Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part two of three)

Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part two of three) By Ajit Jaokar (Ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com) and Tony Fish (Tony.fish at amfventures.com )

Background

Welcome to the second part of ‘Mobile web 2.0: web 2.0 and its impact on mobility and digital convergence’. If you have not yet read it, the first part is at Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part one of three). Much has happened since I wrote the first part of this article. For instance, I am now a member of the web20 workgroup and I will be speaking at Sys-con’s International Web Services Conference & Expo in New York in June 2006. Many thanks for all your feedback to the first article.

I would also like to introduce Tony Fish(who is my co-author for OpenGardens ). This article and the following article (about the impact of web 2.0 on digital convergence) is written by both Ajit and Tony.

In this article, we will discuss three things

a) The definition of Mobile web 2.0

b) ‘I am not a number – I am a tag!’

b) A blueprint for a mobile web 2.0 service

Mobile web 2.0 defined

Using the foundation of Tim O Reilly’s seven principles for web 2.0 .. we define Mobile web 2.0 as your experience of preferred services on a restricted device

This definition firmly drives the mobile internet from the fixed Internet since the web becomes the point of configuration of a new service and the mobile device becomes an extension of that service (the ability to access the service anywhere/any time).

We struggled with the definition of a ‘restricted device’. The only feature we could find common to all restricted devices is ‘they are battery driven’. But then – watches have batteries?. So, we decided to extend the definition of ‘restricted devices’ by incorporating Barbara Ballard’s carry principle .

Thus, a restricted device could now be deemed as

a) Carried by the user

b) battery driven

c) Small(by definition)

d) Probably multifunctional but with a primary focus

e) A device with limited input mechanisms(small keyboard)

f) Personal and personalised BUT

g) Not wearable(that rules out the watch!). But, there is a

caveat, a mobile device in the future could be wearable and

it’s capacities may well be beyond what we imagine today. The

input mechanism in the future will not be a key stroke on

such devices, but a movement or sound. So, this is an

evolving definition.

Finally, there is a difference between a ‘carried’ device and a ‘mobile device which is in a vehicle’. For example – in a car, a GPS navigator is a ‘mobile device’ and in a plane, the in-flight entertainment screen is also ‘mobile’. However, both these devices are not ‘carried’ and do not have the same screen/power restrictions as devices that are ‘carried’.

However, it’s clear that the mobile phone is an example of a restricted device. But there is more to ‘mobile web 2.0’ – than extending ‘web 2.0 to mobile phones’. We believe that web 2.0 has the capacity to fundamentally alter the world of telecoms and mobile networks. That’s because – the phone number – that last bastion of leverage – is itself under threat! Tags will replace numbers.

I am not a number, I am a tag!

What do we mean by ‘I am not a number – I am a tag!’

In the good old days, I had a telephone. It was connected via a wire to the wall and I could pick up the handset and dial a number to reach my friends. If I needed to reach someone that I knew – but did not have their number – I would refer to the telephone directory. The telephone directory would resolve a name to a number.

This worked fine when I had one number .. but it all got very complex when I left my youthful years and went to work. Soon I had an office number, a DDI number, my digs and my home (parents) numbers. The office then added email ids and a mobile number. At a personal level, I got a range of IM’s(Instant message Ids) and email ids ( university, first email, grown up email, own domain email). Now, it is followed by a range of VoIP numbers! And so it goes ..

To ensure that I spent lots of money calling and chatting -some clever people created voice messaging services so that you could ask me to call back if I was not on one of those numbers, or you could only remember one of them. Some cleverer people created unified messaging in the hope that all my messages would go to one place. However, there is no one place to resolve the ‘number to name’ problem.

This means I have to spend a vast amount of time maintaining an increasing database of people and their various numbers. The old system of the telephone directory sort of works, search engines can search many directories to find my many numbers and IP addresses – if they are available.

But why bother with numbers in the first place? Why relinquish control to them? Why should we not break free?

For instance – why is it so hard to keep your number when changing houses or mobile service providers?(at a cost I might add!) You have ‘become’ the number. And nowadays, that’s increasingly ‘numbers’(i.e. not just one number)!. People are forced to remember your various numbers – some do – but most will find it increasingly difficult.

But then came tags .. and we believe that tags will erode 100 years of telecoms regulations on numbering and also the one control point that operators still believe is untouchable. i.e. the number itself

Imagine a world where you do not care what your number is or how many you have. A world where tags replace numbers. Others (friends, work mates, people who you see and meet) tag your data so that they can find you again.

Tony Fish could tag ‘Tony Fish’ with his 50 words, others will tag ‘Tony fish’ with their views and that’s how they will remember the name. Collectively, all Tony’s tags will uniquely identify me as ‘Tony Fish’ and not the other 462 Tony Fishes that are about!

A new type of search engine will emerge. The new search engine will not deliver my identity (and breach data protection regulations). Instead, they (the provider of the search service) will offer a service to enable ‘connection’. ‘Find Tony Fish’ will produce the result:- Tony is currently in Starbucks on Oxford Street do you want to ….. meet, IM, Mail, chat to him.

You see .. what we mean by .. I am no longer a number, I am a Tag.

You can visualise it as below

tonyslide.jpg

How will this start?

We would not expect that an operator can be the first to implement such a system – due to the legacy of existing systems and their requirement for seeing a business model first. Rather, we expect it will be organic. I will start tagging, you will start tagging and thus a network will emerge. I will add my contacts and notes from outlook, from thunderbird, from Plaxo, from linkedin and then the tags will grow!

A federated service provider will become the ‘search engine by tags’ – searching my professional information. I will have added personal contacts for family so they are in by default(i.e. linked through me). The value proposition for the user appears when someone in your network modifies or updates the data with new details and that data automatically updates your data set, saving time and maintaining contact.

The bigger the network you have, the more frequently your information is refreshed and the more fresh and valuable it is.

As a commercial extension, it would be possible for a service provider to combine tags from several people within a program that would provide to each ‘paying premium member’ an improved data set. The commercial models will grow based on the knowledge and context within the search and tags.

Therefore we can see a federated, consensus driven business model allowing both restricted and free communication services from a search engine. Eventually, everyone tags, search engines get access to my desktop and I permit my presence to be made known.

Thus, I become a ‘tag’ an individual – and not a number!

Mobile web 2.0 – A service blueprint

The idea – ‘I am not a number – I am a tag’ is extremely powerful and disruptive. It shows us the reason why web 2.0 is so critical to telecoms and mobility. Based on the principles we are developing, we were curious to find other ideas which truly encapsulated the principles of mobile web 2.0.

Web 2.0 being a bandwagon, so you are likely to see many services jumping on it. However, most are bandwagon seekers and cooked up by enthusiastic marketing departments.

So, in the final section, we now discuss a sample mobile web 2.0 service in detail. This service could act as a template for you in deciding future mobile web 2.0 systems and in separating the real from the fake.

The service we are discussing here

The service we are considering here is a ‘mobile’ version of a combination of del.icio.us and flickr

As you probably know, both del.icio.us and flickr are based on tags. However, note that in a mobile context, a ‘tag’ would have a different meaning to the term on the web. People do not like to enter a lot of information on a mobile device. Thus, a tag in a mobile sense, would be explicit information entered by the user(i.e. a ‘web’ tag) but more importantly information captured implicitly when the image was captured(for example the user’s location).

The service would enable you to

a) Search related images and get more information about a ‘camera phone image’ using historical analysis of metadata (including tags) from other users. This bit works like del.icio.us i.e. searching via tags BUT with a mobile element because the ‘tag’ could include many data elements that are unique to mobility(such as location)

b) ‘Share’ your images with others (either nominated friends or the general public similar to flickr but as a mobile service)

From a user perspective, the user would be able to

a) Capture an image using a camera phone alongwith metadata related to that image

b) Gain more information about that image from an analysis of historical data (either a missing element in the image or identifying the image itself)

c) Search related images based on tags

d) Share her image with others – either nominated friends or the general public

Let’s break down the components further. We need -

a) A mobile ‘tagging’ system at the point of image capture

b) A server side processing component which receives data elements from each user. It then adds insights based on historical analysis from data gleaned from other users.

c) An ability to deliver the results to the user(these could be a list of related images based on the tag or ‘missing’ information about the image)

d) A means to capture the user’s feedback to the results

e) A means to share images with others.

Tagging an image

It’s not easy to ‘tag’ a mobile image at the point of capturing it. In fact, in a mobile context, implicit tagging is more important than explicit tagging(An explicit tag being a tag which the user enters themselves).

At the point the image is taken from a camera phone, there are three classes of data elements we could potentially capture

a) Temporal for example the time that the image was captured

b) Spatial – The GPS location or cell id

c) Personal/Social - Username (and other personal profile information which the user chooses to share), presence, any tags that the user has entered, other people in the vicinity(perhaps identified by Bluetooth), other places of interest recently visited etc

The client component captures all the data elements and sends them to the server. It also displays the results from the server. (The garage cinema research uses a system called Mobile Media Metadata (MMM)which performs this function).

Server side processing

The server aggregates metadata from all users and applies some algorithms to the data. The data could also be ‘enriched’ by data sources such as land registry data, mapping data etc.

It then sends the results back to the user who can browse the results.

Finding ‘missing elements’ of your image

In many cases, it’s not easy to identify elements of the image(or in some cases, the image itself).

Consider the three images of Big Ben shown below

The third image is not very clear. It also includes two neighbouring ‘points of interest’ i.e. the river Thames and the house of parliament .

bigben.JPG

Based on Meta data from other users, the ‘river Thames’ and ‘House of parliament’ could be identified to the person capturing the third image. This is because – potentially other users would have captured separate images of the three points of interest and tagged them.

Thus, if the third user wanted to know ‘the river in the image’ or the ‘building in the image’ – they would be presented with a likely set of related points of interest which could include the river Thames and the house of commons. (Laughably trivial – I know – but it illustrates the point!)

Sharing your images

This is the ‘flickr’ component. However, ‘sharing’ in a mobile context, also includes location. This is very similar to the ‘air graffiti’ system I described in my previous article.

To recap, from my previous blog, the air graffiti system is – the ability to ‘pin’ digital ‘post it notes’ at any physical point. Suppose you were at a holiday destination and you took a picture or a video of that location. You then ‘posted’ that note digitally with your comments and made it accessible to your ‘friends’. Many years later, one of your friends happened to come to that same place and as she walked to the venue, a message would pop up on her device with your notes, picture and comments.

Like flickr, ‘friends’ may be members of the general public with similar interests (i.e. like flickr ) or a closed group.

So, is this a mobile web 2.0 service?

Let’s consider some of the principles here(for a detailed explanation, please read my article Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part one of three) )

• It’s a service and not packaged software.

• It’s scaleable.

• It utilises the ‘long tail’ i.e. input from many users as opposed to a core few.

• The service is managing a data source(it’s not just software).

• The data source gets richer as more people use the service.

• Users are trusted as ‘co-developers’ i.e. users contribute significantly.

• The service clearly harnesses ‘collective intelligence’ and by definition is ‘above the level of a single device’.

• Implicit user defaults are captured.

• Data is ‘some rights reserved’ – people are sharing their images with others.

The two aspects not covered above are

• A rich user experience and

• A lightweight programming model

These are implementation issues and could easily be included. So, IMHO – indeed this is an example of a mobile web 2.0 service!

Notes:

a) The example may sound trivial since Big Ben is a well known location – but the same principle could apply to images of other lesser known sites.

b) Of course, other types of data could be captured from the mobile phone for example video and sound.

c) There are no major technical bottlenecks as far as we can see(there are some commercial/privacy issues though).

d) From the above, you can see that Moblogging , in itself, is not an example of a web 2.0 service

e) There are a whole raft of problems when it comes to the network effect and mobility. We have not discussed these here.

References:

Garage cinema research

Mobile Media Metadata for Mobile Imaging : Marc Davis University of California at Berkeley and Risto Sarvas Helsinki Institute for Information Technology

From Context to Content: Leveraging Context to Infer Media Metadata

Marc Davis, Simon King, Nathan Good, and Risto Sarvas

University of California at Berkeley

The carry principle: Barbara Ballard – http://www.littlespringsdesign.com/blog/2005/09/14/the-carry-principle/

Image One

Image Two

Image three

Conclusions to part two

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. You can contact us Ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com and Tony.fish at amfventures.com. The third and final part of this series will discuss the impact of web 2.0 on digital convergence.

About the authors

ajit crop.JPG

Ajit Jaokar is based in London (England) and is the CEO of a publishing company futuretext. Alongwith Tony Fish, Ajit co-authored OpenGardens. Ajit also chairs Oxford university’s next generation mobile applications panel. Since Jan 2006, Ajit is a part of the web20workgroup Ajit’s blog is at OpenGardensBlog

tony crop.JPG

Tony Fish has been involved for 20 years in the mobile, wireless, telecom and satellite industries. Tony is known for his innovative approach, strategic and economic insight, analyzing, matching and executing merger and acquisition activities within blue chip corporations as well entrepreneurship and shrewd business decisions with regard to early stage businesses and their growth. Tony Fish is the CEO of AMF ventures

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Permanent link: http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2006/01/mobile_web_20_w_1.html

This week’s carnival ..

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Hello,

See this week’s carnival at Stuart Mudie’s blog Stuart Mudie’s blog

He says some nice things about my Plazes blog

I am a tag not a number!

number.JPG

Tony Fish, my co-author for OpenGardens held a fascinating event last week in central London. I could not attend it -but it has got great feedback from the participants. Central to the event was Tony’s idea of ‘I am a tag and not a number’. It’s right to the heart of mobile web 2.0 which I have been blogging about.

Here is a synopsis from Tony by what we mean by ‘I am a tag and not a number’

In the good old days, I had a telephone. It was connected via a wire to the wall and I could pick up the handset and dial a number to reach my friends. If I needed to reach someone that I knew – but did not have their number – I would refer to the telephone directory. The telephone directory would resolve a name to a number.

This worked fine when I had one number .. but it all got very complex when I left my youthful years and went to work. Soon I had an office number, a DDI number, my digs and my home (parents) numbers. The office then added email ids and a mobile number. At a personal level, I got a range of IM’s(Instant message Ids) and email ids ( university, first email, grown up email, own domain email).

Now, it is followed by a range of VoIP numbers! And so it goes ..

To ensure that I spent lots of money calling and chatting -some clever people created voice messaging services so that you could ask me to call back if I was not on one of those numbers, or you could only remember one of them.

Some cleverer people created unified messaging in the hope that all my messages would go to one place. However, there is no one place to resolve the ‘number to name’ problem.

This means I have to spend a vast amount of time maintaining an increasing database of people and their various numbers.

The old system of the telephone directory sort of works, search engines can search many directories to find my many numbers and IP addresses – if they are available.

But why bother with numbers in the first place? Why relinquish control to them? Why should we not break free?

For instance – why is it so hard to keep your number when changing houses or mobile service providers?(at a cost I might add!) You have ‘become’ the number. And nowadays, that’s increasingly ‘numbers’(i.e. not just one number)!. People are forced to remember your various numbers – some do – but most will find it increasingly difficult.

But then came tags .. and I believe that tags will erode 100 years of telecoms regulations on numbering and also the one control point that operators still believe is untouchable. i.e. the number itself

Imagine a world where you do not care what your number is or how many you have. A world where tags replace numbers. Others (friends, work mates, people who you see and meet) tag your data so that they can find you again.

Where I tag Tony Fish with my 50 words, others will tag ‘Tony fish’ with their views and that’s how they will remember me. Collectively, my tags will uniquely identify me as ‘Tony Fish’ and not the other 462 Tony Fishes that are about!

A new type of search engine will emerge. The new search engine will not deliver my identity (and breach data protection regulations). Instead, they (the provider of the search service) will offer a service to enable ‘connection’. ‘Find Tony Fish’ will produce the result:- Tony is currently in Starbucks on Oxford Street do you want to ….. meet, IM, Mail, chat to him.

You see ..

I am no longer a number, I am a Tag.

tony slide.JPG

How will this start?

I would not expect that an operator can be the first to implement such a system – due to the legacy of existing systems and their requirement for seeing a business model first. Rather, I expect it will be organic. I will start tagging, you will start tagging and thus a network will emerge. I will add my contacts and notes from outlook, from thunderbird, from Plaxo, from linkedin and then the tags will grow!

A federated service provider will become the ‘search engine by tags’ – searching my professional information. I will have added personal contacts for family so they are in by default(i.e. linked through me). The value proposition for the user appears when someone in your network modifies or updates the data with new details and that data automatically updates your data set, saving time and maintaining contact.

The bigger the network you have, the more frequently your information is refreshed and the more fresh and valuable it is.

As a commercial extension, it would be possible for a service provider to combine tags from several people within a program that would provide to each ‘paying premium member’ an improved data set. The commercial models will grow based on the knowledge and context within the search and tags.

Therefore I can see a federated, consensus driven business model allowing both restricted and free communication services from a search engine. Eventually, everyone tags, search engines get access to my desktop and I permit my presence to be made known.

Thus, I become a ‘tag’ an individual – and not a number!

What do you think?

A fascinating idea and very much mobile web 2.0!

I believe there is a commercial (and a user) need for such as service.

The ‘tag mapping service’ is the key element of this service(and one which could completely transform the telecoms industry) because the end users need such a service, it is cheaper, it is easier to use.

What do you think?

Image source: www.irtc.org/stills/ 1997-06-30/view.html

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Plazes – more comments ..

plazes.JPG

I am getting more comments about this article from forumoxford

Ben Gibbs says

It’s an interesting site to study like you say, but I’m not so sure the whole idea is that attractive (which is not your point I know, but I just wanted to rant a bit!). I saw the site mentioned on this board before and had a look. It’s very reminiscent of a lot of so-called Web 2.0 sites (including the obligatory aggravating name), but I couldn’t see the point. Why bother? Unless you are particularly altruistic, narcissistic or masochistic why would you bother to plot or keep your own location up to date for others to see, especially strangers? Just seems like a lot of effort for not much reward and a bit creepy too. For me, the promise of LBS is to provide something as basic as a “You Are Here!” map, with enough detail and scrollability to be useful. Yesterday, I got lost driving in the mountains. I wasn’t amazingly lost because I could always follow the road back, but I didn’t have a map and I kept on wondering where I was and if I’d come out somewhere useful if I just kept driving. I had excellent mobile signal strength but no LBS, so in the end I turned back. I could go out and buy a TomTom I suppose, but that’s hundreds of $’s for a rare occurrence and in this case a dollar for a map would have been worth it. Maybe once “You Are Here!” exists, Plazes could be an overlay for those who really want it.

and my old friend Colin Campbell adds

This subject is right on the button in terms of my current activities. I think there is quite a lot to say here. Firstly Plazes reminds me of my early experience with mobile presence servers. The lessons i learned there was that if its not automatic but requires end user setup and maintenance it tends to die pretty quickly! The idea of annotating and maintaining location logs doesnt seem feasible to me. too much bother.

The automatic router detection is fine but this ties you to a fixed line or WiFi if I’m not mistaken. So this is your roaming laptop user which I dont think is the mass market LBS.

The problem with location is someone or something has to facilitate the raw information ie. the X,Y co-ordinates in most cases. Plazes approach seems to compartmentalise the problem into discreet places identified by router address which limits you in technology supported and doesnt allow for the spontaneous LBS requirement which I think is where the market is.

As an example I am seeing a lot if of interest for location in conjunction with video/picture capture. I played a small part in a Research project a partner ran last year capturing location from mobile video cameras. The footage was uploaded to a server in conjunction with the X,Y and I provided the reverse geocoding capability to reference against the film clips. So you immediately have a photoalbum with a geospatial reference in terms of a location or address where your content was captured.

Clealry there are a number of ways this could work and be implemented but the number one issue is how do you capture the X,Y?

The 2 alternatives are cellid and its derivatives if the device has a SIM. Or GPS if the device has the necessary receiver.

Both have their drawbacks and complications and costs!

Certainly the big market in the last 18 months has been GPS based offline personal navigation systems. tomTom etc…

This is huge mass market and the reason probably is because it is simple, and has a one off cost. GPS is free to receive, (The US taxpayer paid to put the things in orbit I believe!) and it can all be blackboxed and operated without a lot of thought from the user.

A more advanced case with this is vehicle tracking and telematics which combines both GPS and SIM and again can be black boxed and ship and forget.

So where does that leave the mobile consumer connected device ie a mobile phone with LBS. I think there are 2 factors in its favour.

One is its ubiquitous and always with you. (Not many folks carry there tomtom around with them!). the other is it allows connectivity with the on-demand services and data which that offers.

So this takes us back to the mobile operator and cellid LBS or until phones have onboard GPS. We are seeing the emergence of early adopter applications offering content & points of interest all based on where the network says you are. And because you are connected this content can be off board. typically this involves a subscription type pricing model for the service or a one off charge for a lookup on the network (which may be prohibitively high)

I think there is a lot of merit in the all the players in the value chain putting something out there on an all you can eat basis at a low monthly tarrif to really explore this market. ie. £x per month and you can have as many location based enquiries and content feeds as you like.

Throw in peer to peer applications such as presence and buddy finders and you may get some real organic growth.

And I also think mobile traffic reporting one to watch. Have you seen the latest TomTom aquisition

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Learning from Plazes – location based services

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Recently, I started a presentation about location based services by the phrase ‘Location location location ?’

The question mark was not typo!

Where are the mass market location based services?

Inspite of its promise, location based services have yet to fully reveal their true potential.

Location is the chief differentiator for mobility based applications. In user terms, a location based application would deliver any content ‘filtered by location’ – for example, a dynamic map that mirrors a user’s location or a ‘find my nearest’ application where every fast food outlet in a one kilometer radius can be listed.

By definition, a Mobile service accessed from a device such as a mobile phone, is ‘location based’ because the location of a mobile device is always known to the subscriber’s mobile operator. However, merely the fact that your mobile operator knows the location of your device is not enough.

To truly enable mass market location based applications we need

a) The location to be available to trusted third parties

b) The cost of the location ‘ping’(i.e. request) to be feasible

c) Points of interest to be ‘mapped’

d) Privacy issues to be resolved

The conventional ‘top down’ approach does not seem to be working. In other words – the current situation, where the mobile operator knows the location and is the gate keeper to that information has not worked(and in my view will never work). That’s because – there are too many legal, privacy, cost issues involved.

It also needs the major parties (with conflicting interests) to work closely together else the market fragments. By this, I mean to be truly viable, we need an ‘umbrella entity’ which takes feeds from multiple location sources(operators) and then has the capacity to manage that feed.

An alternative is an organic approach

In my previous blog, Mobile web 2.0 – A service blueprint – I mentioned that locations could be ‘tagged’. Exploring this further, I found a site called Plazes – which seems to be doing this. Plazes also has addressed some key issues which would be used in future mobile web 2.0 services(and for location in general)

Firstly, what is it?

Plazes is ‘Location + context’. From their site

Plazes is a grassroots approach to location-aware interaction, using the local network you are connected to as location reference. Plazes allows you to share you location with the people you know and to discover people and plazes around you. It’s the navigation system for your social life and it’s absolutely free.

How it works

It seems to map a unique key created from the user’s network (based on the user’s router information) to a ‘Plaze’ that the user annotates. (I managed to annotate the futuretext office . I also saw Joi Ito online twice – which is an endorsement for the site in my book! )

The user names the Plaze, they can add pictures and comments. Others who are physically present at the Plaze can add information subsequently. On every Plaze, there is a box called ‘Discoverer’. The person who ‘discovers’ the Plaze manages this box and it can be linked to their web site or blog. Other information on that page can be edited by others

By the way, Plazes mixed with Google maps makes a neat mashup – check it out!

All this is fine .. But I was more interested in the social, web 2.0, mobility aspects. This is a pioneering service and the lessons learnt here could well be the norm (Italics are from the Plazes web site)

So,

a) Privacy – You can use a pseudonym

b) Tracking – You can optionally allow plazes to ‘track’ you using ‘Trazes’. This is set off by default. By default we don’t record your traces. The moment you leave a plaze that information is gone. You past whereabouts cannot be compromised, since we don’t have them. Nevertheless we do provide a function called Trazes, where you can record your past wherebouts and publishing them to other users, if you explicitely wish to do so.

c) Visibility: You can choose to remain invisible from your friends(so no one knows your current location). You can use Plazes without the launcher, meaning you are visible, but your location is unknown. All features, obviously except the location aware searches, will still be available to you.

d) Centralised editorial staff: There is no centralised editorial staff

e) Mandatory information about the Plaze is kept to a minimum

f) Not spyware – Plazes makes great efforts to tell us that.

g) Data quality and control: Anyone physically present at a location can incrementally complement or alter the information for this plaze. Therefore the quality of data will increase with the number of users and frequency of usage. The most frequented Plazes will therefore have the best quality of information, because it is being reviewed most often.

h) Censorship: We do not censor pictures and comments. The description page for a plaze is basically a wiki. We believe in free speech and we strongly believe in you, the user. If someone is altering the information in a stupid or malicious way, we are sure someone else will correct it.

i) Compliance with geographic legal issues: There is one exception to that rule: The laws of some countries require us to delete unlawful pictures or writing, if explicitely pointed out to us. We will obey these laws, because we don’t like being in jail.

j) Obsolete and historic Plazes: The following passage is well worth a read because it encounters a problem not yet endemic .. but critical in future as we all map virtual elements to a physical world – the whole question of ‘virtual archeology’

Another issue in matters of data quality is obsolete Plazes. The unique identifier for a Plaze is the network, or to be more precise the router’s mac address. In other words, if you buy a new router for your Plaze or move the same router to a different Plaze, the information is either lost or incorrect. Let’s say you move into a new apartment and take your router with you. Easy you say, next time you log onto Plazes you just change you address information. Right, but what about those pictures of your old house, the comments for that party you threw last year, etc? Even worse, stay in your apartment and buy a new router. All your precious information will be gone, the history of your Plaze will be unwritten, forever lost.

This whole subject is a tough one. At first we thought the solution was going to be that you can just assign a plaze a new router. But this would either open all doors for a new sport called “Plaze-jacking” or an actual human would have to decide for every Plaze if the transition is legit. Not an option. So we came up with something called a “Historic Plaze”. A historic Plaze is an inactive Plaze at the same location. There is two ways for a Plaze to become historic: The discoverer can mark it historic, for instance if he moves out of his flat. This way, if the router pops up the next time it is being assigned a new Plaze.

If a Plaze is inactive for more than half a year and there is another Plaze with a similar description at the same location.

Historic Plazes are linked to the active Plaze’s description page so you can dig down into the Plaze’s history. It’s virtual archeology.

k) Taking social networking to the next level – in their words The Plazes you are frequenting are actually a much better filtering system and common denominator than explicit connections like “he is my friend”.

Plazes takes it to the next level regarding location-awareness and implicitness. The Plazes you are frequenting are actually a much better filtering system and common denominator than explicit connections like “he is my friend”. By being virtually present at certain Plazes like a record label or a certain restaurant and having conversations via comments at that Plaze, the system is much closer to how we actually interact in the real world. By being able to annotate real world locations virtually, Plazes augments, enhances and encourages real-world communication rather than simulating it.

In a nutshell, well worth visiting and trying – for no other reason than – it’s the way to go as I have been saying with mobile web 2.0. Plazes seems to have thought about many of the issues that I have been talking about. Besides, its fun!(By the way, I have no commercial affiliation with Plazes or the company creating it). I just think that an organic approach may be feasible – and the alternative (top down/operator led approach) will not see light of day!

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the carnival is back after a break ..

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See it at Judy Breck’s blog HERE

I would also recommend Judy’s book which I am currently reading

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taggardens – google is to links as yahoo is to tags ..

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One of the advantages of blogging is – you get to interact with interesting people and ideas from all over the world. James Governor emailed me this interesting idea of tag gardening.

Tag gardening is the concept of nurturing ‘tags’. James makes the point that Yahoo seems to be following a strategy of being a tag gardener. Google succeeded based on ‘links’ – could Yahoo succeed with ‘tags’?

As I pointed out in the mobile 2.0 service blueprint before, tagging could be an effective way to search content from a mobile device – especially considering implicit tags.

James takes the idea of tagging further through the concept of nurturing tags and says ..

Like plants or animals, tags evolve in an emergent fashion, open to hybridisation. Stewardship can help grow and put roots down. Helping the darwinian process is tag gardening. Tag gardening is about taking tags in the wild and tending to them, or identifying a wild tag that will do well in your south facing IT garden. I am talking about domestication here.

And also ..

Are industry analysts tag gardeners? Tag gardening is certainly a role Gartner plays. Enterprise IT vendors pay Gartner to use its tags, and to show how well they fit the way Gartner uses these tags.

A key platform for tag gardening is Yahoo, which has recently acquired pretty many of the key players in declarative living – delicious, flickr, WebJay. Yahoo is buying communities of taggers, some of whom are tag gardeners. A great example are communities on flickr, which coalesce around tags and create communities in the process. Yahoo now offers a number of platforms for tagging, and therefore tag management, or tag gardening.

You can read more from his blog entry HERE

Image source: http://www.hatleygardens.com/images/hatley_gardens.jpg

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Happy to be part of the web20 workgroup ..

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I am happy to announce that I have been invited to the web20workgroup. It’s an honour I am proud to accept

It’s indeed a privilege to be here .. The group includes some of the world’s leading thinkers on web 2.0 covering all aspects of web2.0 from trends, analysis, VC and technology.

I am thankful to the three founders of the group Michael Arrington, Richard MacManus, and Frederico Oliveira for accepting me and especially Richard Mc Manus for proposing my name. I also appreciate the support of Dion Hinchcliffe in clarifying my thinking about web 2.0

The group consists of a variety of experts. Happy to see an old friend Oliver ‘Stitch’ Starr – prolific blogger and venture capitalist from mobilecrunch. And also Dave Winer – industry guru whose blog is read – among others by Bill Gates and Jacob Nielsen

I find web 2.0 fascinating.. and my own admission – I am not an expert on web 2.0. However, much of what I have been saying in OpenGardens is conceptually the same as web 2.0

On boxing day last year, building on the ideas of people like Richard Mc Manus and Dion Hinchcliffe, I set out to expand the concept of web 2.0 in the areas of mobility and digital convergence.

In a series of blogs – I outlined my views about how web 2.0 could play out across a range of devices – especially the mobile phone. These resonated with many people worldwide – including the web20workgroup founders. Hence, happy to be here.

I look forward to contributing more to the development of mobile web 2.0 through this group.

Also happy to discuss any questions re web 2.0 especially mobile web 2.0.

Visit Web 2.0 Workgroup to browse. I encourage you to subscribe to all of these blogs by downloading and importing the OPML file into your RSS reader.

Related links from my blogs:

Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part one of three)

web 2.0 – A service blueprint

Mobile web 2.0: AJAX for mobile devices – why mobile AJAX will replace both J2ME and XHTML as the preferred platform for mobile applications development

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Mobile web 2.0: A service blueprint ..

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Following my previous blog about mobile web 2.0 , I wanted to find a blueprint/case study of a mobile web 2.0 service.

This blog is a bit of a gedankenexperiment – but I have drawn on the excellent work being done by Dr Marc Davis and his team at the Garage cinema research at the University of California (Berkeley).

The service I am considering here is a ‘mobile’ version of a combination of del.icio.us and flickr

As you probably know, both del.icio.us and flickr are based on tags. However, note that in a mobile context, a ‘tag’ would have a different meaning to the term on the web. People do not like to enter a lot of information on a mobile device. Thus, a tag in a mobile sense, would be explicit information entered by the user(i.e. a ‘web’ tag) but more importantly information captured implicitly when the image was captured(for example the user’s location).

The service would enable you to

a) Search related images and get more information about a ‘camera phone image’ using historical analysis of metadata (including tags) from other users. This bit works like del.icio.us i.e. searching via tags BUT with a mobile element because the ‘tag’ could include many data elements that are unique to mobility(such as location)

b) ‘Share’ your images with others (either nominated friends or the general public similar to flickr but as a mobile service)

From a user perspective, the user would be able to

a) Capture an image using a camera phone alongwith metadata related to that image

b) Gain more information about that image from an analysis of historical data (either a missing element in the image or identifying the image itself)

c) Search related images based on tags

d) Share her image with others – either nominated friends or the general public

Let’s break down the components further. We need -

a) A mobile ‘tagging’ system at the point of image capture

b) A server side processing component which receives data elements from each user. It then adds insights based on historical analysis from data gleaned from other users.

c) An ability to deliver the results to the user(these could be a list of related images based on the tag or ‘missing’ information about the image)

d) A means to capture the user’s feedback to the results

e) A means to share images with others.

Tagging an image

It’s not easy to ‘tag’ a mobile image at the point of capturing it. In fact, in a mobile context, implicit tagging is more important than explicit tagging(An explicit tag being a tag which the user enters themselves).

At the point the image is taken from a camera phone, there are three classes of data elements we could potentially capture

a) Temporal for example the time that the image was captured

b) Spatial – The GPS location or cell id

c) Personal/Social - Username (and other personal profile information which the user chooses to share), presence, any tags that the user has entered, other people in the vicinity(perhaps identified by Bluetooth), other places of interest recently visited etc

The client component captures all the data elements and sends them to the server. It also displays the results from the server. (The garage cinema research uses a system called Mobile Media Metadata (MMM)which performs this function).

Server side processing

The server aggregates metadata from all users and applies some algorithms to the data. The data could also be ‘enriched’ by data sources such as land registry data, mapping data etc.

It then sends the results back to the user who can browse the results.

Finding ‘missing elements’ of your image

In many cases, it’s not easy to identify elements of the image(or in some cases, the image itself).

Consider the three images of Big Ben shown below

The third image is not very clear. It also includes two neighbouring ‘points of interest’ i.e. the river Thames and the house of parliament .

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Based on Meta data from other users, the ‘river Thames’ and ‘House of parliament’ could be identified to the person capturing the third image. This is because – potentially other users would have captured separate images of the three points of interest and tagged them.

Thus, if the third user wanted to know ‘the river in the image’ or the ‘building in the image’ – they would be presented with a likely set of related points of interest which could include the river Thames and the house of commons. (Laughably trivial – I know – but it illustrates the point!)

Sharing your images

This is the ‘flickr’ component. However, ‘sharing’ in a mobile context, also includes location. This is very similar to the ‘air graffiti’ system I described in my previous article.

To recap, from my previous blog, the air graffiti system is – the ability to ‘pin’ digital ‘post it notes’ at any physical point. Suppose you were at a holiday destination and you took a picture or a video of that location. You then ‘posted’ that note digitally with your comments and made it accessible to your ‘friends’. Many years later, one of your friends happened to come to that same place and as she walked to the venue, a message would pop up on her device with your notes, picture and comments.

Like flickr, ‘friends’ may be members of the general public with similar interests (i.e. like flickr ) or a closed group.

So, is this a mobile web 2.0 service?

Let’s consider some of the principles here(for a detailed explanation, please read my article Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence (Part one of three) )

• It’s a service and not packaged software.

• It’s scaleable.

• It utilises the ‘long tail’ i.e. input from many users as opposed to a core few.

• The service is managing a data source(it’s not just software).

• The data source gets richer as more people use the service.

• Users are trusted as ‘co-developers’ i.e. users contribute significantly.

• The service clearly harnesses ‘collective intelligence’ and by definition is ‘above the level of a single device’.

• Implicit user defaults are captured.

• Data is ‘some rights reserved’ – people are sharing their images with others.

The two aspects not covered above are

• A rich user experience and

• A lightweight programming model

These are implementation issues and could easily be included. So, IMHO – indeed this is an example of a mobile web 2.0 service!

Notes:

a) The example may sound trivial since Big Ben is a well known location – but the same principle could apply to images of other lesser known sites.

b) Of course, other types of data could be captured from the mobile phone for example video and sound.

c) There are no major technical bottlenecks as far as I can see(there are some commercial/privacy issues though).

d) From the above, you can see that Moblogging , in itself, is not an example of a web 2.0 service

e) There are a whole raft of problems when it comes to the network effect and mobility. I have not discussed these here.

As usual, seek comments. You can email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

References:

Garage cinema research

Mobile Media Metadata for Mobile Imaging : Marc Davis University of California at Berkeley and Risto Sarvas Helsinki Institute for Information Technology

From Context to Content: Leveraging Context to Infer Media Metadata

Marc Davis, Simon King, Nathan Good, and Risto Sarvas

University of California at Berkeley

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Image Two

Image three

USS Voyager Blueprint image : and http://www.startrek.com

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Permanent link: http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2006/01/mobile_web_20_a_1.html

85,000 new blogs a day!

85,000 new blogs are started each day in the UK. The number of active blogs is around 300,000 in the UK and 20 million worldwide. Still a small percentage of the very large number of existing and new blogs.

so, many thanks for reading this blog!

Source: metro jan 11 London