Saturday, March 19, 2005

Mobile phones and the digital divide

From the Economist... availability of mobile phones has more impact on economic development in developing countries than access to the Internet. You don't have to be able to read to use a mobile phone... plus you don't need electricity. Another article reports how people on the ground see use of ICT as a development tool, unsurprisingly any benefits are mainly seen by those who are literate and in reasonable health.
One of the problems of realising benefits (where they exist) is that it's very difficult to quantify the benefits economically. Some work in this area was described by Professor Nicholas Crafts at the London School of Economics on Tuesday. He compares the economic benefits of ICT vs the Steam Engine.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Irish architecture website

this is a great site...
with an excellent discussion forum

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Howard Dean's Software Spawn

From Scott McMullan's blog, I read about a new platform called CivicSpace that "empowers collective action inside communities and cohesively connects remote groups of supporters." It's built by some people from Howard Dean's campaign so it's the Son of software from the campaign.
So what does it do? From the website, it allows communities (define how you wish) to organise themselves online-- by publishing blogs, photo galleries, running mailing lists and forums, send targeted mail, collaboratively edit and publish documents, organise events... lots of collaboration functionality. There are currently 103 websites using the software-- mostly for political purposes right now, but there are some other types of users (poets and foxhunters).
Sounds like a very useful tool... I wonder how easy it is to use.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

New Century Cities- MIT

Very interesting joint research initiative at MIT called New Century Cities 'focusing on a new generation of development projects... at the intersection of social policy, technology, urban design, and real estate development'. Bill Mitchell (author of ME++ and eTopia) is on the faculty. Their recent symposium looks interesting-- particularly the session on SENSEable City Technology.

How many cities have wireless broadband networks?

The answer is in this new report from Muniwireless on municipal wireless broadband deployment- available here. Very useful round-up of city projects-- the author, Esme Vos counts 110 city and regional wireless broadband networks and a further 12 in the works.

Friday, March 04, 2005

New book: Remote

well, new to me: a collection of essays on creativity, technology and remoteness entitled Remote, edited by Emma Posey. The essays 'consider the new geographies that information proximity and material distance have produced'. It stems from a conference entitled Remote I held in September 2000, programmed by B10c (the creative technology agency for Wales) and hosted at the University of Wales. I haven't read it yet, but a couple of essays leap to my attention-- one entitled Cellular Flanerie: relationships between mobile networks and the built environment by Lucy Kimbell, and another called Out of Office, Out of Mind: the social role of telework for people and companies by Britt Jorgensen and James Goodman. Hopefully will have a chance to read and review soon.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

4dspace: Interactive Architecture

I attended a launch event for the latest edition of Architectural Design entitled 4dspace: Interactive Architecture at the Architectural Association in London last Thursday. The guest speakers were Vicente Guallart, Ole Bouman, Michael Weinstock, Lucy Bullivant, Jason Bruges and Tobi Schneidler.

Interactive Architecture is an emerging form of architecture that deals with responsive environments, whether they be workplaces, homes or cultural environments. The 4th dimension refers to time-based digital technologies. Ole Boumann explained this as a shift from place to time based environments. I guess this means that place is no longer the only means of bringing people together-- once a time is set, they can 'meet' in 'cyberspace'*. Boumann felt that the function of architects was to establish social relations spatially, and now temporally. I wonder if friend of the Architect, Prince Charles, would agree... I'm not sure I understand the rationale for architects being the best people to do this either. Is an ability to design places in real space necessary or relevant to designing 'places' in virtual space? What are the commonalities?

Anyway, Lucy Bullivant, the guest editor of this issue of Architectural Design, told us that commissioned works in this field tend to be in museums or other cultural spaces. She cited the Churchill Museum in London and the upcoming Battersea Power Station development. Other interesting realised projects were presented by Jason Bruges including an LED light sculpture on the A13 commissioned by the borough of Havering.

*I hate the word cyberspace. I'm not entirely sure why.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New applications from MySociety

Upcoming projects from the people who brought us and I like this one in particular-- PledgeBank. The idea is that people would like to influence good causes but don't like to act alone. PledgeBank will let people pledge that they will do something if so many other people pledge to do it too. Interesting to see how it might be used by charities or even privately.
I also like GiveItAway which will help people to donate their stuff to charities. Might it be an ebay for donations? This could be really useful.
Interesting contrast between their approach (bottom-up low cost solutions built by a non-profit) to the more top-down approach of the National E-Markets (market run by corporate private entity).
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