section attempts to give a brief overview of the potential capabilities
of next generation location aware mobile devices; capabilities, which,
if combined could potentially lead to significant shifts in the economic
and social landscape.
and proximity sensing
GPS there are now a whole range of location sensing technologies:
WiFi triangulation, WiFi and bluetooth XML feeds that broadcast location
information, 3G phone location finding, conventional current cell tower
locating. With more coming from ultra wideband through chip level inertial
means that a device can ascertain its position by multiple means, both
indoors and outdoors and to varying degrees of accuracy.
piece of text left at a place can be displayed on a mobile device when
the user reaches that place. Conversely because the device knows its
location, a user can leave media at a place.
of the recent proliferation of location sensing methods, locative media
can be placed both indoors and outdoors and can be found and interacted
with even when GPS satellites are inaccessible.
leaving things at specific places, such a system facilitates the (location
aware device mediated) spatial demarcation of zones and paths (see headmap.org
for more on spatial annotation).
mapping is the process by which groups generate their own maps.
who use GPS systems tend to take records of waypoints, specific points
of interest. But GPS devices also track the route you take, they generate
GPS traces. If you upload the traces recording the routes you take to
a database and others in the same area do the same the combination of
traces soon begins to look like a map.
The Waag society put together a project called 'Amsterdam Realtime'
(realtime.waag.org) they supplied locals with GPS systems and collected
the traces and combined them to create the beginnings of an intricate
map of Amsterdam. After 40 days the map was remarkably complete given
the small number of participants.
art project illustrates a serious point. If a lot of people have a GPS
and they pool the traces you can make usable maps.
produces commercial grade maps for the web. The maps start out from
freely available Tiger census maps, they are then finessed using information
from commercial drivers with GPS devices in their vehicles, and by an
army of real people driving around validating and amending the maps
against real places.
India some maps are produced by university departments using commercially
acquired satellite photos and people driving on motorbikes with GPS's.
maps become increasingly object orientated structures rather than mere
pictures, the question arises (once you have added all the utilities
and the building outlines), what data are you going to associate with
those map objects. The wealth of data about places lies in the hands
of ordinary people; they can add a whole range of information that no
centralised department could ever hope to accumulate. The opportunity
exists to push data collection out to the edges (a very successful contemporary
people are annotating maps and generating the traces that keep those
maps up to date, once cartographers delegate a large part of there work
to a huge distributed workforce, maps are going to be different, and
very dynamic animals.
remains to develop software to allow large scale collaborative mapping
that could result in maps more useful, mischievous, accurate and up
to date than the current commercially produced maps.
the UK copyright protection prevents a large part of the population
getting access to maps they could annotate and contribute to, and worldwide,
mapping is a big industry that is failing to address this new trend
towards massively decentralised mapping. Mobile location aware devices
are the key to providing the data that could transform commercial cartography.
resolution screens, 3d capable, high quality audio, gps, wireless internet
connectivity, open many to many voice channels… we're very close to
full on location-aware gaming. Manufacturers are releasing extremely
powerful handheld devices that have GPS and wireless networking. The
next generation of devices are going to be new animals, less easily
defined with preconceived ideas descended from static tele-visual media.
companies can create an infrastructure for an ad hoc distributed mobile
clan. they don't have to mob (but they can), they don't need a base,
or a leader, they can cover and survey a large area without line of
sight, and they can refer to and contribute to continuously updated
collective collaborative maps, territorial definitions and asynchronous
(and synchronous) communications channels. Developing what will turn
out to be the new tactics (positive and negative) that arise out of
these kinds of capabilities reaching street level probably requires
using them, being familiar with them, taking them for granted as a starting
point. It requires kids. This is not text messaging or email, or word
of mouth, its open high bandwidth communications, GPS and powerful processors.
PC games already have entire almost accurate 3d models of major cities
(ideal for urban gaming when combined with positional information).
These new handhelds easily have the processor power and several gigabytes
of storage needed to store and render those models.
are headed towards a massive shift in the plasticity of the built environment.
Location-sensing capabilities allow marking out spaces and paths that
can subsequently be found, interpreted and followed electronically.
hybrid objects that can demarcate both in the real world (e.g. using
light) and in a virtual representation of the real world (transmitting
location). Lights with location awareness, so that a perimeter or a
path can be marked out in real space and virtual space simultaneously.
the elements of architecture, points, lines, and bounded space will
be available and perceivable to next generation mobile devices. The
cost of transforming a space in software will be considerably less than
the equivalent transformation in stone or steel.
Filtering and event triggering
problem associated with locative media, and with data in general, is
how to wade through the mass of information to find what you need.
the moment people find things mostly through a combination of Google,
personal referrals and links.
data becomes more structured the kinds of filtering that are possible
become more interesting.
networks, keyword searches, location, and context all become criteria
for narrowing down what a user sees.
can choose to see only what people in your peer group have left, what
you are close to, what you are interested in, what matches your keyword
search. The intersection of these criteria will be a useful subset of
the mass of information available.
systems are key areas of research with implications for digital currency
evolution, reducing spam, increasing trust, exchange and patterns of
real world social interaction.
decentralised peer to peer identity solutions (see the discussions relating
to FOAF and PGP based solutions in the sections below) offer a very
different social model to centralised models (e.g. Microsoft's passport
and the corporate centric and vaguely federated Liberty Alliance), which
view the individual as purely a consumer.
There is a strong commercial incentive in the short term for developing
such a distributed system. Whoever defines the most socially acceptable
identity model will be in a position to exploit that definition commercially.
The choice of a dominant identity model will have implications for the
evolution of money, marketing and new forms of social exchange.
a broader level. Identity is not just about consumption.
is encoded in clothes, interests, social connections and affiliations.
devices can encode and project these ideas. A structured, personal,
digital identity data layer can be 'digital clothes', mediating between
people in the same physical space and triggering social interactions
that would not otherwise happen.
day you digitally encode your electronic projection of yourself (a bit
like an answerphone message).
opportunity is larger than pure identity. Its about making an identity
system that mediates on a higher level than just 'i am who i say i am'.
A system that gives information beyond what others see when they look
at you. A layer of information visible to others. This layer can be
protected using a FOAF based system (see below) so that only those in
your extended social network see this identity information.
goal is to build an identity system with higher, more complex functionality,
including features like serendipity augmentation (social network links,
interests in common, geographical proximity triggers).
a system needs to be peer to peer with the data resident on the device
so that two people in the same room can interact even if no connection
to a wider network is available.
Social network mapping
are a number of websites that allow people to collectively map their
social networks and take advantage of previously unseen connections.
The principle is that you get to see not just your friends, but the
friends of your friends (who you might not otherwise be aware of). The
list of these sites is long and includes Friendster, Ryze, and Linkedin.
These sites all rely on a centralised database.
the emergence of XML and the semantic web, it has become a lot easier
to maintain decentralised databases. A key early example of this is
the FOAF project, founded by the W3C's Dan Brickley. FOAF stands for
'Friend Of A Friend' . The premise is that you maintain a list of friends
in a FOAF file on your own website. The FOAF file is a personal, machine
readable, list of your friends. It uses a semantic web schema to assert
a set of logical relations, mainly of the form 'A knows B' (where B
is a functional weblink to B's FOAF file). If B's FOAF file (stored
elsewhere) asserts that 'B knows C'. Then a software agent can jump
between the two FOAF files in different places on the web and assert
that A and C are connected through B, and report back to A that A is
connected to C through B.
FOAF is a digital extension of who you know. Once in place a distributed
FOAF social network can form the basis of a more complex system. For
example if the geographical locations of A and C are known and they
are close to each other, the software agent can deduce that:
A knows person B
B knows person C
is geographically close to C
that A and C can be notified of their proximity and their connection
through mutual friend B
decentralised social network mapping system incorporating FOAF ideas
with encryption schemes like PGP or GPG could be a basis for a powerful
and useful decentralised identity and trust system.
Reputation and trust
to the problem of Identity are the problems of reputation and trust.
Once a persons identity can be verified, the next question that arises
is whether they can be trusted. This can be made measurable in terms
of validation by implication (e.g. they belong to a community that is
trusted) or by direct validation (e.g. they are vouched for by other
people; either by friends or people that have traded with them without
being ripped off).
systems (and theory) already exist and many function well even without
being absolutely water tight. The ones in use often refer to some kind
of social network mapping system; that is you are validated because
other people link favourably to you (e.g. blogrolls and FOAF).
like Amazon have recognised the power of implied (rather than directly
asserted) social network mapping. When you buy CD's at amazon, they
keep track of what you buy or browse through, and suggest alternative
products that people who bought the products you are interested in also
individuals maintained lists of the books and CD's they like on their
own sites (or more importantly on their own mobile devices). Then Amazon’s
model could become the basis for a kind of decentralized, peer-to-peer,
importantly this decentralised system could trigger real world events.
your mobile device you could meet someone on a long train journey, based
on a combination of a mutual friend (FOAF) and an intersection of interests
(books in common) and geography (proximity).
FOAF based system, aligned to semantically structured lists (of things
liked, needed or for sale for example) is the basis for an exchange
inventories (lists) of all kinds of things are exposed (only to those
who fit user defined criteria), and those lists are structured and machine
readable (and allow machine inference), then machine mediated exchange
systems become possible.
location information and host your node in the system on your mobile
for example,a group of neighbours to expose and pool resources like
tools or books.
until recently only the money markets met these structured conditions,
but now the effects of structuring and automation on markets can be
applied peer to peer, and to every kind of exchange. Augmented capitalism.
Wideband radio is a revolutionary wireless technology that transmits
digital data at very high data rates over a wide spectrum of frequency
bands using very low power. Within the power limits allowed under current
FCC regulations, UWB can not only carry huge amounts of data over a
short distance at very low power, but it also has the ability to carry
signals through doors and other obstacles that tend to reflect signals
at more limited bandwidths and a higher power. In addition to its uses
in wireless communications products and applications, UWB can also be
used for very high resolution radars and precision (sub-centimeter)
location and tracking systems." [From the Time Domain ultra wideband
Existing technologies integrated
existing and emerging technologies into a new way to think about place,
social interaction, and exchange is a huge opportunity.
direct, head on, attempt to make a real device that not only has a feature
list that incorporates all the capabilities outlined above, but to make
them work together, could result in huge level of social change and
offers an unparalleled commercial opportunity
aware devices, cam phones, RFID tags, geo-tagged blogs, GPS, WiFi, the
semantic web, 3d gaming are a disparate set of buzzwords. Combined together
they could alter the very fabric of commercial and civil society.
Liberty alliance and Ping ID
beckett's RDF resource guide
J Brown's papers on 'context computing'