Sunday, July 31, 2005

Mobile Collaboration at the Tabletop

I came across this interesting paper called Mobile Collaboration at the Tabletop in Public Spaces by Jacqueline Brodie and Mark Perry of Brunel University. It discusses some implications for furniture and devices -- what are the physical forms that are needed to support face to face meetings, both devices and furniture ("roomware"). They make the point that computers are designed for solo use and it's quite difficult to share them. This facilitates their use in quite a hierarchical way, where one person controls the device while others are onlookers.
Also it is not enough just to have the device, from their research (and from observation) you need a tabletop to use the computer. Although portable computers are called laptops, they are virtually never used on one's lap! There are interesting implications for better design of furniture, hardware and software to enable people to make use of computers while on the move.

I would extend that to implications for public and semi-public (e.g. coffee shops) spaces which host people on the move. Should they have specially designed furniture to go with the (inevitable) wi-fi? Should the space itself be shaped and designated for computer use? Again, the British Library exhibition of wi-fi furniture was very relevant.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Space is the Place

Just trying to summarise and analyse stuff I have been reading...

At the moment, ICT provision for developments and public spaces is generally at the level of the infrastructure: cabling for the buildings and maybe some wireless access for public spaces. In the future there will be tools to help navigate the spaces and perhaps make them more 'livable' accessible via devices (e.g. phone, pda, ipod etc.). Ben Russell's Headspace talks about needing to provide interfaces to new developments. Examples of the kind of solutions that could be available would be: upmystreet (information about the area); social networking tools (to get in touch with people); podcasting (download tours of the area); local google (find services)... All will be available in the space via mobile devices. Some would also be available outside the space (the informational kinds), and some would only be available in the space via location aware devices (more interactive kinds).

Questions: who pays? All these things are currently free, and don't cover all areas. Might a local authority or developer decide at some point that these things are worth paying for? Might local people pay for them? Would advertising sustain them? Might volunteers build them?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Manifesto for a Digital Britain-- IPPR

Haven't read this yet, but I will... From the Institue for Public Policy Research: Will Davies's latest report-- Modernising with purpose: Manifesto for a Digital Britain.

Urban Screens

sounds like an interesting conference:
URBAN SCREENS 2005 is an international conference ranging from critical theory to project experiences by researchers and practitioners in the field of Art, Architecture, Urban Studies and Digital Culture. It addresses the growing infrastructure of large digital moving displays, that increasingly influence the visual sphere of our public spaces. It will investigate how the currently dominating commercial use of these screens can be broadened and culturally curated. Can these screens become a tool to contribute to a lively urban society, involving its audience interactively?
Read more about the conference topic and its background in the introduction.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Strange times in that London

All kinds of terrible things have happened here since my last post. Thankfully neither I nor any of my family or friends have been caught up in them (bar one friend who was on the tube train behind the bombed train in Edgware-- not injured though). Although the incident at Warren Street on Thursday was a little too close for comfort... I can see Warren Street tube station from my desk. I wasn't in the office (again, luckily), although my colleagues were marooned inside the building until they got the all clear from the police.

There has been a lot of comment about the use of mobile phone cameras to capture images of the bombings and their dissemination through print and television. There were hundreds of images on flickr within a short time of the first (sadly not the last) bombings on the 7th of July. Interestingly some were still images from the television (Sky News was a popular one) while at the same time the television networks were showing images taken from mobile phones. Somewhat circular.

This site is symbolic of some Londoners' defiance straight after the first bombings-- it was put up straight after the incidents (as the London Underground refers to them) on the 7th: It's got thousands of images with the strapline 'We are not afraid'. It's getting a lot of attention. Another small act of defiance happening sometime towards the end of August is the tubechallenge-- apparently groups of people race around the tube network on a regular basis trying to cover the entire system in the shortest possible time. This one is open to all though and will be in aid of the Relief Fund for bombing victims. Sounds great but I for one am avoiding the tube as much as possible... I don't think I'm alone given the huge upsurge of cycling around central London. A new game has sprung up among some of my friends: 'Spot the Novice Cyclist'. I approve of cycling (although I don't cycle myself) so I think they are all to be applauded for giving it a go.

The spirit of the blitz is being invoked often in the media, though less so these days among the populace at large. My grocery delivery is late because the police found one of the suspected bomber's cars in East Finchley today, causing huge traffic jams. Seems churlish to complain though. So I didn't.
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