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Wireless networking

Local Practice, Global Reach?

I spent the first session of this second day at AoIR 2008 as a member of a panel on academic publishing - I didn't blog this, for obvious reasons. This second session starts with a paper on "Transcoding Place" by Vicki Moulder, in the overall area of social design and media convergence. How do communities enact agency in this space, especially given that digital social architecture is a fluid system, unlike conventional physical architecture?

Designers and creative professionals have a responsibility and are able to cause real change in design; this is especially important in the context of the changes brought about by media convergence. Can meaningful online agency (e.g. tagging and uploading content to YouTube and other social media sites) compare in any real sense with activism on the streets? Vicki and her colleague Jim Bizzocchi examined this question in the context of the Crude Awakening event at Burning Man, comparing the semantic structure of a face-to-face event in the Nevada desert (attended by some 45,000 spectators) with its video documentation (which was uploaded to YouTube by numerous users within hours of the event).

A Mixed Bag of Filesharing, WiFi, and Me Talking about Wikinews

And we're in the first Association of Internet Researchers conference session for Saturday - unfortunately I couldn't blog the first presenter as she was running her Powerpoint off my laptop. Sunyi Lee from Northwestern University presented on possible business and licencing models for p2p filesharing, and ended with a useful point on the change of the conceptualisation of music, from music as product (selling CDs, DVDs, etc.) to music as service - where users may pay for access rather than distinct units of merchandise.

Sorin Matei: Mapping WiFi and Encryption in Lexington

The second speaker is Sorin Matei from Purdue University, presenting on the process of diffusion in wireless networks. Can there be a predictive model for the diffusion and encryption standards in wireless networking technologies (focussing here on WiFi, 802.11 standards)? What is interesting about WiFi is that at least in the beginning it was a replacement techniology for ethernet LANs, but was soon sold as a technology of freedom (from wires) in the residential market, creating always-on, personal connectivity. Further, WiFi can also be seen as a 'realm of dissent' in which the 'community network' movement can reinvent itself.

Wireless and Wirelessless

University of Sussex LibraryAnd we're off … the first sessions at AoIR 2004 (about 8 running simultaneously) have started now. I'm in one on mobile phones and wireless access. Kakuko Miyata starts this session, speaking of Internet use through mobile phones in Japan. She has three research questions: who uses mobiles to access the Net, how do people use these media, and does the use of the Net increase their social capital?

Up Bright(on) and Early

The view from my hotel room, complete with collapsed pier.Well, I'm in Brighton now - staying right now at a hotel just on the famous beach before I transfer to the University of Sussex for the Association of Internet Researchers conference today. Lots of noise last night, though, which isn't what you want when you're sleeping off your jetlag, so I've decided to make the best of it and get up early for a bit of a walk along the beachside.

Excavating Mobile Media

Erkki Huhtamo is the second speaker in this keynote session. He is a Finn who is now based at UCLA, and will present notes towards an archaeology of mobile media. His full paper is available for download from the ISEA2004 site. He begins by reflecting on the future of mobile media - a nice image of the upcoming Sony Pocket Playstation device (strangely enough with an image of the hand of the alien from Alien reaching for Harry Dean Stanton's head - some ironic self-reflection on Sony's part? Probably not).

On the other and, how do you 'do' the history of the new - is it a kind of 'current history'? Huhtamo is interested in the 'secret' histories of new media (this fits well with the previous keynote). This means digging beyond dominant histories, working against what he calls corporate 'cryptohistories' (idealised versions of history) and looking without a predetermined goal in mind. Additionally, he is interested in uncovering cyclical, recurring ideas or topoi in history. Important to remember in this is that media exist always within the cultural frameworks that envelop them (media specificity may therefore be cultural specificity), and it is therefore also important to pay attention to its discursive dimension.

Partially Disconnected Wireless Experience

Well, we're in sunny (no, really) Helsinki now. And unfortunately there's a problem with the wireless connection - so I guess I'll blog this off-line for now and will then try to upload it later. Ironically, today's theme is 'wireless experience'...

 Sofas on Stage?The Lume Media Centre (part of the University of Art & Design Helsinki) where we are at the moment is a nice refurbished building, all built in typically efficient and user-friendly Nordic design. There's even a couple of sofas on stage for the panel sessions! (I'm taking photos and will try to add them to these blog entries when I get them developed. For next time, I really have to get a digital camera...

Back to Wearables

We're now back to talking about wearable technologies, with a focus on embedded devices. Kelly Dobson from MIT makes the start. Some interesting work on human/machine feedback - e.g. a blender whose speed responds to the intensity of how a human operator growls at it. Some anthropomorphising of machines, or mechanomorphising of humans? She's also developed body extensions like a wearable bag called ScreamBody which a user can scream into (without being audible to anyone), thus recording their scream, and the later release the scream elsewhere, as well as HugBody (recording and recalling hugs).

Tallinn Reflections

Tallinn's WiFiedTallinn (and by extension, I guess, Estonia) is an interesting place. The rapid changes it's gone through over the last decade or so seem evident at every street corner - from the many new buildings and cars to the renovation work all over town to the English-language for sale/rent signs everywhere. This is also the first place I've ever seen an official city council WiFi hotspot sign!

City Hall under Surveillance?What's interesting is that any evidence of the past under Soviet rule is virtually absent. Russian language is nowhere to be seen, and is heard mainly as you walk past the building workers and the old women at the flea markets. On the other hand, the antiques and souvenir stores are full of discarded Red Army hats and medals, Lenin and Stalin busts, and Russian orthodox icons.

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