Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

paths of least surveillance, broadcasting of text messages, and eternity flyers

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Today, I was reading Art Review and came across The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA), which is  an organization dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination. Members of this organization are developing robots for supporting culturally resistant forces. For example: Pamphleteer, aka “Little Brother,” is a propaganda robot which distributes subersive literature; and StreetWriter/SWX is a vehicle that prints text messages onto the pavement in a manner much like a dot-matrix printer. They are also attempting to undermine or reverse the authoritative power associated with surveillance. Two projects in that direction: iSee is a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments – users can find routes that avoid these cameras (“paths of least surveillance“) allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by unregulated security monitor; and TXTmob is a free service that lets you quickly and easily broadcast txt messages to friends, comrades, and total strangers. See a cool video (mov) about how TXTmob was used by protesters in NYC – with TXTmob, protesters were able to disperse themselves before police reinforcements arrived only to reconvene around a new target moments later (this technique is called swarming and is considered by security experts the most effective tool at modern activists’ disposal)

I hope that, with my research, I would be able one day to realize my dream of  Eternity Flyers:

People who live outside an office of Scientology can make their WiFi hotspots available to store electronic flyers about Scientology. People who come along can then receive those flyers and further disseminate them using their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Being better-informed, people can then decide whether to stop by and join a cult whose members “want the global obliteration of psychiatrists, who they say were to blame for the rise of Nazi Germany”. One may rightly argue that this news can be published on the Internet. A good point, surely, expect that people who did so on their homepages have taken it down after threats of lawsuits by Scientology’s lawyers (known to be deep-pocketed vigorous litigants). By contrast, if dozens of WiFi hotspots were to store this news, it would surely keep popping up, and it would do so just where needed – around the Scientology office.

mobile 2.0 and profits: proximity marketing to the rescue

Friday, November 14th, 2008

A while back we wrote an article (pdf) in which we pointed out that, by retaining user data on their Internet servers, mobile web 2.0 companies are not making any profit. In the excerpt below “Unlocking the Tapestry“, we were purposely controversial – enjoy it ;-).  Still, the question of how mobile web 2.0 companies will make money is  open to debate. The conventional answer is that those companies may capitalize on electronic ads. How to spread ads in a distributed way? Companies such as HyperTag and BlueMedia are already offering proximity marketing solutions (delicious). Another good reason to decentralize web 2.0 services!

2.2 Unlocking the Tapestry … (from pdf)


Pervasive Social Computing Seminar

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I gave a seminar yesterday in the Mobisys weekly seminars at UCL and I would be pleased to share my slides with you. It was about Pervasive Social Computing, or how to support social networks in pervasive computing environments in order to enable social interactivity between mobile users.

Any feedback is welcome and if you have any question I will pleased to answer.

Pervasive Social Computing

Mobisys Seminar 28/10/08

From: poline_sonia, 7 minutes ago

Mobisys Seminar 28/10/08

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: pervasive social)

SlideShare Link

Selected start-ups at Mobile 2.0

Monday, October 20th, 2008

[Cool video on the aka-aki website]

  • aka-aki (Germany) – focuses on Proximity Networking, as in mobile social networking with Bluetooth-sensing capabilities.
  • Dial2Do (Ireland) – Dial2Do lets you do common tasks by just calling a number and speaking.
  • Nimbuzz (Netherlands) – Mobile IM and Text Message Service.
  • Rummble (UK) – a location based discovery tool and social search platform.
  • Seesmic (USA) – a video service mimicking and aggregating your favorite web products.
  • Zipipop (Finland) – a start-up that is developing Zipiko, a mobile service for sorting your social life on the go.
  • Wubud (UK) – Wubud allows you to take your social network in your back pocket everywhere you go.

MobiSys: UCL and Birkbeck Research

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

The mobisys seminar series had its first presentation of the (academic) year today. We decided to slightly change the format. Instead of having a single speaker present for 45 minutes, we would have short research-pitches; that way, the various old and new group members could introduce themselves and their work to each other.  We were also very happy to have Birkbeck researchers present, since a lot of their work has strong overlaps with what is going on in the mobisys group.

By last night, I had about 19 speakers ready to present: way too many! So I decided to break the minute-madness presentations into two sessions. The first was today, centred around the theme of pervasive computing. The second session, broadly categorised as social computing, will be in the coming weeks.

Each speaker had 4 minutes to introduce and overview their work (and were promptly interrupted by my annoying alarm clock sound if they went over): the slides are below. The whole idea of these sessions is to highlight how many people are working on similar problems and to foster discussion (perhaps in an effort to combat “phd depression?”)- unfortunately we did not have much time for the latter today, and I hope that we will in future events.

We rounded up the session with an overview of current research projects going on in the respective departments by Steve Hailes and George Roussos.

MobiSys Group Presentation
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: networks sensors)

Informal Networks from Movements

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I’m looking for  academics/practionaires interested in the following research  and for companies willing to give me access to relevant data ;-) My website. My email:

To facilitate the flow of information or to promote cultural change, companies often focus on formal organizational charts. Alas, those charts do not reveal the invisible networks that employees use to get things done. One way of identifying invisible networks is to keep track of how staff moves and, more specifically, “who talks to whom”. This can be done automatically by programming mobile phones to keep track of their owners’ location and proximity to other people.  By aggregating data on those phones, one  then produces “informal networks” and can harness them to:

  • Make change stick by identifying influential employees. If management can persuade influential people to be proponent of a big change, then the change is far more likely to succeed.
  • Focus on points in an informal network where relationships should be expanded or reduced. Imagine that, from its informal network, a company finds out that old personnel are extraordinary well-connected and central to collaboration, while many newcomers are stuck on the periphery. To fix the situation, the company may launch “mentoring programs” in which old personnel (central to collaboration) mentor newcomers. That is just one example of how the study of informal networks can break down barriers that hinder collaboration.
  • Measure the effectiveness of major initiatives. Informal networks are also a way for companies to measure the impact of changes. By measuring key network metrics (such as density, cohesion, and centrality) before and after a change, companies can asses whether the change has been a positive one. For example, if an informal network shows higher density after introducing a mentoring program, then the program has been a positive change in that it has reduced the number of steps for any individual to get in touch with a colleague.

“Making Mobile Raters Stick to their Word ” @ Ubicomp

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In few hours I will present MobiRate. Fortunately, the slides are ready ! See them next. A short description follows.

P.S. I’ll blog about Ubicomp shortly. For now, look at the great coverage by Albrecht Schmidt  ;-)


View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: trust systems)

Q&A Session (at the conference):

Q> You have shown that MobiRate effectively protects against *indepedent* malicious individuals. What if  malicious individuals collude?
A> Colluding malicious peole will not be able to tweak  ratings because they cannot produce fake crypto material. However, if malicious people collude, one may well run into updating problems. Phones update their ratings  while they move and, consequently, there are   time windows in which ratings are not up-to-date. During those time-windows, colluding people may succeed in attacking the communities they are in  (e.g., in flooding the system with spam content).

Q>  Phones that run MobiRate audit each other. Are their users aware of that?
A> We have assumed that, in downloading and running MobiRate, people silently agree with  the possibility of their phones being “auditors”. However, people should be able to step back and refuse to be auditors at times; for example, whenever they are running out of battery. This feature should be definetely
included in the next version of MobiRate.

Q> Your solution is general, in that, it is able to collect and store not only user ratings but also user activities!
True.  Instead of monitoring ratings, one could force people in keeping a record of their activities. Before deploying MobiRate, we should carefully think about its misuses and try to prevent them. A good starting point could be to understand how “historical misuses of technology can be studied to be avoided in the future” (link)

Short Description of MobiRate:


Flickr Places

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Flickr Places “is a method of exploring Flickr with geo-specific pages. The page shows the most interesting photos for a location (iconic photos they call them), the most recent and common tags for the photos and the most prolific photo groups. It creates a separate page for each geographic location with a unique human-readable URL. Places go down to the city level so San Francisco, Seattle, and London will each have their own page and unique URL. In time they will go deeper. Places will be accessible via the Flickr API.” More here and here.

levitra online prescription

From this project, data useful for evaluation could come out !

Juniper Future Mobile Awards

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

This year’s Juniper Future Mobile Awards are given to:

  • ShoZu (UK-based) (upload Flickr albums, Facebook pages and personal blogs via picture messaging/MMS)
  • (social network for mobile users)
  • Jumptap (mobile search)
  • Celltick (it allows companies to buy space on your mobile phone’s idle screen).
  • Greystripe (advertising network for mobile games – it  compensates developers for every time their games are played, not just for when those games are initially sold).

Ubicomp’s program is out

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Here are the titles of the papers and the notes that will be published:


Trust Meeting at Secrypt

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

We presented an invited paper (pdf) at a meeting on how to manage trust in percom at Secrypt. The paper is about how to offer digital content to mobile users by combining tagging with reputation systems (previous post). Here is my presentation:

Few words on:

1) The meeting (3 sessions)
Session 1
Existing reputation systems often set initial user’s reputation to a fixed value (e.g., 0.5 if reputation is expressed on a scale [0,1]). Christian proposed interesting ways for setting initial trust other than fixing ad-hoc values. Juri Luca of L3S followed by presenting a review of policy languages for trust management. Ioanna of Uni of Nicosia concluded the first session by showing a way of formalizing trust relationships that change over time.

Session 2
I started the session (no more self-publicity ;-)). Zhen Yan followed and showed a way of managing trust in autonomic computing for healthcare. Finally, Andre concluded the second section by putting forward a secure interface for e-voting terminals – he documented a very interesting evaluation in his well-written paper.

Session 3
Gabriele started off by presenting a new way of assigning weights to user ratings. This way allows for personalizing ratings, and that is beneficial because it makes it possible for two individuals
to have different opinions about the trustworthiness of the same person (which may well happen in reality). My tip: this research may well be complemented by “sentiment analysis” (e.g., see this paper in  pdf). Ben Aziz of CCLRC concluded the third session and presented a reputation system for grid computing.

A big thanks goes to Mari for wonderfully organizing and chairing the three sessions ;-)

2) The conference (3 points)

  • Petteri & his working mates of VTT collected 40K ideas for future mobile services from passionate users and stored them in the “idea database” (InnoBar is the most recent of those databases, which include: Mefi, Owela, and Idealiiike – the last two only in finnish). One interesting problem is how to bring order in that long list of ideas. Of course, one way for doing so is to resort to the wisdom of the crowd – during the Q&A session, Petteri told me that it’s difficult to have users rate ideas. How about having a crowd of paid (technology) experts? (paper: ON EXPLORING CONSUMERS’ TECHNOLOGY FORESIGHT CAPABILITIES)
  • Mari Ervasti studied which factors facilitate the acceptance of mobile services by proposing a modified version of the Technology Acceptance Model (paper: ADOPTION OF MOBILE SERVICES IN FINLAND - Conceptual Model and Application-based Case Study).
  • Niklas Eriksson presented three websites they developed for enabling mobile tourism services: MobiPortal, TraveLog, and MobiTour (paper: MOBILE TOURISM SERVICES – Experiences from Three Services on Trial).

Pls feel free to add whatever I’ve forgotten to mention in the comment section below. Cheers!

StoryBank – using mobiles to share stories in an Indian village

Friday, July 18th, 2008

StoryBank (website, description): EPSRC project for a rural village in India.

Idea: Villagers make short stories of up to six images and a two-minute audio track on the phones. They can then go to the village’s community centre and upload their content to the StoryBank – a large touch screen display.  Stories that have been featured include: how to grow rice, local crops, sheep rearing, the medicinal uses of plants,  beauty tips, mythical stories, songs and, in one case, pictures and descriptions of a student’s best paintings.

We have large screen displays (one at the entrance and few in offices/labs). Are we missing the village?

Evaluating Mobile Solutions – WWW’08 to the rescue

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

To evaluate new mobile content discovery approaches, one needs to understand:

1) What mobile users query for:

2) How interests distribute across mobile users (who befriend each other):

Mobile social networking on the rise

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

“Almost half (44%) of UK mobile phone subscribers belong to an online social network and of this group, 25% use their handset for social networking-related activities”. Nielsen

Connected We Work – The power of informal networks

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

This very interesting report is about how companies can harness networks of employees to improve collaboration.