Archive for June, 2008

Social Systems

Monday, June 30th, 2008

This month’s Data Engineering Bulletin is about Recommendation and Search in Social Systems. It sports thoughts on robustness and user experience.

Debating the Long Tail

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I’ve just read an article from Anita Elberse titled “Should we invest in the long tail?”, published in the Harvard Business Review (no direct link, google for it). Based on what appears to be a very rigorous and extensive study, the author reports conclusions which seem to go in the opposite direction of what stated in the famous book from Chris Anderson “The Long tail”.


Context Matters

Friday, June 27th, 2008

The view we have of recommender systems is that of two-dimensional systems (users x items) whose main goal is to `recommend items to users’. However, as well illustrated in this paper, “decision making is contingent upon the context of decision making; the same consumer may [...] prefer different products or brands under different contexts”. For example, I (the user) may want to be recommended different restaurants (the item), depending on when I am going (the context), with whom I am going (the context, again), and for what purpose (the context, yet again).

Barcode wikipedia

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

“You could snap a photo of your product’s barcode or tap in buy viagra from canada the numbers and get back information (Wikipedia entry) that helps you decide whether it’s good to buy.” Designing and building such an architecture would be a nice group project for our Master students. How to bootstrap the (wiki) user base? By focusing on university-related products?

The 6 ideas of the Socila Innovation Camp have been briefly explained in this video (starting from minute 2:55)

P.S. How about tagging ‘project’ the posts that suggest ideas for student projects? One never knows what can come out of it ;-)

IYOUIT: mobile service to share personal experiences on the go

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Officially released today: “[...] IYOUIT allows for an instant automated sharing of personal experiences within communities online. [...] The cutting edge of IYOUIT is in how information about and around the mobile user is automatically collected, analyzed and enriched for an enhanced user experienced and extra value to Web2.0 services. [...] IYOUIT is based on its own framework of software components to host various services and data sources. Framework components, for instance, track the positions of users via GPS and cellular information and identify places of interest over time by learning form their past behavior. Sharing your life with IYOUIT is easy! In the same way that you can communicate experiences to others, IYOUIT provides you with an easy access to the whereabouts of your buddies, informs you about local weather conditions and uploads photos you take and sounds you record. And if you come across an interesting book (or other products), simply take a picture of the ISBN code or the product ID with your phone, and IYOUIT will fill in the blanks for instant exchange with your friends. IYOUIT also records scanned Bluetooth or WLAN beacons and aggregates all data mentioned before into a wealth of context information that you may share with others worldwide on the Web and on the mobile phone.”

More info and free downloads @

Cultural Mobilities – what urban computing can do and can be

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I’ve recently read an interesting article about urban computing. The authors illustrate how narrow and exclusive current pervasive computing technologies for urban scenarios are. Narrow: most applications are solving the problem of disconnection (thus “mobilizing” traditionally desktop-based ones), or addressing the problem of dislocation (thus helping users to find their way), or addressing the problem of disruption (thus adapting to context to provide a customised service). Exclusive: target users as mostly “young, affluent city residents, with both disposable income and discretionary mobility.” In so doing, attention is placed on fixing problems created by mobility, rather than exploiting new interactional opportunities it opens. Moreover, many people are left outside the picture: “unrestricted discretionary mobility is far from a universal experience for a city’s occupants. […] we share urban spaces with people who, due to disability, economic status, immigration status, employment, race, caste, and other reasons, find themselves unable to move about easily or, conversely, have mobility forced upon them.”

How can we put pervasive computing to use then, and make it more inclusive and progressive? The authors point their fingers towards three directions: (1) take an heterogeneous view of mobility, which acknowledges and caters for different kinds of journeys (commuting, vacation, moving house) and different kinds of purposes for the same journey (going to work, seeing a doctor, driving a train); (2) look at the symbolic meaning of a journey, which varies across social groups (wayfinding is a purely instrumental reading of space, but this completely neglects other aspects of social, cultural, moral, political and historical aspects of mobility); (3) look at urban mobility as a social phenomenon (we move individually, but collectively we create flows).

Predicting Where You’ll Go and What You’ll Like

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

“That’s the title of a story from the Sunday NYT Business page, on a company called Sense Networks, which aggregates billions of bits of location data to predict future movements. Two applications mentioned are predicting where taxis will be needed and what nightclubs people are likely to head toward.
Where does the location data come from? For the taxi application, it’s easy; just put GPSs on all your taxis and let the data roll in, all nicely timestamped. For the nightclub application, cell phone data.” From here.

Summary of IFIPTM'08 conference sessions

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The IFIP trust management conference, this year joined for the second time with the Privacy, Security and Trust (PST) conference, was held in June 18th – 20th in Trondheim, Norway. The conference has also been previously known as iTrust. Next year, PST and IFIPTM split again, as PST returns to its roots as a local event in Canada; next year, IFIPTM is organized in the US, and in Japan after that. We’ve summarized IFIPTM workshops on Monday and Tuesday in earlier posts, and now give a quick run-through of what this year’s conference program held.


SeeShell – an “augmented” Oyster card holder

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

I’ve just found out an interesting new project called SeeShell , to be run by one the people behind Undersound. Here is the short description they give: “SeeShell is an augmented Oyster Card (the RFID-enabled Underground ticket) holder which displays, over time, the journeys a rider has taken. When a user passes their Oyster card (which is inside the SeeShell) over the touch-in point at the gate to the station while they are entering or exiting, the SeeShell, using RFID, senses which station the user just passed through and over time a permanent, ink-based map of the stations they have visited begins to emerge on their Oyster Card holder. The Oyster system already tracks users’ journeys but there is no convenient way for the users to access or make use of that data. By building SeeShell on top of an already existing system, I hope to show how lived patterns of mobility might be leveraged in new ways and placed back into the hands of their creators.”

The project has not started yet, but looks interesting: what uses could we make of these patterns of mobility, if they were given back to their users, rather than centrally kept?

IFIPTM Monday workshops (CAT, W2Trust)

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The Monday workshop sessions of IFIPTM 2008 were a combination of the second workshop on Context-awareness and trust (CAT) and first workshop on Web 2.0 trust (W2Trust). See the W2Trust website for the full list of papers. In this post, we summarize what we saw.


Get Ready to Rummble!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

The very last session of the IFIPTM 2008 conference was a demo session; there were 3 demos run and the one that I liked the most was Rummble is a web site that, much like other web2.0 ideas, has as foundations a social network: the interesting addition, though (and what makes it so appropriate for a conference on trust) is that when you add a friend you can say how much you trust their opinions. You then go on to “rummble” different locations (shops/restaurants/clubs), by rating, tagging, and describing them with a comment. The neat thing is that combining trust, rating similarity, and social distance, the site can then predict how much you will like other places that you have not rummbled, and colours them accordingly. The site is also fully mobile! (more…)


Friday, June 20th, 2008

Fourth International Workshop on the Value of Security through Collaboration (SECOVAL 2008)
part of SECURECOMM’08 in cooperation with ACM and CREATE-NET
September 22nd, Istanbul, Turkey
Submission Deadline: July 10, 2008

Intl Workshop on Trust in Mobile Environments

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Yesterday was the first International Workshop on Trust in Mobile Environments (TIME 2008), co-located with the IFIPTM 08 conference in Trondheim, Norway. The workshop merged with the Workshop on Sustaining Privacy in Autonomous Collaborative Environments (SPACE), and consisted of three sessions. Here is a brief summary on what we saw: (more…)

UCL – Launch of iTunes U

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Partnership with Apple to make UCL the first UK university to offer
users downloads of lectures, interviews, seminars and news, and play
audio and video materials on their iPod or computer.

10 mobile social networks to watch

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

It’s a developing field – and there are issues such as hardware compatibility to overcome… But, it’s a potentially very lucrative market (975 million Mobile Web users expected by 2012). Summary of this post.

1. Dada: to update personal blogs with pictures and video, download mobile entertainment, connect with and meet other local singles in real time and stay in contact with all their friends.

2. Strands: to find music andto network with friends via mobile phones. plus, partyStrands (its service for party organizers, bars, clubs and DJs).

3. Itsmy: to MySpace with your phone

4. Frengo: For developers: (1) to extend support for the Open Social and Facebook platforms to the mobile phone; (2) to monetize applications via the company’s social advertising platform or via premium SMS.

5. Twango: (acquired by Nokia) to organize and share photos, videos and other personal media; in the future, to enable users to share multimedia content through their desktop and mobile devices

6. Shozu: to share your videos and photos via your mobile phone – e.g. from your Flickr account, YouTube, Facebook.

7. Brightkite: to keep track of where friends may be at any moment (no GPS required – users can send updates to the service via text messaging or email, to update their profile with location updates, pictures, and notes; 2. a host of privacy settings; 3. Twitter users are increasingly using the network to update friends with status locations sent to their Twitter streams). Cool!!!

8. Zyb: to backup and synchronize your contacts online (store your phone numbers, calendar and texts, manage this information online; transfer contacts to a new phone).

9. Groovr: to post a picture, message, or video to your Groovr profile and have it sent to all your friends too (the only feature remotely unique is a city’s Explore page on Groovr – all of your posted items are sent to the corresponding cities Explore page)

10. Fon11: to see just how far away your contacts are from you, availability status messages, visibility settings and more (could become the hottest mobile social network for the iPhone; already been ported to Android and Nokia Web Runtime with development plans in the works for J2ME and Windows Mobile platforms; GPS remains an issue)