inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #76 of 280: Tim Pozar (pozar) Sun 24 Nov 02 17:10
One application for the near future and dove-tailing into your 
"Shibuya Epiphany"...

In April of 2001 when I was visiting Tokyo.  I was there for several
weeks and got a chance to run around Tokyo and the vicinity a bit.
In Shibuya, Roppongi and Akihabara, or some of the wealthy and hip
sections of town, I did see these flocks of folks with their cell
phones.  I found it amusing that on subways either folks were
sleeping, reading manga or using their cell phones.  It was instant
messaging at its best.  A pure democratic form of the medium.  How
did this become so popular so quickly?  Partially not only the price
of the phones but the service is amazingly cheap (although data over
these phones runs about 1.20 USD per MB of data).   This will change
soon as they are deploying 802.11a/b/g everywhere now and phones
will speak and roam between 3G and 802.11.

Chatting doesn't take much data.  What will, is video streaming.
This last trip (got back yesterday) to Tokyo I saw a number of
phones that will take still snap shots or stream at a low frame
rate to other phones.  Ma Bell's picture phone is finally here.
What would happen if wireless bandwidth is flat rate and cheap and
everyone has a video camera that can stream?  I suggested to a
friend that Peter Gabriel's Witness ( program
look into buying these phones and skip the cameras they are using.
This way the cops can't club you and steal your tape.  It would
already be captured "off-site".
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #77 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 17:29
Moblogging is already breaking out. Justin Hall coined the word for mobile 
blogging, especially among an affinity group (which tend to emerge among 
clusters of blogs, anyway). Hiptop Nation uses the Danger Hiptop from 
T-Mobile. The content is nothing profound -- but it IS worldwide and 
instantaneous. When I talked at the Commonwealth Club, someobody snapped 
my picture and posted it.

Hiptop Nation:

Hiptop photoblogs me: 

Justin Hall on moblogging:

These of course are just early early indicators. There's another 
virtual/ftf community blog in Finland that also has an SMS (mobile text 
messaging) gateway: <>

The obvious possibility -- also pioneered by Steve Mann -- is peer-to-peer 
cyborg journalism: swarms of observers who are always equipped with 
wireless video capability. But who knows what kind of nutty stuff people 
will come up with when sufficient numbers have their hands on many-to-many 
mobile media?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #78 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Sun 24 Nov 02 17:58
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #79 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 20:39
Noise is always part of it. Not everything that was printed changed the 
world. But some of the things that were printed did. Not every phone call, 
email, website, online discussion has been significant. Some have. 
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #80 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sun 24 Nov 02 20:43
India holds off on plans to tap and filter SMS.,4386,156823,00.html
Indian mobile phone companies have been rattled by a government plan to 
tap into SMS services to combat 'cyberterrorism', a report said yesterday.  

The Indian Express said companies had managed to stave off the plan so far 
by pleading they did not have the necessary technology.

They believe subscribers would see it as an invasion of privacy, and are 
also worried about the technology cost.  

'While we are ready to cooperate with the government on security issues, 
there is a need for the government to be practical in such matters,' said 
Mr B.K. Syngal, vice-chairman of BPL Mobile.  

Cell phones have often been recovered from militants in India by police, 
who say they could be using SMS messages to coordinate attacks. However 
industry officials say monitoring SMS is unlikely to improve security as 
it would be an enormous task to sift messages.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #81 of 280: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 25 Nov 02 07:51
In post 75, Howard, you bring up a part of htis we haven't addressed
much in our conversation here. We've discussed "The Next Social
Revolution" in terms of mobility leading to pervasiveness. So, you get and collective *intentional* action. But pervasiveness can
also arise on account of miniturization leading to embedding
networked, clever chips in everything.

You mentioned the frequency of image capture people face in
contemporary urban environments above in the discussion. If image
recognition were good enough (and I think that's less likely than you
appear to think), a given street corner could behave differently
depending on who is there. "Hoodlums" on the street? Jam cellphones,
say. (It could be even be a kind of punishment.) Or alert the police to
make a swing by to show the flag (or look for a cause to stop). Large
proportion of children on the corner? Change the advertising signs to
trigger pleas for the merchandise available there.

Pervasiveness as a result of embedding can "smarten" locations,
environments, and objects. I thought that was one of the more
outrageous possibilities you took on in the book. How might they come
to pass? Who would be in charge? 
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #82 of 280: a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Mon 25 Nov 02 08:09

ugh. Location-based spam. I sure hope ordinary folks will have
some say in how their devices interact, and with whom.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #83 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Mon 25 Nov 02 08:57
In regard to mobile spam, I think operators are both a centralized point 
of control -- for better and worse -- that hasn't existed on the Internet 
(ISP responsibility has been too diffuse for them to totally control 
spam), and have a huge incentive to stop spam: If consumers get spammed on 
their phones, they will turns their phones off. Another classic arms race.

In regard to information in places, I think we'll see changes in the way 
people use cities and the way people use different institutions within 
cities. It is already possible, with existing technology, to connect 
location-awareness with web-based mapping services: "I don't know where I 
am -- how do I get from here to fifth and main?" Simple wayfinding could 
be a killer app for location-based information services. 

More intriguing is the notion that Steven Johnson emphasized in 
"Emergence." Cities and neighborhoods exhibit the results of emergent 
behavior on the part of millions of people who decide to frequent 
different neighborhoods, vendors, restaurants, hangouts, and thus change 
the character of cities. Will the people at fifth and main have something 
to say about the information people will obtain about that spot or on that 
spot? Or will it be the corporation or the political party who control 
that territory? If the technology depends on "beacons" that use bluetooth 
or other technologies to broadcast information, then that's a closed 
system that is easily controlled. Hewlett-Packard, whose "Cooltown" 
project pioneers a lot of potential location-based applications, would 
like to see URLs used as location identifiers: The web is an open system 
that anyone can write to. 
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #84 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Mon 25 Nov 02 08:57
An AP story cited in Wired News today about software-defined radio and 
open spectrum proposals: 
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #85 of 280: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 25 Nov 02 09:44
You quoted an HP guy as saying that "some" of the Cooltown stuff was open
source, to avoid any one org from dominating the architecture (and to speed
its adoption, I should think). How much, do you know? And is it enough (and
enough of the right parts of the software) to make for a truly open
development environment?

I ask in part because I wonder what the street's own uses might be.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #86 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Mon 25 Nov 02 09:51
I'm not sure how much of Cooltown's application software has been open 
sourced by now, but one key is their promotion of the Web as the means of 
linking information to people, places, and things. A proprietary system 
(which usually means Microsoft, but we're seeing Sony producing CDs now 
that can only be played on MP3 players, for example) would lock out most 
citizens and consumers from the ability to comment on places and things. 
But URLs as identifiers would make it possible for a global market in 
information. What do people have to say about the service in an 
establishment? What are their reviews of books, CDs, movies, restaurants? 
What does the neighborhood think of a new establishment that just moved 
in? What do the people who live in a vicinity -- not just those who 
control the official crime statistics -- have to say about crime in their 
area? As I noted above, it's easy enough to link a newsgroup to a 
location, and within a couple days, Google will find informatin posted to 
that newsgroup.

One vulnerability to an open system is slander, character assassination, 
misinformation, and disinformation -- if anybody can post an opinion, how 
does the information consumer separate the good stuff from the bogus info? 
Another place where some kind of reputation service could make the 
difference between a noisy novelty and a useful utility.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #87 of 280: Reid Harward (reid) Tue 26 Nov 02 19:23

A story that happened long after I finished the book. In fact, it was a
 couple weeks ago. I was visiting Marc Smith, who was the main character in
 the chapter about the sociology of cooperation. He had connected a $150
 bar-code scanner to a handheld computer with a wireless Internet
 connection and added software that connected the information returned from
Universal Product Code
 database to Google. What the heck?

Here's a mock-up of such a device in action at the local Wal Mart.  This is
circa 1999, btw.

I'm really interested in whether the Buzz of ubiquitous tech is going to
outweigh the skid.  What good is the promise of X-ray specs for consumer
products in a world held in lockdown mode by UAV drones and digital
wiretapping?  Which way do you see the cards falling?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #88 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 27 Nov 02 07:12
Will Google and other search engines be pressured, and succumb to 
pressure, to keep closed systems closed? How about Usenet? Will anyone be 
allowed to post information to Usenet about people and places? Because 
those are the keys to the scenario I painted of barcode readers plus 
Google -- a closed system (product labeling) pried open through connection 
to an open system (Google and Usenet).
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #89 of 280: Reid Harward (reid) Wed 27 Nov 02 08:39

Like the CueJack?  Remember those Cuecat bar code scanners Wired gave away
for free a few years ago that would bring up corporate-approved web sites
when waved over a bar code?  It wasn't more than 2 monthe before someone
wrote a program that would enter the scanned brand and a string of keywords
relating to the conditions of manufacture.

Slashdot, April 17, 2001: CueHack For CueCat Released
Wired, April 21, 2001: Getting Product Info on Cue
The Net Economy, May 14, 2001: Anti-Capitalist Tool
Heise Online, June 24, 2001 (in German): Was war. Was wird.
Magnet, May 4, 2001 (in Portuguese): Programa faz buscas na Internet a
partir de imagens escaneadas
Tech Observers, April 17, 2001: CueHack
The Null Device, April 18, 2001
Ars Electronic Festival 2001: female takeover - ff
The Writing Instructor, January 2001: Tactical Writing
Digital Business Game (in Korean)
La rete di lilliput, April 17, 2001 (in Italian): con le loro stesse armi:
commercio critico, un caso americano
Jornal Cruzeiro do Sul, May 9, 2001 (in Portuguese): Soff faz buscas a
partir de imagens
DinSide April 24, 2001 (in Norwegian): Surf med strekkoder
RazorCake, May 16, 2001: Cue Cat's Coming After You
Linux Gazette
Halfbakery: X-ray specs for consumer products
Daily Gristle, April 17, 2001
Viridian Notes 00259

This is a list of articles on the CueJack compiled on
which won't give up the url for a direct link.

I think the CueJack is a wonderful proof-of-concept, but would really like
to see the product scanner incorporate conferencing.  I envision a
conferencing system of shoppers - a new consumer army - dedicated to
compiling nuanced product review.

Of course, a component that checked search engines would probably be useful,
too, and there isn't any reason it couldn't do both.

Anyway, I'm glad to see this idea start to really tip.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #90 of 280: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 27 Nov 02 09:25

That simulation is great, Reid.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #91 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 27 Nov 02 09:28
Post to Usenet about any product that you can find information about via 
the UPC barcode database, and it will show up on Google within a couple of 
days. Every thing has a story. No reason why every thing can't have a 
community of commentators.

More on this at <> and 
also the comments linked to that entry.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #92 of 280: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 27 Nov 02 10:59
That's tremendous, Howard, and a great example of how collective action can
hijack -- well, *other* collective action. It's populist collective action
versus elitist collective action, open versus closed.

(I suppose it leads to counter-insurgent moves by the corporate behemoths to
get "their" information to rise to the top, and counter-counter-
revolutionary efforts to build reputation systems into the mix to allow that
to be filtered out.)

Is this one of the "busying" technological developments that speeds the pace
of life? Who benefits? How are our views of material things modified by
these changes?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #93 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 27 Nov 02 12:43
I'll address the pace of life question by referring to a couple of recent 
editorial pieces by geeks who decry the downside of the always-on 
lifestyle -- instead of gaining leisure time, they are doing more work. 
This was blogged in bOINGbOING today:


One think I might have noted before in this discussion is that one's 
attitude about being always connected can probably be predicted by one's 
age: People who remember when they couldn't always be reached by 
telephone, email, IM, or text message are probably old enough so that 
these are changes in their lives, not simply aspects of the environment 
they have grown up in. For 15-20 year olds in Beijing or Seoul or Helsinki 
or Sao Paolo -- really, all over the world -- there is nothing alien about 
always being connected to one's circle of friends. When they are 25-30 
year olds, and the people they are always connected to are their bosses 
and co-workers, their attitudes might change. But right now, we have an 
age cohort around the world who are comfortable about having many of the 
formerly idle moments in their lives filled with social communication or 

Our relationship to a seemingly sentient environment is another matter. 
When a chip embedded in a door frame can talk to your portable and 
wearable device, and addresses you by name, it is easy to attribute more 
knowledge and sentience to the environment than is warranted -- which is 
reminiscent of what Bentham and Foucault said about the Panopticon: it 
isn't necessary to surveil people at all times if they don't know when 
they are being surveilled; they will then internalize the surveillance.

There's another issue: Nass and Reeves at Stanford performed a series of 
social psychology experiments, substituting a machine or an artificial 
representation of a person for one of the people in the experiment. Their 
findings, which they discussed in their book, The Media Equation: Although 
most people will claim that we know the difference between a human and a 
machine, or social, psychological, even physiological reactions indicate 
that we treat them both in very similar ways. After all, accurate, 
dynamic, simulations of humans are very new, but we've evolved for a very 
long time to pay attention to entities with human faces and human voices 
-- especially those that address us by name. Mark Pesce has speculated 
that a kind of techno-animism is likely to spring up: If we fear a 
sentient environment, it isn't too hard to speculate that some will begin 
worshipping it.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #94 of 280: a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Wed 27 Nov 02 17:07
The bOINGbOING post includes a link to an InfoWorld opinion piece
apparently triggered by the launch of Microsoft's Tablet PC and an
attendant remark about improved "personal productivity."

The InfoWorld article contains this astonishing paragraph:

   "Words like productivity used to be reserved for the likes of the old
    Soviet Union. Worker productivity and five-year plans were all the
    rage. We won the Cold War but somehow lost our way. Sure, I believe
    in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, but we are people,
    not ants."

The word "productivity" used to be _reserved_?  Really?

Well, I suppose there's a long tradition of just making stuff up in
service of a good rant -- it is an opinion piece, after all.

Didn't US auto makers suffer a serious productivity crisis at the
hands of the Japanese auto industry a while back? And it seems to me
that the root cause was the simple fact most people prefer better
quality products at a lower price. That is, they prefer the output of
the more productive worker.

It's not Soviet style thinking that's behind productivity concerns, it's
human nature.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #95 of 280: Dave Hughes (dave) Wed 27 Nov 02 17:09
Whew! Awfully heavy stuff for my online mind, Howard.

I still go back to viewing the online environment as *really* TWO way,
where users are as much producers, as consumers of information. (and
I don't mean just doing a reply to an email)

I am very pleased to learn, today, that a Select Committee of the
House of Commons of the UK Parliament regarding Broadband, picked
up language I pressed on the Welsh when I advised them how best to
connect up (wirelessly in this case) all Welsh communities to
the Internet.

And that is that I stressed they should set up 'community servers'
that permit citizens to PRODUCE local content, and NOT just 'go out'
to the world wide net. The dummied down television paradigm.

Here is some of the language:

43. It is not enough to encourage the take-up of broadband so that Wales may
become a consumer of digital services produced elsewhere. If it is to avoid
the perils of the digital divide, Wales must also become a producer of
internet content.[69] We welcome the inclusion in the UK Online Strategy of
a commitment to "consider how best to raise the capacity of UK online
centres to support the development of locally inspired community
content".[70] We also welcome the e-fro project initiated by Coleg Digidol.
We recommend that the next Online Strategy should include firm targets for
the production of local internet content in each UK region.

Here is the URL to the whole long report.

Hey, the UK parliament is listing to we Welshmen!

Community, community, community. SMALL ones. Not one huge babble.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #96 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 27 Nov 02 18:57
The PC was built on the platform created by the US Defense Department, 
IBM, and Xerox PARC, but it was really the users, many of them teenage 
dropouts (Gates, Jobs) who made PC into the medium it has become today. 
And the Internet surely was built on the platform created by ARPA, 
originally riding on the telecom network built by ATT, but it was the 
users, from Usenet to the Web, who created the medium it has become today.

Will the convergence of telephone, PC, and Internet be shaped by users? Or 
will you have to be an employee of Disney, Sony, Time-Warner-AOL, etc. to 
innovate? That's what the Hollings bill, the Berman bill, and DMCA are 
really about -- control of innovation.

Sure, users will be allowed to communicate with each other, and run up 
their telephone bills. But will we be able to create the applications that 
will shape the new medium?
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #97 of 280: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 30 Nov 02 05:37
That gets back to Dave's 'human nature' - we'll innovate, and where there are 
barriers to innovation, we'll find innovative ways to transcend them.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #98 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 30 Nov 02 08:47
Technology is built into the human body. Look (with your binocular vision) 
at your opposable thumb: We are built to grasp things, and grasping things 
brings tools to hand.

The question that keeps getting more urgent is whether we are wise enough 
to use what we are smart enough to invent -- without destroying ourselves 
and our environment, or turning our grandchildren into slaves or cogs.
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #99 of 280: a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sat 30 Nov 02 11:56

Snapped this picture this morning and uploaded it wirelessly in honor
of this topic:
inkwell.vue.166 : Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs
permalink #100 of 280: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 30 Nov 02 13:59
Any other questions, comments? Anyone read the book? Reading the book? 


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