics transformed to digital representations, packets of data carried by IP from one address to another became a modern metaphor for air molecules transmitting the tone of vibrating body to eardrum.
As with any new technology, applications of networking to music have evolved from naïve proofs-of-concept to more sophisticated projects, and we stand now at a point when 'internetworking' is taken for granted, novelty is expiring and artistic goals more often transcend technical considerations. From this vantage, the essential question is not how networking and music are combined, but why. What is the unique experience that can be created? Whose role can be empowered or transformed: composer, performer, audience? Where can sound come alive that it couldn't otherwise? Networked music can reinterpret traditional perspectives on stagecraft, ensemble, improvisation, instrumentation, and collaboration, or enable otherwise impractical relationships between controllers, sensors, processors, inputs, and outputs. The network can be an interface, a medium, an amplifier, a microphone, a mirror, a conduit, a cloud, or a heartbeat.
The network is all of us. Music is the sound we make. Listen...
Call for Articles and Works
Volume 10, Number 3
Issue thematic title: Networked Music
Date of Publication: December 2005
Publishers: Cambridge University Press
We invite submissions from composers, performers, artists and researchers working in the realm of digital media and sound. Submissions related to the theme are encouraged; however, those that fall outside the scope of this theme are always welcome.
Issue Co-ordinators: Margaret Schedel [gem at schedel.net] and John P. Young [sound at netmuse.org]. This issue is being prepared in collaboration with the International Computer Music Association (ICMA).
The theme represents many avenues for discussion including, but not limited to:
Networked control interfaces (hardware/software)
Distributed/remote participation (composition, performance, reception)
Virtual musical environments/venues
Aesthetics/philosophy of musical interconnection
Web-based music projects
Networked data sonification
Real-time remote sensing
Networking for fault tolerance
Emergent network phenomena/effects/behavior
Alternative musical networks (RF, MIDI, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.)
Strategies for mitigating network limitations (bandwidth, latency, etc.)
This issue continues the annual partnership between Organised Sound and the International Computer Music Association, with previous themes including "Performing with Technology" and "Collaboration and Intermedia." In exploring these prior areas, networking has emerged as a common element underlying a wide variety of innovative projects, prompting a more focused look at the mutual influence between networks and music. This should be no surprise in the electroacoustic field, where our machines are partners as much as tools, and working with other artists or often even solo requires connection between multiple machines. In the pre-network era, technical obstacles frequently dictated that much computer music occurred in relative isolation, with musicians expending precious attention acting as interpreters between hardware and other humans. So in one sense, networked music can be simply a recapitulation of acoustic music principles, of listening and sensitivity to other performers and audience, by enabling computers to participate equally in the musical conversation. Networking can also radically alter these traditional principles, most obviously by decoupling the spatial framework, enabling some or all of the participants to act and perceive without being physically present. Thus networked music is fertile territory for the composers, performers, and researchers that comprise the ICMA as both a potential means of overcoming challenging limitations of technology, as well as presenting new possibilities we have yet to imagine.
Submissions may consist of papers, with optional supporting short compositions or excerpts, audio-visual documentation of performances and/or other aspects related to your submission. Supporting audio and audio-visual material will be presented as art of the journal's annual DVD-ROM which will appear with issue 10/3. Related discussion will be located on the ICMA Array website, and additional multimedia at Organised Sound's Cambridge University Press website.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 1 March 2005
Notes for Contributors and further details can be obtained from the inside back cover of published issues of Organised Sound or from:
Email submissions should be sent to (please see SUBMISSION FORMAT above): os at dmu.ac.uk
Hard copy of articles (only when requested) and other material (e.g., images, sound and audio-visual files, etc.) should be submitted to:
Prof. Leigh Landy
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH, UK.
Editor: Leigh Landy
Associate Editors: Ross Kirk and Richard Orton
Regional Editors: Joel Chadabe, Kenneth Fields, Eduardo Miranda, Jøran
Rudi, Barry Truax, Ian Whalley, David Worrall
ICMA Representative: Mary Simoni
International Editorial Board: Marc Battier, Laurant Bayle, Hannah Bosma, Allesandro Cipriani, Simon Emmerson, Rajmil Fischman, David Howard, Rosemary Mountain, Tony Myatt, Jean-Claude Risset, Francis Rumsey
October 04, 2004
steps beyond the obvious
Esther Polak (Waag Society NL) and Leva Auzina (RIXC, LV) went some way towards rescuing landscape painting. They followed the driver of a milk truck through rural Latvia. He went through his daily routine of collecting up small amounts of milk from local people along a fixed route (in space and roughly in time). They traced the route using GPS units and software from the Realtime Amsterdam (and Riga) project. They took pictures, spoke to the people they met, and recorded interviews. In the end the GPS traces were inadequate. They had to sit down with the driver at the end of the journey with a map and pieces of paper and have him work through the broken traces with a pencil to produce a usable map of the route.
The result of the process was a very different view than photos, or interviews conventionaly produce. They had the drivers route, and maps, and time, and location to anchor point of view differently. They had misty pictures of people carrying milk churns through the countryside. But they also had a rich anchor for the systemic, subjective and spatial context; and more explicit than a literary or filmic narrative conventionally works with. The maps were generated by the people. Both implicitly, and explicitly as the man made sense of the journey he followed (six days a week) with a pencil, and a paper map, and GPS trace fragments.
The follow up thoughts were to trace the milk the next step of the way to the people who ended up drinking it (or consuming it processed into food). This opened up the idea of being able to trace what you consume or produce, right to producer or consumer. And further, open a dialogue between the participants in this cycle of production, distribution and consumption.
From an artists perspective it is now possible to (relatively easily) location stamp digital art work. The place where a work was made, or to which it refers can be logged using GPS for example. Work can be explicitly associated with a place digitally, and then 'found' according to spatial criteria: 'show me all the work associated with this place'. In mobile device terms, work can be accessed actually at a place predetermined by the artist or by the search criteria of the accessor.
How this is interpreted (conceptually and technologically) is up to artists, tool makers, and users.
Filmmakers for example can trace the spatial movements of the camera. Authors can place the next chapter at a new location. Musicians can spontaneously choose a location to perform and generate the audience through a combination of mapping and communications. Festivals, warehouse parties and rave variants have been working on these ideas for many years now, transforming dislocated spaces into gatherings though a disparate range of media.
In Karosta an audience of local people and workshop participants was led out in the dark through the woods to a clearing marked out by a circle of candles where Cheryl L'Hirondelle Waynohtêw was singing. Some way through, the audience (also singing) moved the circle of candles in closer, to make a smaller stage. The candles hinted at location aware, networked lights. You could have a lightweight portable stage that could be followed around, found and mapped on the net. Temporary, portable, visible (both visually and electronically), and findable architectural elements that would fit into a backpack.
Orientating usually requires a conversation with people who know where they are already. These conversations often serve to challenge the inhabitants of a place as to what their place means. Pete Gomes [Parkbench TV, UK] and Gabriel Lopez Shaw [US] found a group of local russian kids to show them around Karosta so that they could film. In the end the group made the film together. The kids found the locations, acted and improvised. Pete and Gabriel logged the locations and showed the kids filmmaking and GPS (the russian kids had long term access to film making and editing equipment through K@2 the Karosta based art project hosting the locative media workshop). Karosta is a very strange place, a borderland between cultures and times. The film explored Karosta in terms of dislocation and location, and its quality as a portal in time and space.
Inside K@2 Jo walsh sketched out an RDF schema for describing located media objects:
"We set out to develop a data structure for 'locative media'. This is partly a holding-place; an open standard format that can be simply re-purposed and re-represented. RDF was chosen because it allows metadata freedom; rather than the prescribed structure of a table with fixed relations to other tables, the underlying model is a graph of connections. 'database' carries the wrong connotations; this is more of a data model, a world model."
from Wilfried Hou Je Bek's database cartography; 'Mapping the patchwork of the street grid as a pattern of connections enables the cartographer to organize them in relativistic space.'
In this locative world model, the atomic unit could be the 'Packet'. A Packet is a state of affairs in space and time. Each Packet can be found at a unique URL on the web. the Packet is tagged with properties; these can be concrete, like latitude and longitude and timestamp, the packet's creator; or they can be abstract, descriptions of moments, feelings, smells. The 'tags' come from shared vocabularies which are published on the web." [see http://locative.x-i.net/karosta/]
All through the workshop participants and locals were focused out towards the surrounding area, trying to corrolate all media generated with location acquisition. Locals and artist going out would take a GPS and try and log location while taking film or photos or writing notes. Using the Waag society's realtime handheld tracking tools and the local GPRS network artists outside the K@2 center could be tracked and there journey traces visulised. Cheryl L'Hirondelle [CA] and Mari Keski-Korsu (FI) were monitored at K@2 after their trace went static for several hours (as they got more and more drunk on a beach with a couple of locals until one of their wives turned up).
Over the course of the workshop a whole sequence of journey traces was generated, enough to build up a subjective map of Karosta.
One night the workshop coordinator Mark Tuters [Locative, CA], with the Latvian electronic musician Voldomars Johansons [LV], and two of the RIXC staff went skinny dipping in the war harbour at 4am. Taking only themselves and a glow stick into the water they returned to find their clothes, and more importantly, the huge symbolic Jungian key to the K@2 centre, had disappeared. Marc turned up at the door with Voldomars behind him and red marks on his neck where one of his RIXC colleagues had tried to strangle him, still carrying the glow stick. Over the next few days all the clothes were found scattered imaginatively throughout the surrounding area.
One of the results of the workshop was a clearer understanding of the practical extant to which location adds a new dimension to media in social, artistic and technical terms. Locative media is a practice and it changes the way users relate to space and their work and each other.
Their were more theoretical aspects to the workshop. A number of the participants had backgrounds in radio.
A discussion between Zita Joyce and Adam Willetts [NL, NZ], radioqualia's Honor Harger and Adam Hyde [UK, NZ], and Ben Russell [Headmap, UK], focused on 'spectrum geography'.
Radio has always had an implicit and explicit connection with geography. For example the power and properties of a transmitter, determines the geographical region it can cover. Radio is a space altering technology, a property that can be articulated and used in many location and community related ways
The electromagnetic spectrum has a geography that can be mapped (see FCC frequency allocation tables), and that can be visualised spatially (see Fiona Raby's 'Flirt' and Anthony Dunne's book Herzian Tales)
Spectrum and space share the fact that they both seemed like finite resources. Now with advances in computing, one piece of spectrum can be divided up almost infinitely. Parallel advances in locative technologies mean that one piece of land can hold an infintite number of digitally mediated constructs and annotations.
Mobile phones which are essentially complexly networked walkie talkies, that use the landline marketing strategy. Instead of selling the open channel, you sell call time on a temporary connection. IP telephony (the word telephony encodes the marketing model) has no reason to follow this model, the infrastructure is already there, no additional exchange or network needs to be built. Open channels are as easy as finite, time limited (and costed) channels. Quake players for example use open channels, for no additional cost. The business model shapes the experience.
The sale of domain names, the primary method of taxing the internet, involves selling something which does not really have a value in the sense that domain names are only vaguely a finite resource and are just an entry in a database.
In the tracking industry there are also parallel examples. 'Geo fences', that is establishing an area and triggering an action if a tracked object enters or leaves that area, are already marketed and sold by some companies despite being a short entry in a database.
Marketers working on location awareness as a business model are going to be working to produce more examples of concrete sounding products which are actually trivial to activate, and involve no (or very little) effort to maintain once the structures are in place to run the larger system. Beyond artificial restrictive walls, marketing also has a simplifying and describing function.
Effective use of locative technologies requires hardware evolution. But also new metaphors that can underpin new interface concepts, that generate new ways of understanding and using the intersection of space, locative hardware and locative software.
Finding innovative uses for locative media probably involves using it for a while rather than endlessly trying to imagine the steps beyond the obvious.
Distributed Form: Network Practice
Dominant Spatial Paradigm
Distributed Form: Network Practice, University of California, Berkeley, October 22-24, 2004
"Recent developments in information technology have resulted in the entrenchment of networks and distributed systems as the dominant spatial paradigm, effectively challenging fundamental design issues of autonomy, originality, place, practice and form, which reconfigure disciplines through the implementation of distributed logics and collaborative 'open' practices. As a benchmark, this conference will analyze how the disciplines of art, science and architecture are responding to rapidly changing mobile, wireless, and information-embedded environments.
The conference will be organized around a multidisciplinary framework operating at three different scalar levels: At the Meta level, the conference will first address Form and the Network, raising issues of architectural morphology of and within networked society, by building a provisional history of networked design processes and production.
The second session, Form and Technology, will consider current research on the relationship between experimental digital technologies and emergent form.
The third panel, Micro: Form and Operation, will address theories of operative design strategies, social relationships and bodiless form.
The fourth panel, Mega: Form and Presence, will investigate how larger scale networks and their reconfiguration of time and space are altering professional design practices, while critically considering a logic of connection as the primary site of design."
September 26, 2004
Without the Net
Douglas Rushkoff's Networks Without the Net initiates an exploration of what a wireless network really is. Referencing the work of Julian Bleecker (WiFi Bedouin), MediaLab Europe (tUNA), and Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki (umbrella.net), he suggests that "Just as the Internet fostered a global connectivity for users pinned to their desktops, the wireless network--by going along in one's pocket--... enhance[s] users' connections to their immediate environments and temporary communities."
Rushkoff's concern is that software developers begin to think of wireless devices as "quite capable of constituting new networks, all by themselves," networks that are Internet-independent and focus us on our local environments.
You might want to check the "locative media" on this blog and articles like Kate Armstrong's on location aware fiction. They add strength to Rushkoff's insights and argument.