My Smart Phone Freedom Trilogy


I did a few articles for Wired that sort of form a trilogy. The last, which was published today, actually works best as the starting point:

The Place Where Android Thrives Outside of Google’s Control

The Quest to Build a Truly Free Version of Android

The German Plot to Give You Complete Control of Your Phone

See also: Meet the Hackers Who Want to Jailbreak the Internet

A Map Of Places You Haven’t Been

From The Atlantic:

In his final year at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, Tom Loois received a vague assignment: “Design your personal definition of silence.” Loois, whose training is in product design, had no idea what to do. He found himself, as the deadline approached, wandering around the city searching for inspiration. Then he noticed a little alley near his route home from school.

“I stopped my bike,” he says, “and I thought, ‘I’ve passed by here so many times but I’ve never been here.’ I don’t know where it goes, where it might lead.” It was a eureka moment for the Dutch designer. “I found my silence in the places I’d never been.”

Loois’s final project ended up being a smartphone app called BlankWays, which charts your progress through the city, noting which paths you’ve come down before and suggesting itineraries to cover new ground. The app indicates and measures which parts of the city you’ve traveled, and which you haven’t:

The Atlantic: Choosing the Paths Less Traveled? There’s an App for That

(via Amber Case)

Former DARPA Director Heading Up New Experimental Technology Department At Google

Remember how earlier this year Regina Dugan, the former director of DARPA, took a job at Google? Now we know what she’s up to there:

Google has also created a department within Motorola—Advanced Technology and Projects—comprised of researchers charged with finding cutting-edge technologies that could give Motorola’s products an edge. And the executive refresh includes a new senior vice president, Regina Dugan, a former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s long-term research arm. […]

But whether the DARPA research model can work in the fast-evolving world of smartphones is unclear, says Chetan Sharma, a wireless analyst in Seattle. “Regina does bring in outside perspective specially related to projects that are leaps, versus incremental steps,” he says. “However, this will need to be executed under the constraints of competition, time, and money.”

While DARPA has had some storied successes—such as the precursor to the Internet—it also freely admits that it often fails. And it has pursued some odd projects, such as setting up a research program to figure out how to reassemble shredded documents.

Technology Review: Can DARPA’s Strategy Help Motorola Compete Again?

New Interview with Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case

Cyborg Annthropology

Cyborganthropology.com, Cases website dedicated to the subject, identifies three categories of human-machine combo: “cybernetic organism”; “hybrid of machine and organism”; and “creature of both fiction and lived social reality.

“Case believes its the increasingly mobile internet and its ability to act as an extension of the brain—to store and share unique information with increasing automation and independence—thats turning more and more people cyborg. As Case says, shes not talking about Terminator, shes talking about the Facebook wall and the Twitter stream; how these technologies give us the ability to create an external version of our personalities with which others can interact in our physical absence.

She borrows the term “second self,” originally coined by sociologist Sherry Turkle, to describe this unique digital existence.”When people first went online, they had avatars and fake names and silly pictures and would play around with… multiple identities and it wasnt a big deal,” explains Case. “It was fun, it was play. Now, peoples identities are tied. You sign up to Facebook with your real name.

“Not only does the modern internet user create a second self thats more closely related to the person behind the machine, but their relationships with their computing devices are becoming more intimate. An integral aspect of Cases cyborg studies is to track these changes.

Portland Mercury: I, Cyborg

My interview with Amber is here.

What to do with Winksite

Well, I’ve got this site, and Technoccult, launched as Winksites. But I wanna find some other uses for Wink than syndicating existing sites.

One idea, is to create bits of fiction to be read on mobiles. In “slipstream” are suitable genres. Hmmm… a slipstream literary journal, for cell phones?

(of course, the site wouldn’t be available only to mobile, but would be created with mobiles in mind… It’s easy to use Movable Type to post to the web, RSS, and e-mail. The RSS feed can be used by Wink, and the e-mail can go to a Yahoo! group, which provides its own set of options.)

I would also like to see Wink used for more political stuff… not sure what yet, though. How widely available is WAP in 3rd world countries? Perhaps this would be a suitable environment to begin constructing a set of bookmarks for “digitally divided” countries, as Josh proposed on MW a while back.

tunA: mobile wireless music sharing

An interesting project from Medialap Europe:

tunA is a mobile wireless application that allows users to share their music locally through handheld devices. Users can “tune in” to other nearby tunA music players and listen to what someone else is listening to. Developed on iPaqs and connected via 802.11b in ad-hoc mode, the application displays a list of people using tunA that are in range, gives access to their profile and playlist information, and enables synchronized peer-to-peer audio streaming.

tunA could accommodate a number of scenarios in which people gather during the course of the day. For example, while riding the bus or subway to and from work, people could discover what other commuters are listening to nearby and perhaps get to know each other over time. Or while spending an afternoon in a park or on the beach, people could tune in to the music their friends are listening while relaxing under the sun and have a shared music experience without disturbing others nearby who don’t wish to listen to music.

(via City of Sound)

Hypertag: corporate virtual graffiti

Hypertag is a system for linking web pages directly from physical objects, such as movie posters or billboards. Just point your phone at a movie poster, and it will take you to the movie’s site.

Smart Mobs: Hypertags: Clicking On The Physical World


From the 1st International Moblogging Conference blog, Torispace:

We have developed a new GPS based photo mapping album

  • focusing on 10-20 year old women market first, but can be used by anyone
  • its very easy to use
  • take your photo
  • send it to our special server
  • GPS, time and the image are sent to the server
  • automatically it is uploaded and mapped
  • the user can see it in their site space whenever they want to
  • Heres a movie of when we went hiking and how we enjoyed it afterwards
  • Virtual graffiti

    I’ve been hearing about “virtual graffiti” systems for a while, but now there’s some stuff actually happening. The idea is to be able to place virtual notes in spaces that would be accessable through cell phones and the like.

    Geonotes (via Many to Many) from Sweden have a wifi based solution, but it only works with Lucent base stations. Still, from my understanding of it, anyone with Win2k, Linux or Savaje OS, a wifi card, and the GeoNotes could leave a location specific note in a Lucent base station (even if the base station doesn’t have special software installed?).

    And according to this report (via City of Sound) there’s a Finish company offering some similar service:

    An experimental system in Helsinki called Flirt enabled mobile users to leaves virtual messages or ?hanging data? in specific locations which would be picked up by the next user to pass the same location. The experiment turned the city into a chatroom of flirty Finns.

    And here are some fun things you could do with some of this tech: Location Aware Game Ideas

    (via Head Map).

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