It should be obvious from previous posts that i’m intrigued by Bruce Sterling’s idea of spimes (siggraph speech, wired column) and i really don’t have the slightest clue why i didn’t link Adam Greenfield’s flamebait-bordering rebuttal spimed, which i hardly agree with but still consider worth a read. You might also want to keep your eyes on this marginwalker thread which didn’t attract many comments so far, but i still have hope that it’ll get some more attention in the future.


Mobile data and devices

Don’t get me wrong, i really hold Russell Beattie in high esteem, i mean he’s about as far ahead of the curve wrt cellphones as you can be in the us of a and reading him for almost two years now i’m thoroughly convinced that he’s one of the good guys, but reading this post i can’t but wonder whether he drank too much of the convergence/rich-mobile-media kool aid.
I’ve been there, i’ve picked up a 7650 when it was the only mass-market cam-/smartphone available in europe and i kept running around and i showed people how cool it was and that it could take pictures and they said “these pictures look like crap!” and they were right. And when the 3650 was about to come to market i told people that it supported mmc and you could watch whole movies or tv-episodes on it, and they said “who wants to watch a movie on such a miserable, tiny screen?” and again they were right. They even dismissed the idea before they knew how much time and work it takes to get a video into the right format for phone consumption.
I’ve been as big a believer in convergence as it gets, but nowadays i just don’t buy it anymore. Basically, i want the same as Tim Bray: a capable, lightweight laptop and ubiquitous always-on connectivity. Guess what? That’s exactly what i got: a 12″ ibook, a crappy 3g phone with an absurdly fast connection speed and a 500mb data package.
That’s not to say that mobile data won’t be big, i just think that people have very different demands and that it’s a little rash to declare mobitv or j2me games the next mobile killer-app. Ubiquitous always-on connectivity will profoundly change the way we live, but it’s a little short-sighted to draw the conclusion that mobile phones (of all devices) will be the next breakthrough in mobile media/computing. Imho it makes more sense to focus on the services, not the devices – nothing wrong with the desire for a simple mobile phone/modem without bells and whistles. Of course it’s also entirely possible that i’ll eat my own words a year from now.
Btw: why exactly am i listening to 80s pop on web radio? Could someone whack me hard, please?

iPod Socks

blue ipod sockYesterday brought us the hideous u2 ipod, the long-rumored ipod photo and itunes music stores in canada and many european countries, even hear in austria. Now i don’t care much for u2, viewing photos on a 2″ screen is not very appealing and i don’t buy drmed music on principle (though i have to confess that it’s hard to resist, especially with their great selection of audio books). What left me curious however was the announcement of “ipod socks” and after a solid five minutes of skimming over the usual mac news sites i finally found a small pic of an ipod sock (the one pictured above) @macminute, courtesy of cnet news, and there are a few more pics on the apple insider forums.
I think it’s save to say that apple finally jumped the shark with regards to ipods. First that forgettable ad campaign with black silhouettes on colorful backgrounds which wore thin far too fast, the cheap(er) packaging of 4g ipods, the introduction of photo ipods for no good reason and without compelling features (perhaps they just try to justify the color-screens?), the fugly u2 ipod and now ipod socks in 6 colors, packaged for just 30 bucks. When i first read about them before i’d seen any pictures i thought it was a joke. When i read about them on more and more sites i told myself “if anyone’s capable of pulling this off gracefully it’s apple’s design team”. When i saw the pictures all hope was lost.
Of course i expect them to be a huge success and i’ll most likely buy them anyway. I mean ipod socks! In 6 different colors! With apple logos! Which you could possibly use as faux wristbands!


About a week ago marginwalker relaunched. From their about page:

marginwalker is a shared discussion space intended to incubate practical ideas, tools and strategies for living in these hopeful and difficult times: “open-source futurism,” if you will. Think of it as a space combining some of the best features of tool-strewn workshop and Viennese coffeehouse.

I wasn’t aware of the site prior to its relaunch, but spent the better part of last weekend combing through their archives. Excellent stuff there and some of the most interesting discussions i’ve ever read online. You could spend hours just going through some of the more recent threads (i did), so as a starting point, here are three of my favourite discussions: Moving (Violation), The fourth place? and Rolling yr own. When you’re done with reading that and convinced that it’s good, subscribe to their feed.
And because it somehow fits into “global nomadics” and “ubiquitous and ambient information systems”, two proclaimed interests of the marginwalker community, i’d also like to point to a recent piece by Diego Doval on travel in which he observes that during his last trip the internet became

[a]nother place that, unlike my surroundings, remained constant no matter where I was.

This is something i’ve observed myself and struggle to put in context with the rising physicality and localization of information technology and services. Is it all about virtual reality or augmented reality, or both, or none, or something else?

On podcasting

If the following post doesn’t make much sense to you, you might want to visit ipodder.org for a general overview of podcasting.
The last weekend i spent far too much time on the train and i finally fell in love with podcasting. Now audio content via web isn’t exactly new, i’ve enjoyed some of the Gillmor Gang sessions and Dave Winer’s morning coffee notes for a while and rss enclosures’ve been around for some time as well, but the whole phenomenon didn’t really take off until recently. At my desk i hardly ever took the time to listen to all those mp3s i’d downloaded, but on those train rides last weekend i spent most of my time listening to the engadget podcasts (feed link) while reading last months wired magazine (they take quite long to arrive at local newsstands). It’s a great source of information on the go and can serve as an additional input channel while doing other things. As long as you can concentrate on what you’re doing there’s no such thing as information overload, i say. So if you haven’t done so already, grab an enclosure-aware aggregator (i use ipodder, the application) and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Creative Commons is not anti-copyright

Few days ago, Joi Ito wrote:

It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.

Today Dave Winer wrote:

Emailing with Larry Lessig today, he said something surprising about Creative Commons. “No author gives up his copyright when putting content under a CC license. A CC license is just permissions given up front. […]

If i don’t misunderstand this (correct me if i get Dave’s point totally wrong), he finds it surprising that CC is not about giving up copyright . This is something i as well didn’t quite get for a long time, it was only when i heard Lawrence Lessig and Joi Ito speak about CC that i finally understood this. Even though CC’s done some tremendous work to build an identity that caters not only to geek and open source circles, i think there are still a lot of misconceptions about Creative Commons and i wonder what else can be done to make these points more clear?

Cheap mobile data – almost there…

3 launched a new data plan last week here in austria: 500mb a month for ‚Ǩ29. That’s pretty exactly what i’ve been waiting for. Previously you had to pay the same for 30mb a month. And we’re talking 3g data speeds here, not puny gprs.
I ordered the package last week, knowing that it wouldn’t be activated until my next billing period, which starts exactly today. Went to a store last friday, signed the contract, everything looked okay. Today i called their service line because i didn’t get any sort of confirmation that the package had been activated and guess what, they didn’t have any information in their system that i had ever ordered it. They even hinted that ordering it in their wap-portal would have been more reliable than going to the store. Now i’m mighty pissed off, i’ll have to wait till monday to sort this bullshit out and i’ll most likely have to wait a full fucking month before i get my precious mobile data plan activated. To add insult to injury, i’m typing this on a 56k dial-up connection. Lesson learned: don’t expect that some retarded high-school drop-out could get his job more reliably done than some automated system. Sure, tech can suck hard, but on average people suck harder.

Google desktop beta

Google desktop beta. Google for your desktop, windows only and of course when something like this comes out i’m nowhere near a windows box. Supported apps: outlook (express), aim, ie, word, excel, powerpoint. Even if i still were on windows this would be of very limited use for me, i’ll wait for spotlight.
Most intriguing: looking at the screenshots it appears that (superficially) it fully integrates with regular old google right in your webbrowser, apparently google’s really reluctant to leaving their already conquered space. Questions are, how far can you take it inside the browser, which is effectively a realm outside google’s control? Isn’t it quite intrusive to splice incoming web pages or am i missing how this works?
Of note: (i might add to this list in the future)

(Many of these links via scripting.com, i might add to this list in the future)

iPod Users Go Into the Closet

Wired News: iPod Users Go Into the Closet

Godin is a closet iPod user, one of a small cadre of iPod lovers loath to be identified as an iPod lover.
For closet users like Godin, it’s the way the earbuds scream, “Woo hoo, look at me, I’ve got an iPod!”

I had a month when i enjoyed running around with apple’s white in-earbuds, a tribe thing i guess. Besides that, always higher-quality headphones. I’m quite happy now with my shure e2c. The stock ipod earbuds? Didn’t even break the seal, never tried them out. However i have to admit that i wear my remote with some pride, i find it kinda old-school with the new ipod lineup shipping without it.
Another interesting bit from the article:

The iPod has moved from hip accessory to lifestyle classic almost immediately, which is something very few brands are able to do, and certainly none of the competitive offerings.