Social Technologies Summit – Day 3 (Part 1)

May 15th, 2009

Its day 3 of the conference and I’m already starting to feel conference fatigue. I’m also not sure to this blogging aspect, which requires me to record much more detailed notes during the event and as a result, I seem to be spending lots of time on my laptop rather than trying to meet people face to face. Its ironic in a conference that is about social technologies, we are not making actual physical connections (I’m not the only person in the conference with my head buried in my laptop) but actually interacting with our virtual social network.

By the way, Sarah Hartley who is a journalist is also blogging at this event so you might like to check out what she thought of the conference.

The morning session was divided up into a keynote speaker and shorter presentations in the Mobile discussion stream. The keynote was by Adam Greenfield (who is head of Design Direction at Nokia) discussing the issues surrounding networked urbanism. A detailed review of this keynote will be in Part 2.

Mobile Stream
A majority of the talks are around the idea of geo-locations applications and art projects. The rise of GPS enabled mobile devices. Tristan Thielmann asked how locative media might be able solve the climate debate. Alfie Dennen presented art related projects that dealt with issues of geo-located media which is a result of combining mobile devices with location geo-marking photography. Selene Kolmen works for Bliin, which is a location aware platform for GPS mobile devices. It allows users to geo-tag their sms message, photographs and enabling users to make public their locations and vice versa to find their friends who might be close by.

Christian Licoppe is interested in studying the phenomenon of Japanese MOGI game, a mobile multiplayer gameplay. Its a game ‘on the move’ where you pick up ‘virtual’ items and trade them with other players. It was quite interesting talk in the sense of highlighting how patterns of social interactions changes. Some of the more interesting conclusions that came out of his study were the reshaping of mobility patterns, the emergent of hybrid territories comprised from the real and the virtual environment, between web and mobile and a new zoology of new types of social encounters in these hybrid environment.

The panel discussion at the end discussed issues around possible emergent behaviours that might arise from the rise of using GPS enabled mobile devices. Features that enable a user to toggle their location on/off and provide different levels of location granularity (pinpoint to city, rather than a street) should be an important consideration for future developers.

Semantic Web Stream
The after lunch session was the Semantic Web: Cultural Algorithms stream. It featured 2 speakers, Tom Ilube who had the keynote and Roland Harwood who was from NESTA. Tom Illube spoke mostly about how the semantic web is different from the current WWW. The semantic web is a web of linked data rather web of documents, it is a web of links and relationship. He talked about RDF (Resource Description Framework) and SPARQL (an RDF query language). I’m showing my ignorance here and actually had to look up what RDF stood for and thought that SPARQL was spelt ‘Sparkle’! So what is the difference between the current web and a semantic web? He gave the examples of the Friends of a Friend project, which creates a Web of machine-readable pages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do. In theory, it means that a user won’t be penalised for choosing a different tools or service (like Facebook) and not be able to share with friends who have made different choices. I can’t wait!

Roland Harwood from NESTA gave a rather disjointed talk, but its probably due to that fact that he decided alter his talk from being about deciphering trust in networked innovation to discussions around behaviours in the different types of social structures. These structures are formal hierarchies, informal networks, heterachies (multiple hierarchies bumping into each other). Formal structures are fragile and can be disrupted by informal structures which could lead to interesting and new emergent behaviours.

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