Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Text Message Greeting on Chinese New Year and China's mobile phone market

According to the most updated data of China Mobile (http://www.cnii.com.cn/20070108/ca400746.htm), in 2007, from the Chinese New Year's Eve to the seventh day after the Chinese New Year, 11.1 billion text messages were sent for greeting and blessing, 1.6 billion, 16.8 percent, up on 2006. Almost 1.11 billion RMB has been gained through text message greeting. At the same time, people began to have interest to use MMS (multimedia message service) as a more colorful and attractive way to express their greeting. 0.17 billion MMS were sent during the same period of time. China Mobile has reported that in the past 3 years, the text messages sent around Chinese New Year have continuously increased. In 2005 and 2006, the total amount of text message greeting was 8.5 billion and 9.5 billion, while the increase was 7.7 percent and 11 percent respectively.

From these data of China Mobile, we can find that the use of text message as a greeting on Chinese New Year is increasing every year. And there is has no sign that the increase will reduce although MMS greeting has become a new fashion. I think it provides evidence that in China's mobile phone market, text message will constantly play a very important role in the next few years, although MMS may provide another choice for the customers. Therefore, the mobile phone manufactures focusing on China's market should keep text message as a key function in their new models.

Song Shi


Monday, April 23, 2007

Everyware Telecommunications Corner Deli

Media division of labor

When I met with Mimi Ito and Heather Horst at USC to talk about the mobile media research for pgl and find out more about what she and her research group are doing, we talked largely about class demarcations in media use.

What does this mean? It means that class differences are articulates not simply in regard to the cost of being connected (networked) but the infrastructure around consumer choices and intention of media use.

For example, video games––particularly consoles––may cost the same as a PC, but you find strong divisions between who uses in those spheres. Nearly universally, middle class kids are more likely to have personal PCs and, thus, are better adapted users of Internet resources. It’s not an economics issues (same money spent) but one of intention. The Iranian blogsphere looks more like the US one than not. That said, activist groups–religions advocates, political activists, etc.–are a very strong exception to the theory floated above.

Spike Lee and Russen Disko Berlin

In Western Europe, and certainly this is true for Berlin, many of the “grey industry” media shops are run by Turkish or Arab immigrants. They are the telecommunication equivalent of corner delis (which had been run on lock down by Koreans for many years in NYC, thus the Spike Lee spoof in
DTRT). There is an African contingency as well, but as far as I can tell they tend to service a more insular community while the Turks and Middle Easterners are all purpose and nondenominational. They are in the U-bahn, major shopping streets, etc. The services are international calling, Internet, and all kinds of mobile phone (“handy”) helpers from topping up the pay-as-you-go card or breaking proprietary locks phone to make it SIM swappable.

In general, stores are closed here Sundays, and most certainly when I got here on Easter Sunday they were doubly closed. Not so for the non-franchised immigrant run media shops.

The émigré fiction of Russian-born writer
Vladimir Kaminer now living in Berlin has been a big hit. He spoofs German mannerisms but also the crazy quirks of Vietnamese groceries running many of the neighborhood grocers here. The joke is that items are prices according to size. Toilet paper is more expensive than batteries.


My questions, just sticking to the games example is this: is machinima a UCC mode that crosses class boundaries?—MMO play seems to. Let me know what you think.

Juice of the Days

Hee hee. hee hee

Thursday, April 19, 2007

metaverse scenarios

This via How2 via Bruce Sterling via jamais cascio.


Virtual Worlds Conference III: Applications that work + E-Public-Health

This is three of three on the vwc. See post one here. Number two is here.

Applications that work,” the closing panel of the conference was my favorite. The panelists represented Robert Gehorsam, Forterra Systems, and Paul Ledak, VP of Development, Digital Convergence IBM, made strong cases for the professional use of virtual worlds for health care, emergency management as well as actively enlisting the wisdom of professional networks.

In Ledak’s brief IBM sketch, he suggested that the workday has changed for global companies. Workers are dispersed to an unprecedented degree. IBM as a company has reinvented itself, morphing its brand from hardware (machines) to a services (people) company. It wants to be known as a company working at the cutting edge of new modalities for human communications. Thus, the concept of virtual worlds as a viable meeting space for the professional in their company and the specifics of building out in SL have been successful for them using their own gauge (there has been no public offering on this front). The company is building Airbuses in vw labs.
Ledak asked, “Why did video conferencing fail? And why do vws work?” His answer is fairly intuitive. A vw platform is more spontaneous. He called for the generation of vw etiquette, so people have a more clear understanding of whether or not to “rez” human or furry at a business meeting ;-). Ledak affirmed that B2B has shown strong interest in the vw sector and that we will continue to see strong growth there. He did not bring up issues of security, perhaps out of his own sense of vw decorum. His closing slavo, “We’ve already paid for the infrastructure. For modeling, education, and entertainment purposes, vw potential is huge.”

Robert Gehorsam, who designs systems for health care and emergency care, makes the point that virtual worlds are particularly good at simulating…the world. For dangerous situations, simulation is an excellent use of vw applications. The example he gives was not actually emergency management but longer-term crisis prevention around healthcare providers. “By 2012 the Healthcare industry will face a shortage of nurses,” he stated. “People die when there are medical errors based on [poor] communication.” His point is that “virtual worlds transcend the limits of time and space.” They happen, effectively, in real time. The entertainment use of virtual world platforms is the popular use, the sexy use, and the daily use. Hey, this is fan fiction run amok. With that in mind, it is clear that these platforms are also strongly desired by an emergent virtual world pro industry.

Bonus track: E-Public-Health
Also presented at the conference was the fascinating case study on Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) use of Whyville and Second Life for health information services and medication self-administration. Google Erin Edgerton E-Health Marketing Division (CDC) and John P Anderton, National Center for Public Health Informatics (CDC). For a taste, check this out.

Jay Bernhardt, director of CDC writes in his blog, “Despite millions of searchable health pages and thousands of interactive and personalized health applications available online, we still possess almost no evidence that today's e-health universe is improving or protecting the overall health of the public….If we hope to realize population-level health improvements from the internet, we must incorporate the needs and participation of the public into today's e-health models.

Effective "E-Public-Health" (EPH) is rooted in the 3 P's of Personalization, Presentation, and Participation…. New media applications are particularly well suited for EPH because of their high degree of interactivity, participation, social networking, and entertainment. To that end, CDC is venturing into Second Life and Whyville, e-health marketing our way into MySpace and YouTube, planning webinars to link leading scientists with leading bloggers, and taking a serious look at serious games.”


The pictures are from
Joe Miller’s presentation on the Platforms and Technologies panel. The points on statistics and structure of 3Di that he makes in reference to Second Life have relevance across platforms.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virtual Worlds Conference II: ROI and Virtual World ports to TV

This is two of three on the vwc. See post one here. And three is here. Also check out the ever-on-it Mark Wallace’s posts on the thing.

ROI and other virtual goods: Today you don’t own the brand. You coordinate it.

ROI (return on investment) was a panel run by Adam Reuters that spoke to the aspirations, bottom lines, and anxiety of the marketing and industry people in attendance. The best response to this came in case study from Tor Myhren of Leo Burnett on Pontiac Second Life. Leo Burnett was looking for a modality to express the “democratizing speed” campaign tag line, and SL fit the profile to a T. (Let it be noted: this did not go into this looking for a virtual world experience.) A perfect storm gathered for the Pontiac use of the vw platform along three overlapping fronts: timing (the mass news media was just waking up to SL), right form for right brand (the exploitation of UCC was key to the campaign. It was the campaign), and last but not least Pointiac had nothing to lose. The Brand was not afraid of users abusing their name–they were afraid of becoming obsolete.

Goal of campaign: to be the centre of car culture in SL. Strategy: give away land to people with proposals around car culture; create “creative residencies,” build dealership, build racetrack, Donate any revenue from the venture to
EFF. What you have is a fusion-marketing scheme where the residents build the cars, which makes it hyper sticky. The “loud speaker effect” (Seth Godin) is fully mobilized. It was a strategy that totally “got” the 60/40 m/f, 33 average age, high income, highly educated constituency it addressed. Myhren’s two bottom lines can be summed up in the following. 1) virtual world use a success for brand! 2) virtual world use made no impact on sales in a direct marketing designation. He also added in his talk that marketing should get some balls, stop being in a lather around numbers––“counting clicks”––all the time, and communicate with people. Myhren’s response to the perennial media strategy tsoris vis à vis UCC or Is It Still Our Brand: “Today you don’t own the brand. You coordinate it.”

VW eats TV. TV cannot be digested

Sibley Verbeck, CEO Electric Sheep Company, lead a town-hall like session on vw and its impact on TV and vw as potential TV channels (the Real Virtual World). His take home was that TV is a powerful communication platform and that virtual worlds are NOT as of yet a broadcast medium. Nonetheless, a SL cable channel already exists. The hopefuls, marketing across-platform, understand that if we are early in the game with vws, then it is still embryonic for the output to broadcast. The content does not exist yet. Considering the recently announced CBS and ESC strategic partnership, it seems folks will be working fast and furiously to correct this.

Monday, April 16, 2007

UCC and the politics of representation

If avatars, on average, are human likeness of an ideal version of the user–the Barbies and Kens of avi perfection–then we run into a few things.

The world we imagine has very strong 1:1 correlation with the world at large. The initial idea is that the same rules of attraction, high lights, chesty, leggy, etc. apply in-world as out. To hear Tor Myhren of Leo Burnett refer to avatar Pontiac Motorati chicks as “hot” is a little disconcerting. We have the same kind of unreal crush on Veronica and Betty of Archie or Storm from the X-men…but these are effectively adolescent crushes and bounded by fantasy. The commercial from the 1990s that put a 3D Lara Croft with a game players dad makes very clear the stakes of interactivity. Somehow somewhere there is an opportunity to smash that virtual potato.

One media producer at the Virtual Worlds Conference commented that Virtual Laguna Beach is populated by “anorexics with boob jobs drinking Coke.” Because it is the users themselves who have created the image, then the image must be “right.” The feminist critique of objectification disappears. The other feminist tenant, which is a deeply American one, is that of choice. The users choose, and in choosing they are right, by the action alone. That their choices might be affected by media does not necessarily undermine the status of choosing.

Here’s a thing: the best videos on Youtube are original and often self-deprecating. They are the opposite of supermodel super gloss. Neither production value and nor theme try to emulate mass media professional production. Yet, the avatars people design are often simulating a generic hotness. They look like many of the women of L.A.—same surgeons, same colorists. (When I say “women” here it applies to both genders in regard to generic representation.)

I’m not sure I’m offended by the babe-factor. I think it’s the generic build that is boring. These are expensive Barbies but not so intriguing. Maybe they’re all guys ;-).

Network Identity : A Crowd of One

John Henry Clippinger, a computer scientist and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, works on network identity at the Higgins Project. Much of his work is on trust and reciprocity within social groups. Essentially he argues in his new book A Crowd of One that network relations allow for greater possibilities of human generosity than previously we’ve experienced a society.
He writes on the subject of network identity that the learning of new social behaviors happens at a more and more accelerated pace. “Social evolution is far less physically bounded than biological evolution and consequently can transpire over the course of days and years rather than generations,” says Clippinger. “Digital encoded relationships, transactions, information, knowledge, images, content, even institutions, for all practical purposes are frictionless and can form, dissolve, and evolve in seconds and minutes rather than days, years, or generations. They offer a unique, wholly new opportunity for accelerated learning, speculation, and social innovation.” His conclusion is that social network evolution has literally outpaced our brains, stating that “[w]e’re largely digital, we just haven’t appreciate what it can tell us about ourselves.”

One of my students in the Nonlinear Narrative course at MIT, himself a quite sophisticated user and builder of social network applications, said to me in regard to the limitations of our networks, “I am not a collection of data.” More on the + and – of the “network identity, but the work they are doing at Higgins is very helpful on theory, policy and applied. See
David Bollier, On the Commons, extended post on the book.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Juice of the Day Berry Bright

Rote Rübe

(used the Google translator, which is ok with single words but lacks native wit. If I go to the store and ask for eine Gurke, not sure what I’ll get.)

Berry bright & 2x the fun ;-)

Out of veggies. It’s Saturday, so off to look for a farmers’ market.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Onder Skall's criteria for virtual worlds

Onder Skall of SL Game Park gives a meta-mega post of criteria for virtual worlds (Second Life if the standard) and their histories.

His big three pivotal points of SL-likeness:

Real money must move in and out of the “virtual” economy freely. RMT (Real-Money Trading) is designed in, not forbidden by TOS.

Users must be able to create unique content and retain ownership over it
. Things like scripting and accepting uploads are important here. Multimedia is a bonus. We must be able to control the rights to our content.

The world must be persistent, and the users able to change it
. Residents like being able to build the world themselves, and don’t need somebody stepping in and erasing their work.

+ links to archival video of
AlphaWorld, Furcadia, and others.

I don’t agree with Onder’s big three entirely. No one does ;-). But #3 about persistence and impact of user play appears, to my eyes, to be a universal if we are talking about virtual world design…but already there are qualifications if non-sandbox worlds are included. Anyway, have a go and add to the list.

Raph Koster for the heads up on this.

Art Berlin: Tesla Mitte

I went to the open studio for Jeff Mann's equipment for living yesterday at Tesla. This is an amazing, big empty Podewils palais in the shadow of the Alexander Platz TV tower. Nice, ambient studio scene going on there. I look forward to artist Chris Kondek’s salon April 19 on 2012…the end of the world as we know it.

Lekker! Juice!

Today’s all green juice

Celery: vital organic sodium
Cucumber: silica content & diuretic & potassium
Spinach: digestive tract
Parsley (an herb not a vegetable): oxygen metabolism for adrenal and thyroid functions
Fennel (Fennochio): good blood builder

Ta da!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Notes from a New World: Henry Jenkins interviews James Au

Here and here are links to Henry Jenkins two-part interview with Second Life embedded reporter James Au. The occasion is the release of Au’s book Taking New World Notes. I often will triangulate with Au’s reports to get a perspective on what has happened “in-world” and the discussion of it “out.” He also discusses the 3x3 between Jenkins, Shirkey, and Beth Coleman (me)…tee hee.

Two samples:

Is there a tension between the corporate colonization of Second Life and the "gift economy" which underlies a vision of the space as a new kind of participatory culture?

For the most part, there is no tension, because the native participatory culture hardly knows the corporations are even there, or care all that much that they are. Residents have scant or limited interest in their "colonization", which is a strong word for what's really going on: big name brands on dozens of private islands that few visit for any extended period of time. Consistently, grassroots, user-created events and sites are far more popular.

You have, of course, been following the ongoing debate about the "value" of Second Life. How much weight -- positively or negatively-- should we place on the issue of subscriber numbers in terms of evaluating what is going on in Second Life?

The numbers do matter. The growth of Second Life will determine whether it becomes an important but relatively niche platform, or evolves, as some (including myself) have suggested, into an essential part of the Net's next generation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Watch Your Network Play Space Invaders

This from How2. Techcrunch reports straight from a William Gibson scenario circa 1992: watch real network data, care of NetQos, go ballistic à la Space Invaders or Star Wars for that matter. The question is Slashdot fame or maintain order.

Real data. Fake pyrotechnics. No contest.

Flesh for Fantasy: learning from your avatar

A while ago, when I first met Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, he told me a story about a Second Life player who had gone from fat to thin. The player had told Philip that after seeing himself manipulate the image of his avatar, he reckoned that he could also manipulate his actual physical being. This is a strange story of simulated world impacting real life on a most basic flesh level.

Similarly, the divine
Ken Perlin told me a story about young people with Asperger’s Syndrome using his model of animated facial expressions to learn how to understand real life human facial expression. Ken––not claiming medical knowledge but deep design chops––explained that Responsive Face with its generic value of the facial expression helped users to learn something about a general expression of human emotion.

N.B. Viewing Ken’s Responsive Face as a still image is nonsensical. Link to the site and see the thing in motion.

Success! found a juicer today

I had haunted various vegan-veggie-like places the past few days, trying to figure out where I could get a fresh vegetable juice (surprisingly the non-vegan, Soviet Kitsch Gorky Park sorted me out the best on this). I’m been reading Dr. Norman Walker’s ground breaking Fresh Juices book first published in the 1930s and, additionally, when I am home, I live with a 100% live food eater. So, I thought this would be a good time to optimize my omnivore habits and struck out to buy a juicer today at the mall three blocks away from me on Schonhauser Allee. (It was a bit like a fairy tale, traveling across the city searching for Prince Juicer only to be told to click my Ruby Slippers and return to where I had started.)

Ok, first “kill”: carrot, celery, cucumber + ginger. General good vibe juice. Tomorrow get ready for beeeeets.

Media Art: Dan Torop Ocean+ in Boston

If you’ve not seen artist Dan Torop’s ocean-simulating computer installation check it out this month in Boston at O·H+T gallery. Dan began the project in 2000. I saw it for the first time in 2002 at the Museum of the Moving Image ALT Digital Media exhibition. The museum catalogue describes the materiality of the piece as “Linux, C, Assembly.” Dan uses computer technology with incredible pathos. He creates a context in which interaction and other such standbys of “new media” art are possible, but all parts of the sensibility are driven by the nature of the piece…not the need to make it do something. Here’s a description of the process.

Ocean emerged out of landscape photographer Dan Torop's fascination with patterns of light reflecting off ocean waves. His studies led him to discover that the ocean's beauty could, in fact, be predicted by the laws of physics. He wrote a computer program using 19th Century theories of the motion of incompressible fluids to render his observations. Ocean incorporates interaction, enabling viewers to alter certain parameters, like color, surface winds, and time of day. Each viewer encounters Ocean in the state in which it was left by the prior viewer.

To see recent work from Dan online go to his gallery page

Monday, April 09, 2007

Berlin Scooter Love + Flickr Fandom: repetition and difference, again

Is it ok that we all repeat the same thing and it is unique every time? For example, I just posted a link to flickr-load images of Prenzlauerberg neighborhood where I am staying in Berlin + several photos of my scooter fetish. (This makes me effectively a fan or a “user” of Prenzlauer Berg + flickr.) Then I cross-reference with the Prenzlauer Berg (7,039), then Prenzlauerberg, Berlin (5,196), then Berlin (736,465). Now I have fellow travelers. This is the basic tenet of Web 2.0. Easy UI. Easy community.

Yah, gut (read that with a German accent), but so nu (read that with a Yiddish one).

Ok, I confess. I want 3.0. I want a more fine-grained search than keywords. Image-content deciphering is complex: computers do not recognize images.
Jeff Hawkins, who I heard speak at eTech, has a lot to say on this. I want the narcissistic reflection of responses keyed to me. I want better filters so I don’t have to wade through every picture! Serendipity is grand, but in controlled portions ;-)

I guess I could do my part and at least publish a Berlin
Google Earth mashup. Send me your local-agents maps. I want to see them.

Africa beats Amsterdam: Flickr all time most popular tags

I am curious to see what are the tags people search.

August 7, 2006 “Amsterdam” was top searched image on flickr. Today it is “06” followed by “Africa.”Thanks Bono ;-).

I am in Berlin

I am in Berlin after being on the road in the US for a month. It's very nice to leave some of the external business of the East Coast & West Coast (plus some good Midwest time to boot) for the more internal business of this strange and lovely city. It’s “internal” for me, as I need to write a book here. Ah, no rest for the scenester. See pix of Berliner Easter Sunday from the every groovy Prenzlauer Berg and walk with me through the next month of posts through a journey in time: a tour of virtual worlds since the they were text-based, just the high points.

If you have people here I should connect will please get in touch. I will be shaking the vine on the Berlin SL community soon enough.

How do you discover a foreign city?

Guidebooks or maps (blogs of course count)
Walk it
Begin to speak with people
Make friends
Make a home
Now you live in what used to be a foreign city

I've spent the past year mapping virtual cities and am learning backwards from a real one how it is one does this.