Please Mr. Carrier, May I Add Some Value?

Clay Shirky talks an imaginary phone (click to enlarge)

Clay Shirky, who studies the "recently possible" is speaking on the topic of phone as platform. He's presenting student work from his homebase, ITP.

First up is "PacManhattan" a PacMan-like "big game". That is, a game that uses humans moving around an real space. GPS didn't work well because 10-meter accuracy doesn't cut it for urban environments. So, they punted and used a control room that relayed instructions through the phone to players in the field.

The second game was ConQwest. The game used two-dimensional bar codes to post information around an area and players took camera phone pictures of the bar code and sent it to another computer for decoding and instructions.

Another example is, a social networking site that uses mobile phones. The mobile phone is the first thing since keys were invented that everyone carries around with them. He describes how he used to get to an event, it SMS'd messages to his friends where he was and also sent him an SMS telling him someone he was linked through someone else was also at the event. Dodgeball is a social mesh built on a P2P network.

Mobjects are bluetooth enabled objects that are viable and sensory. When you hug your mobject, for example, it uses your phone to send a message to someone else's phone and that causes their mobject to light up.

Some thoughts:

  • Standard connectivity beats local flexibility
  • Only the minimum platform is widespread
  • Camera is the first tool other than SMS to be normal
  • Device manufacturer's are unfamiliar with hackishness.
  • 0wnz3r3d by the carriers.
  • Server infrastructure is key.
  • Out-of-band is complementary
  • Voice is underused: phone trees, voice as .WAV