Monday, October 03, 2005

Originally uploaded by anitamobile.

Thursday, July 28, 2005
  Lousy Games

Originally uploaded by anitamobile.

I opened up my RCR Wireless News today. The center lead story "Lousy Games". Below is some of the article that I think is really good, besides the continuation link, which reads "See BAD GAMES on Page 20".

Developers, publishers and carriers are bringing new titles to market every day in their haste to cash in on the exploding mobile-game industry. But the crush of new games includes far too many mediocre offerings, some say.

"My fear is that we have games that have great names but that give the user a bad experience," said Jason Ford, general manager of games for Sprint PCS. ... We reject probably 50 percent of the concepts that come in the door," Ford said earlier this month, adding that he was in the process of rejecting one branded title from a major publisher. "(Our acceptance) doesn't always go in line with big names or big publishers. ... It's on a game-by-game basis."

The problem isn't as much what gets filtered out, though, as what gets onto the carrier decks, which are the most prized real estate in the wireless content industry. Games with eye-catching titles based on big-budget Hollywood blockbusters or noted console franchises often get premium deck placement and may be the most attractive to users trying out games for the first time.

The key to creating more quality games is moving beyond traditional games to titles that take advantage of the platform, said Erickson. While the wireless phone is an undeniably poor platform for traditional games, game makers have yet to take full advantage of its connectivity and mobility. Publishers should also develop games that offer self-refreshing content, Erickson said, encouraging user interaction and extending a game's life cycle.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  No phones in chicago
"A law imposing a $50 fine for those using cell phones while driving goes into effect Friday. The fine increases to $200 if the driver gets in an accident while talking on the phone."

This law went into effect on July 8th. I find it ironic that in a city where no helmet law is enforced for motorcycle riders and smoking is still permitted in public areas, that phones while driving are banned. Im not saying that they shouldn't be, Im just saying I find it rather ironic.

I don't think I'd get accomplished half the business meetings that I need to, if that were the case here.

Monday, July 18, 2005
  How MVNOs change the experience
As we begin to see MVNO trends really take shape, how does the experience to the user change? I've been thinking quite a bit about this lately.

Disney, ESPN, and AMPed are just a few rather new MVNOs, which will begin to shape how users experience the mobile lifestyle. Instead of having to deal with a carrier middleman, content providers will be able to control the whole experience down to the billing and payment. It will be much more about brand recognition, and much less about infrastructure quality.

The service pricing will influence the brand. Service pricing will be just as much a part of the brand, as much as a brand will be about its pricing. What sort of implications will this have on brands? Will it mean that one is more premium, one is more economical? What is the monetary essence of Disney?

It is especially interesting, too, to consider the type of targeted content that will now be available. As a third party developer knowing that all my users are age 18-25 on X MVNO makes it much easier to deliver a specific product to a targeted demographic. More specificity will be available, and as such, more opportunity to sell directed content. This I see as a big win for many different parties.

Even more so, though, as a designer I am interested in how this new "total experience" is going to influence the consumer experience in each product. In general, I think it could make the whole experience easier for users to understand. From an interaction stand point, the experience will now be more inclusive: hardware purchasing, service, and content will all be controlled by one brand. Bundling all these price points to really drive a product, both limits choices but makes things much easier on the end user. [Apple does this very well!] For example if I want to purchase the latest mo-blogging phone software, maybe my MMS service becomes cheaper. Or if I want streaming TV or radio, maybe my dataplan is automatically unlimited, without me having to choose that option too. The focus shifts from service to function. What do I want my portable device to do? The pricing, service, and even hardware for the best experience could then naturally come along with it.

I see a big powerful shift beginning to emerge. As we understand better how to cater the entire experience, I think we could also see content adoption process eased and more varied [not just games, wallpaper, and ringtones] content sales.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
  Google bought Dodgeball!
I thought this deserved some notice, since Dennis and Alex have been doing it all on their own!


Well done!

  Impulse information
The other day, I went to see Mimi Ito speak about the work she did on Camera Phones. I’ve heard her talk before, but I thought I’d go again to hear her work once more. At the end of the talk she mentioned a great metaphor, casually. She said that the phone wasn’t replacing the desktop, but instead that it was replacing gum and cigarettes. Yesterday, while I was working, I mentioned to my friend, Ted from 4info, of how to think about designing a mobile app. My analogy: think about designing for a 5 year old.

No attention, clear and direct, simple!

On the way home, we were chatting about the web on phones. We were talking about what a better metaphor for browsing the web on the phone would be. I was reminded of Mimi’s thoughts.

Impulse information.

Impulse information is something that you need within a few seconds of thinking of it. If it takes too much time, then your addiction and impulse wears off. You want to find that one thing. You want to find it fast. You want to find it now. You know what it is you are craving. The challenge is just to get it quickly.

You don’t want to browse through a lot of pages. You don’t want to sift through irrelevant content. You don’t want to be bogged down by massive hierarchical structures. You want something flat, quick, and satisfying. Something like a piece of chocolate after a big meal, a piece of candy at 4:00, a sip of coffee after a long meeting, or even a cigarette after sex. You need it. You want it. The moment matters.

The implications rethinking some of the way the web is structured could have implications structurally, functionally, and with content. Do we still necessarily need links, or is search better? Flatter databases with content that is readily available at a top level just waiting to be picked by an accurate query. Less network interactions. What would it mean to pear down content to only the really relevant information. Could we actually start to include short hand or texting phrases into content pages. Btw, w/o, 2, U, 4, etc. Cryptic perhaps, but if you get what you want and you get it now, perhaps more satisfying.

Taking this thought one step further… I venture to wonder… instead of the information age… are we beginning to enter the information addiction age? If so, sign me up for the closest IA.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
  Undergroud news
On my way down to Palo Alto this morning, I opened the New York Times to see the headline article “A Hundred Cellphones Bloom, and Chinese Take to the Streets”. I open the business section, three more headline articles appear there about mobile phones and telecommunications. A sign of the times.

The Chinese article is a very interesting one about the Chinese anti-Japanese protests. As protestors raged into the streets of China, Chinese authorities banned almost all state media coverage. It hardly mattered though. Instead, underground conversations via email, text, and IM online offered the perfect medium for protestors to keep organizing. “The underground noise grew so loud that last Friday the Chinese government moved to silence it by banning the use of text messages or emails to organize protests.”

The messaging underground sparks many ideas in my head about collaborative communication vehicles and real-time broadcast of events and political movements. What if there was a central repository of all those text messages, IM’s, or emails. A new source of live coverage would exist, without even trying to.

As well what if people could view and interact with that channel while on their mobiles or on their desktops. An organizational tool, as well as a broadcast tool. A group communication tool.

The collective repository could also be used as grassroot news aggregation. Perhaps something a kin with “real news” from the eyes of the participants instead of the commentators. Live commenting, emotion, and clips… not after the fact analysis.

Friday, April 22, 2005
  Still awaiting the 'killer app' game
The buzz about the casual game continues... Today from The Feature:

He also brings up the dreaded killer app argument, saying it's something the market "still awaits," adding that it won't be a console port, but something that engages the mobile phone as a communication device, incorporating cameras and network connectivity. While it's good to see a developer realizing the potential for immersive interactivity the mobile platform provides, this seems at odds with the success of casual games, based on simplicity and playability -- the formula for success of Tetris, which is pretty close to being mobile gaming's "killer app".

Simple. Interactive. Camera. Network. Fun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
  Casual Games, Flash Lite, and Mobie Audience Participation
Tom Hume today has sited some more things about casual gaming. If you haven't yet got the message... 2005 is all about the casual game!! I'm going to try to keep following Tom and his project. I'm curious to learn more about it, as I think that Tom has many of the right approaches!

Bryan Rieger posted this curious murmor that Ericsson has begun to install Flash Lite in the k750i and the k600i and maybe the z800i and w800i. Is this true? If so, that would be excellent! But, why on earth do we not know about it for sure yet?

And my own little personal blurb that a friend of mine told me last week on more social uses of mobiles. Apparently at the U2 concert here in Oakland a couple weeks ago, you could SMS your name to a short code and they would run a ticker beind the band. Your name would then be displayed as part of the show. I wonder what other small interesting uses of these things people will start to have. Could this be the first use of participatory interaction in public entertainment? Can't wait until you can control/ influence more of the show.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
  Presence Levels, Intimacy, IM, and Multiple Devices
I woke up this am and went jogging with Lara early! Ahhhh....

Last Saturday night, Michael Orourke came over and we had a nice conversation about the nature of presence and how this will transform and remain persistent across multiple devices. We are starting to see this as IM clients allow you to remain connected at all times through the same conduit but on multiple devices. How will this transfer as we begin to integrate with other devices, like TV? Our thoughts concluded with your phone acting as a remote into other devices, allowing you to transfer your presence to that device and then interact with that device. Different input devices will allow you to interact with those other devices. You may choose to use your pc and keyboard to interact with the presence on the TV... or perhaps your phone, if you have to go out the garage, but want to continue the conversation.

I then read this article that Howard Reingold wrote of an interview with Scott Jenson.
WAP and MMS failed to meet expectations because services were designed by what Jenson calls "default thinking," a clichéd and unquestioned mindset that combines "a weak collection of axioms of design, broad market visions, or rules of execution that aren't clearly articulated. This collection exists in the background, much like the assumption that gravity exists."

The companies who assumed that the coolness of sending photos would automatically make MMS an even bigger hit than the accidental success of SMS were victims of default thinking: "While indeed, there appears to be an intuitive value to 'sending a photo,' additional questions such as 'Do people really need this?' and 'What are they doing in their lives where this is a large value?' need to be asked."

Jenson uses the notions of "design semantics" (the broader motivational issues underlying an act of communication) and "design syntax" (the way the screens and menus look when someone tries to communicate) to illustrate the important differences between SMS and MMS.

He goes on to outline four different killer apps of MMS and SMS that have yet to be implemented.

The first centers around gift giving. This reminds me of the work done at HP, by Mirjana Spasojevic. This paper, talks about, the Social Uses of the Camera Phone, and I was reminded of one example she uses as an example of such gift-giving with these devices. One of her subjects received a bunch of flowers. "She waited until the flowers bloomed and then thanked the giver by capturing and printing an
image of them, and sent the print in a letter with a written “thank you” note." Although a bit different mechanism for gift giving, the intention and user motivation is the same that Scott Jenson is talking about here.

The other killer apps that Jenson outlines are centered more around presence.

The product Jenson calls "Tap" would require custom software on the handset to send and receive SMS messages that convey only the time and the identity of the sender. "Although no text is sent, the message isn't really empty of content as it has a sender and an arrival time, both of which can have meaning depending on social context. This text-free message can be thought of as the social equivalent of a tap on the shoulder" that could convey different messages, depending on context.

This is the same notion that Mimi Ito refers to as "Remote Touching" which enables a sense of presence to be conveyed. It's not the same level of presence that IM transferring your availability messages via platforms would afford, but it is a more intimate type of presence. One that conveys your intention and thoughts, not only your availability. Perhaps it even borders on the notion of a gift.

I think this brings up interesting thoughts on levels of presence. As we allow our lives to become integrated more and more into the virtual, I think we will start to see different applications which will afford us the ability to 1. make apparent some of our real-world actions through the interaction with different devices 2. allow different small notions of intimacy to be transferred easily through different mediums. The more intimate touches, will be used with a closed social network, while the others maybe broader in their appeal.

The other apps that Scott Jenson finishes up talking about reinforce this notion. One is allowing voice as the gift instead of just text and the end is a group texting service which aggregates and sends messages in groups instead of just an inbox. I'm sure the level of intimacy within these groups will also be defined. I think giving users tools to do this will be an inherent part of conveying presence.

I want my coworkers to know where I can be contacted easiest at all parts of the day, but I want my friend to know that I was just had a random thought that reminded me of him. Would a model of presence intimacy, like this get us closer to the modeling of strong and weak ties... where weaker ties are allowed less presence levels and stronger ties are allowed more?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
  No man is an Island
I think it's funny how things always come back around. Maybe it's good karma, maybe it's the circular beauty of life. Maybe i'm just lucky!

Today I had a great talk with an old friend Jim Lanahan. Jim was the first inspiration, visionary, motivator, helper for Erick and I to dream further than we had ever thought. He was the first person to encourage us to take things to the next level. It was nice to catch up with Jim and hear how well he was doing and to hear equally inspiring words, from someone who has been down similar paths before... almost a year later.

No man is an island.

Reading what Jyri Engstrom and Russ have to say about Object Oriented Sociality has made me think a bit too. Jyri has posted a great article about what drives people together to connect and to become friends. While Jyri uses "object" I tend to think of it more as "activity". People love to do things together, humans are social by nature. They group together to get things done. They meet one another based on similar interests, whether that be talking, playing soccer, sharing photos, dining, working, etc. They like to do things together.

When I was interviewing people about sharing pictures back at school last year, they talked a lot about "group sharing", but the groups were of specific purpose or activity. Some talked of making slideshows for the soccer team others talked about sharing with their burning-man friends. People oriented their groups of friends around things they like to do.

And yes, I think it's true any site that fails to incorporate this in the model of social networking will probubly fail. I immediately think of Friendster. When my friends were all actively joining and signing up, I just didn't really get it. If I wanted to talk to them, I would. How does it inhance our "connection"? How does it help us have fun, share something together, become better at whatever brought us together in the first place? What is it I gain?

Now that they have added blogging, I might be able to see a common interest in those who like to blog or read blogs. But those who don't may still have little interest in the site. There is little they can do there or help them do what they want to do.

Russ's analogy of whoever has the most friends wins, makes me think of a pad of paper I had when I was younger. Of course as a teenage girl, I LOVED to talk on the phone. Our family used to take each other's messages on a pad that said "who ever has the most messages in the end wins", with a man at a desk drowning in messages. I can easily see how these links to people with nothing to do with them, just pile up, eventually suffocating us.

No man is an island... but I certainly don't want to drown in a boat load of "connections", sans meaning, either. "Connection", sans meaning, isn't that an oxymoron anyways?

Monday, April 04, 2005
  Happy Mobile Monday!
Tonight's Mobile Monday is at Yahoo!

Igor Jablakov: Program Director, Multimodal & Voice Portals, IBM Software Group

Fabrizio Capobianco: CEO and founder of Funambol, the company behind the open source mobile platform Sync4j

Jeff Clavier and Marc Brown: Buzznet

Thad White: Senior Director, Product Management at Yahoo!

I know Jeff and Marc will talk about absolutely amazing things! I really love what they are doing to reach the mainstream photo sharing community! And I used to work with/ for Thad. He's great as well! I think tonights event will be really good.

Plus some free munchies from Y! ... so what could be bad about it?

See you all there!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
  New New New... Change is so good!
I went to a show last night at Slims. I saw Ash and The Bravery. The show rocked! At the end of the show, the lead singer of The Bravery gave a shout out to Live 105 for being the first to play their music. I love this town! Innovation is everywhere!

Monday, I had a sensational day. I awoke to the FEDEX man delivering me my new PowerBook. "Happy Monday Morning Anita!" I've made the switch!!! I then moved to my new apartment and stayed there for the first night!!! Change is so good!

I posted something awhile back about life as an entreprenuer and as I get further into this all my perspective changes. I've realized that it is all much more personal than I thought, but at the same time it's still business. It's become as much if not more about inner struggles than outter.

I've had to take a step back or up, and think less about users, metaphors, affordances and graphics and much more about strategy, vision, and teammates. I've learned that these things are the crux of what is important. Product naturally follows.

I've learned even more the necessity of momentum. I talked before about pacing and inertia. I've always known the importance of this, but having felt it now build and halt has made it stick closely with me. It's so hard for Fred to start his car with his bare feet, but keeping it rolling he can do much easier. When he goes up a hill, he need's Barney's help. Its stunting to begin to travel along a path and shortly after have someone decide they don't want to continue any more. Be careful about when you choose to make these decisions!!

Most of all, though, remember that you are only human (well with caffeine maybe superish human).... Don't give up!!! I know I said it before, if you've never done this you are bound to make mistakes. I know I've made mine. If you make a mistake however, get up. Forget about it. Do something drastically new. Find new inspiration. Give yourself a new perspective. Open yourself up and allow new opportunity to spark.

And most of all... Embrace Change! New things spark new momentum, new inertia, and new ideas. They inspire. It's not going to end up how you thought it would. It's not going to happen the way you thought it would. Its just going to happen.

Change is so good!
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
  Auto Upload A Privacy Risk?
Steve Chan a student at SIMS (Berkeley, School of Information Management), which is the same program where Erick and I attended, recently lost his Nokia 7610 in Korea while on vacation. The interesting thing is that the newer version of the research Erick and I did was installed on the phone. Why is this so interesting?

Well, Garage Cinema Research is a group looking to explore automated capture of metadata. Mobile Media Metadata does it on Camera Phones. The software that was installed (MMM2) has an automatic upload function. So... someone has been using the phone and taking pictures of themselves... And we now have the pictures.

Mary Hodder, posted them here and has raised quite a few questions about privacy. They appear to be young girls, most likely under the age of 18. Should we be posting these pictures to find out who has the phone?

I on the other hand, am not so concerned with that question, but more the fundamental question that auto-uploading causes. Should content be transferred to another location without an active confirmation by the user? In some camera phone studies I did over the summer, one user told me that they were confused by Sprint's autosync mechanism. They understood when they sent their photos to the desktop, but sometimes, they reported that they would "just appear".

The flip side, is that for phone recovery purposes, crime protection, and phone storage limitations (not to mention general back up), this is actually a very good idea. Imagine if you witnessed a crime, took photos, somehow lost the phone or had it stolen. That evidence is still preserved. Or your memory is full, simply delete your photos and you already have them in an account somewhere.

The age privacy question that this incident sparks, however, is a rather interesting one. If the phone then falls into the hands of a minor... that content is no longer private. Even broader, it automatically ties the handset to a specific wired user account. Is that necessarily good?

Monday, March 21, 2005
  Yahoo! is Flickrized!
The rumors have been answered!

And here is Caterina Fake's words on it!

John Battelle says it was for $20M. $10 now and $10 later... but that's just gossip.

Congrats to all the Flickr folks!! You've done a fabulous fabulous job!!

Sunday, March 20, 2005
  Move over PodCasting... it's PSPCasting!!
If you haven't yet... check it out! PSPCasting!

Videora + PSP Video 9 represent the first pspcasting solution. Videora is used to automatically download video you want from the internet by utilizing BitTorrent and RSS technology. PSP Video 9 then automatically converts these videos into the video format that the PSP understands and automatically copies these videos to your PSP.

PSP in stores Thursday!
Thursday, March 17, 2005
  Women's Voice!
Today I am reminded of why I began this blog. Why I named it and why i began writing down my thoughts. I was surprised at how few women were present in the mobile industry... at conferences, mobile interest groups, and the industry at large. Im happy to say that at the last Mobile Monday, I counted 9 women. This is 7 more than, Elle and I, who used to be the only two there.

That's about 9% of the total attendance... the same amount percentage of the speakers who were female at Etech! Ha!

So, today I've been reading really interesting discussions about the gender difference at SXSW and ETech. David Weinberger, posted that only 5% of the papers from Etech came from woman this year... which, yes, resulted in about 9% of the total speakers being woman. Conversely, as Mary Hodder points out, about 50% of the crowd was female at SXSW.

I dont know if it's because it's emergent technology that it has a different appeal, or because of the difference structure of the conference itself.

Liz Lawley points out that there was a different, perhaps more social mood around SXSW.
Not all the faces were male. Not all of them were Caucasian. The voices were rich and varied. The vibe was open and warm. There were more conversations than there were pontifications. (SXSW doesn’t call panel participants “speakers,” either, which I like. We’re panelists. A subtle distinction, but one that makes a difference.)

Danah Boyd rants on marginilzed populations and how the in-crowd is the boy's club at Etech and it will continue to stay that way, if we don't address it, because they will keep socializing and keep reinviting one another to attend.

All I know is that Im bummed I didn't go to either and after reading all this...Damn it, I wish I would have submitted something to Etech!!

It's really important that we get female voice in emergent fields. The things we are creating are for both genders. It's the future of where we are going. It's important that we understand what we each need and important to converge on balanced opinions and ideas.

Perhaps there are certain flavors of events that men and woman are each drawn to, but we should start recognizing that and catering to those different appeals. Maybe we can try to think about ways we can create more interesting social dynamics or structures to public events that will draw a more mixed crowd and attract more women.

Food for thought.


ps. Please also continue to keep in mind Guy Kawasaki's Male Killer Gene theory...
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
  Thoughts on Hardware Design and Interaction
Russell has recently posted a few interesting posts this one and this one on the function and design of hardware. I've been enjoying thinking about these issues again, because inherently many of the problems mobile interaction designers have, is how to design things which integrate into extremely disparate hardware form factors.

Today Russ posted this:
Mobiles are the ultimate consumer computer. They are meant to be used by 12 year olds, teens, college kids, business people and your mother in law. But right now, the design of the interface is still way too confusing. Even Nokias which rank high on the usability scale have problems when it comes to using their phones. I was just talking to someone today about the "overloading" problem with Nokia. The re-use the same button for different, completely disparate tasks: like your power button to change audio profiles. What?! And the fact that if you click the menu button once, you go back to the home screen, and if you click it again you go to the menu, and if you hold it down, you get a list of running apps. On other phones, they have a tendency to do things like combine the power and hang up keys. Huh?
The problem he is describing here, is a classic problem of modal interfaces. As Jef Raskin so clearly coined: "Modes can change the effects of habitual actions they can cause errors or draw away the user’s
locus of attention from the intended task."

In summary:
In his book, Jef argues that all modes are evil, whether we are talking modal dialog boxes, different selection modes in graphical editors, or even having different applications that behave differently. Since humans are creatures of habit, we have a hard time remembering which mode the computer is, because we want to focus on the task at hand; modes divert our attention to keeping track of the mode, and hence slow us down.
Often too much functionality will be crammed into one button or object, with the intent of space saving. It seems that manufactures have been revisiting the multi-modal interface. The problem, however, as Russ points out is pattern recognition and recall. We think the button means one thing, but then it means something different. Moreover it brings up a questions of language. Trying to use the same term to mean two different modes creates errors. For example, back meaning clear. "The problem with overloading the clear and back buttons is that if you get into a text entry screen and change your mind half way through? If you don't have a back button, you can't escape without deleting all your text character by character first." But I bet a lot of people try to do it, thinking that they will go "back" to their previous state.

As 3rd party developers it's challenging to decide to follow similar interaction patterns to their native software or to create a new interaction paradigm for the user to learn. Users have often already learned (or perhaps created) how to use their devices, recognizing that there are problems with them, do we try to recreate the interface or choose to accept the principles and design in accord to what the user already knows?

When I was at Yahoo! we thought about this a lot. Building a brand... do you a. create a new interaction that remains consistent across devices or b. make it easier on the user by customizing each interaction mechanism, per device. The second is obviously better to the end user. Building on mechanisms which they already understand, customize each experience per handset. However, that becomes outrageously costly. Porting each application is one thing, but customizing the entire interface is another altogether. What we decided then, and I've stuck with, is to find the common hardware elements that are mostly consistent across devices and utilize those to be the main controls and interaction controls into your app. The question then is what are those hardware elements? At one point I had suggested that we survey old phones and try to ascertain which hardware interfaces are sticking around and which have gone by way of the roadside. Remember the side direction buttons instead of the joystick for directional navigation? Trying to find patterns in the hardware interaction features can then help us guess which ones may be present in the future and thus help drive the software interaction models.

I still wish someone would do this survey.

Currently, what I go on as common features are: 5-way joystick. If necessary a secondary, 2 softkeys. If I can design things which only utilize those hardware features, I’m pretty confident that the experience will a. work in almost the same manner across all phones b. be easily portable (ie save time and money) c. not break any current models the user has for how those hardware features work. Directional navigation, select, back. That's it! (Sometimes that means that there are two back keys. I believe that's better than none.)

It sure would be nice, though, if some people decided to start converging on things like back, home, and clear! Duplication within our apps then wouldn't have to exist. We can change the language of our apps to be consistent across devices, but why should we have to?

The first step, I think, to recognizing which hardware mechanisms on the device really do make sense is abstracting all the things we want to do. I think we may just be getting to this point. Then obviously think about the common interactions and keep abstracting. When a common pattern can't be found put another element! The iPod is such a great example at an abstracted interface. Navigation and select... that's it! (Yes, back would be nice). What would a phone look like with just a directional navigation and select? The problem is that we have already decided that there needs to be dedicated hardware to specific functions. It's when we start to pull these specific functions out and give them each a new button that things get crowded. We already decided that 9 numeric keys are necessary. But who's to say that's true. Mfoundry has an awesome text entry interface, that is perhaps faster then T9 and only uses directional navigation and select. Two buttons. Maybe it's a problem of too many shortcuts. Or perhaps not understanding enough which ones are really essential.

"So wait, am I just recreating the web browser on my mobile phone? Sorta... and even if I am, that may not be a bad thing." That makes sense, Russ, cause after all aren't we in the browser war of the mobile revolution? ... and just beginning to really understand what users are doing with their mobiles?

Saturday, March 12, 2005
  Last GDC post

The LG SV360 rocks! Besides the PSP and Nintendo DS most of the rest of the exhibition floor was covered with 3D rendering for mobile games. Except for this guy! In an earlier review:
although of course suffering from the does-two-things-good-but-neither-one-really-well syndrome, is quite an intriguing little device. To blame? The built-in accelerometer which lets you control games by moving the SV360 around mid-air.

And what fun it is. Boasting a graphics accelerator chip capable of cranking out 1 million polygons per second, games playing on the unit I fondled in Cannes were actually rather nice for a) not being developed by an established brand name, and b) playing on a mobile phone. To top things off, a 2.2" TFT colour display with what appeared to be QVGA resolution proved sufficient screen estate to actually play games and not just squint at them.

I played a snowboarding game which was controlled by moving the device itself! And I have to admit it was completely fun! I'm sure there are some more interesting things we can think of that will utilize an accelerometer rather than just for single player gaming. I wonder if multiplayer games could contain a component where you had to control balance and positioning, maybe you are riding two persons on dog sled, or motorcycle, or maybe you are both walking toward each other on a narrow swaying bridge through the jungle.

Also on Friday, Will Wright gave a great talk revealing his new game: Spore! Much like SIMS it involves content and world creation on the part of the player. If you have ever wanted to build your own world in space or maybe a bubble world on Mars, or better yet travel out of the galaxy. You will now be able to do it. As well, it allows you to port living species from one place to colonize the next, but careful execution must be taken as not all living environments elicit the same organic properties. So if you take a being from the moon to Pluto, but forget to build in conditions to allow them to breathe or live... they'll blow up! Right there in front of you.

Please remember the oxygen!
Thursday, March 10, 2005
  GDC Awards
Last night were the Game Developers Choice Awards! For the full list of winners you can look here on Slashdot, but I I would like to recognize a few myself...

Multimedia message

Best Game: Half-Life 2 (Valve Software / Vivendi Universal Games)- photo above
Innovation: I Love Bees (4orty2wo Entertainment)
Game Design: Katamari Damacy (Namco)
Visual Arts: World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment)

Im so excited that I Love Bees won an award. SO EXCITED! It's proof that where we are headed is not just the land of more graphic video games. It validates the movement towards games that involve the real world, the imaginary world, and everything in between. Im thrilled that this game was recognized. I was chatting with Jane McGonigal (4orty2wo Entertainment) last night, she was of course thrilled herself, but she agreed... It's a monumental shift that an immersive game was actually recognized amongst all the big graphic guys. WhoooHooo!

My hats off to Half-Life 2! I was so sure that WOW was going to take so many of these awards. Everyone I know, right now, is completely obsessed with WOW... completely obsessed! Perhaps proof of the bubble in which I live. I was thrilled when some other great games were recognized. Congrats Half-Life 2 Guys! I do have to say, though, that WOW is a completely fascinating game... all the way from the social, economic, and visual angles. I look forward to seeing what happens when it has been around for longer then a few months. I have yet to make the plung. It's probably what is keeping me sane. Congrats to the WOW guys too for getting noticed for such a pretty game!

And Katamari Damacy?... what more do I say about then extremely well deserved and totally awesome! Another innovative game.

I think this year we are going to see some really really really cool stuff emerge!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
  GDC Mobile: It's all about the Casual Game
For the last two days I've been hearing some very interesting going-ons at GDC Mobile.

Monday, some folks from EA gave a talk and are beginning to ramp up their efforts in the mobile front.

Karthik Swaminathan gave a nice talk outlining some of the perceptual cues necessary for consuming content on a small screen. Where basic psychological cues become bigger factors. Things such as contract, proximity, peripheral vision, and grouping all become ever more important on a small screen when your eyes are focusing on such a small focal point. Many of us practice these things on a daily basis, but rehearing the basic constructs from where they were formed was quite nice.

As well: Matt Haney gave a good talk on the philosophy of mobile game design. He talked about drawing in ideas from The Schedules of Reinforcement, by Skinner, The Stages of Birth, from Jean Piaget, and Maslow's Hierarchy. While, I have to admit most of these learnings can be applied to most Game Design as a whole, Matt did do an excellent job of pointing out that games are about Fullfilling Basic Needs. He noted that most games about fulfilling simple needs, for example the game Perfection about pattern matching, Battleship about sorting and searching, and Tamagotchi about parenting.

Yesterday, my friends (Marko Turpeinen, Fernando Herrera, and Risto Sarvas) at HIIT Digital Content Communities Group gave a nice presentation on some of the work they are doing there with Community Photo Sharing. I worked with folks at HIIT while at Berkeley and much of our work continues to be very parallel. Futurice, a small (excellent) Symbian Developer company just released their first commercial product of the work done at HIIT. It's about sharing photos on your mobile with your private group of friends. The product is called Photos to Friends ( In their words: "Free and Private Photo Sharing." Marko gave a nice plug about Caterpillar Mobile (yeah!) and it sparked some great discussion in the audience about gaming with photos, not just the camera (which was really quite nice to hear). I think we are doing things that people will really like.

That leads me to what I have found as the most interesting thing about going to GDC: THE HYPE OF THE CASUAL GAME. It seems as though many people are just beginning to really understand this concept. They are talking about how the market for mobile games is NOT the same as the gamer market. They are trying to figure out how to create short burst, interesting games which users can play in their free time. However, many of the people in this space are coming at it from a gamers perspective. They are talking about high-end 3D rendering engines, haptic responses, and tactile reflexes. They are using the camera for coordinates or putting real images on character bodies, just because they can. They are thinking about how to create video games. Only mobile video games requiring short interaction times.

I find it very interesting. I don't think of it that way, and don't know if I ever did. At anyrate, the buzz around the conference was that the next killer app would be something that was totally immersive with a short augmented experience. However, creating that experience by thinking about narrative stories with fully developed characters and trying to place real photos on their heads will hardly get you there.

I was talking with Liz Goodman last night. We both have a similar perspective on this (maybe that's why we both have had such similar projects). Why not start with a real world experiences and then augment part of it. Why not first study how children play with sticks, play tag, and shoot a soccer ball. Then think about what you can bring to them to make the game distributed and the time lapse lasting.

Then as a really kicker, remove yourself from calling it a game. Don't focus on winning and loosing. Build the mechanics of play into your platform and watch people explore, create, and build with it. Watch the community grow together. I think that's the sort of interaction that is going to be the killer app of this market.

... and I hope that I am working on building it right now. ;)

Sunday, March 06, 2005
  More on Social Interactions of Camera Phones
By the last few posts, one can probably guess that I have been traveling for the last few days. It's amazing how clean mountain air can help to put your head back together.

This week the Feature posted a few articles on Camera Phone usage. This article on the Social Implications of Camera Phones nicely outlines many of Mimi Ito's and Daisuke Okabe's research on Camera Phone Use in Japan. The author speaks of the lack of archival value of the photo and the ephemeral communicative nature instead. He talks about the intimacy of the photo and as selectively capturing spontaneous events. In short, he is summarizing the essence of the camera phone photographers stream of photos as not just photo capture, but instead their reenactment of their perspective of their own life.

He goes on to talk about what I had earlier discussed as "presence peaking or semi-realtime". In my earlier post, I had asked for a better way to describe this short, intimate, hug of communication. After hearing Mimi Ito's talk at Berkeley about a month or so ago I had silently decided that "remote touching" was the best description I had heard. From a more social science perspective, the converging term could also be known as "distributed co-presence", as the Feature article points out. However, I think that "remote touching" captures more of the essence of the end users experience and "distributed co-presence" more of the social scientist's evaluation of that experience. So from now on, im sticking with the term that I think will help to foster more appropriate design of applications that take this into account...

... "Remote Touching".

As well, in a different article, the Feature points out that in a less-intimate way advertisers are beginning to catch on to the fact that users carry their phones with them at all times and that this fosters a great way to allow them to integrate the real product into product awareness. This is by far, not the first, nor the last that we will see of this. Nokia and Verizon have already done it and other third party consumer goods parties are beginning to see the light in this sort of consumer-reality interactive advertising. It's rich. However, one challenge I foresee with these sorts of ideas, is how not to spam. If the advertisers are going to push these types of experiences to users phones and many of them begin to do it, users may become readily frustrated and turned off to the experience all together as their inboxes become filled. Conversely, if the advertisers limit the awareness of the experience to only the desktop website, the leverage to communicate with the user and thus create a completely immersive reality experience is greatly weakened. So how do will we solve that?

And even greater, because we know these devices are used for social personal interactions among intimate communities (as the first article points out)... what happens if we were to take advantage of both of these ideas at that same time?


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More spectacular views... ahh.
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Monday, February 28, 2005
  Ben and Erick
Amazing people!
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  The Quintessential
I had to, because I never had.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
  A bit of catch up...
While everyone else has been talking about 3GSM and Paris Hilton's security breach unveiling, I've been quite busy strategizing, learning business models, and meeting with VCs. Yep, it's that time for me right now.

It's left me a bit uninspired to write, as I've been doing much more talking then anything else.

At anyrate I thought of posting a summary of 3GSM, but many have already done so. Instead to catch up to the rest of the world, I'll just post a few links to those of you who have already done a good job of summarizing the new stuff:

Bill Day
The Register
MacWorld's summary of just digital imaging happenings
Phone Scoop on the new hardware
Matt Croydon::Postneo 2.0

So that's a rather short list, but should cover most things necessary.

And on the topic of mobile security... I default to this report from Reuters on Yahoo! stating there are at least 30 viruses. And the commentary on it from The Mobile Technology Weblog recognizing ingenious carrier conspiracy theory.

But, what about Paris Hilton? Ok, so of course I have not forgotten her. Pop culture showgirl hits headlines with the mobile geeks. I could never pass that up. Talk about disruptive (especially to the mobileBoy work day). Here are a couple theories: 1. T-Mobile Server Hacker 2. Her rather creative password. Regardless, here's the real dirt... the content! (Just in case you haven't see it... cover the kids eyes.)

Now that I've played link post, hopefully I can get back to sharing more of my thoughts...

I'll begin with... Will Wright?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  Tom Hume on Casual Gaming
This morning after a long battle for the last week or so of being quite ill, I opened The Feature to read possibly *The Best* article I have read from The Feature! (Yes, I know that's saying a lot!) If you haven't yet read Tom Hume's article on Casual Gaming, you should!

He captures the essence of an important shift from hard core gaming experiences to engaging play experiences perfectly! Allowing players to engage lightly in the experience throughout their daily lives is essential to creating something compelling and addictive to be used on a mobile device. Allowing players light weight games or frameworks that they can think about while on the move, but not have to interact with continually in the virtual world is essential. Giving them tools which allow them to explore and play at their will fits the affordances of the mobile device. And ironically, the experience becomes richer instead of less interactive as we do this. As well, most people with mobile phones are not gamers. These types of experiences that are easy and light weight broaden the target audience and are compelling to totally different user base.

In Tom's words:
So, what lessons can mobile games companies learn from this? Firstly, that the console games industry doesn't provide the only model for success in interactive entertainment. There are games out there with far broader appeal and a longer track-record of commercial success.

Secondly, that immersion is the exact opposite of what gamers want when they're on the move. Games companies should offer quick-fire experiences that can be picked up and put down as and when players want, and maybe keep half an eye on games which can keep players occupied mentally even when they're not in the process of playing them.

And thirdly, a corollary to this: that games demanding quick bursts of interaction needn't be shallow. It's possible to create rich experiences from quick-fire play.

Points two and three are my absolute favorite! Think about experiences that engage users virtually, physically, and socially. With interactions that are quick and light.

Thanks Tom for this article that states so well this essential shift in thought and opportunity!


Monday, February 07, 2005
  Happy Mobile Monday!
Today is another mobile monday meeting. Except this time it's in the South Bay. I think it's some kind of joke Russ and Mike are trying to pull on me. Have me present, but make me go all the way to Microsoft's campus in Mt. View. Uggh. Anyways, yes, I will be presenting some ideas that we have been working on. As well, my advisor from Grad School, Marc Davis, will introduce many concepts which I have learned well over the years about media and how we can leverage metadata to change the way we are thinking about media. I'm excited to be presenting just after Marc!! I think you will see how Erick and my ideas were significantly shaped by what we learned from him!

Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Monday, January 31, 2005
  Enabling Music Makers...
We must not forget that cell phones, unlike radios, TVs, video game consoles or most of the other home electronics devices we grew up with, are not content players. They are transceivers. Like the rest of the interactive arsenal, from Internet-enabled computers to digital cameras, they empower their users to act as content creators and distributors.

Yeah, people are getting it!! For any type of media it's not only about allowing people access to viewing or hearing whatever they want... it's about empowering them to be able to create their own personalized experience.

I learned this 100 fold through my advisor, Prof. Marc Davis, and Garage Cinema Research:
We are unified by our desire to transform the world of digital media technology and applications by enabling daily media consumers to become daily media producers.

I encourage everyone thinking about these things to read Marc's work. Or alternatively, come here us both speak next week at Mobile Monday. :)


Thursday, January 27, 2005
  Mobiles at the movies
As a follow up to all things play related... here is a question: "What happens if we no longer ban phones at the movies, but instead encourage them?"

Imagine this: instead of going into a movie theater and turning your phone off, the screen says please make sure your phone is set to maximum volume or vibrate mode. How does this change the experience?

It all of a sudden can easily become a group collaborative movie. Using SMS to create a group "choose-your-own-adventure" movie - directing the path of the narrative (although it is really almost impossible to create branching narratives). Or perhaps your phone rings and you hear the villains voice whisper something in your ear. Or even better perhaps you get a text message and it tells you to do something in the theater that reveals something in the movie or to pass on a bit of information to other audience participants. Or maybe you take a video and the guy next to you takes a video, you both submit them, and you have real time movie making. The movie no longer becomes passive, but instead active... interactive! Perhaps, the experience is now something more like a Rocky Horror Picture Show. Group participation, while still having the visual and audio that the cinema does so well.

SMS voting on TV shows has been taking off quite well. In Finland they even have and SMS station where people can text in their messages and chat via TV. Now imagine a captured audience with these same capabilities. Group cohesion (or tension) built into the experience.

Think about this, then think about any situation where phones aren't really accepted and think about how we can change that. How can we make the experience change. You are no long just connected now by physical space, but also by a virtual world. How can we make the two interact with one another?

It's ideas like this that make me love this stuff and make me excited about just how much we can actually do with these things if we really look at what they are providing us with!! So next time you are at the movies, just think what if each person had their own personalized experience or what if we all had a collaborative one. Or in the least - what if I could I order popcorn to my seat?


Tuesday, January 25, 2005
  Mobile Learning and Play
Over the last couple of weeks, I have attended some really great talks and seminars on mobile learning tools and play. A week and half ago, I participated in a conference at the Exploratorium, where we discussed Wireless Learning Technologies. So exciting! If you didn't know, the Exploratorium (the hands-on science and learning museum here in SF) as well as other museums and learning venues are trying to create ways for people to "extend the experience" to their home using mobile devices. So, they want to enable participants to be able to capture their experience within the venue and then revisit, learn more, or just play, when they get home. Cool, Cool, Stuff!!! Of course being that we are currently thinking of ways you can play with your multimedia on your phones, we are extremely excited.

As well, last night I went to hear Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, authors of Rules of Play at UC Berkeley, Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium. All I can say is... RIGHT ON! If you haven't yet picked up their book, do it! Fantastic stuff!

Things become very interesting when we start to get away from centralized, strategic gaming and begin to think about play as a method of exploration and discovery. (BTW - This was also Flickr's beginning shtick with GameNeverEnding.)Now realize that we are all enabled all the time with a computer that fits in the palm of our hands. The phone doesn't only enable us some sort of programming power, but more importantly social connectedness. Think about how many children like to play alone. Then think about how many like to play with friends. Now think about giving each child a device that makes them connected to each other at all times. (Didn't it used to just be a soup can with a string?) Now also think about giving big kids the same device with the world as their game board.

And as it were, when we get back to the social aspects of games (which coincidently overlaps very nicely with the current push of social software) we learn that the very simplest games are often the most compelling. Simple rules, which allow the communities to discover and create their own rules. It enables participants to be in control of their experiences! (Isn't that something interaction designers are all struggling for in the first place?)

We know that these devices are changing behavior especially with media. Photos are no longer archival, but now for fun, random, events. It seems like a pretty good fit. But it's not easy. The simplest design schemes are often the hardest to create. Perhaps, its a good thing that phones still require simple designs. Perhaps it will enable us to think eloquently about what we really want to enable people to do with them.

Im really excited about the prospect of enabling children and adults alike with the ability to explore and learn while still having fun. Everyone, yes even little guys, will eventually have phones of some variety. It's fun to think about how we can give them small tools which allow them to explore and discover more, while they are going about their everyday business. Or perhaps their everyday business just becomes one big play session.

I guess the bottom line here is: What happens when we allow play and discovery to shape our products? What happens when we give users small tools which they can create meaning with? Is it more user-driven content? Is it social networking sites? Perhaps? Or could it be more? Could it be something that adds value to many of the products that are currently out there or perhaps opens the door for new ones.


Thursday, January 20, 2005
  Happy Birthday Russ!


Wish Russ a happy birthday if you see him!
A blog about mobile devices and my thoughts on mobility.... yes, from a woman!

Location: San Francisco, California, United States
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